MIDI

I know nothing about MIDI.

My son has an Alesis SR16, a TC Electronic Flashback X4 Delay/Looper, and an EHX 22500 Dual Looper. All are MIDI capable. The problem he’s having is keeping these three devices synced together. My understanding is you can use a MIDI control source to do this. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about MIDI to even know where to begin.

Is there a simple device that can do this?
Can the Alesis SR16 do this?

The MIDI rabbit hole seems pretty deep. I’m hoping someone can help with a simple solution for this.

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I would use the DAW as the MIDI time source, sent via MIDI out on your interface, connected to the MIDI IN on all of those. You may need to either get a MIDI interface with more ports or use a Thru if any of them have it.

This makes the DAW the master timekeeper for everything, which is always what I personally want. Not everyone does it this way.

Another option would be to use the drum machine as the time source - this can be nice because everything then syncs to its tempo control. This can be nice because it doesn’t require the use of the DAW 100%; but then again, there’s many reasons that most electronic musicians have that macbook on stage, and this is one :slight_smile:

Also the SR-16 has a super funky MIDI implementation - it’s old enough that it was pre-standard for some stuff.

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That said - MIDI is a huge topic though and one not easily explained here in short posts. It’s inherently going to require a lot of learning.

I wish I could help there with easy references but I learned all this on the fly in the very early '90s - back while your SR-16 was being designed :slight_smile:

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Then, there is also this:

The main important bit of info here is probably “backwards compatible”…

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Thanks @Howard. That set me on the path to find what I needed. Now I just have to find $25 for MIDI cables to see if I can set it up and get it working correctly.

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Here’s an example with Reaper using the drum machine as the time source:

This works nicely if you want to use the drum machine for tempo control. Lots of people do this. I do it the other way out of habit as I am used to driving everything from the sequencer. He describes that at about 5:30.

The important thing is to have just one time source.

Also important to remember, MIDI Clock and MIDI Time Code are two different things.

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i really hate midi. or at least i think i do. because it’s one of those things that some people know how/what it does and how to do it, but there really isn’t a lot of simple, user friendly tutorials that i have run across to give you the basics. i was looking at the TC multi effect pedal that is midi capable, and they recently pushed an update for it. from the release notes:

What’s new?
The foot switches of your Plethora can now be remote controlled via Midi using CCs 102 (slot1) to 106 (slot 5).
Midi CCs 102- 106 toggle the foot switches: <64 OFF >64 ON [Bypass ON = dry signal/ FX OFF - Bypass OFF = FX ON].

well that make everything as clear as mud. not to bash tc, because everyone seems to do this. which means most of us will never even bother trying to figure it out.

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Yeah. That’s like exactly what you need to know (the bare minimum) if you know what you’re doing, and no information at all if you’re a beginner.

In slightly more english:

“Configure your MIDI sequencer to send a MIDI Control Change event to toggle the foot switches on or off. Control Change 102 maps to effects slot 1 on the Plethora, through Control Change 106, which maps to slot 5. For each of them, send a value less than 64 to turn bypass off, and greater than 64 to turn bypass on.”

Even then you still need to know what you’re doing with MIDI though.

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@howard Thanks for your help.

It looks like the SR16 will put out MIDI clock that the two pedals can both use. Although, from what you shared, it seems like you can’t just use the SR16 as a MIDI clock. You have to create a drum track and then the clock sends out a signal based on that track. Not that this is big deal. The SR16 would be used for a drum track anyway.

I’ve read where the MIDI clock can be unpredictable but I wasn’t able to figure out if that’s across the board, or if it was because these people were using old systems that had other problems going on. I’m just going to have to try it and see what happens.

He doesn’t have the time (or interest) to learn Reaper and even if he did, he doesn’t have a reliable computer at the moment. He is very outdoorsy person and a computer isn’t a real priority for him. That’s the main reason I’m trying to get this running without going down that road.

@itsratso The best I can tell is this would only be used for triggering a patch or set of patches for song changes or even changes during songs. It might be cool to set up that system of control but I wouldn’t consider it necessary or even relevant, especially if your just playing for yourself.

