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SONAR users - what MIDI interface?


Dan South

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DP, Cubase/Nuendo, and Logic all have specialized MIDI interfaces available from the respective companies. You can mix and match, but keeping things "all in the family" improves performance.

 

How about SONAR? What MIDI interfaces work well with it? How about audio interfaces?

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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I posed this question earlier when you brought up time stamping in another thread, and got no satisfactory reply. I currently use the Motu MTP/AV USB version and am very happy with it. I don't have anything else on the USB bus except the copyright device for Reaktor. I love the MTP/AV for the deep channel programming and have never had any problems using it with Sonar. At one time Cakewalk sold MOTU midi units through their web site and mailers to registered customers but I have not seen this in the past couple of years.

 

As for timing I have not yet had any real issues but I do use Battery for most drum parts, thus bypassing any external midi device. If drum programming ever becomes a problem for me I will use the direct midi imput of my soundcard.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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As mentioned in another thread earlier, I'm using the Unitor8 MkII with Sonar (on WinXP) and I don't have MIDI timing problems with it.

 

I connect it via the COM port for a few reasons... first, I used the COM port with my old Opcode 128x and it was solid as a rock. Second, I've got a few different devices on the USB bus -- my Akai S6000 (for akSys), an external hard drive I use for archiving samples, and the Reaktor dongle. I occasionally connect my MP3 player and digital camera as well, though not when I'm doing anything music related.

 

I looked around quite a bit before getting the Unitor8 and I don't have any regrets so far. I looked at the MTP AV, MIDI Express XT, MIDISport 8x8, and Steinberg's Midex 8. Only the MTP AV was a real competitor with the Unitor8, but I don't get warm and fuzzy feelings from MOTU when it comes to the Windows platform.

 

Hope this helps.

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I'm using the Aardvark 24/96 which is both Midi and audio with Sonar XL 1.31 (soon to be 2.0). Rock solid. Seems that Aardvark and Cakewalk have been talking to each other if booth space at Namm is any indication.

K.

9 Moog things, 3 Roland things, 2 Hammond things and a computer with stuff on it

 

 

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Originally posted by Dan South:

How about SONAR? What MIDI interfaces work well with it?

I talked with a friend of mine here at work (Microsoft) and he thought that the Steinberg Midex 8 had a time-stamping protocol that would work with Sonar. Logic has a time-stamped MIDI interface, but the protocol is supported only in Logic as far as I can tell.

 

I'm actually thinking about checking this out myself as the MIDIMan interfaces don't have timestamping (as far as I can tell).

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Originally posted by PatAzz:

I talked with a friend of mine here at work (Microsoft) and he thought that the Steinberg Midex 8 had a time-stamping protocol that would work with Sonar. Logic has a time-stamped MIDI interface, but the protocol is supported only in Logic as far as I can tell.

In order for time-stamping to work, both the hardware interface and the sequencer app have to support it. I'm pretty sure that the Steinberg MidEx 8 has time-stamping that's supported on in Cubase (and perhaps Nuendo).

 

Since Cakewalk doesn't make interfaces, they'd need to choose one of the other company's protocols to support and I'd bet that it'd be all over the place if that was an announced feature. I've just ordered Sonar 2 after combing over their web site and didn't see any mention of support for third-party time-stamping.

 

That said, I've had great luck with Sonar 1.3.1 and my Unitor8 MkII (from Emagic, the Logic folks). It's running via the serial port on a WinXP system and has had great timing for me. If Cakewalk chooses to support someone's time-stamping, I hope it's Emagic's (though I'm not holding my breath :) ).

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Originally posted by Magpel:

Um, what's time-stamping? Link to me a place of explanation?

I'll bet you can find an explanation at Harmony Central or even a vendor site (try emagic.de).

 

Essentially, though, it's this... MIDI is a serial protocol wherein messages go down the wire in a line, one after the other. With very busy MIDI communications, such as when you have lots of notes with lots of controller messages, this can cause timing problems because messages will be received later than you want them to.

 

With timestamping, the sequencing software wraps a MIDI message with some timing information to indicate exactly WHEN that event is supposed to occur. Not sure how they do this, if it's just sticking the exact SMPTE time on the message, or what. Anyway, the MIDI interface that receives all this does what it can to read that timing info and make sure that the events reach your synths/devices exactly when they should.

 

It's more helpful with multi-port interfaces. With the usual way, if you send four NoteOn messages to four different synths on four different ports of your interface, they don't get there at EXACTLY the same time... though the difference may be inaudible in many cases. With time-stamping, the software indicates that they should all have the same time-stamp, so the interface obliges by sending the messages out of those four ports simultaneously. So even with the messages going from the software to the interface in serial, they go from the interface to the devices in parallel.

 

Or at least that's my understanding of it all. :freak:

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Thanks for the info on time stamping, JD. I'm very interested because I'm *very* paranoid, almost pathologically so, about the stability of MIDI timing on the Windows platform. And plus I use a USB interface. So what does it take to get one's time stamped? What soft/hard combo?
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Originally posted by Magpel:

So what does it take to get one's time stamped? What soft/hard combo?

For now, it looks like the only way to get time-stamping is to go with a combo interface/sequencer from the same vendor. Either Emagic's Unitor8 or AMT8 interface with Logic, or Steinberg's Midex8 with Cubase/Nuendo.

 

I don't think MIDIMan's interfaces support any sort of time-stamping, nor does Sonar support any other company's interface spec for time-stamping.

 

As I mentioned, I'm using a Unitor8 MkII with Sonar 1.3.1, connected via the serial port because I have the same fears you do about USB interfaces, and it seems pretty solid. I just got Sonar 2.0 yesterday, so I'll probably give that a go this weekend and run some timing tests with it and the Unitor8.

 

Good luck.

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