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Build a manual MIDI Patch Bay?


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Has anyone here built a MIDI patch bay/patch panel before, assuming this is possible? I started looking at some of the old MIDI patch bays on eBay and they seem to generally have a set number of ins and outs, and for the most part have user presets that set up all the ports with some merge capabilities, etc. The more I think about how I'd use one of these, the less they seem to meet my needs (in studio, not thinking about live at all here).

 

When I think about what makes sense for how I work, I can picture having a panel with many MIDI jacks mounted on it, and each would be wired from behind to a cable that runs to an in/out on a different piece of gear: weighted controller, synth controller, drum pads, hardware synths, computer MIDI IO, etc. Then in theory, I would manually patch together the ins and outs I needed at that moment with just some short standard MIDI cables. So an example would be that I'd connect the port for MIDI out on the weighted MIDI controller to the port for MIDI in on the computer to record a performance with a piano VST that I like playing with the weighted controller.

 

This seems like it should be doable because I'd just be bridging the physical pins between the connectors, but this isn't my area of expertise. I'm capable enough with a soldering iron that I feel like I should be able to build it, assuming the idea is sound. Has anyone done this type of thing before, or am I completely missing some reason why this wouldn't work.

"If you can't dazzle them with dexterity, baffle them with bullshit."
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The more I think about how I'd use one of these, the less they seem to meet my needs (in studio, not thinking about live at all here).

 

Are you concerned that the devices out there do way more than you need? If so you can always use a small subset of their capability. I believe just about any multi-port midi interface does exactly what you're trying to do...and then some. Also I don't think you're going to save much money if any, especially if you value your time.

 

While the functionality you described is do it yourself-able I still can't see why you would want to do all this work. I've built every midi cable in my setup and so I have a fairly good idea of the time involved.

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Are you concerned that the devices out there do way more than you need? If so you can always use a small subset of their capability. I believe just about any multi-port midi interface does exactly what you're trying to do...and then some. Also I don't think you're going to save much money if any, especially if you value your time.

Yes and no. It's more based on my assumption of how they work, which might be incorrect. My assumption is that I'd need to set up a preset for every combination of routing, and then switch to the preset I need for each in/out combination. It just seems like it would be far more intuitive to just patch MIDI in the same way one would patch audio with an audio patch bay. Am I misunderstanding how these work?

"If you can't dazzle them with dexterity, baffle them with bullshit."
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Yes I build MIDI patch panels. My purpose is to simply manage the device cabling going in and out of my racks. No soldering required. Just get panel mount MIDI pass thru jacks from Redco. You could use this as a manual switchboard. Back in the day I would have used a 360 Systems 8x8 MIDI patcher but modern super workstations have killed my needs for modules and programmable routings.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Are you concerned that the devices out there do way more than you need? If so you can always use a small subset of their capability. I believe just about any multi-port midi interface does exactly what you're trying to do...and then some. Also I don't think you're going to save much money if any, especially if you value your time.

Yes and no. It's more based on my assumption of how they work, which might be incorrect. My assumption is that I'd need to set up a preset for every combination of routing, and then switch to the preset I need for each in/out combination. It just seems like it would be far more intuitive to just patch MIDI in the same way one would patch audio with an audio patch bay. Am I misunderstanding how these work?

 

All kinds of options here. I have two 8x8 midi processors (MOTU MTP-AVs) with only 1 patch set up on each. It's basically connects the usb port to each input and output with a couple of ports that have some filtering going on. Every I/O port is seen by my DAW and it handles all the routing.

 

But yeah, especially in light of these pre-wired midi connector panels, whatever works best for you.

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How often do you really need to repatch? With 16 channels, you can get a LOT of miles out of in/out/thru ports!

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How often do you really need to repatch? With 16 channels, you can get a LOT of miles out of in/out/thru ports!

That's a fair point. I probably could spend the time setting up channels, etc, and avoid the need to patch, however when working "in the box" I tend to start from scratch each time rather than use templates, and I like the simplicity of having whatever controller I'm using play any track that's actively selected. There very well may be a better way of working, but I'm finding this is working for me.

 

Don't get me wrong, live is another story altogether and I use MIDI channels extensively in that situation.

"If you can't dazzle them with dexterity, baffle them with bullshit."
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Good find by CEB! I might make use of some of those myself. In the meantime, I have a simpler, low-tech solution which might be all you need.

 

Just run all your midi cables to a central point and bundle them together, maybe even tie them together and drape them over a hook or similar, with 6 inches or so of cable hanging free. Now use an inline midi coupler such as the Hosa GMD-108 5-Pin DIN to 5-Pin DIN to connect the ins and outs as required.

 

Easy-peasy.

Legend Soul 261, Leslie 251, Yamaha UX1, CP4, CK61, Hammond SK1, Ventilator, Privia PX3, Behringer 2600, Korg Triton LE, VB3M, B3X, various guitars and woodwinds, drum kits …

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The biggest problem w/ manually switchable MIDI cross-matrix designs is, the one(s) who does the switching manually (typically the keyboardplayer himself or his roradie), they don´t know when some MIDI message is completely passed thru any actually given matrix configuration.

Examples might be, the I/O configuration changes and the message "vel=0" is cut ... result: stuck note.

Or,- sustain pedal isn´t released before configuration changes.

Longer messages like sysex needing "EOX" command are much more critical.

 

Professional processor controlled MIDI matrix switchers (incl. MIDIprocessor) never change the configuration before not ALL the active messages from previous configuration passed thru completely.

 

Don´t say you´d need a processor for that always, but some logic chips at least.

Joe Zawinul prefered and used such simpler switch matrix design, but I dunno who designed it for him.

It seemed to be reliable though.

 

A.C.

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use an inline midi coupler such as the Hosa GMD-108 5-Pin DIN to 5-Pin DIN to connect the ins and outs as required.

Thanks for heads up on these. Just ordered a couple to use as an interim fix while I figure out patch panel details.

"If you can't dazzle them with dexterity, baffle them with bullshit."
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I guess I don't get why anyone would use manual patching. With a midi processor you have merging and distributing. So less patching is usually needed. When you do need to make a change, isn't it easier to push one button then to reconnect multiple cables? I use two DMC MX-8s where you can name the patches.

 

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Minorguy, I think it's just a matter of work style. It's still possible that a processor would be the right solution for me, but right now the idea of quick cable patches feels more right for me than needing to remember which preset does what on a processor. It's the same with WesG pointing out that I could probably get to the same place (or close to it) by spending the time to set up everything on a different MIDI channel. It's three different ways of accomplishing a task. There's an aspect of physical device layout in play here as well. Right now, due to space issues I swap some boards in and out here and there. If everything was more permanent I might be leaning a different way.
"If you can't dazzle them with dexterity, baffle them with bullshit."
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