Sunday, October 01, 2006

Midi Tutorial Part 4: Setting Up Multiple Hardware Synthesizers

Note: The following article is a general outline to introduce readers to the general concepts and methods behind setting up midi. The specific details of how to setup a midi keyboard with your computer will vary depending upon the hardware and software that you use.

Setting Up Multiple Hardware Synthesizers .
1. Use the same steps as you did to setup a single synthesizer. Since you want to use multiple synthesizer there are several considerations that need to be taken into account on how you will want to connect your multiple synthesizers.

2. Chaining synthesizers: Chaining synthesizers is done when you link multiple synthesizers together and have them run into 1 midi in/out connection on your midi interface. For the first synthesizer in the chain connect midi out from the interface to midi in on the synthesizer. Next, connect this synthesizer to another synthesizer by connecting the midi thru on the first synthesizer to midi in on the second synthesizer, and continue to do this down the line for your synthesizer.

3. On the last synthesizer in the chain you can simply end you midi connections and leave it at that, but if you want to send midi data from any of these synthesizers back to your sequencer then on the last synthesizer in the chain you will need to run a cable from the midi out connection to the corresponding midi in port on your interface (this means if you used midi out A on your interface to go to the first synthesizer then run the midi out from the last synthesizer into the midi in A on the interface.)

4. Remember however that the more synthesizers you link up, the more latency you will develop because midi information degrade will degrade as it travels greater distances. It is recommended that you chain no more then fours together. At the most chain together eight.

5. After you have all of your synthesizers chained together you now need to go into each hardware synthesizer and assign a separate midi channel for each one. This way each will respond to only midi data received on that channel coming out of your sequencer. The easiest way to do this is to use midi channel 1 for synthesizer one 2 for synthesizer 2, etc, etc. down the line. This also means that you cannot assign these channels inside your sequencer to internal sounds or plugins.

6. The second possible way to set up multiple synthesizers is to have each midi out on your midi interface run to a single synthesizer. Simply set this up the same way as you do for one sound module. In this case however we do encounter a problem. Remember that each midi port can handle 16 channels of midi. So if we set a synthesizer to each midi out port on the interface (in this example 2 ports. Ports A and B) then we have a total of 32 channels of midi data. Channels 1-16A and channels 1-16B. Most keyboards and midi controllers cannot differentiate between different ports. They only recognize midi channel numbers and the synthesizer will both be recognized on midi channel 1. The two channels would be midi channel 1A and midi channel 1B.

Tips on using hardware synthesizers
Remember that when using midi with a hardware synthesizer that no sound data is transferred over the midi cables. Audio is only transferred out of the audio out lines of your particular synthesizer. When you want to mix down your tracks from your sequencer the audio from your hardware synthesizer will not be mixed down into your song as your soft synthesizer do. In order to mix down your hard synthesizer tracks you will need to bounce them to a .wav file and then import them into project or song as ..wav files in their own channels. After this is done you will no longer need your to have your hard synthesizers play when you mix down the song for your sequencer/studio.


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