Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man

10Mar/160

Wanted: Swiss Army MIDI Workstation

One of the goals of my guitar setup is to be able to use it in 3 different configurations:

  1. Hardware only
  2. Hardware/software
  3. Software only

Ideally I'd like to be able to exactly the same things with each, but hardware costs money! A lot of money. For instance: a hardware looper that syncs with MIDI clock starts around $400. That's more than what I paid for my whole laptop! It's becoming increasingly obvious to me that dollar for dollar, software is the way to go.

But I'll never completely eliminate hardware, and I don't think I should. It's not that I don't think software is reliable: my laptop runs effects for hours without a hiccup. But you still need hardware for interfacing things together. Controllers, pedals, mixers, etc.

So I guess the question is, what's an acceptable mix of hardware and software? If I say hardware only, I know exactly what I'd need to buy, and it wouldn't be cheap.

For effects, i.e. amplifier models, delays, etc. I've got it covered in hardware. That's easy, and I can control everything without a laptop. Everything syncs to the MIDI clock (delays, drum machine, etc.) and everything works. I'd still like to be able to use the Master Control to select drumbeats and the ART pedal to control effect presets... but because of the way the Linn handles that, it will require another piece of hardware to insert Bank Change signals so the MC will only switch drumbeats. Not ideal, but doable.

In order to control the Adrenalinn's drum and effect presets with two separate MIDI controllers, it requires injecting "bank change" messages into one of them to change the A3's preset mode. This isn't very complicated, except that there's currently no piece of hardware that will do that. However, for about $30, I can build a hardware MIDI filter out of an Arduino Uno board, and it looks something like this: (This is the actual MIDI board I will be using with my Arduino)

arduino-midi

This little piece will let me run the drum machine with the Master Control, and control all the guitar effects with my ART pedal, by intercepting PC messages and adding "bank up/down" messages before and after them.

For looping and recording, though, the laptop is the best option, by far. So that only leaves the problem of "how do I control everything?" More specifically, how do I use my controllers to control everything in a standardized way, so I don't have to re-learn how to use it every time I change something?

I guess that depends on what I need to actually be able to control. If I can control everything I need in hardware with what I already have, then all I need to figure out is how to control the looper on the laptop. It looks like I will end up having 3 separate controllers: the MIDI clock for the drum machine, the ART X-15 for guitar effects, and a third pedal for the laptop. Something similar to this would work:

s-l1600

It sends MIDI signals over USB, so it would only work on the laptop. But that's all I'd need it for.

It's not the smallest setup, and I'd love to be able to have everything controlled in one place, but... I just don't know how to make that happen. I'm going to ponder this a bit more. It's definitely an exercise in thought. The control setup will look something like this:

MIDIRoute

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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