Piano World Home Page
Trying to figure out how to control multiple parts in a multitimbral sound module from a multi zone controller keyboard.

I had this figured out with my Physis K5 controller keyboard (8 zone, 9 sliders etc) and my V3 grand piano XXL multi timbral sound module with each slider always active for controlling individual volumes of each part like a mixer.

Now I've got a studiologic SL73 which is a 4 zone controller keyboard plus a mixface which is a 4 zone, 9 sliders etc control change and DAW midi controller designed to integrate with the SL73 but I can't get this working the same as my previous controller; using my previous method I have to keep changing zones on the mixface each time I want to adjust volume of a different part, I can't figure out how to have several volume sliders all active at the same time.

The V3 piano XXL is not programmable, each of it's 16 parts runs on a single midi channel (1-16) and responds to program change to select sound and to control change (CC) 7 in the respective midi channel for volume.

I'm setting each keyboard zone to a separate midi channel and a relevant program change for required sound and just one slider in each zone to CC7 (volume), all other sliders off. I activate all the zones that I want to be able to control volume of individually all at the same time like in a mixer.

E.g. K5 METHOD: Zone1 = midi ch1 and sends prog change for acoustic piano, slider 1 = CC7 (volume, which will be on ch1) all other sliders off. Zone2 = midi ch2, sends prog change for bass, slider2 = CC7 (in effect on midi ch2) all other sliders off. Zone3 = midi ch3, prog change for hammond organ, slider 3 = CC7, all others off. And so on.

NEW METHOD NEEDED (for SL73 plus mixface)? Using the method I used on the K5 I get part way there but I can only use one slider at a time and have to keep pressing zone buttons to get the mixface to the relevant zone, e.g. select z1, adjust piano volume, then select z2 to adjust bass vol, then back to z1 if piano vol needs further tweaking.

I think I see the logic of why it's working (or not working) this way, but it worked fine on the Physis K5 controller.

Any thoughts? Thanks.

I contacted Studiologic and it appears that what I want to do is not possible with the SL73 keyboard and mixface.

Am I the only person trying to do this? Do few if any modern controllers allow you to do this? Is this just me or isn't this a bit strange if many modern multizone controllers may not be able to make good use of multitimbral sound modules in this basic way; i.e. like a simple volume mixer for several parts at once? Or am I missing something?

I imagine this is a good way to go for many gigging keyboardists as an alternative to computer or inbuilt sounds.

Many years ago I transferred to a system based solely on computer and vsts and realised (with a DAW, or in my case Cantabile) you can do so much on just one channel and one zone that I appreciate why maybe multiple zones might be going out of fashion, which I feel is a shame considering the advances in electronics etc since my first controller keyboard about 25 or 30 years ago - I would have thought 8 or 16 zones should be standard now. And for many years it seemed to me that sound modules were going out of fashion which seemed a huge shame as well considering the electronic advances.

Then I found the V3 piano XXL multitimbral sound module which is so small and light, so easy to use, quick to connect and turn on, so many good sounds, works so well and the piano sounds and plays so well (particularly for under 4GB). I originally intended it would be my emergency back up on gigs in case of computer issues but now I find I often use it instead of the computer for rehearsals and gigs.
If I understand correctly, it sounds like your issue is that the Mixface doesn't allow you to simultaneously assign different sliders to do things on different MIDI channels. That surprises me, but I guess that's fine for people who use their control surface for DAW control or mapping to a single VST. As an alternative, I'm pretty sure the Korg NanoKontrol does what you want.

What made you switch from the K5 to the SL73?
Thanks Anotherscott. I'll have a look at the Korg. I hadn't initially considered the nanokontrols as I also wanted 9 sliders (Korg has 8) so I can also use them for organ drawbars on vsts and assumed the mixface acting as both DAW and ctrl and looking more advanced would do at least as much.

Why did I switch? 3 reasons; Keybed action, size and weight, clear surface to put other devices on.

To my mind there was something wrong with the keyboard action on my K5 I don't know whether it was me, a design fault or fault with mine but I just couldn't play repeated notes. I normally play jazz/dance band and perhaps had the freedom to avoid the issue, but then one day I tried some simple classical pieces I used to play and realised how bad it was. I think it is a 2 sensor TP100 and the combination of only 2 sensors and too much bounce on the keys meant, I think, I was hitting them again while they were bouncing back down from returning to the top. Initially I thought it was me and spent ages trying to change my technique. In the end I decided it was seriously affecting what I play and was putting me off practice and progress. Playing the SL73 is so different; suddenly I can play properly again and start doing some much needed practice.

