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Midi Interfaces

Official support for: mkdr.net

Moderator: mkdr

mkdr
KVRian
 
1320 posts since 5 May, 2007, from Finland

Postby mkdr; Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:00 am Midi Interfaces

I wanted to make a post here where I'll collect data of various midi devices and their operation under regular midi spec. What i require from a port is reliable operation, full cc message support, proper sysex handling and good buffering.

The reason for this is because there's just too many interfaces that are total garbage and should be avoided at all costs. The standard at which Midi is sold to people is at an all time low from what I've seen. It's a real struggle to find a device that works properly. Best one's i know of are PCI based. Usb seems to be garbage across the board.. with only a few exceptions. For finding those few, this post exists.


The idea for this came when i tried to search for information on a reliable 8-port midi interface which would replace my current buggy E-MU Xmidis. Needless to say there simply was no useful data anywhere. Mostly people saying "Yeah no problems working good with class compliant drivers..", "class compliant drivers affect 8ms latency to port 8", "Motu drivers are crap", "Motu is great, no problems", "I split 8 ports from one port with a midipatchbay" <- WTF, "Esi is useless for sysex.."

So what i can gather from that is that Motu is shit, Esi is shit, M-Audio is shit(i used to have one, i can confirm).. and no one else is making 8 port interfaces. Great choices. As the data on Esi is the most unreliable, I'm going for it first. Ordering an ESI M8U XL and seeing how it goes.




Other than 8 port devices, I've now tested a 4-port M-Audio, 2-port E-MU and three different one port Chinese ones. The best has been one of the Chinese ones. Though when i ordered more, they weren't the same device anymore. I'll compile a list here of my usage experiences. Everything is tested with Win7x64.



1. E-MU XMidi 2x2 | usb-midi
+ decently priced
+ two ports
+ good construction
+ low latency and jitter
+ sysex works!
- drivers are buggy and cause crashes occasionally. NOT reliable enough!
- there exists different batches of which some are worse and don't support sysex! NOT a good buy as you never know what batch you're getting!


2. Chinese Model 1 | usb-midi (I'll add pictures later)
+ cheap.. very cheap
+ long cords
- shoddy construction, falls apart
- class compliant
- no naming of ports
- only sends note data
- pitch bend is also note data
- cc messages are garbage
- no sysex
- in and out ports are reversed
- TOTALLY USELESS

3. Chinese Model 2 | usb-midi
+ cheap.. very cheap
+ long cords
+ better construction than Model 1
- class compliant
- no naming of ports
+ actually works!
+ supports full sysex messaging, note data, pitch bends, cc messages, everything!
+ low latency and jitter

4. Chinese Model 3 | usb-midi
+ cheap too..
+ looks exactly like Model 2
- class compliant
- no naming of ports
- only note and cc data. NO SYSEX!
- hangs the usb ports sometimes

5. M-Audio 4x4 | usb-midi (tested with win98 & winxp years ago)
+ compact
+ nice colours
- baaad drivers
- horrible timing errors
- very unpleasant device, though some of it's problems might have been fixed with new drivers. any comments from current users?

6. M-Audio Venom (actually a synth/keyboard/soundcard but also a midi interface)
+ cheap (for a hw synth/soundcard combo)
+ good drivers, very stable audio and midi
+ supports all note, cc, pitch bend, sysex data
+ properly named ports
- big.. but it's a keyboard
- it's M-Audio. so i expect it to burst to flames at any moment
- the synth's midi functions are buggy as hell

7. M-Audio Delta 1010 | PCI soundard
+ cheap (for an 8x8 audiocard with decent drivers)
+ excellent midi port, good buffering, no problems ever
+ sysex works
+ great card overall

8. E-MU APS | PCI soundcard
+ midi port was great and worked like supposed to
- until i burned it somehow and it doesn't work anymore (prob an electric spike from a gig)


I will update this data later with miditest results when i'm determining how the ESI interface works.
www.mkdr.net

MophoEd - the BEST DSI Mopho Editor VSTi
mkdr
KVRian
 
1320 posts since 5 May, 2007, from Finland

Postby mkdr; Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:55 am

The ESI arrived!!
I made a quick test on my midi interfaces to confirm which works the best.

The test was made with these settings in the Miditest utility:
8000 messages
100 sysex
max sysex 256


Here are the results:

XMidi
Latency: 1.94 ms
Jitter: 0.66 ms
The worse batch version did similar figures but couldn't send as long sysex as the other.
I'd say it's still a good quality port compared to other similarly priced units.

