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 Post subject: Guide: MIDI and the SP-404
PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:05 pm 
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MIDI and the SP-404

This is just a quick guide to the very basic MIDI functionality of the SP-404. Hopefully it will help if MIDI is like a foreign language to you. This is particular to the SP-404, but those with an SP-303 will probably find it useful too.

The SP-404 can use MIDI in a few ways.
- you can use MIDI to ensure that your 404's patterns begin in sync with another machine (i.e. press play on your MPC and your 404 sequence begins at the same time)
- you can use MIDI to trigger the samples in the 404 from another machine (i.e. use a keyboard/padKontrol/MPD to play the 404's pads remotely)

For both purposes you will need a MIDI cord.

Plug the cord into the MIDI In socket of your 404, and then into the MIDI Out socket of the machine you wish to sync/control the 404 with.

For the machines to communicate, they need to be transmitting and receiving on the same MIDI Channel.

To set the MIDI Channel of the 404: turn the 404 on whilst holding down the pad which corresponds to the MIDI Channel you wish to set it to. Pads 1-12 are Channels 1-12, the Hold Pad is Channel 13, the EXT SOURCE Pad is Channel 14 and the Sub Pad is Channel 15.

Because the 404 has a lot of banks of pads, it requires 2 MIDI Channels to access all the pads. So if you set your MIDI Channel to 1, then it will also use Channel 2 to access Banks G, H, I and J. Or if you select MIDI Channel 2, it will use 3 to access these last four banks (G,H,I,J). And so on.

Sync - when syncing the 404, you will be slaving its sequencer to the machine you are syncing it to. To sync the 404, hold down TIME/BPM as you turn the machine on.
If you select Aut (Auto-Sync) then whenever Play is pressed on your other machine, the 404 will immediately begin playing a pattern. This is because the 404 is set to receive the Start and Stop MIDI commands.
It will play the last pattern you triggered on the 404, or the first one in its Pattern Mode. This is ideal for syncing two machines to play their sequences in time.

AutoSync can also be used to help track songs. For example, if you sync your 404 with a DAW recorder such as Ableton Live, the 404 will only begin its sequence once Play is pressed in your DAW. So, enable your DAW to Record, and then press Play - the 404 will begin simultaneously, ensuring a hassle-free recording. You can use the effects to mute certain pads and build up multi-tracks from your 404 this way.

If you select tMp (Tempo Sync), the 404 will NOT automatically begin when you begin a sequence on another machine synced to the SP. This is because no Start/Stop messages are transmitted. However, the two MIDI clocks will run in time (i.e. the 404's BPM will match the other machine's and they will run concurrently). If you trigger a pattern on the 404, it will play in sync with the other machine only to the degree that you triggered it at the right time. I rarely use this mode, as Auto Sync seems more appropriate for syncing.

To make Auto Sync more useful (and to avoid the 404 automatically beginning a pattern every time you start the other machine) I made a 'dummy pattern':

Dummy Pattern: I have created a 'dummy pattern' in my 404 by recording a pattern with a sample which I then deleted (i.e. In Pattern Mode A1 I recorded a 1 bar loop triggering pad A1, which I then deleted after recording the pattern. The pattern is still there, but with nothing to play so it is silent but keeps time.) This allows me to use the dummy pattern to 'silence' the 404 if I want to just run sequences from other machines, then trigger another 'real' pattern in the 404 and it will come in after the dummy pattern has finished the bar it is currently playing.

Triggering pads - the other useful way of using MIDI with your 404 is to use another machine's keys or pads to trigger the 404's sounds. This can overcome the 404's lack of velocity sensitivity. For example, if you have a MIDI Keyboard/Controller; you plug the MIDI cable between the two machines and ensure that they are sending/receiving on the same MIDI Channel. Now, when you press a key/pad on your MIDI controller, the appropriate pad on the 404 will be triggered.
The note B2 on your controller will trigger Bank A Pad 1 on the 404, A# 3 on your controller will control Bank A Pad 12, and so on. You will need to use the next MIDI Channel up from the one you are using to access the G,H,I and J Banks. B 2 on the next channel up triggers Bank G Pad 1 and so on.
Although the 404's pads are not velocity sensitive, the 404's sequencer will record the different velocities that it gets sent via MIDI. This can be really useful in overcoming the 404's single-velocity.

Written by: Drewzle

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