I'm getting fed up with frequently playing out in awkward places to get to; unloading on dangerous busy main roads, in places you're not normally allowed to drive to, long walks inside some venues already busy with people, worrying about my gear getting broken trying to pack up in a confined space with several other musicians all in a rush to pack and leave too. On some occasions in a rush I've carried it quite a way and regretted it afterwards. At 11.5kg the SL73 is 3.3kg lighter, may not sound much but I think, particularly with the smaller size is going to make a significant difference. Plus I've got a plan for a combined all in one case, stand, 4 wheeled trolley and the reduced weight and size makes that more feasible too.

3rdly, lots of space on the flat surface either side of the screen to put other devices on and be free to place them where I want, e.g. 9 sliders on left to control organ vst upper drawbars, 9 slider set on right for lower drawbars, one set, e.g. the mixface doubling up as DAW control, mini sound module, or room for a trackball mouse or mini qwerty keyboard, etc, the K5 had buttons everywhere. I want to get everything as compact and neat as possible.
Originally Posted by PaulH
Thanks Anotherscott. I'll have a look at the Korg. I hadn't initially considered the nanokontrols as I also wanted 9 sliders (Korg has 8)

Yeah, the new model only has 8, you have to look for the original NanoKontrol if you want 9.
Update 2:

It's looking to me that what I want to do (using sliders to control volumes of parts in multitimbral sound modules like a mixer) without computer is probably not possible.

To my mind this should be a basic requirement of controllers so I feel surprised, disappointed and concerned. I'm concerned it probably applies to many or most currently available new systems. Which also makes me feel that is not good news for manufacturers of new sound modules or keyboardists like myself who see this a good way to go for gigging.

NANOKONTROL: I have a Korg nanokontrol I was using with my computer for many years so last few days I've been trying to figure out a way to use it with the SL73 instead of the mixface and without computer. I can pre program each of the 8 slider/knob/3switch groups in the korg to any midi channel unlike the mixface so that is promising. However I can't figure out a way to use it - with the sound module being played from the SL73 via midi I plugged the korg into the sound modules usb in, but no response to midi from the korg. I plugged the Korg into the usb on the SL73 and tried to route it via midi merge to midi out but still no good. I tried a usb to midi cable between korg usb and midi in of the SL73 but then the korg and usb-midi cable/converter are not powered. I tried via a powered usb hub which powers both devices up but still not working. Spoken to SL and the shop I got the SL's from and it seems not possible to do.

I think computers are great and remain my preference for home and some gigs, but they can be a lot of preparation and maintenance work and let you down and to my mind multitimbral sound module is the ideal emergency backup, ready to play in seconds and for me a great small, compact, quick alternative for most rehearsals and some gigs.
Originally Posted by PaulH
UHowever I can't figure out a way to use it - with the sound module being played from the SL73 via midi I plugged the korg into the sound modules usb in, but no response to midi from the korg.

So with the SL73's MIDI OUT connected to the V3's MIDI IN, and the NanoKontrol connected to the V3's USB port, you get sound when you play the SL's keys, but the NanoKontrol faders aren't working? Have you tried connecting the SL73 to the V3 via USB just to confirm that the V3's USB port is working? I know you've already contacted Studiologic to try to solve this, maybe you should try contacting V3 to ask if there's any reason this scenario (SL73 into 5-pin MIDI, NanoKontrol into USB connector) wouldn't be expected to work.

Originally Posted by PaulH
I plugged the Korg into the usb on the SL73 and tried to route it via midi merge to midi out but still no good.
Confirming this is what you did...?
* NanoKontrol plugged into USB of S73L; 5-pin MIDI Out 1 of SL into MIDI In of V3
* SL73 Merge Source = USB IN
* Merge Destination = OUT1
* Zone1 of SL73 enabled, with MIDI Port set to Out1
{or all the Out1 could all be Out2}

...though if SL told you there's no way for the SL73 to do what you want, then even though that sounds to me like it should work, I must be missing something.

Originally Posted by PaulH
I tried a usb to midi cable between korg usb and midi in of the SL73 but then the korg and usb-midi cable/converter are not powered.

The typical USB-to-MIDI cable won't work for something like this... that's for USB hosts while the NanoKontrol is a USB slave (it's not merely an issue of power). There are USB-to-MIDI adapters that do (at least theoretically) work for things like this, like the Kenton MIDI USB Host among others, but if the other methods you're trying which "should" work aren't working, I'm not confident this would solve your problem either, whether by itself (using the SL73 to merge its MIDI in to its USB out to the V3), or with a MIDI Thru box (using 5-pin MIDI from both the SL73 and Kenton into the V3).