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It should send the clock signal whenever it is playing, even stock patterns. At least I would hope it would. You should also check if it can send MIDI Clock, MIDI Time Code, or both, and check what the pedals expect.

Depending on the pedal can do cool things with this, like sync digital delay pulses with beats.

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Yeah I can get even that much from the tech speak. But I’m talking about something even simpler. These are the ONLY instructions for this. So what does this physically accomplish for me? How does it change how my pedal works? To make these changes, do I plug it in to my computer? And then what, is there an app?

I don’t have this pedal, and I’m not asking for answers to these questions. I’m questioning why this isn’t being explained and who would do this if they didn’t know how. Most people that know midi picked it up in bits and pieces over a long time it seems. Which is a really half assed system for expanding the knowledge base for new users. Even the tutorials are usually too much. I’m pretty good at picking things up, but that for dummies excerpt above made my eyes glaze over in two seconds :grin:.
It seems as if the attitude is if you know how to do this great, and if not you’re effed.

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It is kind of weird when you think about it. I learned it that way because I had to - I learned it while it was still an evolving thing and the only easily available docs were specs.

It hasn’t been that way for decades now and it seems it’s still how people learn it. There’s lots of MIDI vids on youtube but I haven’t seen any real nice, concise basics tutorial yet. To be fair I haven’t looked very hard though.

Someone must have done this by now.

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I agree, I’m pretty sure there are sources out there, there must be. But if you really have to hunt to find them then there isnt enough of them.

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hmm okay i of course, googled it. which i have before. but i actually pretty quickly found this, which seems promising, some people DO get it. will dig deeper to see if he continues further in this vein, or if this is just a one shot video. but this is more what i’m talking bout.

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That’s a nice intro but it’s mostly covering the “what is MIDI” question. What I find difficult to explain to people is the specific steps they need to do to hook things up from their controllers to the instruments, and so on. As an example, I found it pretty hard to adequately explain in a forum context things like MIDI note mapping and how to manage it in a DAW when setting the DAW sequencer up to control a drum machine. It’s something I totally get but only because I have had to do stuff like it a bunch.

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Yeah I was hoping that was next.

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I have a midi controller which has 3 footswitches that I use for controlling my pedals. I can program the behaviour of the switches via an editor. So for example I can switch between my multi-effect pedal and drummachine with one knob and send different commands to them with my other two footswitches.

I just started experimenting so I havent really go into the whole time code and clock thing but I think that my controller needs midi input for that to happen. I only got midi output on my controller so I can only send midi. I do have an expression input but that one is used for my expression pedal or extra footswitches.

An old buddy of mine is actually a midi guru, maybe I should reach out to him. :slight_smile: He created https://hexler.net/products/touchosc a long time ago. With this app you can send midi signals via your app and you can build your own interface (mainly targeted for dj/vj purposes). It’s pretty cool if you like midi!

P.s. I want an Alesis SR16/18 too :blush:

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@Paul can you post a picture of how this is all connected and give an example of what you’re using the foot switch to change.

I have the Morningstar MC3 (I was also interested in the JET micro). These are designed for pedalboards where you want to control multiple units. Let me link you the YT sales pitch instead since this explains it a bit better then I can: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1l4JUoKnHs&ab_channel=MorningstarEngineering

So in case of clock/syncing I think you need a MC6 or higher. Maybe there are cheaper options but so far I’m impressed with what it can do!

I actually recorded something else for a friend of mine that I just realized is a good example of MIDI clock sync. In this case I was playing with a software synthesizer. It has a patch that has a low frequency oscillator controlling a high-pass filter on the sound, oscillating in a syncopated pattern.

So, I set it to time the LFO to the midi clock, and it made the filter sweeps occur on beats. It sounds cool.

That’s just me holding down whole notes, the LFO is doing the rest, synced to the MIDI clock, so it’s in perfect time with the drum track.

I love this stuff, it’s what I used to do in our band way back.

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