Out Of Pocket
John Renwick has a pocketful with the pocket MIDI range from Anatek
John Renwick fills his pockets with four new products from Anatek.
There aren't many bits of MIDI gear you can slip into a pocket, but Anatek's Pocket MIDI products qualify - in fact you could get all four into a pocket!
What's more fascinating, is that these boxes don't require a power supply, so if you have a niggling MIDI problem which needs solving, they're ready to plug in and go at a moment's notice.
Whether you have a simple or a complex system, one of these boxes will serve a purpose. If you have a single keyboard, computer and synth module, you will inevitably find yourself plugging and unplugging MIDI leads depending on whether you want the keyboard or computer to control the module. The answer is the Pocket Merge, the simplest of the boxes; featuring two MIDI INs, a single OUT and an activity LED, it simply combines two MIDI data sources into one. You could also use it so that two keyboard players could play the same module simultaneously; or, play the keyboard of one unit but use the control wheels of another. You can also "cascade" Merges to create more complex interconnections.
More flexible is the Pocket Filter, which comes in the same casing but which has a single IN and OUT, and a row of eight DIP switches on top. You can choose what MIDI data is allowed through the system; aftertouch, control change, pitch bend, program change, channel data, note on/off, system exclusive and active sensing. Say you are running a PPG Wave 2 synth from a sequencer. The MIDI spec of the Wave 2 is a bit outdated, and it doesn't like MIDI clock signals; simply set the Pocket Filter to eliminate them.
The Filter can work on any or all MIDI channels, so you could program a synth which always responds in OMNI mode, such as the Memorymoog, to respond to one channel only; or you could filter out velocity or aftertouch information to save memory in a sequencer which doesn't have MIDI input filtering.
Most unusual is the Pocket Pedal, which is so far as I know unique. It converts a conventional volume pedal or footswitch into an extra MIDI controller. Resembling the Filter, with a row of eight DIP switches on top, the Pedal has MIDI IN and OUT, and quarter-inch jack pedal and footswitch sockets. Most MIDI synths have two control wheels, but the MIDI spec supports several other types of controllers. The Pocket Pedal allows you to use eight of these, including MIDI volume, pitch-bend, modulation, portamento time, sustain, sostenuto, clock start/stop and portamento on/off. You can send data on one, several or all MIDI channels.
Useful applications would be remote stop/start for a drum machine or sequencer; adding volume control to a module such as a TX-7; and using sostenuto, by which a chord can be held while you solo over the top. Many MIDI synths and pianos accept sostenuto control, though few have it as a front panel option.
The last of the Pocket MIDI products is the Sequencer, which should be available later this Summer. Apparently it's very simple - it just allows you to record, play back and fast forward/rewind through a sequence, no editing facilities.
At £99, none of the Pocket MIDI products could be described as being pocket money prices; a pity, since at a lower price I think they would shift by the sackful. At the current price, you might be well advised to see whether a slightly less sexy product might not do the same job cheaper.
Product: Anatek Pocket MIDI Products
Price: £99 each
Supplier: Sound Technology, (Contact Details)
Gear in this article:
Review by Chris Jenkins writing as John Renwick
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