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Clovis Hailey

Midi Setup Is Killin Me, What is the big picture?

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I have been pulling what is left of my hair out trying to hear and or see my soft synths being manipulated by my LPK25 MIDI Keyboard Controller. I have changed so many settings in so many places I am just lost! I have worked in the computer world for over 25 years, Engineering, Licensed Surveyor, Geographic Information Systems Director and Developer and this Audio stuff is hard to understand, hurting my ego, lol! Oh, I was a musician in the mid 70's for 6 years.

What are the separate areas or parameters that need be set up and in what sequence? I see Audio settings and MIDI Devices "in-out",  ASIO and EEM and Microsoft? What should I do in what order? I simply want to record synths/music with my headphones using my VST's and Akai LPK25.

Thank you for any help, this old hippy needs some help.

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OK - so:

First,  make sure your midi controller's drivers are installed (IF needed - lots of newer controllers are 'class compliant' and will automatically install the needed driver when connected to Windows)

In your Cakewalk project:

01) Go to Edit>Preferences>Midi>Devices, and make sure you check the boxes to specify your midi controller as an Input Device.  Click on Apply when done, and you can then exit Preferences.  This tells Cakewalk you want to declare that midi controller as a valid device to use for input of midi data to Cakewalk.

02) Get an instance of a soft synth plugin loaded into the project, using the Browser Pane (Synth Rack or Browser).  I happen to like manually inserting my audio and midi tracks, so I happen to leave all the boxes unchecked in the section of the Insert Soft Synth Options dialog box under 'Create These Tracks'.  I leave the following boxes checked else where in the dialog box: Synth Property Page and Synth Rack View, Enable MIDI Output, Recall Assignable Controls, and Ask This Every Time.  Click OK, and the plugin will be loaded into the project, and the plugin's Property Page will be displayed.

03) Load a preset into the plugin, using the Property Page for the plugin, then close that window.  By default, all plugins I am aware of will route their output to their default output channel - usually a stereo channel of left and right.  Some plugins that are mono, will usually output to a mono Left channel, I suppose some may output to a mono Right channel, but I cannot think of any that do, at the moment.  SO, most will output to a L and R channel.

04) In the Track Pane, you will need to insert EITHER a single stereo audio track, OR two mono audio tracks (you would set the Interleave of each of the mono tracks to mono, and pan one to the far left and the other to the far right).  A stereo audio track will already have the Interleave button set to stereo, and Pan is set to the middle.

05) You need to set the Input of any audio track, to pick up the output from your soft synth.  If you had inserted a single stereo track, click on the track number on the left side of the track, to bring that track into focus, and then click on Input, at the bottom of that track in the Track Inspector, which will then open a list of optional sources for you to select.  Hover your mouse over the plugin's name, in that list, and it will then expand to show you the set of sources for that plugin.  Click on the Primary Output: Stereo source, and that will tell Cakewalk to route any audio output from that plugin, to this audio track.  If you had inserted 2 mono tracks, do the same thing for each mono track, except you want to click on the Primary Output: Left (mono) for the left mono audio track, and Primary Output: Right (mono) for the right mono audio track.

06) Right click in the Track Pane, under your audio track(s), and click on Insert Midi Track, to insert a midi track.

07) Click on the track number on the left side of that track, to bring the new midi track into focus.

08) Click on Output, for the midi track, at the bottom of the track in the Track Inspector, and click on the plugin's name in the list that is displayed.  Note - Cakewalk will select the 1st loaded soft synth plugin when a midi track is inserted, so this should already be populated with your loaded soft synth, however once you start loading additional soft synths, you have to remember to change the soft synth for each midi track to the one you intended.  I wish it didn't do this default, but it is what it is.

09) I suggest you leave the Input parameter for the midi track, set to None or Omni, if the loaded soft synth is a single synth, and not a multi-timbral synth where you could load multiple instruments into a single instance (Kontakt for example), where each instrument is set to receive a different midi channel.  For this example, you are dealing with a simple soft synth that is a single instrument with a single sound.

