MIDI Manufacturers Association Looking For Your Opinion

midi-manufacturers-associationA representative from the executive board of the MIDI Manufacturers Association got in touch this week to let us know that they’d like input from Synthtopia readers about the future of MIDI:

“… The MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA) has worked diligently over the decades to help MIDI standards adapt and grow as technology has evolved and new platforms have become available.

“Now MIDI as an industry standard and the MMA as an organization are at an important crossroad. We’d like to do more to promote the value of MIDI to retailers, educators, students and end-users.  We’d like to reach the billions of people on the planet who have MIDI-enabled smart phones, computers and tablets, and encourage them to become active music makers. And we’d like to do more to promote the many enhancements and extensions to MIDI that we have created, including developing a realistic and robust business plan for our future-facing ‘HD protocol’ specification which is nearing completion.”

Toward that end, the MMA has put together a short (10-ish questions) survey, asking for your help providing some feedback on the future of MIDI.

More information about MIDI, the MIDI Manufacturers’ Association and what they do is at the group’s website.

43 thoughts on “MIDI Manufacturers Association Looking For Your Opinion

  1. Survey is more of a touchy-feeley marketing thing (how good a job are we doing? excellent?), not really a request for technical input.

    However, after finishing you do get routed to a webpage that might be interesting if you ARE into technical aspects of HD MIDI: http://www.midi.org/aboutus/projects.php

    Personally, I’m all about the latency. And better than 7bit resolution. And wireless. Although I understand that those are fundamentally hard to get at the same time 🙂

  2. Keep it as it is.
    It’s the only thing that consistently worked well for 32-years.
    Let’s stuff it all up now and make it more complicated and unstable.

    The Compact Disk has been around for exactly as many years.
    All the other so called improved formats have still not become the norm.
    Because it makes things more complicated and incompatible.

    1. So that’s MIDI 1.0, where it’s all keyboard controllers and synths that can’t handle anything else.

      Controllers based on MIDI 1.0 do suck however. There isn’t a guitar synth controller in existence that doesn’t suck due to the strange pitch handling nits in MIDI 1.0. In every band, there are 2x or 3x as many string players (2 guitars and a bass) as keys players. Maybe “MIDI HD” will just be an OSC based protocol implemented by other companies that survive by putting out something visionary, than incumbents that survive by ensuring that nothing ever evolves.

      Note that “MIDI” the wiring spec may well be fine, and not need changing. But “MIDI” the packet format is actually pretty awful for non-keyed instruments.

    1. Then clearly you aren’t syncing anything, using encoders or sliders, or using a controller that has 2 of the same note needing to be played at the same time (mostly guitar). Midi sync implementation varies wildly and is good to completely unusable depending on the situation e.g. (mpc 2000 vs the computer respectively) encoders don’t have nearly enough steps for performance, and the aforementioned no duplicate notes for multiple stringed controllers. The only thing that does works is basic key on off and thats basically just CV because I feel that velocity, polyphonic aftertouch and pitch variation are hard if not impossible to use how you really want them to, especially when compared to OSC. OSC will never replace midi because its too niche and open so we need something that actual industry leaders will implement and not keep us in the digital stone age. We need openness and exploration in MIDI. Why did we ever stop at keyboards? I want class compliant microtonal hardware controllers, controlled with strings, I don’t know, but I’m sure many innovative ideas have been squashed because of midi’s inflexibility and the lack of a wide acceptance of OSC.

      The thing that makes electronic music so amazing is it’s first and foremost about innovation, the synth and drum machine landscape was a wasteland of crap until a few years ago and now that the electronic craze is in full swing people are actually innovating and needing more flexibility where previously no one cared.

      1. I don’t need no MIDI for no guitar. It works fine for me with my synths If you can’t make MIDI work for you, then that’s your own fault. Maybe you should take a class.

        1. “I don’t need midi for guitar” … you are right if it’s MIDI 1.0, because MIDI 1.0 is really only suitable for keyboardists and DJs. MIDI 1.0 guitars are primarily a problem when you bend notes (ie: bend a min third chord to a maj third – very very common). This is exactly why the guitar universe is still based on signal processors that have no clue what notes you are playing.

