No midi playback with firepod

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No midi playback with firepod

Postby mrjimbolya » Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:41 am

I am using Sonar 5 Producer with a presonus firepod. The audio input and output works perfectly, but I cannot hear any midi output. It is set to firepod midi out. Has anyone experienced this same issue?

Also, what is the best driver to use, WDM or ASIO of you have the option of using either?

Thanks in advance for any input. - Jim
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Re: No midi playback with firepod

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Postby overdub » Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:33 am

Make sure you have 'selected' your midi outputs in SONAR options.

I've gone back and forth between driver types and currently use asio for better latency. It's also necessary to use asio if you have other audio apps or hardware running simultaneously. Asio doesn't like wdm.

My advice is to check for the latest drivers and test them.
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Postby HDB » Fri Jan 12, 2007 11:43 am

You may already know this, but here is what I suspect:

Are you perhaps expecting to hear MIDI files played through the Firepod as they would through, say, a SoundBlaster card? I don't think the Firepod has MIDI sound-generating capabilities. It is an audio interface. When you set Sonar to "Firepod MIDI", that tells Sonar that you want to use the MIDI control capabilities of the Firepod...but that doesn't mean it will automatically play back MIDI sounds.

It can play back sounds triggered by MIDI data, such as DXi or VSTi software instruments, but I don't believe it has it's own internal MIDI generator, and you cannot load samples into the Firepod (or memory) for use, such as SoundFonts in a it uses them.

It USES MIDI, but the MIDI ports are there for control from or to other MIDI devices.

You can, however, load virtual instruments into Sonar (assuming your version of Sonar can handle CAN use DirectX (DXi) instruments. If not, the Sonar people do supply a small application that will allow it).
You would load, say, a virtual bass into the track that your MIDI bass is on. The MIDI note would trigger the software to play the virtual bass as audio through the Firepod output that you have it assigned to. You would do this to match all tracks to their respective instruments.

There is also software that will let you play Soundfonts (which are basically just samples in the .SF2 format) by loading it into the track, although Soundfonts don't yet allow some of the finer real-time control as a good virtual instrument, although you can do some pretty cool things with them if you know how.

There are loads of virtual instruments available for use. Everything from free, to shareware, to VERY expensive. A good place to start is the KVR database.

Some of them are good and free (or cheap), some of them are terrible and will crash your computer almost as fast as CEOs crash pensions.
Some of them are sampler-type, like drum programs. You load acquired or created drum samples into them, assign that to the MIDI drum tracks, and the MIDI triggers the appropriate note inside the drum application to play the sample as audio.
Some are synthesizers that don't really play back samples, but generate the sound in software much as a real synth would electronically.
Some of both generally have tweaking ability. You can apply filters, attack, release and such to the sample, or the synthesized sound.

Sample: Generally a recording of a note of a real instrument saved as a file to be used for playback. The MIDI note tells the sampler to play that audio note.

Synth: Generally an electronic maniplulation of one or more waveforms to produce a sound. In a computer or digital keyboard, generally the mathematically-programmed produced equivalent of emulating the properties of an electronic synth.

Then there are virtual [i]effects[/i], which differ from virtual instruments in that they manipulate the sound that has been recorded (or sampled or generated), and applies effects.

VST and DX are generally the overall terms for the technologies, but effects are generally referred to as those. Add an "i" behind them (VSTi, DXi), and you have a virtual [i]instrument[/i].

As I said, you may have already known all this, but from your initial inquiry and the info you provided, this is just what I suspect. I wondered if you were relatively new to the technology, and figured since I'm sitting here bored, anyway, I'd try to cover the bases. Even if it provides no value to you, perhaps someone else will stumble onto this, and it may provide insight to them.

As always, I don't claim to be the "Authoritative Guru" of all this, so anyone please feel free to correct anything I may have gotten wrong.

Hope this helped,

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Postby mrjimbolya » Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:47 pm

Thank you both for your responses. I do have the firepod midi device selected.

HDB, thank you very much for your description. While I am not new to cakewalk, and digital recording (been using cakewalk since Pro Audio 8), I AM new to the firewire technology, and particularly the firepod. I love the technology, and the audio sounds great, and seems to have very good latency.

So let me understand you, if I use Dxi's or VSTi's, I will be able to hear the midi (which is played as audio) but if I just record normal midi, the firepod does not play it back as it would audio? Does this mean I can change the instrument on a normal midi track to a DXi or VSTi instrument and then be able to hear it?

What are my options for hearing normal midi. I do have a sound card, but did not splurge on it (so it is not a good one), because I knew I was going to be getting the firepod.

Also, do you have an opinion on ASIO vs WDM drivers?

Thanks for your response, I appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge.
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Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:22 am

Postby HDB » Sun Jan 28, 2007 12:10 pm

I believe you have it understood. Load up a virtual instrument, and it should play back through the Firepod as audio, as long as you choose that as the output in the track.

If you have a small mixer, you could run the Firepod outputs to it, and also the MIDI soundcard outputs, and then run the amp/speakers/headphones out of that.

