Synfire and Hardware Synthesizers/Samplers

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Andy Crystal's picture
Andy Crystal
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Synfire and Hardware Synthesizers/Samplers

Is anyone here familiar with how to setup Synfire to work with external hardware synthesizers/samplers? I have a SL 88 Studio Master Keyboard and a MOTU Midi Interface with:

Emu Emax (MIDI Ch 1)

D50 (MIDI Ch 2)

EPS 16+ (MIDI Ch 3)

Yamaha DX7 IID (MIDI Ch 4)

Korg M1 (MIDI Ch 5)

 

I would like to use these along with my regular VST's to compose and do pre-production. I just don't seem to get how to do it. I spent a lot of time getting to actually know how Synfire works with plugins, but hardware is a must for my work in the studio.

Thanks everyone!

blacksun's picture
blacksun
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I use a couple of hardware synths, access virus Ti (treated like a VST) and a RT Spectralis (pure midi). I tend to use Ableton Live with VST's, Ableton's standard instruments and my hardware synths.

For the most part I tend to use the Cognitone Drone in ableton, configured as a midi drone for the hardware synths and native ableton instruments. Then I route the midi around within the daw. With the current drone, Ableton won't allow you to put any other instruments after the drone. ABleton has a midi instrument which sends midi out to an external device and captures the audio via the audio card. This is what I use for the Spectralis, but this has to be on a different track to the drone due to the way ableton interprets the drone.

It is possible to configure Synfire to send midi out via a physical midi interface then grab the audio into the daw, but I find the use of a midi drone gives me a tighter sync.

For input into Synfire, I use the virus Ti which provides a virtual midi cable. The DAW is configured to ignore this, but Synfire is configured to use it as a midi input. Additionally I have Ableton's push and for this I route a spare track's midi output to a virtual midi cable and enable this in Synfire as an input. The track is configured to get its midi from push. 

What DAW are you using (if at all?)

Andy Crystal's picture
Andy Crystal
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Hey there Blacksun thanks for your reply. I am on Logic when I compose. Yours is an interesting approach. However there should be an option that allows you to just send MIDI out though a MIDI interface to an external synth from within SFP in case I just want to compose without a DAW.

blacksun's picture
blacksun
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Hey Andy, you can easily send the midi out of synfire to your hardware synths but I don't think there is anyway of getting the audio directly back into synfire. Synfire will output via your audio driver and you could mix your hardware synths in via the audio in and mix on the card (or via an external mixer) but any recording direct in synfire's engine (to wav) wouldnt include the hardware synths.

However if you mix in your daw you stand a better chance of keeping tight syncronisation as everything should be latency compensated. You could use this method for developing the song then migrate to the daw when you are ready to mix down the composition.

Anyone with Windows needs to check their sound card drivers support multiple applications driving them, but on OSX this isnt an issue.

Andy Crystal's picture
Andy Crystal
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My idea is to send out the MIDI out (which I have played on a master keyboard and edited in Synfire) to the samplers and then record their audio output into Logic through external preamps (even at a second moment), I would just Synfire as an advanced sequencer to reharmonize and arrange parts. I just need to know how to set up Synfire to send the MIDI out to these samplers.

 

blacksun's picture
blacksun
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What you are trying to do should be pretty easy....should lol

Firstly you need to check that the midi device is recognised and setup the midi input

From the main menu, select Playback -> Audio and Midi Setup

You should see a list of all the midi devices connected to your computer. On a mac this may also include remote SL Ports (virtual ports) as well as any usb/physical ports. 

Click on the checkbox on the left (Input) to set the correct device as an input source (this should be the device/port that the midi keyboard is connected to)

There are some other options in the top right that you might want to play with. I have Midi Through enabled so that the midi from my keyboard is sent to the instrument I have selected in the arrangement view. In fact I have all 4 checkboxes selected, but experiment to see what works for your workflow.

