Frequently Asked Questions
Q: The MIDI Solutions products don't have a power input - do they require batteries?
A: MIDI Solutions products are powered through the MIDI cable - no batteries or wall adapters are required!
Q: How do I set up the products for the function I need if they don't have any buttons or switches on them?
A: MIDI Solutions products are programmed by sending them MIDI System Exclusive messages. All that's needed to do this is a computer with a MIDI interface - the Roland UM-ONE, Yamaha UX16, and later versions of the M-Audio Uno, are low cost USB MIDI interfaces that can be used for this purpose (avoid the MIDI interfaces on this list). The computer is required only to program the MIDI Solutions products, once they have been programmed the computer is no longer necessary - the products retain their settings and can be inserted wherever they are needed in your MIDI setup.
Most of the MIDI Solutions products can be programmed with Programming Tools software for Windows (see here for Mac workaround). The software creates the System Exclusive programming commands automatically as the settings are selected from pull-down menus. Even if you haven't yet purchased a MIDI Solutions product the software is available free for download, it's quick to install and simple to navigate - spending a few minutes with it is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the products.
The Programming Tools software is not yet available for the MIDI Solutions Pedal Controller, Breath Controller, and Special Function products, however SendSX is a very easy to use freeware utility for Windows that allows the System Exclusive messages to be typed in and sent to those products. If you are using a Mac and cannot run SendSX, you can email us at email@example.com and we'll send you a reply with a Standard MIDI File to play into the product to program it to your specification.
Finally, if you would rather not program the unit yourself, we can preprogram it to your specification for a $20 fee (please allow an additional week for delivery of preprogrammed products). However since programming the unit is quite easy we always suggest to customers to purchase a USB MIDI interface and do it themselves if possible - a low cost MIDI USB interface can be purchased for around $40 USD, and if you ever decide you would like to change the settings you have the means to do so at your disposal. You may also find that the MIDI interface comes in handy for the odd MIDI task from time to time.
Q: Is it necessary to program the MIDI Solutions products each time they are powered up?
A: MIDI Solutions products retain their settings even after they are powered down, so programming only needs to be done only once to initialize them, or to change the settings.
Q: Is it possible to play the Standard MIDI Files created by the MIDI Solutions Programming Tools with Windows Media Player?
A: Yes, however the MIDI Playback Device needs to be set to the MIDI interface you are using. To do this go to the Control Panel, double-click on "Sounds and Audio Devices", select the "Audio" tab, and then select your MIDI interface as the MIDI music playback device. This works with Windows XP, however this option appears to have been removed in Windows Vista and 7. In this case we recommend using Sweet MIDI Player (the free trial version works fine for this purpose and can be downloaded here).
Q: Do you offer a Mac version of the Programming Tools software?
A: Programming Tools software for the MIDI Solutions products is only available for Windows, however the Programming Tools software can create Standard MIDI Files containing the selected settings, so a file that has been created on a Windows computer can be copied or emailed to your Mac from where it can be played into the MIDI Solutions product to program it. If you do not have access to a Windows computer you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll send you a reply with a Standard MIDI File to play into the product to program it to your specification.
To play the Standard MIDI File from your Mac into the MIDI Solutions product, we recommend using Sweet MIDI Player (the free trial version works fine for this purpose and can be downloaded here). Some Standard MIDI File players will not send certain MIDI messages if they don't appear to be necessary to send. For example, some MIDI players won't send a Control Change message if the same value of that Control Change message was previously sent. In most cases this is not a problem because if the Control Change has previously been set to a certain value then there is no need to resend that value again. But in order for the MIDI Solutions products to be programmed correctly they need to see everything in the Standard MIDI File, and Sweet MIDI Player does this correctly. Also, remember to select your MIDI interface from the MIDI Setup menu before playing the file.
Q: Is it possible to combine multiple MIDI Solutions products for more functionality?
A: MIDI Solutions products can be chained together in a modular fashion to provide exactly the functionality you need. Up to four MIDI Solutions products (except for the MIDI Solutions T8) can be powered from a single MIDI Out or Thru. If more products are required, the Power Adapter can be used to power up to 20 MIDI Solutions products.
Q: Do MIDI Solutions products introduce any noticeable delay?
A: MIDI Solutions Processors use fast processing algorithms to ensure that received data is processed and transmitted byte by byte whenever possible. This means that transmission of outgoing data bytes is started even before all bytes of an incoming MIDI message have been received, resulting in latency times that are very small.
