your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

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Veerstryngh Thynner
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your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:09 pm

Hi all,

This forum thread was written because of perusing LM more or less randomly and coming across this:

viewtopic.php?f=18&t=17472

Only a couple of days before writing this post, I found out that I have been entirely on the wrong track, in my attempts of a way to "play" musical instrument sample, on electric guitar, using an audio interface. This happened in discussion with a friend.

If I play my electric guitar, connected to my desktop/laptop, I want to hear it over my headphones:

electric guitar --> audio interface --> DAW,
works;

But what I really want is to "play" musical instrument sample, on my desktop/laptop, on my electric guitar connected to desktop/laptop, and hear a different instrument over my headphones:

electric guitar --> audio interface --> musical instrument sample --> DAW,
doesn't work.

This chain doesn't work, since audio interfaces transfer analogue to digital (= data). But "digital" does not "understand" musical instrument sample. MIDI interfaces do. So

electric guitar --> MIDI interface --> musical instrument sample --> DAW

should work, in my reckoning. This, anyway, is how I understand how it works. So apologies to the real experts, if my simplification looks a bit like "dumbing down".

The crux of this story is, however, that I now need a Linux-compatible MIDI interface. One that converts AUDIO TO MIDI, in other words, AND is compatible with Linux. As well as, additionally, with mic/(guitar) line input(s) included. My desktop platform, by the way, Linux KDE Mint 17 "Qiana"

I found 3 possible candidates:

Komplete Audio 6
Roland UA22EX Duo Capture EX
Tascam 2x2


Komplete Audio 6 has been confirmed as Linux-compatible. But what about Roland and Tascam models?

If anyone has practical/previous experience in connection with the degree of Linux-compatibily of these two, I hope that they'll be so kind to let me know.

Veerstryngh Thynner

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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby asbak » Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:05 am

There's confusion in your post. It's not a midi interface you're looking for, it's an audio interface. Your electric guitar does not produce MIDI signals. It produces audio signals. Those analog audio signals will need to be converted to MIDI first.

Any linux compatible audio interface will capture the audio signal, which will then need to be converted to MIDI on the computer. You'd need a program such as Rakarrack to do this.

Alternatively you'd need a MIDI guitar such as this http://www.yourockguitar.com/ which can be
connected to a MIDI interface on your PC.

Luc
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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby Luc » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:28 am

asbak wrote:Any linux compatible audio interface will capture the audio signal, which will then need to be converted to MIDI on the computer. You'd need a program such as Rakarrack to do this.

I didn't know that Rakarrack could do that. Would you mind posting a rough step by step procedure?
EDIT: Never mind, the manual provides it. Very vague and rough, and I don't have a guitar to test it, but it's there.

Veerstryngh Thynner
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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Sun Sep 17, 2017 4:44 pm

Hi asbak, and hello again Luc,

To asbak:

Yes, you're right, in principle. Yet not the electric guitar in question should not be the focus, in this matter, but the interface itself.

If recording directly in the DAW, an audio interface will recognise whatever the analogue input needs and transform this communication. The information thus "transcended" will then be taken, from analogue In, on to the DAW, And, with that, to SOUND as represented by waveform. But what if I strum my guitar, at interface input stage, and I want to hear a different instrument, over my headphones?

So let's suppose now that whatever the analogue source, at interface input stage, is subsequently taken through, say, Carla, sitting in-between audio interface output and DAW. What's more, Carla comes with musical instrument sample uploaded (sfz and sf2, in my case). Yet Analogue, as just having emerged from interface output, is now transformed to Digital (= DATA).

And so, Analogue-Turned-Digital, at audio interface output, tries to reach out sending data. However, sfz/sf2 only communicates in 0-s and 1-s (= MIDI). Therefore, Analogue-Now-Turned-Digital and sfz/sf2 sample are doomed to remain at crossroads: audio interface output (data) and sfz/sf2 sample (0-s and 1-s), very literally, not on speaking terms. So this is never going to work, obviously. Unless some interpreter bridges the gap. Exactly as in the human condition: one party speaking Irish Gaelic and the other Rajastani not capable of meaningful negotiation until a third, versed in both, steps in.

Recapping:

1) the analogue source is taken from interface input to interface output first.
2) What was still Analogue, at interface input stage, has become Digital (= DATA), at emerging from interface output.
3) Analogue-Turned-Digital (= DATA), taken through sfz and sf2 sample next, is supposed to "unpack" sfz/sf2 sample, on its way to transforming that to audio (as represented by soundwave) at end destination DAW.
4) However, Analogue-Turned-Digital and sfz/sf2 sample don't "talk" the same "language": Analogue-Turned-Digital's "Data"; sfz/sf2's MIDI.
5) Ergo, with an audio interface as 'mediator', Analogue-Turned-Digital's journey towards end station DAW simply can't continue and is thus halted.

