Sunday, December 30, 2012

SOLUTION: MIDI Feedback Loop with Roland MKS-80

I was so stoked to hear my newly-acquired MKS-80, my first-ever in-person experience with the legendary synth. I hooked up the MIDI and audio cables, set up my device connections in Cubase, and started playing- but to my horror, instead of hearing glorious phat basses and creamy pads, I was assailed with loud, distorted, frenzied noise. My eyes darted over to the MKS where I noticed the MIDI MESSAGE light flashing on and off, even though I was no longer holding down any keys. This was bad.

I re-powered the unit and tried again, with the same results. Next, I tried it out in Ableton Live, and still nothing changed. Uh-oh.

Well, after a fair number of unproductive internet searches, I did some more experimenting and figured out that if I unplugged the MIDI Out cable, the unit worked fine. It appears that the MKS-80's MIDI Out port operates a little like a MIDI Thru port, and the behavior is the same regardless of what position the unit's MIDI FUNCTION switch is in. Luckily this is pretty easy to work around in both Cubase and Live.

In Cubase: On any MKS-80 MIDI tracks, open up the track inspector and change your MIDI Input Routing from "All MIDI Inputs" to your primary MIDI controller. In my case, I selected my AKAI MPK49.

In Live: On any MKS-80 MIDI tracks, change the MIDI From setting from "All Ins" to your MIDI controller.

Whew. What a relief!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Nexus Preset Organizer for reFX Nexus2

While I greatly admire the quality of the Nexus2 sound library and find the plugin very helpful when sketching out new tracks, one of my biggest complaints about it was the way it categorizes its sounds. Instruments in the factory library are categorized by instrument type, but as you install expansions, all expansion files are tucked away into individual folders, separate from the factory sounds, and not categorized by type.

You can set up your own search lists inside Nexus2, but those aren't really ideal for readability. I decided to address this issue by writing a program that creates new instrument category folders and combines instruments from across all expansions and the factory library. This is the Nexus Preset Organizer.

How to get it

You can download the program here. It should work fine on all versions of Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. (I have personally tested on XP/32, Win 7/64, and Win 8/64.) The ZIP file includes a PDF with complete instructions.

How to use it

I uploaded a YouTube video describing what the program does, and how to use it:

Check the PDF file in the download for more detailed instructions.

Like the music?

The background music for my video was an original composition I did using Nexus2 as my only instrument. If you liked the music, here it is on my SoundCloud:

Note: If you're unable to play the song, it's probably because you're using Firefox. SoundCloud doesn't work too well on Firefox, I'm afraid. :(