Advice needed for setting up setBfree keyboard split and external controller

Hi everyone. I’m enjoying playing around with pianoteq and setBfree, it is a great device for practicing with different sounds. Thank you so much for this great project.

I need some advice setting up a proper keyboard split organ scenario together with an external drawbar controller I’ve built. The keyboard is always sending at channel 1 and I’ve added a MIDI keysplit chain to channel 1, then split it to channel 2 for the upper manual and channel 3 for the lower manual. I then also have to change the MIDI routing of that chain to go to channel 2 but after that it is working as expected.

However, I’ve also built a drawbar controller with some 45mm faders and can’t figure out how to incorporate that into my setup. I’ve got full control over what it is doing, i.e. what MIDI channel it is using and how to switch between drawbars for upper vs lower manual: I can either shift the CC number by an offset, or I can change the channel. Either of these can be done with a little toggle switch on the controller board.

In order to use the keyboard split I have to select channel 1 with the MIDI keyboard split chain in the mixer. This will send incoming MIDI to that chain, then onwards to 2 and 3 depending on the note. However, the MIDI CC from by drawbar controller don’t seem to make it to the upper or lower setBfree manuals. I guess since I can send channel 2 and 3 from my controller, ideally I should be in multi-timbre MIDI mode? The problem then is that the MIDI keyboard split chain won’t work anymore. Am I missing something?

Currently I have Stage mode (omni) enabled as this seems to work correctly with the keyboard split. I do understand that the perfect solution would be to have an external keyboard that can do splitting to two different channels but I currently don’t have the option and all the tools and MIDI chains appear to be included so that this should work. Thanks in advance for your help!

To add a bit to that: I had a closer look at the keyboard and it can split but it will split the lower part (at a fixed point) to channel 3 and the higher part to 4. setBfree on Zynthian on the other hand expects the upper manual on the lower of the two channels.

Maybe my best bet is to finally build that MIDI merger device I was planning on making so that I can alter the MIDI stream with my own code (sending some notes to a different channel than others, and sending some CCs to a different channel). But it is very handy being able to do all of this from the Zynthian screen and controls.

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Hi @tobiw

Your scenario is exactly what we had in mind when we designed some of Zynthian’s features. With the current implementation of Zynthian, setBfree can have up to 2 manuals plus pedals, using consecutive MIDI channels starting at a user selected MIDI channel. (In development is a more flexible solution.) It also has some split configurations but they are fixed and of limited use.

So with what we currently have you can:

  • Add your three chains (Upper, Lower, Pedals) on MIDI channels 1, 2 & 3
  • Configure multi-timbral
  • MIDI clone from chain 1 to MIDI channels 2 & 3
  • Configure key range on each chain to the range you want to constrain on your keyboard
  • Configure transpose on each chain to move the keys back into a desired range*

(*) Note that transpose seems a bit flawed. You may only be able to transpose the whole engine. I will look to fix this in a future version.

For the drawbar controllers - Zynthian has a powerful MIDI learn mechanism. You can “MIDI learn” (map) each of your drawbar controls to any parameter of any chain so simply:

  • Open the control view for the setBfree manual you want to control
  • Select the page with the drawbars you want to assign
  • Press the MIDI learn switch (“learn/shot” on a V4)
  • Adjust the Zynthian knob for that control (it is now listening for MIDI CC)
  • Adjust the external drawbar control to send some MIDID CC commands
  • Repeat for all the other controls

Save your snapshot and you should have the configuration you desire. Let us know your success and we look forward to hearing some funky tunes from your rig :face_with_monocle: !

Thanks for your detailed explanation and step-by-step instructions. It is much appreciated. I had done the MIDI CC learning but wasn’t sure how the channels will work. I hadn’t played around with the cloning and key ranges so I’ll give that a try later.

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Can confirm that this is working perfectly with upper and lower manuals and one external MIDI keyboard. Having to restrict the key range twice is a bit more work but it’s also a lot easier with the learning feature than specifying the split point numerically in the keysplit MIDI chain. Thanks.

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Yes, I noticed a bit of awkwardness when splitting but this does allow overlapping split ranges and you can draw the range on the onscreen keyboard if you have a touchscreen. This is a nicely implemented feature.

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