The sole way of Analogue-Now-Digital and sfz/sf2 sample reaching agreement, in view of travelling together (in a manner of speaking) towards end goal DAW, is starting all over again. With inserting a "mediator" that'll "understand" Analogue, to begin with. From interface input stage, via Carla plus uploaded sfz/sf2, to all the rest of the way to end goal DAW. But this can only happen when Interface takes Analogue by the hand, as it were, and leads it to sfz/sf2 in Carla, negotiating passage on Analogue's behalf. In the sole "language", crucially, that sfz/sf2 understands - namely 0-s and 1-s (= MIDI)

So if I want to strum my guitar and to hear a different instrument over my headphones, there's nothing to change on, in, or about my guitar, in order to achieve that. But to make that very thing reality, this guitar of mine DOES need to be connected, all the same, to an interface that a) "understands" what the guitar is calling for at one end (interface input level), and, simultaneously, b) what this sfz/sf2 musical instrument sample is "crying out for" from the other (= desktop or laptop).

An AUDIO interface is, demonstratively, NOT capable of this. Therefore, the mediator to take my guitar "past" sfz/sf2 sample that's just "talking" in streams of 0-s and 1-s (MIDI) - and, afterwards, on to the DAW, finally - is the one that knows how to "speak" '0-s and 1-s' ITSELF. No other option possible! Hence I believe that the sole conclusion to be drawn here is that I'll probably need some MIDI INTERFACE!

Of the three candidates found,

Komplete Audio 6
Roland UA22EX Duo Capture EX
Tascam 2x2


only the first one has been positively confirmed as Linux-compatible. All I'd like to know now is as to whether the Roland and the Tascam are in that equation as well.

Thank you.

Veerstryngh Thynner

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sysrqer
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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby sysrqer » Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:44 pm

A midi interface is not going to be able to do what you want to do. A midi interface takes a midi signal (whether it is from USB or midi connection) and sends the signal in to the computer. What you are attempting is taking an audio signal and converting it to a midi signal, this is not what those devices you listed do.

What you are looking to achieve is quite complicated. There are dedicated hardware pedals/racks that can do this, take your guitar's audio signal and convert it to a midi signal (which you can then put in to a midi interface), and some (as far as I know) mainly windows plugins/software which attempt it, but in my experience they have never been enormously useful due to how inaccurate the conversion is - you have to adapt your playing considerably to get anything useful.

Buying an audio interface and/or a midi interface, or any combination of the two, will not achieve this. Please look in to this in more detail because you will just waste your money.

From a google search for modern solutions:
http://www.sonuus.com/products_g2m.html
https://www.jamorigin.com/
https://migic.com/
http://www.guitarplayer.com/guitar-play ... data/25356

For the hardware you plug your guitar in to the converter and take a midi cable out of it and put that in to your computer through a midi interface (a midi port is often included on audio interfaces).
For the software you plug your guitar in the computer, then either connect it to play live or record it and then use the software to convert to midi - for this you don't need a midi interface.

Veerstryngh Thynner
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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:47 pm

Hi 42low,

Yes, I do. And I have been searching myself high and low, for that thread, without ever finding it back.

That news came from a guy (here, on Linux Musicians), years ago, who played guitar on Linux using NON, plus a Behringer UCG102 Guitar Link. And it's because of this guitar interface that I still remember him, since I own one myself. I never got it to work for me though.

Furthermore, in the experience of a friend who uses modular software, in a project having some striking parallels with mine, there is hope for me, too.

Veerstryngh Thynner

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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby asbak » Sun Sep 17, 2017 6:51 pm

Veerstryngh Thynner wrote:To asbak:
But what if I strum my guitar, at interface input stage, and I want to hear a different instrument, over my headphones?


Assuming you'll eventually be feeding MIDI to a softsynth ITB in the box, this is the basic signal path:

Guitar --> Sound Card Capture --> PC / Jack --> Rakarrack MIDI transform ---> Softsynth --> SC Playback --> Headphones

There will probably be some latency. Tracking will very much depend on how accurately you play and pitch will need to be close to perfect. All in all, results are not likely to be great unless care is taken and the utmost accuracy is used when playing.

Forget Jan Hammer style solos, at least not with this kind of setup.

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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:16 pm

To sysrqer:

Maybe I'm guilty of terminology confusion. What I should have written in the first place, perhaps, is audio-to-MIDI interfaces.

Those three I found, previously, and am asking advice about, have all been equipped with guitar input, audio out and MIDI In/Out. That at least suggests internal connection between analogue guitar input and MIDI Out.

Furthermore, there is this guy, mentioned in my reply to 42low (previous post), playing guitar in NON. He didn't use his guitar to reproduce sfz/sf2 sample, admittedly, That he used an audio interface tells me as much. A point for you. :) But based on what this friend of mine, also referred to in my previous post, is working on, and the parallels between our projects, I feel that I'm really on to something here.

Veerstryngh Thynner

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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby sysrqer » Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:24 pm

Veerstryngh Thynner wrote:To sysrqer:

Maybe I'm guilty of terminology confusion. What I should have written in the first place, perhaps, is audio-to-MIDI interfaces.

Those three I found, previously, and am asking advice about, have all been equipped with guitar input, audio out and MIDI In/Out. That at least suggests internal connection between analogue guitar input and MIDI Out.

