i2M tracking with mic...

The i2M musicport™ MIDI Converter & Hi-Z USB Audio Interface

i2M tracking with mic...

Postby sax2themax » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:39 pm

Hi,

I'm new to this forum. I purchased an i2M back in 2013, then due to various circumstances like a move, new job, etc, I never got around to using it. I'm finally trying to do so. I play sax. I have updated the firmware to the latest version available, as well as the Desktop Editor software. I know this thing is supposed to be very plug and play out of the box, but I'm having serious issues with mine. I have connected the audio in to an aux send on my Mackie mixer, and adjusted the gain accordingly. When I try playing either soft synths on my MacBook Pro, or using a Kenton USB MIDI Host directly into my Fantom XR, I get totally unusable noise. It will trigger a note, but then the note hangs and won't stop playing. It only tracks about every 3rd or 4th note that I play. Playing very deliberately and with distinct articulation and cut off of notes makes no difference. I tried resetting it to factory settings, but that made no difference. I also reloaded the latest firmware, and that didn't help. I connected it via USB to my Mac and tried it with Mainstage, and also tried it through my Kenton USB MIDI Host direct to hardware, and that didn't help either. I'm beginning to think this unit is dead. And since it's going on a 4 year old purchase I'm out of luck with getting it replaced. If anyone can think of something I should try, I'd love your insight on my problem. Otherwise, I'll probably chuck it in the trash and forget about it, or just buy a new one and test it immediately upon arrival.

Thanks,
Doug
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Re: i2M tracking with mic...

Postby james » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:39 pm

Hi Doug,

Have you tried to record audio through the i2M via USB? Testing the USB audio will check that everything is working correctly (or isn't!). You should be able to get a good audio recording and the gain adjustment on the i2M editor (or using OSX's volume control) should change the gain on the recorded input signal. If this is working well and it is reliable, the MIDI should work too because the MIDI processing uses the same signal that is sent on the USB audio.

Is there a problem with the USB cable? Have you tried another USB cable to check this?

Is there a problem with the USB connector on the i2M? If you wiggle the cable does it make things better/worse? Try this while recording audio.
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Re: i2M tracking with mic...

Postby sax2themax » Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:17 pm

James,

No, I have not attempted to record audio with the i2M, but will do that. The USB port is solid, and the cable I'm using is solid as well. Just for FYI, my mic is a Shure Beta 98 condenser being run by phantom on the Mackie 802VLZ board. Sending Aux 1 from the mic straight into the i2M. I DO get a light, and adjusting the gain on the input seems to function correctly, and I can see that MIDI is indeed being sent. I've tried various configurations from the straight out of the box guitar setting to Voice/Wind both with and without Legato Mode enabled. Question. IF I have to purchase a replacement to this, is the G2M v3 better/faster at the conversion to MIDI than the i2M? I can do all the zone, transpose, etc stuff outside of the unit if I can just get a solid and stable single note output.
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Re: i2M tracking with mic...

Postby james » Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:50 pm

The conversion on the G2MV3 is the same as the latest firmware on the i2M.

When using a mic, you need to be careful about picking up sounds that aren't from your instrument. For example, if you pickup sounds from your sound module, you'll get a MIDI-feedback loop which could lead to stuck notes: the i2M will be tracking it's own output!
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Re: i2M tracking with mic...

Postby sax2themax » Tue Mar 07, 2017 2:19 pm

I'm using a set of headphones at this point for testing purposes, so creating a loop isn't an issue. Also keeping the room quiet, no TV etc running in the background. I'll try the audio recording test today and see if that is working properly, then follow up with you. Also, if I don't solve the issue, I may do a short recording of what I'm getting out of the i2M that I can post for you to listen to. Thanks James!
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Re: i2M tracking with mic...

Postby sax2themax » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:06 pm

James,

Update. To rule out the microphone/audio connection as a problem, I plugged the audio output of a synth directly into the i2M, and the tracking was WAAAAAY better. So it appears that the signal that I'm sending into the i2M is the real issue, NOT the i2M. So I'm going to experiment with other types of mics/pickups and see what kind of results I can get. One thing I DID notice that was glitchy with the synth is that it seemed that every note I played had a double attack. It sounds like a short grace note from a half step up down to the pitch I'm playing. This is happening when in chromatic mode, which seems to track considerably better that Pitch Bend mode for me. Any thoughts on this would be most appreciated. Getting closer.

Doug
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Re: i2M tracking with mic...

Postby james » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:22 pm

Thanks for the update.

If the input is slightly off-tune, or has harmonics that are out-of tune (certainly possible on a synth, or a stringed instrument with old strings) the initially detected note can be a semitone off compared to the sustained note. This also often happens with plucked stringed instruments (guitar, bass, etc) because if you pluck hard the note pitch starts off sharp because you've put more tension into the string, then settles back to the normal pitch.

In chromatic mode, the i2M needs to send a new note to correct this, that's why you can get these double-notes.

In pitch-bend mode, the i2M will bend the note to make the correction. Usually this is inaudible because it happens so quickly after the note-attack before your brain has time to work out the pitch of the note just played.

Generally, pitch-bend mode will track better because of this: you don't get re-triggered notes for small pitch adjustments. But you need to make sure the sound module/synth you are using is set to have the same pitch-bend range as the i2M, otherwise it will sound strange. The i2M does send a "pitch bend sensitivity" MIDI message when you change mode, but many synths ignore this so it doesn't always help!
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Re: i2M tracking with mic...

Postby sax2themax » Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:49 pm

Interesting, and makes complete sense! I have thought up an idea that I'm going to experiment with that MAY greatly improve the tracking on sax via a microphone. Once I try it out, I will let you know what the result is. Thanks for your input James. You're very helpful!
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Re: i2M tracking with mic...

Postby sax2themax » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:02 pm

Update. Ok, after doing some testing and realizing that the i2M is working as it should, I came to the conclusion that the dynamics/harmonic content of the signal I was sending into the i2M must be the problem. Since these things worked so well with guitars and basses, I did some thinking and came up with this setup. I have an Eventide H9 on my pedal board which I use for many FX. I setup a compression/EQ algorithm that sort of "conditions" the sax sound, removing a lot of the harmonics and compressing the dynamics of the signal so that what I end up with is more "guitar like" in nature. Then I shoot that through a TC Electronics Sentry Gate that has a relatively high threshold set so that only played notes get through, no key noise or background noise. Once I did this, and chose some appropriate synth patches in MainStage 3, I now have a setup that is tracking and playing quite well. I've tried things like tapping on the sax, running the TV and other electronics in the background, and I'm still getting good tracking. So this is my solution, and it's working quite well. Seems like some patches naturally respond better than others, and that will take some additional experimentation to develop a collection of compatible patches. But otherwise, I'm now very pleased with the results. Thanks for your input James, and I hope this info will help other horn players looking to add another facet to their playing.

Best regards,
Doug
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Re: i2M tracking with mic...

Postby james » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:31 pm

Doug, that is great news.

Thanks for updating us on your setup, I'm sure this will be very useful to others!
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