          But imagine the elementary problem of a harmony pedal that actually works correctly. Such a pedal needs to listen for a bit and figure out what scale you are playing. If it’s going to play thirds, then sometimes it needs to pick major or minor. If you had the pickups split by string and got clean note information per string, pitch/timbre detection per string is quite enough to generate a MIDI or OSC stream to go off somewhere else.

          I would also add about the current MIDI standard: I did iOS music app development, and can tell you that MIDI support is a white elephant. For anything beyond trivial keyed instruments, MIDI configuration has too many knobs with bad defaults, and too many strange tricks required to get the kind of behavior which works by default.

          But MIDI 1.0 is perfect for “Beatmaking” people and adequate for keyboard players….

          1. Strange, i never had an issue with any of that. Not that im not interested in what the updated protocol has or may offer, i just have not found any reason to complain. It comes a lot down to the perception of the parameters. Your ear and brain can only identify so much at a time and its far less than 127 parameters when it comes to audio and related phenomena to the listener. Ive heard people complain all my life about the latency, never had an issue even on the most complex project. About the only thing i find annoying in 2015 is the mapping issue. 20 different controllers with 20 different daws wont have the option to plug in and go with everything working just fine. I do agree the resolution could use an OPTIONAL parameter for variable resolution. All in all though, i havent had much of an issue learning didnt resolve… Even in multimillion dollar studios with complex setups. Thats me, but i still havent heard anything mindblowing or anything about the HD protocol. Still havent had on reason to switch to OSC and infact got rid of the OSC in my setups because it proved to be excessively unnecesary. It just looks to me like developement isnt a bad thing, but most response to the development is something perceived the current standard cant do which is often not the case. The wish lists can usually happen in some form outside of it being edible or fuckable.

  3. Another important aspect is the availability of and ease of access the standard. The current way is expensive and highly unsafe! What is needed is cheap access to the standard via electronic download. Not as a Kafka compatible shopping procedure requiring one to disclose ones payment details on a permanent basis to MMA. Those girlies gotta up their customer facing game!

    1. What you say here is absolute truth, despite the downvotes from the popsterati. 90% of the musicians in the world, who do in fact have money to buy instruments, are not served by the 12 equal only garbage offered by every single manufacturer today.

    2. I’m sure they do; which is why MIDI is not limited to 12-tone equal temperament. The frequency data format in MIDI Tuning Standard (MTS) allows for extremely precise tuning programming (to 0.0061 cents). If you’re arguing that more hardware and software instruments should be set up to take advantage of this I agree 100%. Like latency, the problem is not with the MIDI language itself.

      1. That’s only partially correct. MIDI lets you retune your 12 tones, but that does not mean that it’s well designed for microtonal music or for continuous pitched instruments.

        People that understand both MIDI and non-keyboard controllers (like rrr00bb above) know that the lack of a ‘MIDI plus’ standard is holding back the development of both new controllers and more playable synthesizers.

  4. Hi,

    Thanks for the feedback. This particular survey was more on the marketing side of MIDI. Here is some feedback to the comments.

    Latency with MIDI is very much misunderstood. MIDI runs over 5 Pin DIN, USB, Ethernet, Firewire, AVB and now Bluetooth. These physical transports are the “cars” that carry MIDI ( “the passenger”) over different technologies. For example, USB can carry MIDI at multiple times the speed of a 5 Pin DIN. So you have to select the products and the connectivity that you need for your use case. Regarding HD we are working on both Ethernet and USB as the first transports which are certainly multiple times faster than current MIDI. HD will also be 100% backward compatible with MIDI 1.0 so it will extend the capabilities of current MIDI systems, not replace them. Finally regarding 12 tone equal tempered, yes , this has been extensively looked at and there will be ways to to directly control pitch as well as modify tunings in real time. This will make non keyboard controllers much more responsive. We want to thank the kind folks at Synthtopia for posting this as well as all the forum members who took the survey. It’s still not too late !

