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Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

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Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby BillB » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:03 am

Hi folks

I wasn't sure whether to place this in the DIY section, but it probably doesn't involve any DIY apart from the usual plugging the right cables into the right sockets.

So I was looking for a way to externally sync the annoyingly non-syncable original Arturia Beatstep. That is, the only 'sync in' is via USB MIDI, normally requiring a computer. There are a couple of devices that could do this, e.g. iconnect MIDI 4 and Kenton USB host, both over the £100 mark.

I wondered whether it might even be possible to physically hack the Beatstep and insert a clock trigger, but as a Google search turned up nothing, and I'm not knowledgeable enough to go in with a probe, gave up on that. Then indirectly came upon this via similar devices on YouTube:
http://www.hobbytronics.co.uk/usb-midi-converter

and thought, that should do the job nicely. MIDI clock signal into MIDI in, USB connection to Beatstep. Something like a pre-built version of this:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IXgHljbkXs8

Thus the topic title being a question. Does anybody see any problems with this? Jitter is sometimes mentioned in connection with USB MIDI... real issue/non-issue? Any other concerns?

It is £36 so I am willing to take a punt on it, but folks' views would be welcome. :geek:

Thanks

Bill
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby zenguitar » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:34 am

I can't comment on the specific device, but I have used Hobbytronics before and they are reliable. I would suggest that you contact them and have a chat about what you want to do, they may well have already dealt with people doing the same thing or something similar. But otherwise I would take the punt if I was in your shoes.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:15 am

Sorry, I cannot advise on this specific device, but I understand your frustration. As much as I loved the BeatStep, as soon as the BeatStepPro was released, I jumped on it, and my BeatStep is now collecting dust...
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby BillB » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:05 pm

Thanks for your thoughts both. I have raised the query with Hobbytronics tech support, although all of the tech specs suggest it should work. Just thought I would throw it out there in case anyone spotted any gotchas.

This little unit throws up some interesting possibilities for other devices which are challenged in the 5-pin MIDI department, e.g. MIDI out for the Microbrute; MIDI in for Novation Xiosynth; beat sync and other MIDI control of FX in the M-Audio Black Box... probably lots of other uses where the manufacturer wisely decided that 5-pin MIDI in/out was not required :headbang:

Hmmm, fun things to think about.
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby BillB » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:09 pm

Also Ben, just another thought. I can see why the Beatstep would become redundant if you have a 'Pro', but it can be useful to be able to assign a single hardware controller to a single purpose. For example somebody on YT has setup a Beatstep as the hidden functions controller of a Moog Sub Phatty, effectively giving the same degree of control as the hardware of a Moog Sub 37. But maybe it comes down to having enough space for all the kit...
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:23 pm

BillB wrote:Also Ben, just another thought. I can see why the Beatstep would become redundant if you have a 'Pro', but it can be useful to be able to assign a single hardware controller to a single purpose. For example somebody on YT has setup a Beatstep as the hidden functions controller of a Moog Sub Phatty, effectively giving the same degree of control as the hardware of a Moog Sub 37. But maybe it comes down to having enough space for all the kit...
Oh, I totally agree. It's just a bummer that I can't put it after the BSP's master clock -- even my SQ-1 can clock via CV! =p

Right now I am using the BeatStepPro with my Roland JV0180 and E-Mu Classic Keys, with MIDI and CV clock feeding into a KeyStep/Moog Mother-32, MiniBrute, and SQ-1/MOPHO.

You are right about the space requirements, too -- synth rigs take up gobs of space!!

b
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby BillB » Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:12 am

Nice reply from Hobbytronics support:

I can see no reason why our unit wouldn't work for you in this scenario.
As long as it gets real time messages on the MIDI IN port it should send them out via USB to the Beatstep. If it doesn't work for any reason, you can always send it back for a refund, no problem.


About to order. I wil report back. :beamup:
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:18 pm

Cool!
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Dave B » Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:06 pm

Almost unheard of! This is the kind of thing that makes me think that the whole 'boutique synth industry' is no bad thing :)
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby nathanscribe » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:02 pm

Looking forward to hearing the results, Bill. The USB/Master only nature of the BS is the biggest gripe I have about the thing. Held off a Pro so far, but can't guarantee how long for. Good bits of kit.
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:28 pm

This thread inspired me to jump down the rabbit hole that is the Internet and see if I could find something like this in the US of A. Here's what I found; think I will get this and see how it works. Thanks for getting the gears turning on this one, my BeatStep may have a new lease on life!! :D

http://www.samash.com/iconnectmidi2-2x2 ... swodLdwDcg
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby BillB » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:39 pm

Ben, hope you haven't pushed the button on this. As far as I know the iConnectMIDI2 does not act as a USB host, so you couldn't plug the Beatstep USB connection into it.

