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OMS, QuickTime & Alternatives

Apple Notes By Martin Russ
Published July 1995

After 'QuickTime and OMS with everything' last month, Martin Russ seeks an alternative view of MIDI on the Mac.

As promised last month, here's the interview I carried out with Daniel Rose at Mark Of The Unicorn, publishers of Performer, Digital Performer, UniSyn, and other music software.

What is the state of play concerning the alleged OMS vs. FreeMIDI 'war'? Have things calmed down?

"Yes, the media hype has abated. But of course, OMS 2.0 still hasn't shipped [Apple Notes continues to wait for the full release version of OMS 2.0; meanwhile, it is freely available in alpha test version, as mentioned in June 1995's Apple Notes — Ed]. Meanwhile, FreeMIDI users have been enjoying the benefits of this advanced MIDI system."

What happens if someone needs to use OMS and FreeMIDI together — for example, if they want to try FreeStyle?

"FreeStyle users don't have to 'change to FreeMIDI'. You simply install FreeStyle and use it as normal. The FreeStyle installer gives you FreeMIDI automatically, and FreeMIDI and OMS peacefully coexist in the system. You just have to make sure that FreeMIDI is set to allow non‑FreeMIDI applications and OMS is set to allow non‑OMS applications."

It was announced recently that OMS technology will be included in Windows 95, and the next update to QuickTime. Where does this leave FreeMIDI?

"Regarding QuickTime, Apple have decided to use only the low‑level serial port driver from OMS — a small kernel of OMS code. Apple has neither purchased nor licensed OMS, nor will OMS be distributed by Apple with QuickTime. QuickTime will simply become OMS‑compatible. We will be writing code to make QuickTime compatible with FreeMIDI in exactly the same manner.

"With regard to operating systems generally, given that one of our competitors is the sole administrator of OMS development, OMS would not make a dependable base for our applications. The politics of competition aside, it's bad enough waiting for Apple to get around to issues that affect us — why be forced to wait for another third party? We would also have to sacrifice important FreeMIDI features that users of our applications are already enjoying. So, we will continue to develop FreeMIDI, knowing that by keeping it several steps ahead of other products and by handling issues that our users may encounter ourselves, we can offer real advantages to our customers."

What's the current status of your software with respect to native PowerMacs?

"Native versions are under development, but there are no announced release dates yet."

How does someone become a FreeMIDI developer?

"We're focusing our developer support efforts on relationships with other corporate developers; Lexicon, Coda, and Young Chang, to name a few, have all signed developer agreements for FreeMIDI. But we will be glad to forward a FreeMIDI Developer application form — for more details, contact Klemm Music Technology on 01462 733310, or email 100415.2665@compuserve. com."

Now that the major sequencing applications have more or less reached saturation in terms of the features that can be provided, where do you go next? Has the MIDI‑only sequencer reached the end of the road?

"I personally feel that we are nowhere near saturation with features and functionality. There is tremendous room for user interface improvement, as FreeStyle shows. Certainly, integrated digital audio will become a standard feature, but there are many other possibilities yet to pursue.

Do you have any thoughts on using OpenDoc as part of a future product? I can envisage an OpenDoc music software product where you could drop a sequencer, a score writer and a librarian into a document rather than working in three separate applications, for example...

"All I can say right now is that we share your interest in this technology."

Do you have a WWW page or an FTP site?

"Coming soon to a hard drive near you!"

Are you planning Windows versions of your software products?

"You can expect Windows UniSyn and FreeStyle in the near future."

On The Net

The problem with the majority of 'music‑orientated' World Wide Web (WWW) sites on the Internet is that they are mostly concerned with musicians and music, rather than technology. One place where this does not hold true is the excellent WWW site for the emusic‑l listserv mailing list — there's lots of detailed information on a wide range of subjects directly related to the nitty‑gritty of electronic music (in its widest sense!). The URL is sunsite.‑l/.

As well as instructions on how to subscribe to the listserv, a set of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), and access to back‑copy digests via the E‑music ftp site, the Web page also has links to pages covering topics like buying your first keyboard, MIDI on PowerBooks, wind controllers, notation software and lots more. Definitely worth a visit.

Hard Disk Prices

With the ongoing rush towards making everything digital, the price of hard disk drives has become one of the computer musician's major concerns — especially to anyone involved with direct‑to‑disk recording. Even without the loading of samples and audio files, I find that copying useful applications and gadgets from CD‑ROMs means that I can easily fill up disks which seemed huge only a year ago.

So, what is happening to prices? I've compiled a graph of typical prices for a plain vanilla internal 520Mb SCSI drive for the last few years. Clearly, the price has plummetted, but it seems to be bottoming out at under £200 for half a gigabyte. Furthermore, it seems that many manufacturers no longer supply drives smaller than 520Mb. This means that you can buy an internal 520Mb drive, and an external mirror of it, and it should only cost about £500. For direct‑to‑disk audio, you can expect to pay more, of course, but for ordinary storage, you may well be surprised at hard disk prices.