You should now be able to close the midi and audio setup window

Back in your arrangement window, select the 'track' you want to assign to your Emu Emax.

Under the Instr tab on the right, click the wizard button next to where it defaults to Global Rack

Select Add new module for and then select External Midi instrument. In the drop down list select the midi device/port the synth is connected to.

On the next screen ensure Create a New Description is selected (this assumes no one has made a device description available for your synth)

Choose fixed channels (as your synths are setup to specifc channels)

Give it a name EmuEmax click next

select the channel, assign a category and give it a sound/patch name. set the playing range then click ok

 

Repeat for the other instruments.

 

It is also possible to create a device description and add all the sounds/patches so that you can pick sounds by name. 

 

Andy Crystal's picture
Andy Crystal
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Thank you Blacksun for the thorough response. I will try and report back! :) This thread might be useful for other people new to Synfire. :)

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blacksun
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what I didnt explain very well was what I meant by 'It is also possible to create a device description and add all the sounds/patches so that you can pick sounds by name. '

I don't use this feature as the virus I treat as a vsti and the spectralis doesnt support (at least with my firmware version) patch changes via midi. However if you search around there is somewhere to edit the device description that you created above. If you look, you can see the settings to change patches within the sound. Using this you can add all the sounds from your synth into the device description, then you can set the instrument and have it send the patch change messages.

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Soundremake
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I'm trying to connect my external synth (Kurzweil K2000) . But I can't get MIDI out from my interface (RME fireface UC).

It works fine with VSTs, but the midi out doesn't work with synfire.

Andy Crystal's picture
Andy Crystal
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By following blacksun's instructions I managed to make it work.

Soundremake's picture
Soundremake
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Now I find it sends Midi out, if run midi without the audio engine. But don't work midi thru, I can not play with the keyboard.

only editing with the mouse. This program is a nightware. I'm so tired of triyng to make work the simpliest things

andre's picture
andre
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External MIDI output and input does not require any configuration except the few questions the wizard asks about.

Do your MIDI inputs appear in Audio & MIDI Setup? Does your MIDI interface's ports appear in the wizard? (click the magic wand icon on the instrument inspector in arrange view).

If not, try Playback >> Reset. If it still doesn't appear, this is not something Synfire is involved in. Possibly the drivers of your interface may need to be updated.

Soundremake's picture
Soundremake
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Yes, iMIDI inputs appear in Audio & MIDI Setup and midi interface appers in the wizard. The drivers are updated. Everithing looks fine. But it doesn't work

andre's picture
andre
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Are you using Loopback ports? (virtual midi cables). If so, check if these build an infinite feedback loop (midi leaving Synfire and coming back into its input, which sends it out via midi through, and so on). 

Another cause may be USB MIDI drivers. Windows requires multi-client capable USB drivers, if more than one program is supposed to send/receive midi to/from the same port at the same time. If your DAW already connected to a port, Synfire might be unable to connect to that port at the same time.

If Synfire is the only program running, does it respond to your MIDI keyboard's input?

If so, try using different ports for your DAW and Synfire, if you want to run them at the same time. Or maybe there's a multi-client driver available for your hardware.

I agree this is an annoyance, but it's a limitation of Windows and hardware manufacturers not providing multi-client MIDI drivers. There has been some discussion on multi-client capable USB MIDI drivers for Windows. I'll look it up.

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Soundremake
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I use only synfire, no other Daw, it see the midi input , but doesn't send midi out with my RME fireface UC interface.

Today installed a second Midi interface ( Motu fatslane usb) and it works fine. But its strange I have to use two interfaces.

anyway is a solution. 

andre's picture
andre
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its strange I have to use two interfaces

This indicates there is another music software running that also connected to the MIDI port. Your hardware doesn not seem to support multi-client operation for its USB drivers.

I feel your frustration. I'm in the same boat. This is a limitation of Windows and some USB drivers that we can't do anything about, unfortunately. 

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