Zynthian as a midi host - USB both in and out

I’m sure this can be done, but I just can’t get it to work. I have a Minilab keyboard and a Roland MC-101 plugged into my Zynthian. They can’t be joined directly together because… reasons. So Zynthian it is. The Zynthian shows it sees the midi input (the little icon, plus in the midi log). In the midi ports section of the web config tool I’ve set the keyboard to input and the mc-101 to output (it detects both since they are listed). I’d have thought this was all I needed for the midi signal to be passed from the keyboard to the MC-101. But I’m getting nothing. Is this setup correct?

It’s possible the MC-101 is setup wrong, but it’s pretty simple all things considered.

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You need to enable the MIDI ports in webconf Interface->MIDI Options (enable Advanced view). Near the bottom is a label, “MIDI Ports” with a “+” button below it. Press that and enable any MIDI ports you need.

Next you need to route the MIDI. I think (someone else (or you) can confirm) that MIDI inputs are not automatically routed to MIDI outputs and need to be passed through the MIDI Effects chain - but I ma be wrong. I haven’t played with this bit much.

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@riban thanks for that hint. I also didn’t get any MIDI signal out of my emagic MT, which is showing up and i activated In and Out, but I didn’t had the idea to use a midi fx channel.
I was trying to use the sequencer to send a sequence to my external instrument, but no signals went through the MT4.
I will try again and test some variations how to get this work.
I am used to DAWs and there you usually go into the preferences / MIDI settings and activate the MIDI out channels and you get the option to send a SYNC and if you like to remote / track control it,
In the the sync checkbox is clicked the sync is sent to that channel.
So, a sync checkbox in the midi general settings would solve this and why is it called a MIDI fx channel? This is confusing to me, because, what if I only want an empty MIDI channel to use it to send sequences via Zynthian sequencer to an external machine? I don’t usually use an MIDI fx…
The FX makes it a bit confusing.
Also the Audio FX layer, which I didn’t use yet seems to be what we call a Return channel.
Return channels are use to add an FX on it and send any audio signal of any track through it.
The typical use of having an instrument channel and being able to add any number of FX after the instrument doesn’t seem to be an option.
So, I need to figure out how the Zynthian does it.
It is all a bit unusual and for me not easy to get my head around how this is meant to be used.

The signal chain should be:

Instrument Layer → midi fx → instrument → audio fx
Audio Layer → input audio signal → audio fx
Midi Layer → midi fx → midi routing (external midi channels)
Return Layer → audio fx (incomging send signal from either Instrument or Audio Layer)

Generator and Special Layers are something else to get my head around.

MIDI Effects allows adding effects to MIDI, e.g. velocity filter. The reason I suggested this might be required is because I don’t know if you can route MIDI inputs to MIDI outputs directly within Zynthian. (Technically it is possible but I don’t know what the interface offers at the moment.)

Audio Effects are more like an effect unit. You route audio from the physical audio inputs through a chain of effects then to the physical audio outputs.

To add effects to an instrument you bold select the instrument from the Layer list which opens a context menu allowing adding effects to the output of the instrument.

Check out the user guide for how to use Zynthian.

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I actually got it to sort of work over USB midi, as in I can get the MC-101 to actually make sounds. But it’s super glitchy and doesn’t stop making noise. The midi log shows heaps of messages I haven’t triggered directly. I suspect it’s some sort of feedback loop happening. So unusable. Probably some config issue, but I’ve changed the various midi inputs and outputs and can’t get it to work properly.

I’ll note this can be done with a Pi - someone else has instructions to turn the pi into a USB midi hub. I’ve tried it and it’s not without issues either (variable lag, sometimes a lot, but at least all the midi messages are intentional).

So I’ve moved to the keyboard going into the Zynthian with USB (the only output and source of power for the device) and midi out to the MC-101 using a traditional midi cable. That works reasonably well, though I have to power the MC-101 from elsewhere.

I just had a play with this and concur that it does not seem possible to route MIDI within Zynthian in a way that might be useful to you. This probably warrants a feature request if you can be bothered. (Not difficult!) I can see a real benefit from being able to route MIDI more readily within Zynthian. I think we may have discussed this before but don’t recall the outcome. (I am sure others with longer memories will chip in here!) The actual routing is trivial to implement, being simple jackd routing commands but integration with Zynthian’s MIDI router and its automatic routing needs some consideration.

There was some discussion in the early USB audio days when we were trying to get USB audio involve about which we were all a bit sniffy…

The MIDI Filter mechanism is probably the first port of call in the zynthian MIDI world and any extention of MIDI infrastructure would probably be aimed at that environment first.
The whole area has been a success and like most successes quickly leads to a whole new set of problems. Try adding a USB hub to allow multiple MIDI connections to see what functionality isn’t available that you would assume is…

Perhaps if we could phrase the request in the MIDI filter’s Grammar we would progress quickest.