There are only two circumstances in which MIDI data can be delayed longer. The first is when MIDI messages arrive at both inputs of a merger at exactly the same moment, one of the messages must be buffered to allow the other to pass through (this of course is a limitation of MIDI, not of the merger). The second is if an outgoing result depends on the value of the following byte. For example, if a MIDI Solutions product is programmed to filter all messages above a specific value then the third byte of the message (which specifies the value) must be received before the MIDI Solutions product can determine whether or not the message should be transmitted, adding 0.64 ms to the delay. These additional delays of milliseconds or fractions of milliseconds result in latency times that are still extremely short, much shorter than it is possible to hear.
The default settings for the programmable MIDI Solutions products are to pass all MIDI data unchanged allowing MIDI messages to be sent byte by byte, with a typical delay of 0.5 ms. By comparison it is estimated that the shortest time difference distinguishable by humans is approximately 10 ms, so even with up to 20 MIDI Solutions products chained in series the delay should not be noticeable. To put it in perspective the delay is equivalent to the time it takes sound to travel approximately six inches, so more delay is introduced by leaning forward or backward while playing than by inserting a MIDI Solutions product inline in the MIDI data stream.
Q: Will inserting MIDI Solutions products in my setup cause ground loops?
A: According to the MIDI specification, every MIDI output and input must be separated by an optoisolator in order to avoid ground loops. Without an optoisolator, a ground loop can be caused by the MIDI cable making an external connection between devices that are already grounded together via a wall outlet. In order to obtain power from a MIDI Out or Thru, MIDI Solutions products do not contain an optoisolator at their MIDI inputs, but neither are they connected to a wall outlet for power, so no ground loop is created thus far. Subsequently the MIDI output of the MIDI Solutions product is connected to a MIDI input that does contain an optoisolator, so there is never a ground loop between any two devices, even with a MIDI Solutions product inserted in between. You could think of the MIDI Solutions products as an extension of the circuitry of the sending MIDI device. MIDI Solutions products with more than a single MIDI input, i.e. MIDI Solutions Mergers, do have optoisolators at the additional inputs, again preventing the possibility of ground loops.
Since the MIDI Solutions products act as an extension of the circuitry of the sending device, when sending longer distances it is best to use a short cable from the sending device to the MIDI input of the MIDI Solutions product, and a long cable from the MIDI Solutions product to the receiving device with an optocoupled input (rather than a long cable from the sending device to the MIDI input of the MIDI Solutions product, and a short cable from the MIDI Solutions product to the receiving device). When making connections to the MIDI Solutions mergers, the short cable should go to the first input, and the longer cables to the other optocoupled inputs.
Q: Is it possible to use a MIDI Solutions product as a stand-alone device without anything connected to the input?
A: MIDI Solutions products are powered from the device connected to their MIDI input, so even if you don't need to send MIDI messages into them they must still be connected to a MIDI output or Thru to receive power. Most MIDI Solutions products have an echo parameter, so if you don't want the MIDI messages received by the product to be passed through it the echo parameter can be programmed to OFF - in this case the MIDI cable could be thought of as simply a substitute for a wall adapter.
If you don't have any MIDI outputs available, the Power Adapter can be used to provide power to up to 20 MIDI Solutions products.
Or, if you are not using the MIDI input of the MIDI Solutions product and don't mind dabbling in electronics a bit, you can connect an external +5V DC power source to the MIDI input of the MIDI Solutions product as follows: Connect the ground of the power source to the center pin of the MIDI input jack (pin 2), and connect +5V of the power source to the two pins on either side of the center pin (pins 4 and 5). The outermost pins may be left disconnected. Please be sure to double-check the voltage and connections; MIDI Solutions will not be responsible for products that have been damaged by incorrect interpretation of the above instructions. Note that this workaround applies only to applications for which nothing else is connected to the MIDI input of the MIDI Solutions product. MIDI Solutions products will operate down to about 3.5V, so three 1.5V batteries supplying 4.5V could also be used instead of a 5V power supply.
Q: Why does the MIDI indicator LED not light up even though the device that is connected to the MIDI Solutions product is turned on?
A: First of all, check the connections to make sure that it is a MIDI Out or MIDI Thru that is connected to the MIDI input of the MIDI Solutions product (not a MIDI In to MIDI In, or MIDI Out or MIDI Out). If the LED still does not light, then check that the MIDI cable you are using has all three of the centermost pins connected at each end; on rare occasions we've seen MIDI cables that do not connect the center pin, and although these cables will work with devices that are not MIDI-powered they do not allow the MIDI Solutions products to draw power. It's best not to use these cables anyway as this ground connection is intended as a telescoping shield to protect the MIDI data from outside interference. If you are sure your MIDI cables are ok then try connecting the MIDI Solutions product to a different MIDI device. There are a small number of products on the market that don't conform to the MIDI specification (see list below) and therefore do not provide power to the MIDI Solutions products. If you are using one of these products you can work around it by going first into another MIDI device and then Thru from that device into the MIDI Solutions product. If you don't have another MIDI device available to make these connections, the MIDI Solutions Power Adapter can provide a solution. The Power Adapter has a MIDI In, MIDI Thru, and a power connection for a wall adapter (included). The Power Adapter can be used to provide power to the MIDI Solutions products by inserting it inline between the device the doesn't provide power and the MIDI Solutions product.