Apple News In Brief

    New features in MOTU Digital Performer v1.6 include support for Digidesign's Pro Tools III, TDM and DAE, a graphic fader‑based mixing board, multitrack editing windows for audio tracks, QuickTime 2.0 and MIDI Machine Control support (Alesis ADAT and BRC, Tascam DA88, Akai DR4 and Fostex RD8). Other features include Groove Quantize, a colour and 3D interface, enhanced QuickScribe notation with a new outline font, FreeMIDI with Bank Select messages, and sharing of patch and timing information between programs.

For more details, contact Klemm Music Technology on (01462) 733310, or email

    Gallery Software (see September 1994's Apple Notes) have announced the availability of Interpreter 1.0, an application which allows any Mac to browse Akai S1000/S3000‑format CD‑ROMs, opticals, Syquests or hard drives, audition samples off‑disk, and then transfer samples or groups of samples into Sound Designer II, AIFF or WAVE files. All sorts of enhancements are planned to allow more extensive translations.

In addition, the product will be enhanced to make it equally useful to S1000 owners themselves, offering not only the ability to audition off disk, but also to allow cataloguing of disks and the use of 'find file' functions across multiple disks, plus simple control of the sampler to perform loading operations.

For more information email Gallery Software (, or phone 0171 431 6260.

    If you happen to be in New York during July 17‑22, you might like to check out the six‑night New York Macintosh Music Festival. More than 400 musical groups are helping to promote the hottest, up‑and‑coming bands and interactive music technologies.
    Several new Macintosh models have been announced by Apple. The Performa/PowerMac 5200 uses a PowerPC 603 chip, and re‑introduces the 'classic' monitor‑included look, although it is now an integral 15‑inch multiscan colour display and a Mac 630 look‑alike front panel. There are also several variants of the 630 which include the DOS compatibility card. The Performa/PowerMac 6200 has a separate computer box like a 630, and again replaces the 68040 chip of the 630 with a PowerPC 603 chip. Contact your nearest Apple dealer for more information on any of these new models.
  • TO ERR IS...
    Last month's Apple Notes erroneously quoted the special offer price of Filemaker Pro as £399. This should really have been £99. Hurry — the offer finishes at the end of June.
  • PIP PIP!
    For information about Pippin, the multimedia player platform developed by Apple and Bandai, look in the 'Specific Products' section of the 'Product Listing/Product Support' area of

Tip Of The Month

This month, Daniel Rose of MOTU describes how to set up FreeMIDI to use Opcode's Studio 5 MIDI Interface. I would point out that using just one serial cable will reduce the maximum amount of MIDI information that you can transfer between the Mac and the Studio 5 — I use two cables. Also, if you use the Studio 5's MIDI processing features a lot, then you may well miss them — I certainly would. Over to Dan...

This procedure will enable you to create a generic OMS setup document that will enable FreeMIDI to do its job correctly with Opcode's Studio 5:

1. With one cable, connect the Studio 5 to your Macintosh to either the modem or printer port. You don't need two cables.

2. With OMS installed in your system, run OMS Setup, and create a new studio document by selecting the New Studio Setup command from the File menu.

3. Using the New Device command from the Studio menu, create a 'generic' device by selecting Other from both the Manufacturer and Model pop‑up menus. The device should be set to transmit and receive on all 16 MIDI channels. In addition, enable all clock options, ie. transmits/receives MIDI beat clock, and so on (the device ID setting should be of no consequence).

4. Repeat step 3 for each of the Studio 5's 16 ouputs.

5. From the Studio 5 menu, select the Compatibility Setup option and check the 'Emulate MIDI Time Piece' box. You should be able to configure the MTP input and output cables by clicking the AUTO button. (1MHz is recommended if you will be running any SysEx applications.)

6. Save both the compatibility setup and the studio setup and make them current.

At this point, you have several choices; leave OMS in the system, replace OMS with FreeMIDI's OMS emulator, or remove OMS entirely, by dragging the OMS System Extension out of the Extensions folder. The option you should choose depends on your situation.

The only reason to leave OMS in your system is if you frequently use the Studio 5's MIDI processing features (like controller remapping, and so on) and often change its internal processing settings using the Studio 5 setup software. Otherwise, you'll find it more convienent to replace the OMS system extension (by dragging it out of the Extensions folder) with FreeMIDI's OMS emulator extension, which you install by running the FreeStyle (or FreeMIDI) installer and selecting the Custom install option. Under emulation, OMS programs use FreeMIDI instead, which allows them to share the serial ports with FreeMIDI programs. They also share FreeMIDI's studio setup document. If you don't use any OMS‑reliant applications, you don't have to bother installing the emulator.

If you do choose to keep OMS in the system, remember to make this generic setup current when using FreeMIDI programs. This generic setup should work with the Opcode Studio 4 as well.