That way you could at least use the MIDI from your MIDI soundcard as a guide while working.

When I start a MIDI sequence, I use only one soundcard, the GM set, and do it as simply as possible....just to get the performance notes and arrangement down. Once the arrangement is done linearly (tempo changes, verses, choruses, etc,..finished), then I start worrying about finding sounds.

Obsessing with the sound quality WHILE I am composing obstructs the flow of creation. That's the left-brain/right-brain thing. Construct the framework before you start adding paint. I do, however, do quick pans and volume edits to tracks....just to keep everything under control and out of the middle.

Once I have it at the tempo I want, and the basic instrumentation chosen...I then start looking for sounds that compliment each other. It might be a sound out of my old Roland RAP-10 card or a SoundFont out of my Audigy on my old MIDI computer. Since I have it synced to my audio computer, I copy the basic MIDI track to it, and I can choose use a different sound out of its Audigy, or use a virtual instrument.

I may start copying tracks so that I can assign the same track performance to a different sound. Maybe I like the sound of the RAP-10 Slap Bass mixed with a SoundFont Finger Bass, and I might even copy the track again and assign it to a virtual bass. These are all running through my Mackie, so I can hear it all. With some careful editing on velocities and volumes, I can make the bass more "alive" by having the Slap Bass pop out only when I need it.

I may do the same with drums. Use three different Crash Cymbals...all the same performance...and playing around with velocities. Sometimes I'll just "randomize" the velocities a bit. That makes it sound like the stick is maybe hitting the crash closer to the edge sometimes, and closer to the center sometimes. Keeps it from sounding quite so static and "MIDI"ey.

I may do a left string section, and a right string section. I can go crazy with strings! Start doubling and tripling up different string patches, and it's instant lush. May even transpose something up or down an octave...if it needs it. I've even taken a right string section, copy it, move it to the left with a different patch, delay it a tiny bit, and slide it under the left strings so that it doesn't compete, but you know it's there. Makes it sound like they are reverberating a bit in a hall. Do the same thing with the opposite...stereo heaven.

I have a few keyboards and outboard modules that I also employ into service....if I want those sounds. when I think I'm done choosing sounds...the hard part comes. Getting those sounds from soundcards, modules, keyboards and such out of them, and into audio.

Sometimes, I'll just let them all run through the Mackie, and premix to stereo....recording say, all the string section to stereo audio, while all the other tracks are muted. Start over, premix the basses. Start over, and do the drums. The drums are a bit different. I may premix all the toms alone, hats alone, cymbals alone, snares alone, and the kicks alone premixed with themselves down to their own stereo tracks so I can adjust those seperately in the mix. Maybe I want the kicks dry, but I want a certain reverb on the snares and cymbals. I do all that, and then I mix it ALL down to stereo....always keeping the originals in case I need to go back.
Sometimes I'll patch out of each MIDI card, keyboard or module seperately, and record them directly to their own track through the Delta 1010's eight inputs...all at once...bypassing the mixer.

Eventually, I may have 40-50 MIDI tracks mixed down to 12...15...whatever...stereo audio tracks. I can then mix those with whatever actual real-instrument audio I have recorded.

BTW, I usually record guitars, bass, perhaps Hammond, and vocals as audio along with the basic MIDI tracks early on. The audio computer is Master, and the old MIDI computer is synced to respond to it. I have to find sounds that fit around the actual audio, not the other way around. It's more destructive to tamper with audio tracks, than it is to find a different MIDI patch, or to tweak a patch's tuning, filter, EQ, etc.

Now then. There are free or cheap applications available that will let you play SoundFonts through many soundcards, and probably through your Firepod.(Google "SoundFont players" or similar). Using SoundFonts is kind of like having a soundcard with unlimited replaceable banks. Mix'n'match. Tweak the sounds. The drawback to SoundFonts is they are not as interactive as a good virtual instrument. You CAN get them to do some cool stuff with MIDI control info, but it's more work intensive. They also don't use much horsepower from your machine.

Virtual instruments may be more interactive, especially real-time control, but they take more of a toll on your processing power.

There are good and bad of both SoundFonts and virtual instruments. There are THOUSANDS of free Soundfonts, a few decent free virtual instruments. There are commercial sets of both, both inexpensive and REALLY expensive. There are virtual instrument synthesizers, which don't actually use samples, but generate sound much like a keyboard synth. There are virtual instrument drum sets.

So, go ahead and use the crappy MIDI sounds out of your soundcard as a guide track to record your virtuoso guitar performances. The notes are all there...although they may sound crappy for the moment.

Once you have recorded all your glorious audio performances, start finding sounds to replace the crappy MIDI sounds, and that will compliment your carefully recorded guitar and vocals. Dinker with the MIDI...not so much the audio.

Here's a good place to start:

I think you have the picture. Hope this helped.

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Postby mrjimbolya » Thu Feb 01, 2007 8:54 am

Man, thanks for the info. I appreciate all of your help. That gives me a great direction to go. I would love to hear some of your stuff. Thanks again, you have been a great help.

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Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:22 am

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