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Intrinsic Technology Plus48 MIDI Port Expander for Atari ST

Derek Johnson examines a three-way MIDI expansion for the Atari ST. By Derek Johnson
Published November 1994

In last month's Widgets, we took a look at a new three‑way MIDI expansion port for the Atari ST. Entirely coincidentally, and virtually concurrently, another similar unit has also been doing the rounds — the Plus48 interface from Intrinsic Technology, publishers of the Cubase Power User Handbook. This device comes in a sturdy little metal box, a little larger than last month's Extraports, with its three MIDI sockets at the back, and an attached cable; halfway along the cable is the modem connector, and the rest of the cable snakes round to the joystick port, presumably to provide extra power to add to the Plus48's stability. The modem connector features a through socket so that your modem (or whatever serial device you may be using) can stay connected to your ST.

Also part of the package is a floppy disk containing a new MROS driver for the Plus48; place this, along with MROS 3.33 (which is also provided, in case you don't have it), into the MROS folder of Cubase 3.01. The Plus48 won't work with ordinary Export drivers with Cubase, but it will work with Emagic software straight away.

A really neat feature of the Plus48 is the three‑way switch provided on the front for selecting between three different modes. One is, of course, Plus48 mode — providing an extra three MIDI ports, with 16 MIDI channels each. The other two options are RS232 (the through connector lets the modem port behave normally), and 'Plus 16' mode (the interface now emulates any one of the popular single MIDI port expanders that are on the market, one of which happens to be called Plus16). No special drivers are needed for this mode, and IT's device works perfectly with Hollis Trackman and Software Technology's Breakthru. To set your mind at rest that everything within the box is working, the interface also has three LEDs to show MIDI activity on each of the three outputs.

The Plus48 comes with a comprehensive manual — you wouldn't think there would be all that much to say about such a simple device, but there you go. The manual also goes into detail regarding data and timing limitations, both of the interface and the ST, reiterating several interesting points that arise in IT's Cubase Power User book. If you have any tendencies to paranoia, you may never use more than eight MIDI channels again!

Like Cimple Solutions' device reviewed last month, IT's Plus48 does its job simply and elegantly. It's hard to recommend one above the other, and both products having virtually the same price doesn't help matters. If your computer system always has a modem patched into it, then the Plus48 is the one for you — it's got both a through connection and a switch for its various modes. Personally, I also found the Plus16 position to be rather useful, since I often use Plus16‑compatible sequencers (Trackman, Breakthru and Sweet 16, for example). To sum up, Plus48 is a great little device which deserves to do well. Derek Johnson.