Following is a list of products that have been reported NOT to provide power to the MIDI Solutions products (some of these products are no longer in production):
- Aardvark DirectPro 24/96
- Ahlborn DS-26
- Akai MPC500, MPD24, MPK series keyboards
- Apple MIDI interface
- Alesis DM10, ControlPad, Micron, Q25, Q49, Q61, QX49, USB-MIDI Cable, Vortex
- Artisan Micro-MIDI Controller Board
- Basyn MIDI Controller
- Boss FC-50, GT-5, GT-8, GT-10, GT-100, GT-Pro, RC-50, RC-300
- Brunetti Vector
- Cadac A,E,F,J-Type Consoles
- Classic Organ Works MIDIjetPro
- Clavia C1, C2, G2, Nord Electro 3, Nord Electro 4D, Nord G2X, Nord Stage, Nord Stage 2
- CME U2MIDI, U-Key, WIDI-X8
- Dave Smith Instruments Mono Evolver Keyboard, Mopho x4, Prophet '08, Tempest, Tetra
- Digico SD8
- Digidesign 003 Factory and Rack, Command|8
- Digitech GNX4, GSP1101, VHM5
- E-MU 0404 USB 2.0, Xboard 49 and 61, Xmidi 1x1
- Echo Audiofire 2/8/12, Layla3G
- Edirol UM-1 and UM-2 USB MIDI Interfaces (the newer UM-1EX and UM-2EX do provide power), UA-25
- Elektron Machinedrum MK1, Monomachine MK1
- ENGL Special Edition E670
- ESI MIDIMATE II
- Faderfox DJ2, DX2, LX2
- Fagerström Technopipes
- Fatar Studio-37
- Focusrite Saffire, Scarlett 18i6 and 18i20
- Fractal Audio Systems Axe-Fx Ultra
- Galanti Praeludium
- G-Lab GSC-2, GSC-3
- Hammond XK-1
- High End Systems MIDI/LTC Widget
- Hosa USM422
- IK Multimedia iRig
- Ion KEY 49
- JLCooper MCS2
- Korg KP3, earlier models of the Triton Studio, X50
- Kurzweil MIDIBoard, PC3X
- Line6 MIDI Mobilizer
- M-Audio Axiom Pro 61, Midisport 1x1, 2x2, 4x4 USB MIDI Interfaces (the 8x8 does provide power), Oxygen 25, ProKeys Sono 88, Radium
- Master Gaita Master Gaita
- Moog Little Phatty, MP-201, Taurus 3 Bass Pedals
- Musictech Music Maker
- Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6, Traktor Audio 10
- Nobels MF-2
- Novation Impulse keyboards, nio 2/4
- Radikal Technologies Spectralis 2
- Redpipes Classic
- Roland A-33, A-37, AX-7 (older models), FR-3, FR-18, GR-20, GR-55, HD-1, JV-90, PC-160A, PC-200, PC-300, PK-5 (PK-5A does provide power), TD-4, V-Piano, VG-99
- RME Babyface, Fireface 800, HDSP 9632
- Samson Carbon 49
- Starr Labs AirPower
- Steinberg Midex 8
- Studiologic Numa Nano, TMK 88
- Tascam 2488neo, DP-01, DP-02CF
- TC Electronic Flashback X4, G-System
- TC-Helicon VoiceLive Rack
- Technics FA1, GA3, G100
- Use Audio Plugiator
- Voce MIDI Drawbar, V3
- Yamaha 01X, AW2400, EZ-TP, GT1, GT2, i-MX1, KX8, KX61, MOX8, NP-30, NP-31, P Series keyboards, PSR275, WX7
- Zoom G9.2tt
Please send an email to email@example.com if you discover any other products that should be added to this list.
Q: Is it possible to modify the above products to enable them to provide power to MIDI Solutions products?
A: In some cases the reason a product does not provide power to a MIDI Solutions product is because it is operating at a lower voltage than 5V as indicated in the MIDI specification. This can actually be confirmed by measuring the voltage at the MIDI output, the voltage can be measured between the center pin (ground), and either pin next to the center pin (both should be +5V). The MIDI Solutions products will work down to about 3.5V, if the voltage is less than this then no simple modification can be made to enable the product to power the MIDI Solutions product, a Power Adapter is the only solution.