Your assumption is wrong. These interfaces are to connect an audio source to record audio, and to connect a midi source to record midi. Once again, what you are trying to achieve is not possible with these devices, at least not in the way you are thinking.

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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby barbouze » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:05 pm

You already asked for the exact same thing twice before, first the 03/10/ 2013 and then the 26/09 2015. We are at about the same period of 2017 and guess what? Yes, audio is still audio and MIDI still MIDI. :wink:

Veerstryngh Thynner
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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:00 am

Yes. Guilty as charged, M'Lud. :(

I just had word from a friend who also informed me that audio-to-MIDI interfaces won''t work either. So as you say, barbouze, audio is still audio, and MIDI is still MIDI. Therefore I guess that here is the point where I have to concede defeat.

But may I argue in my defence, perhaps, that finding some manner of playing my guitar and hearing another instrument being played back to me has been occupying a considerable chunk of my life? I had hoped for a somewhat different ending, actually, and just clung on to the last vestiges of hope, I guess. But I didn't deliberately set out to be a nag. Although I may have come pretty close to that impression, I admit. Apologies to that.

So this is the end of the line, I see. In Linux anyway, it seems. Just for this theme to pursue, I mean.

Many thanks to all for your thoughts and suggestions contributed.

Veerstryngh Thynner

Veerstryngh Thynner
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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby Veerstryngh Thynner » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:02 am

Yes. Guilty as charged, M'Lud. :(

I just had word from a friend who also informed me that audio-to-MIDI interfaces won''t work either. So as you say, barbouze, audio is still audio, and MIDI is still MIDI. Therefore I guess that here is the point where I have to concede defeat.

But may I argue in my defence, perhaps, that finding some manner of playing my guitar and hearing another instrument being played back to me has been occupying a considerable chunk of my life? I had hoped for a somewhat different ending, actually, and just clung on to the last vestiges of hope, I guess. But I didn't deliberately set out to be a nag. Although I may have come pretty close to that impression, I admit. Apologies for that.

So this then is the end of the line, I see. In Linux anyway, it seems. Just to pursuing this theme further, I mean. I have no intention of abandoning Linux just yet.

Many thanks, all, for your thoughts and suggestions!

Veerstryngh Thynner
Last edited by Veerstryngh Thynner on Thu Sep 21, 2017 9:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

barbouze
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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby barbouze » Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:09 am

Technically, it isn't impossible but as explained it is far from perfect and/or too computationally intensive for the now and the magic translator you are looking for doesn't exist yet. :(
Don't loose hope and think outside the box. Could you find/build a MIDI controller that would allow you to somehow have the feeling of playing a guitar with all its expressibility? :wink:

Jack Winter
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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby Jack Winter » Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:13 am

You can do this in Reaper, it has a plugin called reatune that can send midi out based on the pitch it detects. To test I added a track, recarmed and monitor enabled it, then I added FX in this order: reatune, volume control (to mute the original guitar sound) and finally a synth, worked better than I expected, tracked the note immediately, and worked well as long as I was careful not to make another string ring. Possibly adding a compressor before reatune would let one hold the note longer, as it would only play for a couple of seconds until the note rung out and got too feeble to detect. Drawbacks are that it's single note (no chords) and no bends, the midi just switches between 2 half notes as you bend..

Tested it with jack1 set at 64/2 so about 5ms roundtrip latency on my system. I'd expect that the latency you can achieve would depend on your hardware and how well the sampler/virtual instrument works.

So don't give up, I'd be surprised if there weren't a few other software solutions for this...

And then there's always the hardware route, a real midi guitar or addon midi pickup, more expensive but afaik it could also do chords depending on how advanced the system is.
Reaper/KDE/Archlinux. i7-2600k/16GB + i7-4700HQ/16GB, RME Multiface/Babyface, Behringer X32, WA273-EQ, 2 x WA-412, ADL-600, Tegeler TRC, etc 8) For REAPER on Linux information: https://wiki.cockos.com/wiki/index.php/REAPER_for_Linux

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Re: your advice on Linux-compatible MIDI INTERFACES please

Postby GMaq » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:08 pm

Hi,

Late to the party here, and have just browsed the thread... Just an opinion..

Linux will always lag behind in these kinds of things (ie realtime Audio to MIDI conversion) you need a combination of supported hardware, and the software libraries that are complete enough to provide a full solution and by full solution I mean the ability to accommodate real world guitar things like ringing strings, full chord polyphony, pitch bend tracking that is accurate, these all take R&D, time and money. All 3 are things that Linux Audio developers are very short on.. :(

Another problem is if you get the supported hardware are there professional enough sounding sound libs and patches to go from guitar to convincing saxophone or string quartet as 2 difficult examples... probably not

If it was me I would suggest spending money an a good dedicated hardware solution that is self contained and produces convincing sounds without relying on any software or particular OS at all at all other than a track to record the output.

For example the EHX Pedals:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98u-MDTKAWU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZKVPzRyn50
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=av4X84lChEE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qebnkmvjiw

Another example of a promising controller, I think the hardware is supported in a class compliant sense but not sure beyond that:

https://www.fishman.com/products/series ... ontroller/


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