April 10, 2012

My New USB MIDI Cable

My sequencing skills keep rising and it is increasingly time-consuming to sequence MIDI using only the mouse and computer keyboard.

Since I was a kid, I wished to have my Casio LK-50 Keyboard hooked up to my computer. I want to see those keys light up as I play MIDIs I downloaded from the internet or I sequenced myself.

Now, twelve years later, I finally saved enough money to buy a USB MIDI cable.

At first, I'm confused on how to setup this thing. I have my Samsung Notebook PC with Windows 7 on it. It recognizes the cable as a USB Composite Device but MIDI applications seems to crash when I select the USB device. I thought it was because I plugged the wrong ends on the MIDI port.

When I exhausted all the possibilities relating to wrong cable setup, I finally switched to Windows XP to see if 7 is screwing up again.

Eureka! It worked.

I can set the Casio as the MIDI output and it will play MIDI files from the computer. I tried many MIDI files to see how the Casio LK-50 can handle it. From my observations, the LK-50 do not seem to recognize the Portamento, Reverb, and Chorus CC but it can do Pitch Bends. The sound is a definite step up from Microsoft Synth but not as realistic as most soundfonts.

Another cool thing you can do with this setup is to get SyFon and set the Casio as the input. Turn off the 'local' MIDI setting in the keyboard and get a decent soundfont and voila! High quality sound from my twelve year old keyboard.

There are some problems I encountered while using this setup though. First, there is a noticable latency when creating a chain of MIDI In and Out (ex. Keyboard -> SyFon -> Anvil Studio ). Second, it seems to reset the setting once it a while (it turns back the 'local' setting to on and turns on the key lighting again).

With this, expect a truckload of MIDI uploads on this site.