MIDIPLUS miniEngine USB - first impressions
I ordered the MIDIPLUS miniEngine USB sound synthesizer to reward myself for doing something special. This is the first chance I've had to play with it and can't remember exactly what that something was. Maybe it wasn't that special.
The thing that interested me most about this general midi sound module is its size( 3" X 4" X 1"). I just don't have the room to keep the TG-33 and sound mixer on my desk. If I want to have a short retro session, it can quickly be set up in a few minuets.
I'm not going into great detail, its already on the web. I did (and still do) have some questions that the answers didn't appear in page one of the search engine results. I will be using it with an Atari8 with a Wizztronics MidiMax interface and MIDI Music System(MMS) software. If your retro computer can dump data out to a midi port this may be something to look into.
I wasn't expecting $1000 worth of sound out of a $65 box. I am happy with it's sound. It has all the general MIDI instruments assigned to the standard patch numbers for use on all the channels except Channel 10; which is reserved for the Drum Kit. A reverb effect is built in and can be adjusted using the DATA wheel. This will have a great effect on the perceived sound quality.
My biggest complaint is that it did not come with a MIDI Implementation Chart. I know it will accept NOTEON and NOTEOFF data on all channels, patches can be assigned to each channel and up to 64 notes can be played at the same time. I had the Casio DH-100 horn hooked up and noted a lack of after touch response and no portomento. (darn)
I also noted that there were different drum kits on Channel 10. Assign different patch numbers to channel 10 to make the change. It would change on the 8s. Patch number 0 - 7 for the first drum kit, 8-15 for the second, and 16 - 23 for the third and so on. I lost my concentration in the higher numbers and can't really say what the effects were.
There are other questions a Midi Implementation Chart might have answered. Like, can I turn on and off midi channels, incase I want to use more then one sound module? Can the channels be panned? Can the Channels be set for MONO or POLY? (I'm thinking no, no, and no.)
Anyway…….., most of the youTube videos have examples of the patches. I have uploaded a zip file containing a complete composition in MP3 format and the original MMS file. I named it STARFIN back in the 80's when it was first produced using the Advanced Music System(AMS) for the Atari8. I called it Starfin for the fact that if I tried to write music for a living I would be starfin.
The file got converted from AMS to MMS at some point. It contains 4 voices and each was assigned to a different channel. Voice 1(Channel 1) was assigned patch 118 Synth Drum. Voices 2-4(Channel 2-4) were assigned patch 81 Lead2(Saw Tooth). The Reverb was adjusted to 68 and then recorded using Audacity on the PC.
The only adjustments to the recorded sound was to Normalize for a slight DC offset and a short Fade in was added. It was exported to a MP3 file and zipped.
starfin_mp3 - midi engine.zip (5.09MB)
Sure, you can hook this up to your modern PC or tablet but where's the retro fun in that.