To have a device act as a host, you need the flat rectangular USB socket (Type A) like you have on a computer, not the Type B USB like you have on printers, the Beatstep and indeed the iConnect2.

However, you can get host functionality in its big brother
http://www.samash.com/iconnectmidi4-mid ... cmidi04l-p
- for a lot more money.

Thats why the Hobbytronics is such good value, even though it is arguably a one trick pony, and the iC4 does an awful lot more.

Please check the specs carefully to see if the device does what you are looking for.

Bill

(Incidentally, and this probably doesn't mean much to you, we should start a childrens puppet show together...)
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:42 pm

Yes, I actually noticed that after I posted the link ... :thumbdown:

So I am waiting with baited breath for the results of your experiment! :thumbup:

Would love to know what puppet show you are referencing; The only one that springs to my mind is Punch & Judy lol.
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby BillB » Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:21 pm

Google "Bill and Ben" (and if that doesn't work, "the flowerpot men") :D

The Hobbytronics unit arrived today but I won't get chance to "play" until tomorrow night at earliest. Will obviously post back ASAP.
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby BillB » Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:21 am

Ok, I lied about not having enough time, all the best studio work is done after midnight...

So the results are.... complete success :clap:

Roland TR-626 midi out to Hobbytronics midi in
5v USB PSU to Hobbytronics power in
Hobbytronics USB (type A socket) to Beatstep USB in
Beatstep MIDI out to KingKorg
Beatstep set to 'ext sync'

Press start on TR, Beatstep follows in perfect sync. Stop and Continue also fine. Change sequences whilst running, no problem. So that seems to be the Beatstep external sync issue sorted.

Just got me wondering though, whether it would be possible to sync multiple BSs via a USB hub...

Hehe... 'too much is not enough' 8-)
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby nathanscribe » Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:23 pm

Excellent news! Looks like I'll be buying one of those, then...
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:19 pm

BillB wrote:Ok, I lied about not having enough time, all the best studio work is done after midnight...

So the results are.... complete success :clap:

Roland TR-626 midi out to Hobbytronics midi in
5v USB PSU to Hobbytronics power in
Hobbytronics USB (type A socket) to Beatstep USB in
Beatstep MIDI out to KingKorg
Beatstep set to 'ext sync'

Press start on TR, Beatstep follows in perfect sync. Stop and Continue also fine. Change sequences whilst running, no problem. So that seems to be the Beatstep external sync issue sorted.

Just got me wondering though, whether it would be possible to sync multiple BSs via a USB hub...

Hehe... 'too much is not enough' 8-)
That is great news!

Dang ... I think I need more synths now! :D
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby BillB » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:41 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:Dang ... I think I need more synths now! :D

It is an inevitable state of being :beamup:
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:51 pm

Ordered mine! Guessing it will take a few days to get to NYC..
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby BillB » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:21 pm

Hope it works well for you. Please remember to report back!

Regards

Bill
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:15 pm

It shipped! I located, pulled out, and dusted off the Beatstep.

The stage is set!
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:22 pm

On a total side note:

I started setting up a (simple) Concert in MainStage 3 to handle the live synths and samples/spoken word bits we fly in during certain songs, and since my KeyStep doesn't have any additional MIDI controller buttons, the BeatStep was the perfect companion to add some additional MIDI control! Works a treat, too!
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby nathanscribe » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:07 pm

Picked up the HobbyTronics box the other day, and tested it in two ways with my Arturia Beatstep, which was then driving a modded Moog Werkstatt: 1) from the MIDI thru of a drum module taking its MIDI from the DAW via a MOTU 128, and 2) directly from the MIDI out of a Moog Little Phatty.

1) was problematic. I use two DAWs at the moment, Tracktion 6 (which has terrible MIDI clock) and Harrison Mixbus (v4). Using T6 the HT box ran in time but failed to sync on the beat. I suspect T6 here, it's awful at clock. Using Mixbus (which includes MIDI as of v3) I couldn't get any clock out at all, so back to the manual on that one.

2) was fine. MIDI Out of LP into HT box, USB into Beatstep, set LP to arpeggiator mode. Nothing happens till you hit a key, and then the arpeggiator starts, presumably sending a MIDI Start message as well, because that's also when the BS starts to run. Sync seemed tight enough to me.

Initial thoughts are that this would make a nifty little box for a live setup that doesn't rely on a computer for clock, but that its open case might be problematic in some environments.
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Sat Mar 25, 2017 1:52 pm

Thanks for passing that along.
Mine is slated to arrive today!
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Re: Hobbytronics USB MIDI to sync Arturia Beatstep?

Postby Ben Asaro » Sat Mar 25, 2017 6:05 pm

It hath arrived! Will test it later on.
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