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Author Topic: Mac Midi Interfaces Roundup (1997)  (Read 5141 times)

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Offline chrisNova777

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Mac Midi Interfaces Roundup (1997)
« on: December 09, 2014, 03:06:55 PM »

When it's time for your Mac to start talking MIDI to the rest of your rig, the technology, like the truth, is out there. But should you spend a few pounds, or a few hundred? MIKE COLLINS has the information you need.


MIDI interfaces for the Macintosh have come a long way since the first simple one In/three Out designs, which have been available since 1984. The first enhancement was to provide for 32 channels of MIDI, by allowing the interface to be connected to both modem and printer ports, with 16 channels through each. Around the same time, SMPTE sync capabilities were developed, and units such as the Opcode Studio 3 became very popular. The next major development came from Mark of the Unicorn with their MIDI Time Piece I, which had eight Ins and eight Outs, each of which could carry 16 MIDI channels separately, making 128 in all. These units could be linked together to support more connections for larger rigs, making this the obvious choice for professional users. Opcode followed suit with their Studio interfaces, all supporting this Mark of the Unicorn multi-port standard -- they can even be networked with the MOTU interfaces.

"MIDI interfaces for the Macintosh have come a long way since the first simple one In/three Out designs..."


Opcode currently offer the widest range of interfaces for the Macintosh, many of them offering useful MIDI-processing capabilities. The Opcode Studio interfaces are actually good choices for live work as well, as they can be used to reconfigure your entire MIDI rig at the push of a button, to suit each new song.

Those on a budget will probably want to take a look at the Apple, Anatek, Altech and MIDIMan interfaces, which represent good value for money, but check out the budget MOTU units as well, as you may find extra features such MIDI Thru switches well worth the extra cash.



This is a neat little interface aimed at those on a budget. It does the trick -- and won't cost you an arm and a leg!

• 1 In, 2 Outs.
• Supports 16 MIDI channels.
• LEDs to indicate MIDI activity.
• Self-powered.
• £39 including VAT.

A Mail Order, SOS Publications Ltd, Media House, Trafalgar Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge CB3 8SQ.

T 01954 789888.

F 01954 789895.
"Those on a budget will probably want to take a look at the Apple, Anatek, Altech and MIDIMan interfaces, which represent good value for money"



Measuring just 1.3 x 2.1 x 2.9 inches, the Apple MIDI Interface has one input and one output -- the most basic type of interface you can get.

• 1 In, 1 Out.
• Supports 16 MIDI channels.
• Self-powered.
• Expect to pay around £65-70 including VAT.

A Apple Assistance Centre, PO Box 763, Slough, Berkshire SL1 1YQ.

T 01753 615999.

F 01753 537302.



This is the smallest, simplest MIDI interface available, and, like the Apple interface, only allows you to connect allows you to connect a single keyboard or sound module to your Macintosh.

• 1 In, 1 Out.
• Supports 16 MIDI channels.
• Self-powered.
• MIDI/operating status LED.
• £32.95 including VAT.



This is one of the simplest designs of self-powered interface available, and it only really provides for the most basic of needs. But it's perfectly adequate for anyone using just one keyboard with a couple of additional sound modules.

There's just one MIDI In socket, to which you connect your master keyboard, and three MIDI Out sockets to hook up three MIDI modules -- or more if you take some MIDI Thrus from these to other devices. This type of interface only provides the standard 16 channels of MIDI, and you can't connect all the outputs of your MIDI devices to the computer using just this interface -- so it's not really suitable if you are using a synthesizer patch editor/librarian, for instance.

You can connect the interface to either the modem or printer serial ports of your Macintosh, and you can connect two units if you want to use 32 MIDI channels.

This interface is also sold by various other companies, re-badged for marketing purposes. The relevant specifications of this model and others of similar design are identical.

• 1 In, 3 Outs.
• Supports 16 MIDI channels.
• Self-powered.
• MIDI/operating status LED.
• £39.95 including VAT.



This basic interface has a Thru switch so that you can have your modem or printer connected through the interface, rather than having to remove the MIDI interface and plug in the modem or printer when you need to use these.

• 1 In, 3 Outs, plus Thru switch.
• Supports 16 MIDI channels.
• Self-powered.
• MIDI/operating status LED.
• £49.95 including VAT.



The MX interface adds SMPTE and MTC features along with input-message filtering and channel-remapping capabilities.

