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Q. How do I give my Mac MIDI?

Steinberg's Midex 8 USB MIDI interface.Steinberg's Midex 8 USB MIDI interface.

I have recently started using Cubase VST with my G3 Apple Mac and I am on the verge of buying a Korg Trinity synth. How do I connect MIDI leads into my Mac (which has SCSI and USB ports)? Where can I get the necessary converter? Is it a Midiman? Or a Macman? Help! I presume I will only need MIDI In and MIDI Out. Is this correct?

Richard Murray

Senior Assistant Editor Matt Bell replies: The bit of equipment you need to interface your Trinity to the Mac via MIDI is, perhaps unsurprisingly, called a MIDI interface! Depending on whether your G3 has a grey case or is one of the blue and white translucent ones, this will either connect to the serial or USB port of your Mac. As you mention that your G3 has USB, it's probably a blue and white one, so your interface will connect there.

There are various MIDI interfaces you can buy, ranging from basic In/Out devices to multiple interfaces with several MIDI In/Out ports and sophisticated MIDI routing features. If you only intend to connect the Trinity, you'll be able to get away with a basic interface, but if you intend to add lots of MIDI gear to your setup in the future, you'll quickly outgrow a small interface and need to buy a bigger one anyway, so you might want to buy a larger one with several MIDI ports to start with, although these are, of course, more expensive.

Regarding manufacturers; you mention Midiman, and they do indeed make a huge range of MIDI interfaces, from small to large, USB and serial, and they offer good value for money. However, some G3 and G4 users have experienced timing problems when trying to run MIDI systems that interface via the USB ports of their Mac. Incidentally, this is nothing to do with Midiman, whose products are renowned for their quality and affordability — it's believed to be a problem with the USB protocol and the way the new G3s and G4s drive the buss.

Some people who have experienced problems have found that they disappeared when they switched to an interface made by the same manufacturer who made their sequencing application — so in your case that would be Steinberg. It's believed that this may have cured the problem in some cases because Steinberg software addresses its proprietary MIDI interfaces directly, without the need for a further layer of software, such as OMS or FreeMIDI, to address the MIDI interface from the MIDI application. So you might prefer to check out a Steinberg MIDI interface, such as the Midex 8 (a large eight‑way interface) or the USB 2 MIDI (a small two‑in, two‑out affair).

However, as I say, these timing problems have not affected everyone, nor every new G3 or G4. There's nothing that says you have to use a Steinberg MIDI interface, and you may well find that everything works OK with a non–Steinberg one. My bottom‑line advice would be, whatever you buy, to make sure, if at all possible, that you get an option to try the interface with your setup at home before you part with your money.

For more on choosing USB MIDI interfaces for a new G3 or G4, check out Paul Wiffen's four‑part series on the subject, which ran in SOS from November 2000 to February 2001. You can get to part one of this series at: articles/g4s.htm" target="_blank, but to access the rest of the series you have to be an SOS subscriber (although it will slowly become publicly accessible over the next three months).