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AVB/Thunderbolt questions

Connecting Hauptwerk to MIDI organs, sequencers, ...
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Spharticus

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AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostMon Jun 01, 2020 7:07 pm

Long post alert- TL;DR recommendations wanted for MIDI to computer interface, piston/swell shoe interface, anything else I am missing.

Hi - new to HW and the forum. 20+ years of amateur playing organ. I'm quite lucky to have this as my church instrument, but with the COVID situation church and getting up there is not going to be the same.So I'm purchasing a new to me VPO:

Three manuals, m-audio key station 61 mk3
Classic midi works pedalboard
Mac Mini 3.2GHz 6‑core i7, 64GB 2666MHz DDR4, 2 USB 3.1, 4 Thunderbolt 3, Intel UHD Graphics 630
512GB SSD - The 512 is the boot disk and I have a 2GB USB-C external drive for HW and the organs to start.
10 Gigabit Ethernet
touch screens - no tabs or drawknobs, no expression pedals.

The previous user had one KB into MIDI and two on USB. He also was using a m-audio profire 610 interface.
So - I would like to connect the pedalboard and all three manuals to MIDI (I think). Future adds will be at least 3 swell shoes, toe studs, and 30-40 pistons. The idea of Classic MIDI works swell pedals and toe studs, and just plugging them into the pedalboard is very appealing but at $250 a pop they lose a lot of their shine. And $20 a piston? really?

I know i need to replace the 610 interface. I can connect with the Mac using USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, or AVB. At least 4 MIDI inputs now with potentially at least one more later - I assume that adding a controller for the swell shoes and toe/rail pistons can all be run through one interface or daisy chained, I have seen input controllers for at least 60 piston connections and the swell shoes.

I read that AVB had issues with OS .11 or greater; I have not really seen anything recent to say that's resolved. So how do I take care of what I have now plus plan for the future? The MOTU setup looks good - the 5/5 midi micro lite. I don't need 5 midi outputs, right? Just one I think. Then an Ultralite AVB or the ultralite Mk4?

I'm not concerned about outputs - 4 would be more than enough. I'm more interested in lowering any latency between the instrument and the Mac. If you made it this far, thanks and I'll take any advise on MIDI switch, MIDI interface, MIDI board for pistons/shoes, etc.
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larason2

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostMon Jun 01, 2020 9:48 pm

I would say there is no need to get a new midi interface. The two keyboards that connect through USB are still using MIDI, just through USB. I don’t think you will find any difference between the two, the protocol is the same. If you are short on USB ports, get a good quality powered USB bar, and that should work well. If your pedalboard and the remaining keyboard are MIDI only, you won’t find much additional latency plugging one into the other’s MIDI In if they have one, and are programmed to combine MIDI signals. Then you would only need one MIDI input to the computer. That opens up your options for what interface to buy.

If 4 channels of audio out are enough for you (2 speakers and a sub I am assuming), there are a lot of options, so it depends more on your budget. Interfaces from MOTU, Presonus, Focusrite and Steinberg may be of interest. They would have low latency and good audio quality. The one I bought is the Steinberg UR22. I’ve not heard anything about AVB. Thunderbolt 3 would give you a trouble free and very fast interface, but you might be able to get away with USB-C. You may have heard about the T2 audio glitches, but I have a T2 Mac with a USB interface, and I haven’t had any problems. Some users have posted on the forum that it was a problem for them though.

The interface to recommend if you have a tight budget depends on your level of technical skills. If you can get old used pistons, swell shoes and toe studs and solder them yourself, you can look at MIDI boutique (Largonet). They sell MIDI boards that you can plug in the switches to once you’ve wired them yourself using solder (depending on what kind of switch they are). There are other companies including in the US that sell similar components. That’s probably the cheapest way to go if you can’t afford something plug and play. There are a lot of posts on the forum you may find helpful, as many of us have built systems on a budget. If you don’t have the technical skills, then I would save up for something that is plug and play, or try to find something like this second hand.
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Spharticus

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostMon Jun 01, 2020 11:18 pm

Thank you - all good points. The problem with the 610 interface is that it's firewire output only, and from what I am reading i would have to get three different adapters just to get the signal to a USB.

I'm good enough with a soldering iron to where it wouldn't be an issue for me, I think that finding all the parts would be the most difficult.

