How do you like MIDI?

OS_CE Forums Octopus General How do you like MIDI?

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    Hi everyone,

    just sitting over a coffee, and thinking about this, and what better place for me to ask.. :-) What does everyone on this forum think about MIDI?

    The good sides of MIDI are clear, but what are the points that you perceive as a constraint – from a musical perspective – not a technical one.

    I am not after a feature and function discussion, but after the musical value points you feel you should be getting, but think that MIDI does not deliver.



    Post edited by: gseher, at: 2008/11/18 08:58


    I like MIDI… it’s fairly ubiquitous, it’s easy for hobbyists to implement and understand.

    That it’s still in use is a testament to it’s flexibility and it’s reliability.

    Downsides for me are speed, standard controller resolution, and in some cases, the rat’s nest of wires because it is unidirectional and doesn’t carry audio.

    But, if MIDI was bi-directional and carried audio (like mLan) you would have a whole new set of issues routing because you wouldn’t have the flexibility, and higher requirements to implement.

    Which brings me to my past feature request! It should be easy to implement the Elektron Turbo MIDI protocol in the Octopus (if it can handle the speed).

    Also it makes me sad to see so many "MIDI" devices switching to USB only… it makes a hardware only setup very difficult.



    I have no problems with it, per se, but the way the Octopus forces my cc maps to certain values is problematic. If I could designate a value for each row to send on a particular map (say, by holding that track selector and entering a value in the tempo ring while looking at the CC map), then I could achieve what I wanted. When I’m modulating, say, filter cutoff, I often want it to end on an exact setting.

    OSC is pretty great, but since none of my hardware uses it, and you can use something like Max to transform MIDI into OSC for software, it isn’t currently an issue.

    Is this thread brought on by the discussion on the elektron user forums, gabriel? That’s me (neuromodulator) talking about the Octopus there.

    Seriously, since all my hardware is MIDI only, any questions about the limitations of MIDI is kind of moot, from my point of view.


    My vote falls in complete agreement with Ripe…

    I do not want to use a computer to translate OSC to midi for everything I use… if someone made a hardware OSC to midi converter, then maybe I would think of buying a OSC device…

    Also… Cheers to you for being so open minded and open sourcing the code… If another standard does become "the norm" then the octopus can adapt to it…


    Sorry, I’m not suggesting you should have to translate MIDI to OSC via a computer, I’m saying everything I use with OSC is software anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. If more OSC hardware came out, that would be great. But it’s so open-ended that I’m not sure how much that is going to happen…


    gseher wrote:

    the musical value points you feel you should be getting, but think that MIDI does not deliver


    …nice – besides OSC-support – would be to have CV-outs…maaaany of them ;o)

    …at the moment I sending MIDI to an MCV24 (Doepfer) and two MT-16s (Analogue Solutions), which convert it all together into 56 CV-outs…B)


    Thanks everyone for your replies. Adam, thanks to the thread pointer. Some neat stuff in there! I decided to start this thread after getting a separate question (not the first one) about OSC on Octopus, which makes me wonder if people really have a musical need, or a technical need they are looking to satisfy. If it is musical, I’d like to know all about it :-)


    fairplay wrote:

    gseher wrote:

    the musical value points you feel you should be getting, but think that MIDI does not deliver


    …nice – besides OSC-support – would be to have CV-outs…maaaany of them ;o)

    …at the moment I sending MIDI to an MCV24 (Doepfer) and two MT-16s (Analogue Solutions), which convert it all together into 56 CV-outs…B)

    Wasn’t there some talk early on about a midi/cv add on to the Octopus? or is that an hallucination?

    Most of my synths at this point are semi-modular and modular analogs – that’s one thing that I don’t feel subjectively with midi sequencers going through an external midi/cv device as much as with a pure analog sequencer – there is an immediacy with the connection between, say, my modcan 54b and my analog stuff, or even with my sam-16, that just isn’t there with a midi sequencer. But, all things being equal, I much prefer working within the analog domain as much as possible than with midi.

    Of course, there are also things that you can do with analog sequencers that you can’t with midi – audio rate sequencing, for instance….and, their hardware seems to be designed more with certain types of interaction in mind – individual gate outputs with switching, sequential switching of audio (sam-16 is very cool for this), combination of vertical and horizontal sequencing (tkb is great for this). What am I getting at? Not sure, but I’d love to see Genoqs make an analog sequencer with the same kind of innovative spirit that went into the octopus.


    Can someone please describe what OSC is or provide
    a reference?

    I am also an analogue head – I’ve got lots of
    mono synths and modular gear, that I have tended
    to drive using the Frostwave Quad CV interface.
    I also use MIDI clock extensively, so my evil plan
    is to use the Octopus as Clock Master, send the
    clock all over the place to various arpeggiators
    and triggers. The Octopus would also be my sequencer
    now, with Logic just acting as a sync’d up audio
    recorder and MIDI router. So the big thing with
    MIDI for me is totally reliable and solid sync.

