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Windows music creation: MIDI studio for FREE! October 19, 2006

Posted by oktyabr in audio, make music, software, tutorials, Windows.

Music Composition: MIDI studio for FREE!

If you don’t know what MIDI is it stands for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface” and encompasses not only common protocols that enable different software and hardware to exchange data but also may be thought of as a means of conveying the information itself (i.e., “.mid files”). If you need more than that it’s been around since the early 1980’s and google will turn up quite a few links Wink

What we want to do here is enable a common x86 based desktop computer to act as a “MIDI studio” of sorts, or more precisely, enable us to use .mid files with .mid sequencers, players and composition software (write our own music) as well as to play it back via some of the nifty soft-synth VSTi plugins we started playing with a post or two ago!In the real music world a computer acting as a MIDI host might have several hardware interfaces for external devices (keyboards, synthesizers, controllers, effects modules, etc.) all linked together using a technology that they share in common. You can kind of think of it like USB for music devices and in fact some modern midi hardware can use USB in favor of General MIDI (or “GM”) cables and interfaces.

As most of the software we will be covering, including the majority of the VST instruments and effects, are actually designed for a more professional music enviroment that includes a hardware MIDI interface (and likely a compliant sound card) our first task will be to set up our system so that it fools the software into thinking that the signals they send and recieve ARE being transferred over a physical MIDI interface and cables! Not an easy task but after lots of searching and experimentation it IS one that can be done, and for free too! Smile

Ok, so, we need a handful of small, but very important applications. These have been tested on Win2000Pro SP3 and should work on most other win systems too. Post here if they don’t and I’ll try to find you an alternative!

Download the following and put them all in a folder somewhere convenient like “musicapps” or something:

ASIO4ALL this is a free, low-latency sound driver that basically helps you emulate a high-end pro-audio sound card (google “ASIO”) with standard hardware. Probably the only package that windows will require a reboot for Roll Eyes Be sure you read the install instructions carefully!!!!

MIDI-OX is a virtual MIDI connection diagnosis kit that has more than a few extra tricks up it’s sleeve as well. A MUST-HAVE for when no sound is happening and you just can’t figure out why!

MIDI Yoke is described as a “MIDI Patch Cable driver” but what it really is is the key to faking out your system! MIDI Yoke, when properly installed, will show up (even in your “System Hardware”) exactly as if you had EIGHT available MIDI ports… HARDWARE MIDI ports! Of course you probably don’t but for the purposes of fooling the rest of the software this works out just as good. Since each port can only be used one way (INPUT or OUTPUT) that means that you can have four seperate software MIDI devices hooked up and running at the same time! Not exactly professional standards but a bit more impressive than anything that comes with Windows or an SB Live!/Audigy out of the box!

Get all three, read the instructions, install them, reboot. Play with them a bit and write the next post in this thread for me! JUST KIDDING! I’m working on describing a decent MIDI sequencer and how to use it with all these other nifty toys. Got a free one you can recommend? Post away!



1. Bushyetdah - May 5, 2008

What are the buffer setting for SB live? I had trouble with the sound, even I set big buffer for ASIO4ALL.

2. oktyabr - June 1, 2008

This will depend on much more than just your sound card. CPU, operating system, available RAM and what programs you have running, etc. will all have an effect on your latency (and drop-outs).

Try cutting all unnecessary background processes to make your system as lean as possible. Start with a very high buffer and if you can get the software to record and playback without sound glitches lower the buffer a bit and try again. When you start getting glitches or “drop outs” raise it back up a bit.

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