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Let's Talk MIDI Interfaces


jdonnici

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I'm currently using, and pretty happy with, an Opcode Studio 128x MIDI Interface. As most everyone knows, however, there's not much to "Opcode" any longer so the chances of me seeing a driver for this device that works in Windows 2000 are slim-to-none. The driver I have is version 1.01 from 1997 or so and is likely to stay there for all eternity.

 

So, while this interface is fine on my current Win98SE machine, I'm going to someday want to move to Windows 2000 or Windows XP. At that point, I'm going to need to get a new interface, so I figured I'd test the waters and see what people are using and happy with. Here are some thoughts/desires related to my quest...

 

1 - I'll want to get another 8x8 interface. I've got 5 or 6 ports filled at any given time and like having a little room to grow.

 

2 - I'll need basic SMPTE/sync features, though I don't need VITC or any of that type of stuff.

 

3 - I use the patchbay features of the 128x a lot. I like that I've got 8 programs (each is essentially a "routing matrix") and I don't have to have the computer on to switch between them. I've got my "sequencing" program, and then I've got various programs that route my controller's MIDI OUT to various module MIDI INs and I can tinker around without having the computer on because a button on the front of the 128x lets me switch (not so with one of the Emagic interfaces I just read about).

 

4 - Obviously, I'm on a PC... my sequencer of choice right now is Cakewalk (and Sonary just arrived), so the various protocols that Steinberg and Emagic are using in their interfaces to get ultra-tight timing with their own sequencers don't do me much good.

 

5 - I think I prefer a serial connection between the PC and the interface. I say this because the 128x has always been rock solid for me and I've read a variety of horror stories about USB-based interfaces. The less time I have to spend troubleshooting a MIDI interface, the better. I'm willing to pay a little more if it means out-of-the-box stability.

 

6 - Having at least one set of IN/OUT ports on the front of the interface is very nice. I occasionally have someone come by who brings a keyboard, MIDI guitar, etc with them and it's nice not to have to dig around behind the rack.

 

Anyway, I think that covers what I'm looking for. Any and all advice, suggestions, or warnings are most appreciated!

 

Thanks,

 

-- jeff

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Originally posted by Jonathan Hughes:

MOTU MIDI Express XT

 

Interesting... That's one of the ones I'm thinking about, but I've read a lot of stuff here and in the Cakewalk Newsgroups about MOTU not having, and not planning to have, Windows 2000 drivers for some of their hardware.

 

As I understand it, you can hope for Win2K USB drivers some day (though not today) but that if you're using a serial connection with the MOTU interface you bought a year or so ago, they don't have (and don't plan to have) Win2K drivers.

 

Again, I'm (so far) leaning toward staying with a serial connection to my interface... rock solid performance in the past and I'm leary of all the timing/latency problems I hear about from folks who've gone to USB-based MIDI interfaces.

 

Again, any firsthand feedback is appreciated.

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There was a thread either in here or in Craig Anderton's forum all about the Motu interfaces and their windows problems. You should be able to find it with a site search. It seems to me that their windows compatibility is akin to vaporware - the units came out with a little Windows compatible label on them, but weren't really compatible until a year later, when Motu ran those big "W" ads on the back of Keyboard. On the other hand, the Motu device has all the features.. but drivers are almost as important.

 

The other two choices are the Midiman Midisport 8/8 which doesn't claim outright that it has Windows 2000 drivers, but says it's comaptible with 98SE/2000; and the Emagic Unitor8/AMT8. It's kinda annoying that the AMT8 doesn't at least have SMPTE, but oh well. They say NT drivers are under devleopment. There's also some Steinberg thing called Midex8 which has a protocol for Cubase that's similar to Emagic's AMT for Logic.

 

Amazingly, of these only the Midiman interface does SMPTE regeneration, which is really the most important thing to have on a SMTPE box.. And of these, only the Steinberg outright claims current support for Windows 2000.

 

I'm pretty sure that all of these interfaces have serial connectors in addition to USB. As far as patchbay settings, the Motu is the most powerful, followed by the Emagic (stores 32 patches, but only accesible through footswitch or program change) and then the Midiman. The Emagic was just reviewed in Electronic musician (emusician.com) and was reviewed in Keyboard about a year ago.

 

This message has been edited by Steve44 on 04-05-2001 at 02:20 AM

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MOTU will not release Win 2000 drivers for the MTP unit. I spoke with them recently. I'm looking for a new Midi interface also for video stuff too.

Must be 8 in/out. The Unitor doesn't work well on the PC with Cubase, anyone got any ideas?

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Originally posted by Steve44:

There was a thread either in here or in Craig Anderton's forum all about the Motu interfaces and their windows problems. You should be able to find it with a site search.

 

The other two choices are the Midiman Midisport 8/8 which doesn't claim outright that it has Windows 2000 drivers, but says it's comaptible with 98SE/2000; and the Emagic Unitor8/AMT8.

This message has been edited by Steve44 on 04-05-2001 at 02:20 AM

 

Thanks, Steve... that's helpful. I had checked out Emagic's site and did just read the review in Electronic Musician. I remember that you couldn't change from one routing program to another without the computer on, though. Your pointer to the Midiman offering is very helpful. I hadn't looked into that one much.

 

Thanks again... hopefully others using 8x8 interfaces on Win2K will have similarly helpful input.

 

-- jeff

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This probably doesn't do you any good, but the other way I can think of is the frontier sierra.. except that it's an expander for the dakota audio card. If you may be looking for the audio card in the near future, then it may be an option. I've yet to hear anyone complain about the frontier stuff... it's supposed to be pretty rock solid.

 

http://www.frontierdesign.com

 

I personally would stay away from any MOTU hardware on a PC. I hear far too many complains vs praises...

 

Rod

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