USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

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Marco Koeller
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USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by Marco Koeller » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:44 pm

Hello Community,

this time i am around with a question that maybe some of you can answer.

I trigger my synthesizers and drum machines with the MIDI-Express 128 by MOTU (which in fact is truly a solid device). It is, classical, an bus-powered USB 2.0 device.

So, the newer iMacs by Apple are shipped with USB 3.0 only. Yes, i´ve read about that USB 3.0 is downward compatible, but otherwise i found MOTU users on the web, which experienced trouble get the MIDI-Express 128 working connected to an USB 3.0 bus. To be honest, no one of them managed to get the device working proper on the USB 3.0 bus.

I was wondering, is there no compatible MIDI-Interface out there meeting the specifications of USB 3.0? Especially as USB 3.0 is on the market for a longer time, and not since yesterday.

To describe my problem: I need a MIDI-Interface with at least 8 MIDI-OUTs. And i really would like to continue working with the MIDI-Express 128, as it worked all the years like a charme and nether let me down at any time.

So, whats your opinion or experiences?
Does any of you guys is working with Mac OSX 10.10 (Yosemite) and has an 8-Port MIDI-Device working proper on an USB 3.0 port?

Since Apple does not offer Firewire anymore, the only connection offered is USB 3.0 (or Thunderbolt).

What to do if none of the (older) USB 2.0 bus-powered MIDI-Devices is working on the USB 3.0 bus?

This thing reminds me a little bit of the "Beta vs. VHS" thing back in the 80s. I think the companies will wait and see which connection (USB or Thunderbolt) will establish most, and then update their gear?

What do you think about? Any experiences or tipps?

God bless MIDI!
Last edited by Marco Koeller on Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by meatballfulton » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:07 pm

Is my MOTU interface USB 3.0 compatible?
Yes. Using the latest version of the Universal Audio Installer for Mac or Windows, (found on our Downloads Page), you will be able to establish connection with your system via a USB 3.0 connection.

If you are experiencing issues with Windows 7, there may be an issue with your USB chipset. Windows 7, (and previous versions of Windows) is not inherently compatible with USB 3.0. For USB 3.0 connectivity, check with the manufacturer of your USB controller and update the USB chipset drivers for USB 3.0 operation.

To determine which USB ports are USB 3.0, open the Device Manager and look for the "Universal Serial Bus Controllers" category. USB 3.0 devices are commonly (but not always) identified by "USB 3.0", "XHCI", or "SuperSpeed". Check with the manufacturer of your USB 3.0 controller to confirm how their device is labeled in the Device Manager.

Note: Identification can be done by looking at the physical USB port itself; USB 3.0 ports generally have Blue connectors, or are labeled "SS" for SuperSpeed on its exterior.
If you still have issues, consider entering your system's BIOS and disabling USB 3.0 operation to avoid USB 3 compatibility issues with Windows 7. In doing so, your USB 3.0 ports will operate at a USB 2.0 speed, as all versions of USB are backwards compatible. Consult your motherboard or system's manufacturer for instructions on BIOS updates.

Windows 8 natively supports USB 3.0 operation. If you have issues running a MOTU device via USB 3.0 on Windows 8, confirm your USB 3.0 drivers are updated from the manufacturer's Web site. Updating to Windows 8 will alleviate any unresolved Windows 7/USB 3.0 issues.

On Mac OS X, USB 3.0 is supported on Macs running OS X 10.7.5 or later. Be sure you are running OS X 10.7.5, or the latest version of Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8.5) or Mavericks (OS X 10.9.x). If you are experiencing issues with a MOTU MIDI interface connected to Mac OS X via a USB 3.0 connection, test the problematic interface with a powered USB 2.0 hub connected to your computer's on board USB 3.0 port.
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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by Marco Koeller » Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:30 pm

Thanks for your answer, but i used Google before asking here in the community :geek:

The MOTU FAQ was the first site i visited on my research, so i already know this "not complete true and annoying" statement by MOTU. What else should a manufacturer say about his products as "Oh yes, our gear is working proper even with USB 3.0"? I visited the websites of MOTU, RME, M-Audio, ESI, Steinberg, Native Instruments and others. And all saying the same: "Yes! USB 3.0 works without problems!"

But in fact, the web is full of thousands of users who have other points of view and who are disappointed that their gear is not working anymore under USB 3.0. So, are all these people really too stupid to get their equipment working, or is there a general problem with lousy USB 3.0 support? I think, the second question is the right one.

So, the point is: What MOTU says, is not true in all cases. Especially that thing with "latest drivers" and "connecting a powered USB 2.0 hub" between the USB 3.0 port and the MIDI-Interface.

I made contact with the german distributor of MOTU products. The technician specialized for MOTU MIDI-Devices answered my emails very honest.

He said, that MOTU Interfaces currently not working proper on the USB 3.0 bus. Another local music technician here from Cologne added, that connecting a powered hub between the computer and the Interface "could" work or could "not work". But it seems it depends on if you had exactly the right version of driver AND a product unit which has the correct serial number (of manufacturing charge) and firmware. You see, you also could play a round of Lottery...

And even, IF you have exact the correct version of the driver AND the matching product unit, there are currently still some heavy issues with SysEx communication.

The local technician also mentioned, that some of his customers had the right driver version and the right product unit, so they were able to get the MIDI-Interface working on using USB 3.0.

Otherwise, the support of MOTU has let me know, that MOTU (and propably other manufactures) will support USB 3.0 official in the future.