    1. No one said that MIDI was ‘broken’.

      But, to argue that technology has not improved in 35 years or that MIDI could be advanced is foolishness.

  5. Before MIDI, the only interface between the mind and the instrument were the hands.
    It was the most accurate, most musical sounding interface and it actually made you learn how to play.
    It didn’t require any updating or association to re-evaluate the protocol.
    Now we want another interface to interfere with our creative process, because we have a lot of MIDI gear already out there that need to become backward compatible.

  6. no need to change midi at all. it is stable and just works for almost 40 years now. also in 20 years of doing music i never got to a point where i wanted to do somethign that was not possible with midi. tbh i probably scratched only the surface of what midi can do. the way to expand midi is to make better wifi andbluetooth controllers. but we will get them soon anyway.

  7. This survey is actually from YAMAHA. Not the MIDI Manufacturers Association. It even states at the end, that it is from Yahama a ‘Member of the Midi Manufacturers Association’

    1. I have read that…and that’s ok for me as Yamaha is one of the most important member of the association…..and will more than likely share the informations with other members

  8. ethernet, 1 cable, cheap long, bi directional, they’ve got sync issue handled. midi routers/servers.

    imo midi marketing is “important” in the sense that if your computer has latency problems it’s an OS thing and OS makers need to be sold on the importance. imo the problem with midi is it expects devices to be “trustworthy” and report accurate information and there’s nothing it can do when that doesn’t happen.

    tbh, i’m somewhat surprised linux hasn’t addressed it.

  9. How about working on a midi only sequencer that exists and works , in isolation from a computers
    other software, etc
    A midi only sequencer as good as MIDI sequencers where prior to all the softsynth/bloatware versions that have come about. (please don’t be offended soft synth users)
    Quite seriously Midi stands for musical instrument digital interface? It would be good to have this organisation endorse or create a midi sequencer that is a showcase for BASIC midi function.
    I would buy a copy tomorrow, rather than spending hundreds to just use the midi aspect of one of the big brands/bloatware/softsynths.
    MIDI Manufacturers Association /24 track Midi sequencer, featuring drum edit, piano roll/Key edit.
    All proceeds going to promote the MMA.
    Do it please!!!!

  10. Timing sloppiness of current midi is the aspect that needs to be perfected.Just improving may not be enough for some users.
    Zero latency for midi note on and controller message response of synths would be a massive improvement.That would actually be perfecting the midi protocol.
    I am pretty sure it won’t happen.

    The second thing i would like to see in the new protocol is being able to adapt it to the synths with no USB connection.Or at least a way to adapt it to the synths with midi I/O .

    I believe it would be revolutionary if these two can be achieved.
    I am pretty sure they won’t happen.

  11. I HATE and vomit at the mere thought that the standard MIDI plus is being sidelined/dropped…look at what korg and arturia with their stupid “mini jack” PLUS adapter…yeh..10 years later when i tread on the adapter or lose it…that bit of hardware is now useless….as for ONLY USB midi…i wanna strangle this S*** who put’s only that into a product.

    DIN cable forever…add stuff sure but don’t remove the core connector that’s lasted 30 years.

  12. I agree! Proprietary MIDI cables must die! Especially the “mini jack” to DIN breakout cables you described (also required by IK Multimedia and Line 6 MIDI interfaces, too).

    The one of the core philosophies that MIDI started with was universal compatibility and interconnectivity. The MIDI manufacturer members seem to have let that concept slip, lately.

  13. Looking forward to getting behind 128. More controllers with higher resolution without having to resort to MSB/LSB workarounds sounds great.

    I love me some 5-din but if it can’t handle putting 128 behind us, I’m ready to say goodbye. Hackability, as mentioned earlier, would be a shame to lose though.

    A pitch is a pitch is a pitch. And with it, single channel poly pitchbend.

    Software sync remains a battlefield. OSX, Windows, Linux and iOS all have software with issues. Mostly seems to come down to developers needing to implement around the OS and of course varying amounts of experience with coding. Hoping the body can continue to make political in-roads to ensure OS makers do whatever it is they need to do to make life easier for developers.