10) SO, at this point, you should be good to go, on the setup.  To actually produce sound using the soft synth, click on the track number for the midi track, to bring it into focus.  By default, Cakewalk will automatically set the Midi Input Echo button to On.  Once you have the midi track into focus, you should be able to play notes on your midi controller, and hear sound.  The midi data from the midi controller will be picked up by the midi track, and then the data will be routed to the soft synth, which will react to the incoming data and produce sound, which it will route through its primary output channel.  That audio will be picked up by the stereo audio track or each mono track, and then sent to the Master Bus, which will then route the audio to your audio interface, and then you should hear the sound through your speakers, or headphones.

11) Ta-Da

I hope the above makes sense.  There are more complicated options, but the above should get you started.

Bob Bone

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WOW Mr. Bone!! I truly appreciate your guidance, you are a genius my friend! Let me work with this in the next few days and I know there will be more questions! I thought I was pretty smart until reading what you sound guys work with, I am humbled and pretty ignorant at this time. I still want to be a rock star now that I am retired hehehe! Thank You Again!!!

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53 minutes ago, Clovis Hailey said:

WOW Mr. Bone!! I truly appreciate your guidance, you are a genius my friend! Let me work with this in the next few days and I know there will be more questions! I thought I was pretty smart until reading what you sound guys work with, I am humbled and pretty ignorant at this time. I still want to be a rock star now that I am retired hehehe! Thank You Again!!!

Bad news - I am not a sound guy.  I am a keyboard player that learned by my countless mistakes - and STILL have a long long way to go.  I do OK with most of the MIDI stuff, but there are lots of audio techniques and best practices I am woefully short on knowing well.

The GOOD news is that these forums are FULL of helpful folks - AND there is the Cakewalk documentation - both the user's guide and the reference manual, AND, there are countless videos on YouTube, that are on just about every aspect of working with Cakewalk (lots of the older Sonar videos are still valid too), so save your projects before trying new things (just in case), and jump on in the pool and start swimming.  :)

Bob Bone

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I am following this post, so I will try to answer any additional questions on this, as you raise them.  I am looking forward to reading where you have success with this. :)

Bob Bone

 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Robert Bone said:

10) SO, at this point, you should be good to go, on the setup.  To actually produce sound using the soft synth, click on the track number for the midi track, to bring it into focus.  By default, Cakewalk will automatically set the Midi Input Echo button to On. 

This is an important point. When first starting out, the input echo allows the soft synth to be heard from the controller. Since you will most likely be building songs by overdubbing, leaving that setting to default will let you leave your controller assigned to the same channel and get your work recorded. When input echo is off, the soft synth will respond to notes in the track.

Some soft synths allow "MIDI through," which is something to be aware of... sending a MIDI note to them will pass through (to other tracks), so if you get a "weird" instance of driving one synth, but hearing a second respond to your controller.... check 1) input echo is off on the second synth and 2) MIDI through is off on the soft synth you are using.

Channels are something also to be aware of, but starting out what Bob mentioned is easiest... input to Omni, and automatically echo the selected track (default behavior).

Side note: A cool feature of CbB is that if you have NO MIDI outputs enabled in preferences (highly recommended), when you open a MIDI file with CbB (right click and "open with..." if you didn't automatically assign MIDI files to CbB during installation), CbB will automatically insert the TTS-1 GM synth and route all instruments/channels for you. This is a nice feature if you want to play with MIDI files downloaded from the internet.

Edited by mettelus
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Thanks Robert!

I kind of got stuck between 1) &  2)? Is this where I create a track? Audio tract or midi tract?  I'm easily confused as you can tell. Thanks, so close yet so far.

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50 minutes ago, Clovis Hailey said:

Thanks Robert!