Chinese 2
Latency: 1.89 ms
Jitter: 0.58 ms

M-Audio Delta 1010LT
Latency: 2.07 ms
Jitter: 0.35 ms

ESI M8U XL
Latency: 1.06 ms
Jitter: 0.15 ms


The ESI totally blew everything else off the table. It's just THAT GOOD!
The 0.15ms of jitter is pretty much a flawless score. This thing is working in it's own timezone. WTF :D

I might do some more extensive stress tests on the ESI later. Now i need to get back to work.

Oh and the XMidi's are now on sale!
www.mkdr.net

MophoEd - the BEST DSI Mopho Editor VSTi
Wormhelmet
KVRian
 
1026 posts since 20 Dec, 2004

Postby Wormhelmet; Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:08 pm

I can confirm my M-Audio Midisport 2x2 is shit. Oh, it transmits and receives, but is dodgy with other USB devices present and sharing USB bus. I have Focusrite 2i2 USB, Launchpad USB, Venom Synth USB, padKontrol USB, nanoKontrol USB, MS20 USB Controller, and finally the M-Audio midisport 2x2. Running the Korg Midi uninstaller utility which works for universally uninstalling and deleting corrupted midi ports, the Midisport 2x2 works, but even if only device on the USB bus, shows as corrupted under Windows 7 Home 64 bit OS when running Korg Utility. None of my other devices do this. I have the two out ports in use connected to my Minibrute and my Yamaha RM1x. The Yamaha is going away soon to be replaced by my blofeld when it comes in stock.

I think at that point I might need a decent 4x4 to accommodate upcoming and current hardware.
"I am a meat popsicle"
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Soundclick Wormhelmet
Wormhelmet
KVRian
 
1026 posts since 20 Dec, 2004

Postby Wormhelmet; Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:12 pm

I don't have any output test scores yet, but I'll see if I can find something to test it with.
"I am a meat popsicle"
Soundcloud Vondragonnoggin
Soundclick Wormhelmet
kmonkey
KVRAF
 
3182 posts since 17 Aug, 2004

Postby kmonkey; Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:24 pm

I can confirm that the best, hands down midi interface which worked for me (i tested it with a lot of outboard gear) is from Edirol. note that i tested a lot of things, e-mu, motu, esi, yamaha etc.

Edirol UM 550 or 880 are best interfaces i ever found. Zero latency error, timing error, work on xp, win7. In Cubase these worked even better then stupid Steinberg Midex midi interface series which is supposed to work with Cubase better then other interfaces.

Edirol beat them all.
User avatar
justin3am
KVRAF
 
9228 posts since 7 May, 2006, from Southern California

Postby justin3am; Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:57 pm

What utility are you using for your tests? Any links?
The application I used in the past required a way to send the MIDI data stream to an audio input. Does your method require any special cables?
mkdr
KVRian
 
1320 posts since 5 May, 2007, from Finland

Postby mkdr; Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:51 am

justin3am wrote:What utility are you using for your tests? Any links?
The application I used in the past required a way to send the MIDI data stream to an audio input. Does your method require any special cables?


I'm using this: http://earthvegaconnection.com/evc/products/miditest/
All you need is a midi cable from output port to an input port.



Btw. tested a PCI-E soundcards midi port today.. it was quick! :-o

ESI ESP1010e
Latency: 0.47 ms
Jitter: 0.05 ms

I'm still very happy with the ESI M8U XL. It's been rock solid! Even with the kind of sysex stuff i've been doing when developing my VSTi-editors. Not totally sure about this soundcard yet though... Midi on it seems great though.
www.mkdr.net

MophoEd - the BEST DSI Mopho Editor VSTi
User avatar
justin3am
KVRAF
 
9228 posts since 7 May, 2006, from Southern California

Postby justin3am; Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:57 pm

okay, thanks!
So it seems you cannot test Inputs or Outputs individually, you can only test the latency and jitter introduced by a round trip. And it's only available for Windows. :(

Unfortunately that is not sufficient for my needs.