    My big one: Go ahead and define standard controller numbers for way way way more aspects of music making machines. Setting up hardware MIDI controllers is a chore. Once we’re at a more modern number of available CCs let’s actually standardize things like fairly typical oscillator, filter, and envelope controls, common controls on all common effect types (everything from knee slope to sidechain level to early reflections level), mixer stuff (use 1000 controller numbers for predefining 100 channels of volume, pan and sends 1-8)…

    Of course, the spec can never cover every control on every device, and it needn’t try to, but there are controls that are pretty universal across implementations and there’s just no reason for all of these different makers and all of us controller users to be setting these things up from scratch every single time. Obviously, the intitial standards body hand a notion about these sorts of things (see 70-90!) but I’m hoping a higher definition protocol, along with hundreds of in the wild implementation examples, will allow the breadth and usefulness of these predefined controller numbers to go way way up.

    I mean, you guys have interns, right? 🙂 A master list could be built in a week by opening and cataloging the controls in demo versions of the 100 most popular digital purchases at Sweetwater or similar. Find the controls you see more than three times and give them a number!

    Thanks for asking and double triple thanks for popping into the comment thread. Great to have you here.

  14. I’d like MIDI to cover patch data in a much more detailed way, allowing the format to discover the properties of a particular synth and being able to transmit store and most importantly interpret the values being passed. VST and AU plug-ins both expose all their parameters in detail, but MIDI cannot currently expose this in a useful manner. Exitors, librarians and apps like PatchMorpher could be universal instead of needing to code specifically to each of the synths/musical instruments involved.

    1. Yes! See my post above. 🙂 wanted to mention this but it was already way too long!

      Standardized controller numbers could account for a significant portion of any given patch on any given machine. For many more “straightforward” devices/plugins (basic subtractive synth or a delay plugin), it could be 100%.

  15. I’m not using midi much outside iOS. In iOS it is hit or mess, as it seems that many dev’s don’t understand it fully or implement it poorly. Sync seems to be the biggest problem, but connections, Inconsistancies with start/stop/continue, and a host of different implementations in other areas are also common. I suspect Apple will need to be very involved in cleaning this up, since I think their documentation is part of the problem.

  16. MIDI needs to take a direction towards interfacing better with computers (and the DAWs therein).

    OSC hasn’t really caught on much because it’s so nebulous — it describes a syntax and a method of transport, but doesn’t standardize any of its messages, so every OSC implementation tends to be application-specific and tedious to implement.

    What we could really use is a standardized instrument protocol with more sophistication than Mackie’s HUI/MPC, Novation’s Automap, or Euphonix EuCon (many of which are built on top of the current MIDI protocol). We could use a protocol built around a paradigm of sophisticated bidirectional communication designed specifically to interface with DAW mixers, virtual instruments, and virtual effects.

    1. Yep. OSC is very cool for what it is but can be even more than a bear to deal with than manually setting up CCs. I appreciate its openness but we need the next MIDI spec to be the opposite (or at least contain the opposite as a subset): wide in scope *fixed* definitions based on hundreds of real world implementations.

  17. MIDI is great, but as I’ve said before, calling anything “HD” these days is just jumping on the bandwagon already occupied by many dubious things.

  18. I just want a midi bluetooth standard that works across all platforms – win, android and apple products so that 5pin ans usb adapters are easier to go to a single bt standard. also move towards bt midi integration in devices and controllers as a standard like wifi is for a lot of other devices nowadays.

  19. Midi? My opinion is : a good language;
    New Midi ? Yes; But, a new MIDI should be able to give the possibilieties to control new an old hardware gear (sinth-effect- etc- etc) in a new and more simple way. In my opinion, inside the new midi, we should to find a specific command name of every manufactures (like sys-ex); but in a way like an a object programmation like HTML, Java, etc, etc. (for example a list of command for juno 106, another for yamaha tx).
    So, the old midi was a simple bi-directional vector between A (sequencer) and B (sinth, etc) and viceversa; the New MIDI the same thing but more more more better.

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