I kind of got stuck between 1) &  2)? Is this where I create a track? Audio tract or midi tract?  I'm easily confused as you can tell. Thanks, so close yet so far.

In the example steps I supplied earlier, you don't worry about tracks until step 4, read through all of the steps I provided, PRIOR to starting to follow them.

 

The steps I laid out cover:

1) Declare Midi devices in preferences

2) Load a soft synth into the synth rack, specifying NO tracks be created at that time

3) Load a preset (sound) into the soft synth

4) Insert stereo audio track OR two mono audio tracks

5) Route signal from soft synth to the audio track(s)

6) Insert midi track

7) Bring midi track into focus

8)-Route midi data from midi track to the soft synth

9) Tip on leaving midi track input set to None or Omni

10) Bring midi track into focus and play notes on your midi device

Follow the steps in my earlier example, after first reading through them.  In this post, I am just recapping the substance of the steps from my earlier post.

Bob Bone

 

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3 hours ago, Clovis Hailey said:

Thanks Robert!

I kind of got stuck between 1) &  2)? Is this where I create a track? Audio tract or midi tract?  I'm easily confused as you can tell. Thanks, so close yet so far.

Bob's instructions are very detailed but once step one is done unless you are in the habit of disconnecting your hardware, this step is done forever.

If you are getting bogged down in the details here is a simplified way to add soft synths to a project

The process in this post handles all the MIDI routing to and audio routing from the synth in one step when the the synth is inserted in the project.

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Thanks again Bob, this is the big picture stuff I was talking about and you are laying it out great! I'm gonna get this so thanks a million.

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Wow Scook! That is what finally creeped into my brain. Once these settings are established can I save them in a file to be recalled when needed?

 

Thanks everyone for this amazing help. Musicians take care of each other.

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One more question; How would I change instruments after I am setup with TTS-1GM? Do I just go to add Instrument? I have Organized Trio VSTi that has a great Hammond B3 in it.

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It is possible to use the same Add Track menu to add any softsynth available

It is also possible to swap one synth for another in an existing track. Right-click any track related to the synth and select "Replace Synth" and pick a synth from the list.

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You may want to start looking for a replacement for Organized Trio. CbB will run 32bit plug-ins but you are much better off staying with 64bit plug-ins.

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I suggest you first start with the steps I had supplied in my earlier example, get one soft synth playing and recording midi data and then playing it back, before you start getting more complicated.  (Please also note that my steps were but a single example of doing this, and that there are additional/alternative ways of this, and other things, with Cakewalk, but the steps I had outlined do work, and are a reasonable place to start).

Bob Bone

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I fully concur with scook, and I too suggest you work with 64-bit plugins whenever possible, because 32-bit plugins need bridging software to run in a 64-bit DAW, and many 32-bit plugins are simply not stable in that mode of running, and can frequently crash, or otherwise not work correctly.

If you need to run a 32-bit plugin and the included, and automatic, BitBridge bridging software results are problematic, you might consider the purchase of a license for a 3-rd party commercial bridging program, called J-Bridge, which runs about $20.  You may experience better stability with some 32-bit plugins, while others may still crash or behave erratically.  (there are no guarantees either bridging software will make any particular 32-bit plugin run properly, or even run at all, in a 64-bit environment).

Bob Bone

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My hair is almost gone! I cannot get "Enable MIDI Output" to allow a checkmark? I have both input and output set to my LPK25?

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On 7/23/2019 at 7:08 PM, scook said:

You may want to start looking for a replacement for Organized Trio

I recommend AIR's DB-33, which is currently on sale for $14 at Pluginboutique. You can even use its Leslie emulation separately on other tracks.

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14 hours ago, Clovis Hailey said:

My windows midi icon shows only the left button highlighting

This is meaningless without context.

Please use the Snipping Tool (built into Windows) to take a snapshot of the area of the UI that you are talking about. It will help immensely.

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