In other cases the reason a product does not provide power is because pin 2 of the MIDI output has not been connected to ground as indicated in the MIDI specification. Pin 2 is connected to the shield of the MIDI cable, so even if the product will not be powering a MIDI Solutions product it is a good idea for this pin to be connected to ground so that the cable is shielded from outside interference. If a product has this problem it can be resolved by finding ground on the PC board and connecting it to pin 2 (center pin) of the MIDI output. When making the connection from ground to pin 2 be absolutely sure that the point you are connecting to on the PC board is ground - MIDI Solutions will not be responsible for products that have been damaged by incorrect interpretation of the above instructions, attempting this modification is not recommended for those unfamiliar with electronics. It is also wise to first do a continuity test between pin 2 of the MIDI output and ground on the PC board to confirm that this is in fact the problem and the connection is missing.
Q: Why not add a power jack to all of the MIDI Solutions products that could be used only if needed?
A: Unfortunately connecting a power source to a MIDI-powered product will create a ground loop (see this FAQ). To eliminate ground loops all MIDI inputs would need to contain optical isolation circuitry. However, optically isolated MIDI inputs cannot draw power, and without any MIDI inputs that can draw power, a wall adapter would no longer be optional, but required for every MIDI Solutions product. Rather than require the use of a wall adapter for every MIDI Solutions product, we decided to offer the Power Adapter to enable the MIDI Solutions products to be used with the small percentage of products on the market that do not follow the MIDI specification.
Q: Ignoring ground loop issues, is it possible to connect a power source in parallel with the MIDI source that is connected to a MIDI Solutions product?
A: In theory this could work with the addition of level translation circuitry. For example if the MIDI source is operating at 3V, and a 5V power source is connected in parallel, then the incoming 0 - 3V data signal would need to be translated to a 0 - 5V signal in order to be recognized by the MIDI Solutions product. It's possible this could even work without level translation circuitry if the positive data source voltage exceeds the positive input threshold voltage. But even if it appears to work it is risky practice since there is the potential for the threshold voltage to shift out of range in response to environmental changes. The MIDI Solutions Power Adapter both resolves the level translation problem and eliminates ground loops.
Q: My MIDI Solutions product is operating intermittently, what could be wrong?
A: Of course we would never rule out the possibility that a MIDI Solutions product could be defective, but it is a very rare occurrence. One thing that we have found to be very common however is broken MIDI cables. Usually it is an individual connection within a MIDI cable that breaks - if the connection to pin 2 of a MIDI cable breaks the MIDI cable will still work with other MIDI devices, but the MIDI Solutions product will not be able to draw power. If the connection to pin 2 is just starting to break the MIDI Solutions product will power on occasionally, if the cable is bent slightly the connection will break and reconnect causing the MIDI Solutions product to turn on and off. Check to see if bending the cable (usually close to one of the ends) with the MIDI Solutions product connected causes the LED to turn on and off. Note that it takes a few seconds for the LED to turn off when power is removed from a MIDI Solutions product, so try holding the cable in different positions rather than bending it back and forth quickly.
Q: Do any of the MIDI Solutions products filter active sensing messages?
A: We have found that the problems introduced by active sensing outweigh its benefits, therefore all MIDI Solutions products (except Thru boxes and the Power Adapter) filter active sensing messages.
Q: Do the MIDI Solutions products use running status when sending MIDI messages?
A: Yes, running status allows the number of bytes to be reduced by up to 33% when large amounts of MIDI data are transmitted, so it is used whenever possible. The status byte is included with the outgoing message after brief periods of inactivity to ensure the receiving device is updated regularly with the current status.
Although very rare, we have received reports of a few MIDI devices that do not recognize running status, and requests from these customers for a product that forces the status byte to be sent with each MIDI message. We do not make a product that does this, however using the MIDI Solutions Event Processor it is possible to insert an extra MIDI event after specific incoming MIDI events in order to force the status byte to be sent with each message. For example, a channel pressure event of value zero could be inserted after each Note-on and each Note-off event changing the status to channel pressure, causing the status byte to be resent with each note.
Following is a list of products that have been reported to have problems implementing running status:
- Ahlborn Archive
- Axxess Electronics GRX4
- Electronic Theatre Controls Express 24/48, Expression 2X
- RJM Music Mini Effects Gizmo
- Roger Linn Designs AdrenaLinn
Q: I have an older MIDI Solutions product, is there a way to find out if it includes a particular function?
A: Since we are constantly adding new features to the MIDI Solutions products, older units may not include all of the functions described on our website. To find out if the product you own has a particular function implemented send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll help you determine this.
Q: I have a unique MIDI processing requirement that is not offered by any of your existing products. Do you do any custom work?
A: Yes, we can make firmware modifications to our existing products (no hardware modifications). For more information see the Custom Products page.
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