• 1 In, 3 Outs, plus Thru switch.
• Supports 16 MIDI channels.
• Self-powered.
• MTC (MIDI Time Code) generator -- 30, 29.97, 25, 24 fps.
• SMPTE (Reader/Generator/Regenerator) -- 30, 29.97, 25, 24 fps.
• Adjustable SMPTE-reader freewheel over dropouts.
• Adjustable SMPTE-reader Stop/Shuttle detection.
• SMPTE to MTC conversion.
• SMPTE output level control (-10 to + 4dB).
• SysEx programmable (Channel Remapping, Message Muting).
• MIDI/operating status LED.
• £129.95 including VAT.



The DX, suitable for slightly larger MIDI rigs using perhaps a couple of keyboards and three or four additional sound modules, will be released later this year.

• 2 Ins, 6 Outs.
• Supports 32 MIDI channels.
• Self-powered.
• MIDI/operating status LED.
• Price to be confirmed.

A Arbiter Music Technology, Wilberforce Road, London NW9 6AX.

T 0181 202 1199.

F 0181 202 7076.

E Click here to email




This tiny 1 by 2.5 by 2.5-inch MIDI interface takes its power from the Mac, to which it connects via the supplied cable. This has to be one of the simplest interfaces available, and would suit a hobbyist with just one MIDI keyboard or sound module.

• 1 In, 1 Out.
• Supports 16 MIDI channels.
• Self-powered.
• £35 including VAT.



This is a one In/three Out interface. It takes its power either from a standard Mac via the serial connection or from some models of PowerBooks. A Thru switch is provided so you can switch your Mac through to a modem or printer running off the same serial port.

• 1 In, 3 Outs.
• Supports 16 MIDI channels.
• Serial Thru switch.
• Self-powered.
• £45 including VAT.



This is a two In/six Out MIDI interface which includes synchronisation capabilities.

You get both SMPTE-to-MTC and Smart FSK sync, and the SMPTE reader/writer supports 24, 25, 30 drop and 30 non-drop SMPTE formats. Jam-sync and freewheeling are supported, with a high-quality SMPTE regenerator for repairing damaged SMPTE stripes. There is one MIDI In and one MIDI Out on the front panel for easy access, along with two switches to select printer and modem Thru, and LED activity indicators for MIDI In and Out. The Macintosh desk accessory supplied allows you to write any SMPTE formats from any offset directly from your Mac.

"Guaranteed for life"! says the blurb. Wow, does this mean that when I am 95 I will still be hooking up a Mac to MIDI and using one of these? Hope I die before I get that old!

• 2 independent Ins, 6 Outs for 32 channels of MIDI.
• Supports 24, 25, 30 drop and 30 non-drop SMPTE timecode. (Doesn't support 29.97 non-drop format SMPTE.)
• External power supply.
• £169 including VAT.


T 01205 290680.

F 01205 290671.

E Click here to email



MOTU have recently revamped their range of MIDI interfaces. Gone are the MTPII and the original Midi Express models for Mac and PC, and in come the MTP AV, MIDI Xpress XT and Micro Express to join the Pocket Express and FastLane products which have been available for some time.



The FastLane is a basic self-powered one In, three Out MIDI interface with a couple of neat features not found on the Altech or similar units. You get a printer Thru button so you can switch easily between playing MIDI and printing, and there's also a MIDI Thru button that lets you play your MIDI gear when your computer is turned off without having to re-connect any cables. It is worth paying an extra few pounds for this attractively styled unit -- if only for the Thru buttons -- and you could find it a better choice than either the Altech or the Opcode units.

• 1 In, 3 Outs.
• Printer Thru and MIDI Thru buttons.
• £59 including VAT.



The Pocket Express is one feature-packed little gizmo! It is a 2-input, 4-output, 32-channel MIDI interface which works with either a Mac or a Windows PC. It will also read and write SMPTE, supporting virtually all timecode formats -- it reads, but does not write, 29.97 frame-rate SMPTE. It will freewheel across up to four frames of SMPTE dropouts which would otherwise cause loss of sync. It even features front-panel SMPTE controls for fast convenient striping and lockup.

It doesn't feature any MIDI processing, but you can get MIDI Thru with the computer off. Also on the minus side, there is no MMC, no click to MIDI, and no Panic button -- and it uses an external power supply. The Pocket Express would suit a small MIDI rig for home use or a small multimedia setup. (For a review using a PC, see December 1996's SOS.)

• Compatible with Macintosh and Windows (3.1 and 95).
• 2 Ins, 4 Outs for 32 MIDI channels.
• Supports virtually all timecode formats.
• Reads 29.97 frame-rate SMPTE.
• £199 including VAT.



