Edirol had a number of exciting new products on display at NAMM this year, and seems to be a company on the rise. The brilliant R-1 recorder will be covered in depth in another NAMM report here on Sonic State, so I thought I'd comment on Edirol's new midi patchbay/interfaces.
First, this is a product type that I thought I'd never see again, at least as far as a company releasing a new model. Second, it is the kind of utility product that is absolutely necessary for practically any synthesist using hardware equipment, and in some cases software instruments. I have long been concerned about the demise of the hardware midi patchbay, but no longer.
The UM-880 is a 128 channel midi patchbay and interface. It has a USB connector for communication with the computer, and has 8 midi input jacks and 8 midi outputs jacks. The UM-880 has an internal power supply, both units can operate in stand alone mode, and both are compatible with the following software versions: Windows XP/2000/ME/98SE/98 and Mac OS 9.04 and above, and Mac OS 10.2 and above. Drivers are bundled with the unit.
Edirol has come up with a terrifically useful design, as you can have this unit in your studio to communicate between your sequencer and your synths, and you can take it out on gigs with you to control racks of gear from one controller. If you want to get really crazy, you can stack four of these units for up to 512 midi channels.
The UM-550 has similar features to the larger version, but has 5 Midi inputs and 5 midi outputs and is powered by an AC adaptor instead of an internal power supply.
A couple of nicely designed MIDI interface/patchbays, that's not something you see every day!
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