Midi Quest and MIDI Communications
Before beginning the tutorials, you should read this frank discussion about MIDI SysEx and Midi Quest.
MIDI is not plug-and-play. While there have been great advancements in making it easier to connect your MIDI hardware to the computer, MIDI is not inherently plug-and-play. Particularly for older hardware, it it critical that you read the Fast Tips information for each instrument so that the instrument and Midi Quest can be configured properly to communicate with each other.
One of the most common tech support issues that Sound Quest deals with are communication errors where Midi Quest will not communicate with a piece of MIDI hardware. If you find yourself in a situation where Midi Quest is not receiving SysEx from an instrument, 99.9% of the time the problem is a result of a configuration problem or a MIDI interface problem. Midi Quest is working, it is a matter of configuring your system properly so that communication can happen. Remember, MIDI is not plug-and-play.
Sound Quest has been around for a very long time, 32 years and development on Sound Quest's first products began the year that the first MIDI instruments began shipping. In that that time we have seen an incredible range of MIDI communications issues and while we would prefer that MIDI and SysEx communication was plug-and-play, no company has more experience dealing with MIDI hardware and SysEx than Sound Quest and we are here to assist you to get Midi Quest integrated into your studio.
MIDI information is not arriving from an instrument
When you don't receive a SysEx response from a MIDI device, there can be many, many causes. You will need to work through all of the potential problems until you find the source of the issue and correct it.
1. Open the MIDI In Ports dialog pictured below by choosing MIDI / MIDI In Ports from the main menus.
In this dialog, ensure that Use All Available MIDI Ports is checked. Set the Buffer Size to 80000. Set # of Buffers to 10. Press the OK button to close the dialog.
2. Open the MIDI Out Ports dialog pictured below by choosing MIDI / MIDI Out Ports from the main menus
In this dialog, ensure that Use All Available MIDI Ports is checked. Press the OK button to close the dialog.
3. Open the Monitor Window from the Utilities menu so that MIDI Activity can be viewed. Leave this window open through the entire test process and if you should mistakenly close it, go back and re-open it. This window will show all incoming and outgoing MIDI messages as well as internal error messages if there is a failure. Events displayed in red are events sent from Midi Quest to a device. Events displayed in black are events received by Midi Quest. Events displayed in blue are status messages that cover a wide range of issues and, if displayed, can be used to diagnose problems.
4. Go to the Studio window and select the MIDI device you are having problems with.
5. Press the Fast Tips button on the button bar and read the Fast Tips information and ensure that the instrument is correctly configured to communicate with Midi Quest. These instructions will include how to enable System Exclusive communication on the instrument if it is necessary.
It is critical to remember that not all MIDI devices ship with System Exclusive enabled. This is particularly true of Korg instruments. In these cases, response to System Exclusive messages must be enabled on the instrument or MIDI device by you. It is not possible for Midi Quest to do this on its own.
The Fast Tips will also include other necessary instructions to ensure that the instrument and Midi Quest are able to communicate. Failure to read and follow these instructions will usually ensure a failure to communicate with your hardware.
Verifying the Connections between Midi Quest and your Instrument
6. Disconnect MIDI Patch Bays during setup and testing
If the MIDI device you are having difficulty with is connected to a MIDI Patch Bay, bypass the patch bay and connect directly to a MIDI interface until you are communicating successfully. After that, the instrument can be connected to the patch bay if necessary.
note 1: a MIDI patch bay is not a MIDI interface. A MIDI patch bay will not have a USB connection to the computer. It will only have MIDI ports.
note 2: Hardware of this nature is typically quite old and you may not be able to use it with Midi Quest because these units frequently have difficulty properly processing SysEx. If possible, Sound Quest recommends the use of a multi-port MIDI interface instead of a MIDI patch bay.
7. Ensure a Two-Way MIDI Connection between the Computer and MIDI Device
This mistake is made by many experienced MIDI musicians so if it happens to you, don't feel badly. For Midi Quest to automatically collect SysEx from MIDI hardware, a two way connection is necessary. MIDI OUT from the MIDI interface to the MIDI IN of the device. MIDI OUT from the MIDI device to the MIDI IN of the interface.
When working with MIDI rack modules, MIDI communication is usually one way, from the computer to the device. it is easy to forget the SysEx requires two way communication. So make sure there is a MIDI cable coming from the MIDI OUT of your MIDI device to the MIDI IN of a MIDI interface.
8. Verify Your MIDI Cables Work
This problem is also particularly common with MIDI modules. There is a MIDI cable from the module MIDI OUT to the MIDI interface MIDI IN however the cable is not working properly and because it is rarely used, you have not realized it.
Over the years, Sound Quest has seen a number of MIDI cable related problems so if you are having communications problems, you will need to carefully verify that your MIDI cables are working properly. The issues we have seen in the past are as follows:
a. No SysEx transfers because the MIDI cable is damaged and non-functioning
b. Intermittent SysEx transfers because the MIDI cable is damaged and only works part of the time
c. MIDI cables that are able to successfully transfer standard MIDI messages such as MIDI note events but are faulty in some way so that bulk SysEx transfers with substantially more bytes are not properly transferred
If you decide to contact Sound Quest regarding an instrument communication problem, please ensure that you provide us with sufficient information to assist you. This is discussed in the Getting Support section of the manual.