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Technically Speaking

Technical questions answered by Ian Waugh

The DX11 - Multitimbral or bust

Q I have recently bought a second-hand Yamaha DX11 and linked it up to my IBM 386 running Trax on Windows. Could you help me to use this equipment because I don't know that much about keyboards. It's all new to me.

When I try to record over two different instruments and play them back, all I hear is the instrument that is shown on the keyboard and not the first instrument as well. I think I must be doing something wrong with the keyboard. Is there any advice that you could give me or any books that could help me? Please could you answer this quickly because it is frustrating. Thanks.
Adam Haswell

A I'll answer it as fast as I can but it will help if you read it quickly, too... You're not doing anything wrong with the keyboard, you're just not doing the one thing you need to do. That's putting the DX11 into multitimbral mode. In DX11 terms it means selecting Performance mode. The manual will tell you how to do it - assuming you did get a manual with your DX11. If you didn't, contact Yamaha on (Contact Details), I'm sure they'll help you if they can.

There are also a couple of quick MIDI concepts you need to grasp. When you record into your sequencer, you record note information only, not the sound you are using. On playback, you can select any sound you like on the DX11 and this is what you'll hear. In fact, this is exactly what is happening at the moment.

Multitimbral or Performance mode lets you play back different music lines using different sounds. Each sound is allocated its own MIDI channel. You can specify the MIDI channel each track will transmit on in the Track Sheet window of Trax - but the DX11 must be in Performance mode in order to respond correctly. You can also specify the sound or Program Change number which each track will use. The Trax manual explains how to set this up for your own instruments.

What's MIDI? - It's a Music Maker Book

There are several books worth looking at. As you seem to know very little about MIDI, I'd recommend What's MIDI? - a very easy-to-read, getting started guide you can buy from our own Music Maker Books department for £3.95 plus £1.50 p&p. I also like to recommend another book to beginners called What's MIDI? (confusing, isn't it?) which is £4.95 plus 55p p&p from Making Music on (Contact Details) (we don't just plug our own stuff!). It's more in depth and covers a wider range of topics, but it's still a good introductory book. Once you have the basics under your belt you'll know enough to be able to choose more advanced books yourself. As you might imagine there are any number of these, but one that may be worth checking out is called Power Sequencing With Master Tracks Pro/Pro 4 - a collection of 122 tips for the pro version of Trax which you may find interesting. It costs £14.95 and should be available from most good music shops. In case of difficulty, contact Music Sales on (Contact Details).

Q ...or should that be A! Regarding Andrew Trenton of Truro's letter in the April issue, here is a quicker way of doing bank changes on the Oberheim Matrix 1000:

1111 Control 31 Value 127
1121 Program X (X = Bank Number)
1131 Control 31 Value 0
1141 Program X (X = Program Number)

I find this method much quicker than doing SysEx dumps.
John Bradshaw
Cwmbran, Gwent

A Thank you for that, John. Yes, it's a lot easier than SysEx messages and it appears to be more reliable, too. Isn't it nice to see readers helping each other? Restores your faith in human nature, don't it?

Korg Monopoly - you have to know the rules

Q I have just acquired a seemingly very old machine in the form of a Korg Mono/Poly 4VCO synthesiser. I have a couple of problems.

First of all, it has no percussion facility so after I've programmed a fast sequence, I'm having to use my other instrument's keyboard percussion in real time to remedy the situation. Needless to say I'm finding it hard to keep up for three or four minutes. Is there another way I can do this? Perhaps there's another machine I can link up.

My other problem is that I need to know how much it's worth for insurance purposes. I bought it off a friend who, a while ago, paid £400 for it, but we don't know how long ago that was and even then he bought it secondhand.
Nigel Gooderham
Bury St Edmunds

A To answer your second question first: the Mono/Poly came out in 1982 when it retailed at £749. So unless your friend bought it nine or ten years ago, he didn't get a very good deal!

Checking our back issues, I had to go back to March '92 to find someone who wanted to sell a Mono/Poly and they wanted £150 for it.

Of course, any equipment is only worth what you can get for it so putting a price on it is difficult - especially as it doesn't seem to belong to the 'Old Analogue Synth Club' which has helped other old instruments hold their (over-inflated) prices. I would have thought £100 would have been a fair price.

Some insurance policies insure at a replacement cost, others on a new for old basis. Either way, the greater the value you put on the item, the higher the premium. In any event, the insurance company won't pay up on an over-inflated valuation. Also, if you want to insure it on the road it'll cost you an arm and a leg - but that's for you and your insurance company to sort out.