The Micro Express is a mini version of the MIDI Express XT (described next) with most of the same features, but in a smaller and more affordable package. It is a half-rack unit with four inputs and six outputs -- otherwise the specs are as for the MIDI Express XT. The features closely match those of the Opcode 64LX -- although the Micro Express has more patch memories, it lacks the MIDI-processing features available on the Opcode unit.

• 4 Ins, 6 Outs for 96 MIDI channels.
• Other features as the MIDI Express XT.
• £299 including VAT.



The MIDI Express XT MIDI interface and SMPTE synchroniser is the natural successor to the MIDI Time Piece II and now works with Macintosh- and IBM-compatibles running Windows 3.1 or Windows 95. You get eight inputs, nine outputs, 128 MIDI channels and lots of other features at a relatively affordable price -- making it ideal for medium-sized MIDI setups.

The accompanying Console software for Mac and PC provides comprehensive routing, merging and muting. The Express XT also converts and stripes all SMPTE formats including both 29.97 drop and non-drop. Adjustable freewheeling over up to 32 SMPTE frames provides dropout-free sync. It supports MMC and a pedal input provides support for a standard momentary foot switch or for audio click-to-MIDI conversion.

Packed with features, this is stiff competition for the Opcode Studio 4. It doesn't offer the advanced MIDI processing capabilities of the Studio 4, but it is programmable from the front panel -- a more useful feature for many users -- and it works with Mac or PC.

• Compatible with Macintosh and Windows (3.1 and 95).
• Can connect to both Mac and PC at the same time.
• Works without the computer as a stand-alone MIDI patchbay/merger/processor.
• 16 front-panel presets -- eight programmable -- with battery-backed RAM.
• 8 Ins, 8 Outs with 9 Out ports for 128 MIDI channels.
• Front-panel Panic button, buttons and LEDs for choosing presets, SMPTE stripe button, SMPTE Lock and tach LEDs.
• Status lights for MIDI In/Out and computers.
• Supports all frame rates and MMC.
• Recalls setups via MIDI program change.
• One PC parallel 25-pin 'D' connector.
• Two Mac mini-DIN 8 serial connectors.
• One quarter-inch jack for switch pedal or for click-to-MIDI conversion.
• Two SMPTE quarter-inch line-level jacks.
• Internal Power Supply/IEC power connector.
• £399 including VAT.



The MIDI Timepiece AV is a professional eight-input, eight-output MIDI interface, MIDI patchbay, SMPTE-to-MIDI converter and digital audio/video synchroniser for Macintosh or PC. You can connect this unit to a Macintosh serial port -- modem or printer -- or to a PC, either via a serial port or parallel port.

The AV can be programmed from either the front-panel LCD or from the Console software provided, and you can store your setups in the AV's internal memory locations. Using the software, you can call up and modify any of the preset Base Setups supplied as starting points. Once you have completed your edits, you can store this setup into a preset memory location within the AV. You can also store your setups to disk on your computer, so Console is basically an editor/librarian for the AV. Once you've edited and stored your setups, you can use the AV as a stand-alone, customised MIDI processor, with no need for an external computer. On the other hand, if you intend to use the unit with a MIDI sequencer, such as Performer or most other popular software, you don't actually need to use Console, as you can control the unit directly from within the sequencer.

Anyone with a larger MIDI rig can use the AV's network serial port to connect a second unit, to provide connections 9-16.

You can actually connect up to four MTP devices to your Mac using two on each serial port, modem and printer -- a feature not available for Windows. In this case, you'll have a free Mac port on each of the daisy-chained units, as you connect the pairs of MTPs using the network socket. You can use these to hook up a second Mac, which will then have equal access to the complete MIDI system. You can even connect both a Macintosh and a PC to the AV at the same time.

An ADAT Sync Out port is provided, and the AV features MIDI Machine Control so you can arm your ADAT tracks from within your sequencer software, and control the ADAT via the sequencer's transport controls. If you are working to picture, you can sync the AV to any incoming video signal -- a standard video signal or a blackburst video sync signal -- to achieve frame-accurate sync however long your video cue is. The AV is also both a SMPTE/MTC timecode converter and a generator.

A front-panel jack, the Pedal B input, lets you connect an Alesis LRC remote controller or any device that emulates the LRC, such as the Fostex Model 8312 controller. And if you want to convert an audio click to MIDI, you can use the Pedal A input. You can also connect a foot pedal or footswitch to Pedal A or B, so, for instance, you can make a pedal act as a tempo source or as a volume controller for various synths in your rig.