    Perhaps instead of trying to refit a MIDI/CV into
    the Octopus,perhaps that USB port could be used for
    something and a 10 channel CV/Gate/Sync breakout
    box could be designed. I haven’t got my Octopus
    yet – it comes next week but how is the breakout box
    on it attached by that flexi pipe? There seems to
    be plenty of room to stick another output box
    on there?

    I am really getting more excited about this.
    I can’t wait and I am almost beside myself
    with anticipation when I finally have this thing
    driving my mono synths :woohoo:


    Oh, and in case you are wondering, Octopus will probably go where OSCar is, or perhaps where MiniMoog
    is. Octopus is exactly the same size as a MiniMoog.
    On my desk (obscured) is a Moog Phatty. I was thinking of putting Octopus there, but it won’t fit.


    Post edited by: rachel, at: 2008/11/20 10:51


    Hello, thanks Rachel for bringing this up! Also I wanted to know what OSC is. I googled OSC and found out that it stands for "Open sound control" and an introduction can be found at this address:

    What I can see some hardware gear is using OSC-protocol – like the control surface "Lemur" from Jazz Mutant.

    By the way…nice set-up! I use Octopus as master clock in my totally midi-fied studio. :cheer:


    Post edited by: Sbay, at: 2008/11/20 13:18


    OSC is a communication protocol with greater resolution and bandwidth than MIDI and an open-ended URL-style address nesting (example: /synth3/filter2/cutoff 5.0000).

    For software that supports it, it is very cool. I don’t see it being integrated for hardware very soon, because it nearly necessitates software integration so that you can define the messages being sent. For example, with a Lemur, you get an editor program wherein you define the OSC message sent by each object. (They do have defaults like "/pagename/containername/objectname x value", but obviously if hardware integration is coming, the destinations are likely to be pre-set on the receiving object, and defaults on the sending object will need to be modified.)

    The nature of the address structure makes it very intuitive and easy to work with, along with the greater bandwidth and resolution.


    Lazy morning here, so why not answer this :)

    Midi: I find there is two major issues for me. (Stuff that I live with, but if I was designing the midi protocol today I would never do it like that).

    1. Timing is serial. This has just been a bummer from day one. Put too many notes on a beat, and you have sloppiness. Unfortunately we tend to get use to this sloppyness, so we forget how it sounds when notes do come at the same time.

    2. Resolution of CC is too low. Take your favorite analogue synth and sweep the filter manually (with the analogue pot). Then setup a midi-controller to do the same sweep on the same synth. The difference is obvious to those of us who care.

    Apart from that, most of my problems with midi, comes from instruments that are not well designed (in regard to midi-implementation.) (Hehe, right now I am thinking of a very nice new 8 voice synth from the inventor of midi :S It has some issues, and even bugs, but once a product like that is on the street nobody cares. Oops, gotta have my coffee now).

    @ Rachel: Nice setup, basicly the same kind of stuff here. But why would you want to refit anything into the Octo? Just hook up something like a Kenton Pro2000, and your cv/gate stuff is in buissness.
    BTW, what modular stuff do you use? I see the System 100, but is there more?
    EDIT: Ah, just spotted the little Doepfer also.

    Post edited by: LDT, at: 2008/12/15 10:40


    Mmm, the Octopus is driving the System 100, Oscar
    and Doepfer nicely! I am making a lot of progress in one sense, but haven’t got my keyboard input problems solved yet. I got a MIDI Thru box but it turns out it will not work with my controller as it doesn’t buss power the Thru box. So I am back to some
    other solution.

    As I mentioned in another post,
    which probably got overlooked, I was wondering if the
    MIDI echo function was able to be soft switched,
    so it could be enabled/disabled at will?

    After playing with my setup for a bit, I figure this
    would actually be a good soft solution, for integration
    with a controller keyboard, so that the controller
    is sending note input and triggering the notes
    for record or monitoring, but with the echo off,
    it’s not going to feed back into the controller
    with a data loop. Does any of this make sense?

    In any case, I note the timing of the Octopus
    is very good. It’s interrupt driven, of course
    which makes it very snappy processing wise.


    Does any of this make sense?

    It does. In fact it would help my setup, BUT only if it would be possible to switch off echo (or per midi channel) per page.
    The thing is that in general my setup with various instruments is fine with midi, except my Prophet8. I does not work for it to have local off, because then I loose the ability to tweak anything except via midi. And when local is on, it doubles the voices when I record. I can record from another keyboard, but being able to switch off echo for just my P8 page would be luxury.


    So we have two votes for MIDI echo off, hopefully
    with a "Global" mode, or per channel/port.

    Anyone else think this is a good idea? Octopus
    and vintage analogues are like wine and cheese!


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