As regards the problem you've been having with percussion tracks: you don't give much information about your other equipment so I can only reply in general terms. I wonder what you are programming your fast sequences on? The Mono/Poly did not have MIDI so you can't be using a MIDI sequencer unless you've had MIDI retrofitted. If this is the case, you can slow down the tempo while recording the drums or create the drum pattern in sections and link them together. But you must have thought of this.

If you're recording direct to tape then you could still play the drum track in sections. Drop out when you get tired and drop in to continue the track. You've probably thought of this, too.

It might be worth considering the use of a MIDI-to-CV Converter which would let you control the Mono/Poly via MIDI. There are several considerations here such as the volt/octave system they use and how the system handles polyphonic data - although the Mono/Poly was better at mono sounds than polyphonic ones.

I'm not sure if this is what you want to do so I won't go into any more detail here. Three companies who do MIDI-to-CV devices spring immediately to mind, so for more info contact Philip Rees ((Contact Details)), Kenton Electronics ((Contact Details)) and dBM ((Contact Details)).

Q At the moment I am using an Atari ST with Creator software to sequence various multitimbral modules. The problem is I've started using various early analogue keyboards which have been fitted with MIDI. These are not multitimbral.

How can I run, for instance, 16 different keyboards at the same time without 'daisy chaining' them all together (considering most of them only have Thru and Out sockets)? Also, how could I use a MIDI junction box/patch bay in my setup and does anyone make one to accommodate 16 different routings.
David Hunt

A No wonder you can't get your system to work if the keyboards only have Thru and Out sockets! I take it you mean they only have In and Out sockets. But you're right in assuming that if you daisy chain more than three or four pieces of gear you may experience problems with the MIDI messages (...have you really got sixteen different synths to connect together?). However, you can achieve more reliability and greater flexibility using alternative methods - and there are a few options open to you...

First of all there's the MIDI Thru Box. This accepts a MIDI In signal and transmits it simultaneously to several MIDI Outs. I'd have no hesitation in recommending the Philip Rees V10 MIDI Merger ( them on (Contact Details)) which is excellent value at £39.95 but, as its name suggests, it only has 10 Outs. You could also try a MIDI Patch Bay. This lets you plug in all your MIDI Ins and Outs and reroute them to each other as required. Some of the more upmarket patchers have features such as zoning and mapping. But again, there aren't many 16 x 16 versions around - most tend to be a more modest 8x8.

If you want a unit with all the bells and whistles (...and you really have got sixteen different synths), there's the JL Cooper Synapse at £1199 from Sound Technology ((Contact Details)) which has 16 Ins, 20 Outs, MIDI Merge, 64 memories, 12 zones and a lot more besides. If, however, your means are more modest, check out the Ensoniq KMX-16 (also from Sound Technology) which is a 15 In x 16 Out device and comes with edit software for the Mac and ST and costs a rather more reasonable £499. (There's also an 8 x 8 version at £299.)

Philip Rees MIDI Switch - gimme five?

If you decide you don't need so many connections, the Philip Rees 5x5 MIDI Switcher (a 5 x 5 Patch Bay) is an excellent unit at £99 which I use myself. You can add the X5X Switch Expander (£89) to it to give you a 5 In x 10 Out system and two X5X units will give you a 5 In x 15 Out system. The nice thing about the 5 x 5 is that you can see at a glance what is connected to what. If you can wait, Philip Rees are developing a 10 x 10 Patch Bay which I'm first in line for!

My final suggestion would be to opt for more MIDI Outs - and this applies to anyone using two or more multitimbral sound modules who has found 16 MIDI channels are not enough. The Export cartridge (£99) from Sound Technology provides an additional three MIDI Outs (accessed by selecting the letters in the channel column in Creator) giving a total of 48 discrete MIDI Outs. Unitor 2 (£299) is a SMPTE synchroniser and together with Export it gives you 6 Outs - that's 96 MIDI channels.

UKMA's ModemMIDI - sixteen all over again

And on the same lines, there's a cheaper option in the shape of a single MIDI expansion device which gives you just one extra MIDI Out. At least three companies supply them - Tesseract ((Contact Details)), Hands On ((Contact Details)) and the UKMA ((Contact Details)) - and they cost around £30.

Got a problem? Ian has the answer. Write to: Technically Speaking, (Contact Details).

Previous Article in this issue

Touching Bass

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Vince Clarke’s Wall Of Sound

Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - Jun 1993

Feedback by Ian Waugh

Previous article in this issue:

> Touching Bass

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