Let's Talk About SysEX Baby Part 2

Get your Hex Mojo workin      07/03/14

Lagrange Audio Writes: In a previous blog 'Let's Talk About SysEx Baby', we talked about MIDI System Exclusive (SysEx) and specifically how MIDI equipped synths of old use SysEx to address their parameters. While the idea of then using various computer based editors and librarians to edit these machines is well known these software tools suffer from a number of drawbacks.


The first is that back in the day there were no shortage of such programs for a variety of platforms but there were predominantly written in the late 80's and early 90's on the computer platforms of the time. Many that you may been familiar with and used for your favourite synth are now hard to find.

There is also the inevitable problem of getting them to run on contemporary platforms. Here is one such challenge and a common workaround, and is a little tip for those trying install old synth librarians on 64bit Windows for example, particularly those that use MIDIIO32, MSCOMCTL and similar ActiveX Controls with many of them written in Visual Basic. The trick is to register these dependent controls in a certain way, which is:

  1. Place legacy controls in C:WindowsSysWOW64
  2. Put 'regsver32 C:WindowsSysWOW64.OCX' into a BAT file
  3. Save and Right Click this file and 'Run As Administrator'

 

The above will save you a lot of hair being ripped out and get some of those 15-20 year old librarians humming again. This example of getting a legacy program to run on a new platform is but one issue. Some, despite everything you might try, simply won't run at all. So far I have been very lucky, most of the librarians I do use still operate but inevitably the passage of time will keep them from running at all. No doubt you will also notice that very few of these tools are actively supported anymore either.

Now on the face of it, you might think we are stuffed here and dragged back to the old days of editing the hard way. However there are two things that work in our favour. The first is the MIDI spec and SysEx specifically, their longevity has been nothing short of astounding and appears to be around a long time yet. The second advantage we have is the functionality either directly available within our DAW or can be exposed via it's API's (Application Programming Interfaces).

OK, I'm dangerously sliding into some technical territory here but my point is that our DAW is actually more fully featured than we realise. In many ways using our DAW to leverage SysEx with our old gear is in fact evolutionary, not revolutionary. It makes sense to be able to integrate an ability to program our vintage synth directly within our DAW session right? I think so anyway.




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