The AV also acts as a digital audio synchroniser for Pro Tools, Pro Tools III, Pro Tools Project and Session 8 (for both Mac and Windows) systems, and works with any software that uses Digidesign hardware -- such as MOTU Digital Performer, Emagic Logic Audio, Steinberg Cubase Audio or Opcode Studio Vision.

This has to be one of the most versatile choices available for the professional MIDI musician or studio owner: it works with either Mac or PC, and lets you hook up both ADAT and Pro Tools systems with audio and video tape recorders -- acting at the heart of your system to interface with your computer, providing synchronisation for virtually anything that 'moves', while providing comprehensive MIDI patching and processing facilities. (For a full review, see January 1997's SOS.)

• Compatible with Macintosh and Windows (3.1 and 95).
• Can connect to both Mac and PC at the same time.
• Can be used as a stand-alone MIDI patchbay/merger/processor for stage work.
• Fully programmable from the front panel.
• Provides ADAT Sync Out, Word Sync Out and Video Sync In.
• 8 Ins, 8 Outs for 128 MIDI channels.
• Battery-backed memory with eight scenes and 128 patches.
• Recalls setups using MIDI patch changes.
• Two units can be networked for 16 MIDI Ins and Outs and 256 MIDI channels on Mac or Windows with a single serial cable.
• Four units can be networked to a Mac, and the AV can be linked to the MTPI, MTPII or Opcode Studio 4.
• Supports all SMPTE frame rates (24,25,29.97 drop/non-drop, 30 drop/non-drop).
• Converts LTC to MTC, ADAT Sync and word clock (1x or Digidesign 256x 'Superclock').
• Converts MTC to LTC, ADAT Sync and word clock or Superclock. SMPTE Jam-sync and adjustable freewheeling.
• 16 x 2 backlit LCD display.
• Two pedal inputs for continuous pedals or switches.
• Panic button.
• Two SMPTE quarter-inch jacks.
• Internal power supply/IEC power connector.
• £649 including VAT.

A Musictrack, 19a High Street, Shefford, Bedfordshire SG17 5DD.

T 01462 812010.

F 01462 814010.

E Click here to email




The MIDI Translator II is a basic 16-channel self-powered MIDI interface. But it goes one better than the standard interfaces such as the Altech LX: you can access peripherals such as modem or printer with a flip of the Thru switch to avoid cable swapping. With its simple, rugged design and great value for money, this makes a good choice for portable applications.

• 1 In, 3 Outs.
• Supports 16 MIDI channels.
• Serial Thru switch.
• Self-powered.
• £57.58 including VAT.



The Translator Pro provides twice the power of the MIDI Translator II, with two Ins and six Outs and 32 MIDI channels. Dual Thru switches select between MIDI and peripherals; status LEDs monitor the MIDI activity for each port. The rugged lightweight design makes this ideal for smaller studios or portable applications.

• Supports 32 MIDI channels with 2 independent Ins, 6 Outs.
• Two MIDI Outs accessible from front panel for quick MIDI equipment changes.
• Self-powered.
• £116.33 including VAT.



The Translator ProSync features 32 channels of MIDI, with two independent MIDI Ins and six Outs. Thru switches are provided for both modem and printer.

As its name suggests, the ProSync also reads and writes SMPTE timecode. This is the lowest-priced unit available that supports SMPTE -- making it a good choice for the smaller home studio, audio-for-video applications, or multimedia work, where you're not using too many MIDI devices.

• Provides 32 channels of MIDI, 2 independent Ins, 6 Outs.
• Supports 24, 25, 29.97 and 30 non-drop SMPTE timecode. (Doesn't support 29.97 non-drop format SMPTE.)
• External power supply.
• £198.58 including VAT.



Replacing the Studio 3, the 64LX features front-panel control of all MIDI patchbay programs, one-button SMPTE read and write, a Panic button for 'All notes off', and a rugged steel enclosure; it's a good buy for the gigging musician. In the studio, the Thru switch lets you connect to a modem, printer or other peripheral -- so you can record MIDI then surf the web at the flick of a switch!