The only thing is, i am still wondering why the hardware-manufacturers still ignoring USB 3.0. Is USB 3.0 exotic? Currently i dont find any useable Audio-Interface or MIDI-Interface meeting the needs of USB 3.0.

Any other users here around who made experiences with MOTU products and USB 3.0?
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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by meatballfulton » Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:47 pm

If you can borrow a powered hub as MOTU suggests, I'd certainly try that.

I am not at all surprised that USB3.0 is not 100% backwards compatible as the mfrs would like us to think. Unless the devices are class-compliant (most are not) then they probably require new drivers.

Good luck.
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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by Marco Koeller » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:47 pm

Hey, i will try for sure when the new iMac arrived. And for sure, i will share my experiences here :)

Speaking about promising protocols, i think USB 3.0 will be the one. I know, besides that there is also Thunderbolt, but this is primary an Apple thing, i dont think that Thunderbolt will break through as USB 3.0 will do.

Currently, i am in close contact to MOTU, to the german distributor and the local technician. So i think, there will be a way to fix it.

To be continued...
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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by meatballfulton » Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:04 pm

For consumer usage, USB 3.0 is going to be fine. There are plenty of 3.0 peripherals like disks and thumb drives already, eventually audio interfaces will probably adopt it but for MIDI it's overkill. 8x8 MIDI Interfaces were available back before USB. Which just makes your issues unforgiveable.

Thunderbolt was an Intel idea, Apple is just the first to adopt (they were also the first to adopt USB!). All the high end music interface mfrs are going Thunderbolt. It gives you PCI bandwidth outside of the box. A $30 cable from Apple lets any FW devices work seamlessly with Thunderbolt (I'm using one myself) unlike your issues with USB. You can buy hubs that convert a single Thunderbolt port to multiple FW, HDMI and USB ports.
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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by Marco Koeller » Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:46 pm

meatballfulton wrote:...but for MIDI it's overkill.

Yep, i know this. Even USB 2.0 is a little bit of "Overkill" for MIDI. But how should the future concept for MIDI-Interfaces look like? Someday, they got to have contemporary connections. I think the manufacturers cant stay on USB 2.0/Firewire the next 10 years. Something must happen to offer a contemporary connection. Someday there will be very less computers out there offering still USB 2.0. And when you buy Apple, you dont have USB 2.0 anymore and even Firewire was killed.
meatballfulton wrote:Which just makes your issues unforgiveable.

How´s that meant? :)
meatballfulton wrote:A $30 cable from Apple lets any FW devices work seamlessly with Thunderbolt (I'm using one myself) unlike your issues with USB. You can buy hubs that convert a single Thunderbolt port to multiple FW, HDMI and USB ports.
The idea surely is great, but i guess in my case that wont run. I think, the MIDI-Express 128 is constructed the way it wont accept any other protocol as the USB bus. But, it is another option to check your suggestions. Good point!
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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by meatballfulton » Sun Apr 26, 2015 1:18 pm

Marco Koeller wrote:
meatballfulton wrote:Which just makes your issues unforgiveable.

How´s that meant? :)
When mfrs claim their USB 2.0 gear will work with 3.0 but it doesn't it is unforgivable.

They should tell users not to upgrade until they really have it working.

Again, good luck.
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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:41 am

That's crazy that they can't manage to get 0.5 MB/s through a 5GB/s connection. Even if you were to send full speed midi down all sixteen channels on all eight outputs you're only using one ten-thousandth of the bandwidth of USB 3.0.

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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by Marco Koeller » Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:17 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:That's crazy that they can't manage to get 0.5 MB/s through a 5GB/s connection. Even if you were to send full speed midi down all sixteen channels on all eight outputs you're only using one ten-thousandth of the bandwidth of USB 3.0.
Yes, that was exactly the point i was thinking about. Like meatballfulton already mentioned, a bus like Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 is way too big and to fast for just sending some little MIDI data.

But this cant be the argument for the manufacturers, because the MIDI data throughput will always stay the same, no matter how fast future connections or busses will be.

You know, its not just about triggering Synthesizers and other gear by MIDI, to me personally its also about this SysEx thing and managing my backups and settings of the devices.

Okay, we will have to wait and see what happens :)
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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by jakob32 » Sat Jul 04, 2015 10:03 am

Hi,

i have a motu midi express 128 running on usb 3.0 and its giving me nightmares in Logic,

if anyone knows of a fix i came across this thread when searching for a fix..

Cheers Jakob

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Re: USB 3.0 MIDI-Interfaces / Any Experiences?

Post by Marco Koeller » Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:41 pm

jakob32 wrote:Hi, i have a motu midi express 128 running on usb 3.0 and its giving me nightmares in Logic, if anyone knows of a fix i came across this thread when searching for a fix..
Cheers Jakob
Hello Jakob,

i gave up running the MOTU on an USB 3.0 bus, i use a Emagic AMT-8 instead which runs proper under Logic.

If the generic Apple driver doesnt work for you, go to the Apple Support Website and download the Unitor Family-Driver 2.5.

What follows is a little handcraft to get it installed on OSX 10.10. Mount the downloaded image. Rightclick onto image > Show Package Content. Unpack the file "Archive.pax.gz" from the folder "content". You´ll find a MIDI driver called "EmagicUSBMIDIDriver.plugin". Place this file in the folder "Library > Audio > MIDI Drivers" onto your Mac HD. Now it should work as it does here for me.

See also my posts in another related thread: http://www.vintagesynth.com/forum/viewt ... 12&t=76166
Music is an universal language, spoke and understood by all....

Free audio netlabel http://www.cyan-music.com
Deep House and Dubtechno http://www.cyan-music.com/smooth
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