So i could keep two KB on USB and the others, then a MIDI interface board for the pistons and toe studs. Still lots to think about - thanks for sharing.
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mdyde

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 4:41 am

Hello Spharticus/larason2,

To add to larason2's reply, one point to bear in mind if connecting multiple identical USB-MIDI devices directly via USB to the computer (e.g. all connected via a USB hub, rather than separate 5-pin DIN MIDI connections to a multi-port MIDI interface, such as a MOTU Microlite), is that most USB-MIDI devices these days are 'class compliant', relying on the operating system's built-in USB-MIDI driver, and neither Windows' no macOS' built-in USB-MIDI drivers can reliably tell multiple identical USB-MIDI devices apart (e.g. based on their internal serial numbers). Hence if you connect multiple identical USB-MIDI keyboards directly to the computer via USB sometimes the operating system might end up switching them around internally (e.g. if you plug in, or unplug, any USB device). In practice when that happens you need to re-launch Hauptwerk and auto-detect the them again in Hauptwerk, which is a minor inconvenience in the case of keyboards. Connecting the USB-MIDI devices via a (good-quality, powered) USB hub, and then never touching that USB hub again often helps, but doesn't always completely eliminate the problem.

Personally I always connect MIDI devices to separate MIDI IN ports on a multi-port MIDI interface (e.g. MOTU Microlite) so as to avoid that issue. However, many people are happy to live with it.

AVB is excellent for large numbers of audio channels, or carrying signals over long distances, but for a few audio channels used close to the computer at home there's no real need for it.

(Aside from AVB) Thunderbolt is potentially the best for lowest latency, maximum reliability, and performance, but most people use USB audio interfaces and find them to be perfectly sufficient.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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JRP

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 5:46 am

I would agree with Martin. I use a Motu 16A and up to recently connected it using Thunderbolt to my MacBook Pro. When I changed the configuration of my room, I needed a longer span than the standard Thunberbolt 2m run. I found a 5m Repeater Extension USB cable which works flawlessly. I have not been able to discern any latency at all after moving to USB wth the Repeater Extension.
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Spharticus

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 7:43 am

thank you both for the replies. So Martin suggests each component be MIDI connected to a MIDI hub, then one MIDI hub output goes to my interface which goes through USB to computer.

Not having to use thunderbolt or AVB will allow me to put more budget into outputs and flexibility instead of Apple licensing fees for the word Thunderbolt....
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mdyde

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 8:17 am

Thanks, Spharticus. You're very welcome.

Spharticus wrote:So Martin suggests each component be MIDI connected to a MIDI hub, then one MIDI hub output goes to my interface which goes through USB to computer.


No -- I meant using a multi-port MIDI interface (e.g. MOTU Microlite), connecting each MIDI device (each keyboard, pedalboard, etc.) directly and separately to distinct MIDI IN ports on the (e.g.) MOTU Microlite, then just having a single USB connection from the Microlite to the computer.

However, the alternative that larason2 described (don't bother with a multi-port MIDI interface, and instead just use a good-quality powered USB hub to connect each USB-MIDI device -- each keyboard, etc. -- to) is equally valid, and is the most commonly-used option.

Either way is fine, with the latter option being cheaper, but having the (perhaps minor) disadvantage that you might occasionally need to auto-detect things again if the operating system decides to re-order connected USB devices.
Best regards, Martin.
Hauptwerk software designer/developer, Milan Digital Audio.
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engrssc

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 8:24 am

mdyde wrote:No -- I meant using a multi-port MIDI interface (e.g. MOTU Microlite), connecting each MIDI device (each keyboard, pedalboard, etc.) directly and separately to distinct MIDI IN ports on the (e.g.) MOTU Microlite, then just having a single USB connection from the Microlite to the computer.



Image

1 picture = 1K words, maybe?

Rgds,
Ed
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Spharticus

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 9:32 am

yes- thank you both. I think I am following - both the microlite and the interface will be connected to the Mac separately.

I'm also reading a lot of HW and documentation from vendors like classic midi works and motu to get their understanding on how this all works together.
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larason2

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 9:45 am

Thanks Martin, that was a good clarification.
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engrssc

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 12:17 pm

Spharticus wrote:both the microlite and the interface will be connected to the Mac separately.


The MOTU Micro Lite is the interface. You would have to download the appropriate software for a Mac from the MOTU website under MOTU MIDI Installer and possibly a firmware update.

https://motu.com/download/body.html#

The User Guide is here:

https://cdn-data.motu.com/manuals/midi/MOTU_USB_MIDI_Manual.pdf

Rgds,
Ed
Last edited by engrssc on Tue Jun 02, 2020 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Spharticus

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 12:22 pm

Are they both referred to as an interface? I was using the term to refer to the Mk4 or 8a.
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engrssc

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Re: AVB/Thunderbolt questions

PostTue Jun 02, 2020 12:36 pm

The MOTU 8A 16x18 Thunderbolt / USB 3.0 Audio Interface is an Audio Interface whereas the Micro Lite is a MIDI Interface

There some units available that combine both audio and MIDI in one box but audio and MIDI are two separate functions.

You can use Google to do further research.

BTW, FYI, MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.
Hope that doesn't add to any confusion regarding terms being used. :roll:

No point in getting into it here, but for the sake of information, AVB stands for Audio Video Bridge. And that's a whole other story. Computer people seem to enjoy using these acronyms (abbreviations). :shock:

Rgds,
Ed

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