You get four MIDI inputs and six MIDI outputs for a total of 64 separate MIDI channels, and the 64LX will support all formats of SMPTE synchronisation -- with adjustable freewheel and regeneration. The integrated MIDI patchbay functions can be programmed in software, stored in the interface, and then accessed directly from the front panel. There are eight program memories, four user and four preset, which are stored in the unit in battery-backed RAM. OMS compatibility allows the setting and routing of MMC to any device on the system and the supplied Studio Patches software (Mac only) offers full MIDI mapping and processing, along with creation of Virtual Instruments and Virtual Controllers for use in Opcode sequencers. (For a full review, see May 1997's SOS.)

• Macintosh and Windows (3.1 and 95) compatible.
• Auto-detection for Mac or PC without hardware switching.
• 4 Ins, 6 Outs.
• 64 MIDI channels.
• Modem/printer Thru switch for instant access without cable swapping.
• Full SMPTE support -- reads and writes all timecode formats.
• Stand-alone patchbay with eight programs.
• Front-panel control of MIDI patchbay programs and SMPTE striping.
• MMC software routing.
• £269.08 including VAT.



The Studio 4 is a 1U rackmountable eight-In, 10-Out MIDI interface that reads and writes SMPTE timecode. As your studio grows and your MIDI setup gets larger, you can expand the system to get more MIDI channels by networking multiple Studio 4s together. Two pairs of MIDI Ins and Outs are provided on the front panel so you don't have to go groping around in the back of your rack just to plug in a MIDI instrument.

OMS and patching software provides graphic display of studio setups, patches, virtual controllers and virtual instruments; patches for the Studio 4 let you set up different routings of your master keyboard to the synths in your rack. (For more information about OMS, Opcode's Open Music System, see this month's Soft Focus on Opcode software.) You can also apply various types of MIDI processing to these patches. Virtual Controllers let you set up keyboard splits, velocity scalling, remap controllers, or filter out events such as aftertouch. Virtual Instruments let you group multiple MIDI device destinations and processing into one 'virtual' instrument which then appears ready for you to use alongside the other devices in your OMS setup. This is the standard interface to choose for a medium-sized MIDI setup in a project studio or MIDI room.

• MIDI Interface/Processor/Synchroniser.
• 8 independent Ins, 10 Outs.
• Supports 128 MIDI channels per Studio 4.
• Up to four units can be networked, to give 512 channels.
• Integrate with Vision software for creating Virtual Instruments and Controllers.
• Uses host computer's RAM and processor to create and store patches to Filter, Split, Transpose and so forth.
• Reads and writes 24, 25, 29.97 drop/non-drop and 30 non-drop SMPTE formats and handles all MTC conversions.
• MIDI activity LEDs for each MIDI In and Out and SMPTE.
• 8x MIDI communications speed with OMS-compatible applications.
• External power supply.
• £410.08 including VAT.

"The Opcode Studio 5LX is probably the most advanced MIDI interface available."




The Studio 5LX is probably the most advanced MIDI interface available -- and with the 15 independent MIDI Ins and Outs you can work with up to 240 MIDI channels. Besides acting as a MIDI interface, the Studio 5LX also functions as a MIDI patchbay, a MIDI processor and an SMPTE synchroniser. As a MIDI processor, the Studio 5LX adds filtering, channelisation, note range splitting, controller mapping, velocity and control value modification. As a fully functional patchbay, it routes MIDI from any combination of MIDI Ins to any combination of MIDI Outs, stores several setups of routing and processing, and recalls any of them with a single program change.

OMS patches are stored in the Studio 5LX RAM, which lets it function as a stand-alone MIDI patchbay/processor without the Mac connected. Great for 'live' situations or in the studio where each setup may be different, this interface is the choice of top industry professionals -- who inevitably have the most demanding studio and 'live' performance needs.

• Intelligent Macintosh MIDI Interface/Processor/ Synchroniser/Patchbay.
• 15 independent Ins and Outs.
• Supports 240 MIDI channels per Studio 5LX.
• Multiple Studio 5LX interfaces can be networked to give more than 1000 MIDI channels.
• Stores up to 128 MIDI processing patches to Filter, Split, Transpose, Modify, re-Map controllers and more.
• Unlimited virtual controllers and Instruments.
• Digital patch-number display with program change buttons.
• MIDI activity LEDs for each MIDI In and Out, plus a SMPTE LED.
• Two footswitch inputs and one continuous controller input.
• Reads and writes 24, 25, 29.97 drop/non-drop and 30 non-drop SMPTE formats and handles all MTC conversions.
• 8x MIDI communications speed with OMS-compatible applications.
• Internal power supply and detachable power lead.
• £938.83 including VAT

Offline chrisNova777

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Re: Mac Midi Interfaces Roundup (1997)
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2017, 03:42:43 AM »