Originally Posted by PaulH
I tried via a powered usb hub which powers both devices up but still not working.
If you used the hub to try to get a typical USB-to-MIDI cable to work, that won't work. But you could try putting the hub on the V3 (it's the host), and connecting the NanoKontrol AND the SL73 to the hub (as slaves), and in theory, that should work assuming the V3 is okay with a hub (and if you set the SL73 to USB out). But then again, in theory, I would have expected the first couple of approaches I described to work too.

Do you have another multi-timbral device you can connect the NanoKontrol to, just to confirm that you have properly programmed its sliders to send volumes on channels 1 through 4?
Thank you very much Anotherscott, I really appreciate all your help. Just realised I forgot to say it is a Korg nanokontrol2 I'm using; forgot the 2, sorry about that, looking back to my emails I included the 2 in discussions with SL and the store, don't know how I forgot it here, hope that wasn't a problem and changes everything you said and the nanokontrol2 and nanokontrol studio are that different. I see the 2 is described as class compliant but on a quick look couldn't figure out the situation with the studio.

You've given me renewed hope this might be possible and determination to find a way and given me some more ideas.

Yes, the usb connection on the V3 seems to respond to midi - if I disconnect the midi lead and only connect the usb on the SL73 to the usb on the V3 I can play the V3 from the keys of the SL73.

All the options I tried connecting with midi I could play the V3 from the SL73, but never any response from the Korg, no midi message flashing light either when moving anything on the Korg.

Yes, connecting the V3 to the usb on the SL73, as far as I can tell I was following the exact steps you mentioned to merge and route the midi. I've just remembered the Korg did not power up this way so I also tried it with usb hub to power it up, I may try different ways of using the hub as you said later.

The response from SL was that both the Korg and SL usb ports are devices and not supposed to talk.

Kenton usb host looks interesting, I wasn't aware of that, or similar, I'll have a closer look. I see the shop I got the other gear from sells it so I might ask them if they think it might work. From a quick look I think it might work but I hear your thoughts that it might not.

I'll have another play around as you suggest with different ways of connecting the usb hub.

I'll try some other ways to see if I've programmed the korg correctly although I tried it both as was from use with the computer (where one of the sliders was already on CC7) then programmed it with all sliders on CC7, knobs on CC10, each group on midi channels 1, 2, 3, etc.

I have an old Roland JV multitimbral module (will have to spend some time with the manual as not used it for so long) as well as a viscount legend exp organ module (which I think sounds much better than the VB3 or blue3 vsts I have so plan to use on occasions in combination with the V3 or computer) so might try experimenting with them. And may well ask V3 sound as well.

It's also just occurred to me that maybe some of the other expensive devices similar to the SL mixface by Behringer, Nektar etc might work, but it's not clear from an initial quick at their websites or manuals (or lack of detailed manuals that I can find) what programming options are available. But obviously if I can get the Korg nanokontrol2 or a nanokontrol studio to work that's all I need for the sound module control, but the mixface will be more useful than the korg when working with the computer and presumably better than the others with the SL73 e.g. switching zones, linking programs etc.
Everything I said applies equally to the original NanoKontrol and the NanoKontrol 2. The NanoKontrol Studio is a whole different animal, which I have no familiarity with.

According to the specs online, the V3 powers USB devices up to 500 ma, and the NanoKontrol takes under 100, so that's not an issue.

re: "the Korg and SL usb ports are devices and not supposed to talk." -- I assumed that the SL could act as a host, because I figured that's how the mixface integrated, but maybe not. If the SL cannot act as a host then that is correct, you would not be able to connect a nanokontrol to an SL. But you should still be able to plug the NanoKontrol into the V3's USB port while plugging the SL73 into the V3's MIDI port, You also might be able to (as I said) plug both the SL and the NanoKontrol into a USB hub, and connect the USB hub to the V3 (which would be the host device). Don't mix up which of your devices are hosts vs. slaves, or it will never work. ;-)
Got it working.

Thanks again Anotherscott for your help.

Playing around with the usb hub again I've realised I missed that the times the korg nanokontrol2 was showing on it was not because of getting power, but because the hub was still connected to the computer. Powered, but no connection to the computer the korg nanokontrol2's light won't come on. Therefore presumably the korg only works connected to the computer.

I tried the Kenton usb host mkII and it works.

With the Kenton (and no connection to a computer) the korg light comes on and the Kenton light stops flashing indicating it has detected a suitable device. Midi out of kenton connected to midi in of the V3 sound module, usb out of SL73 keyboard connected to usb in of V3. Also works connecting midi out of Kenton to midi in of SL73, using the midi merge in SL73 and midi out of SL73 to midi in of V3.
© Piano World Piano & Digital Piano Forums