When I was doing QA for M-Audio, we always used a MIDIMAN Portman PC/S, eMagic Unitor 8 or a MOTU MIDI Time Piece AV for our baseline latency/jitter tests.
mkdr
KVRian
 
1320 posts since 5 May, 2007, from Finland

Postby mkdr; Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:21 pm

justin3am wrote:okay, thanks!
So it seems you cannot test Inputs or Outputs individually, you can only test the latency and jitter introduced by a round trip. And it's only available for Windows. :(

Unfortunately that is not sufficient for my needs.

When I was doing QA for M-Audio, we always used a MIDIMAN Portman PC/S, eMagic Unitor 8 or a MOTU MIDI Time Piece AV for our baseline latency/jitter tests.


Uh, nasty. My experience is that those brands/units are not very reliable and shouldn't be considered a baseline. Which reminds me that i need to test my new RME for it's midi-port performance. Should be good too from what i've heard.


I can truly recommend the ESI M8U XL for anyone needing rock solid midi ports. I can throw anything at it and not worry there's going to be problems. This thing is amazing. Ploytec really knows its woodoo(the company that engineered it for ESI).
www.mkdr.net

MophoEd - the BEST DSI Mopho Editor VSTi
SayersWeb
KVRist
 
116 posts since 28 Sep, 2003, from Houston, Texas

Postby SayersWeb; Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:10 pm

I completely agree... Over the years I tried (and cried) through so many midi interfaces... Motu, M-Audio, and several others. Finally I got the Edirol UM-880. It worked flawlessly with win XP, flawlessly with win 7, and now flawlessly with win 8.

kmonkey wrote:I can confirm that the best, hands down midi interface which worked for me (i tested it with a lot of outboard gear) is from Edirol. note that i tested a lot of things, e-mu, motu, esi, yamaha etc.

Edirol UM 550 or 880 are best interfaces i ever found. Zero latency error, timing error, work on xp, win7. In Cubase these worked even better then stupid Steinberg Midex midi interface series which is supposed to work with Cubase better then other interfaces.

Edirol beat them all.
User avatar
4damind
KVRAF
 
3426 posts since 17 Aug, 2004, from Berlin, Germany

Postby 4damind; Thu May 30, 2013 7:02 am

M-Audio is unfortunately well known for very bad Midi performance. I used a lot stuff from M-Audio (Midisport, Delta 24/96, Delta1010, Axiom Pro) and all of this devices had big problems with Midi timing and more problems if also Midi Clock was send.

I used in the past a AMT8 with excellent performance which plays in a completely different league like this M-Audio crap. It seems that ESI is working very well too, this is good to know.
Frank Arnold Musician & IT Freelancer

Visit me on:
Facebook | Soundcloud | 4damind.com
mkdr
KVRian
 
1320 posts since 5 May, 2007, from Finland

Postby mkdr; Thu May 30, 2013 11:12 am

4damind wrote:M-Audio is unfortunately well known for very bad Midi performance. I used a lot stuff from M-Audio (Midisport, Delta 24/96, Delta1010, Axiom Pro) and all of this devices had big problems with Midi timing and more problems if also Midi Clock was send.

I used in the past a AMT8 with excellent performance which plays in a completely different league like this M-Audio crap. It seems that ESI is working very well too, this is good to know.


Only problem is Apple. They've made sure no one can use their products without buying all their overpriced hw.
Which in turn means no support for any OS that is made within 10 years.. Except OSX. They are the abomination of tech world.

So i'd say the only real option is ESI.
Amt8 is also so old that the latencies and jitter are far worse than on the more modern ESI.
www.mkdr.net

MophoEd - the BEST DSI Mopho Editor VSTi
User avatar
4damind
KVRAF
 
3426 posts since 17 Aug, 2004, from Berlin, Germany

Postby 4damind; Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:54 am

I have an ESI M8U XL since some days (running on Win8 64Bit) and can confirm that's an excellent Midi interface!
Very small jitter (0,40ms) and small latency with near 1ms and works also nice if some more data like Midi Clock is send on some channels.
This stuff never worked for me with M-Audio interfaces which are IMO the worst Midi interface on the market.

So for people using hardware synth and searching for a replacement for some of the older interfaces like Midex or AMT8, ESI is highly recommended.
Frank Arnold Musician & IT Freelancer

Visit me on:
Facebook | Soundcloud | 4damind.com
mkdr
KVRian
 
1320 posts since 5 May, 2007, from Finland

Postby mkdr; Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:40 am



This seems to be down now. Looking for an alternative...
www.mkdr.net

MophoEd - the BEST DSI Mopho Editor VSTi

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