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How do I transfer patches to the Ion/Micron?

To do this you will need:

  • A MIDI interface on your computer
  • A MIDI cable, preferably two
  • Software able to send/receive SysEx messages

MIDI interface and cables

For the MIDI interface, the first thing to check is whether your computer has a Game port. It is possible to use your sound card's Game port (ie. the port for old joysticks/gamepads) as a MIDI interface. Cables are available for Game port <-> MIDI which do a good job.

Failing this, if your sound card is decent it could possibly have proper MIDI connections on it - one for "in" and one for "out". (and if you have paid for a dedicated MIDI interface, then... well, it should definitely have a MIDI connection on it!) Check for a port that looks like this. In this case, you need a straight MIDI to MIDI cable, preferably two. Connect your sound card's MIDI out to your synthesiser's MIDI in, and the synthesiser's MIDI out to your sound card's MIDI in.

The third option for the actual interface is to go for a USB to MIDI converter. These can be fairly inexpensive, with varied amounts of success - they are generally fine for sending and receiving SysEx data.

Software and setup

Once you have got a MIDI interface set up with the correct cables connected to the correct ports, you will need a piece of software which can send and receive SysEx data. One popular program is MIDI-OX, and while being a fairly comprehensive MIDI program, the SysEx side of things is fairly simple.

  • Install it
  • Go to Options > MIDI Devices
  • Select (single click so it gets highlighted) the input and output sides of your MIDI interface
  • Go to View > SysEx
  • From this window go to File > Send SysEx File
  • Choose a file, cross your fingers, and hopefully watch the patch appear on your Micron or Ion :)

Troubleshooting

If you are having problems - first, try a few different patches. Most of the patches available on the yahoo group will load straight to the edit screen, but there are a few rogue ones which go to specific patch numbers and don't get shown automatically when they are sent.

The next thing to check is that your cables are definitely installed properly. In to out, out to in. Failing this, make sure they do not run over or parallel to any other cables in your room, especially ones carrying mains electricity or data.

Sending from Ion/Micron to computer

To send patches back to your computer from your synthesiser - as long as you have two cables set up as described above, and have a SysEx program running at the time (in this example MIDI-OX again) then it is just a case of using the Store function to send the selected patch over MIDI rather than storing it to the synth. The data should appear within MIDI-OX from where you can save it for backup purposes or (more importantly) sharing your tasty sounds on the web!

Are there any good piano sounds for the Ion/Micron?

There is no real piano sound on the Ion or Micron by default. Its design and simple FM modes make it difficult to create a convincing real piano sound. Below are some patches that either try to emulate the real piano sound, or focus more on an electric piano sound, which is more achievable on these synthesisers. Found on the Yahoo group (thanks Uralmoto2001):

  • Alains' folder: Rhodes and Wurli EP.
  • Bens' folder: SOS Piano.
  • Carmols' folder: FM Piano.
  • FYs'folder: FY inst Piano.
  • Uralmoto2001 poly keys sub-folder: AnaTonk1, SOS E.Piano.

Some videos:

Software editors

Free:

Paid:

MIDI implementation

A preliminary version of the midi implementation, put together from the documents on the Yahoo group, and some evil reverse engineering. It still contains quite a few mistakes, will fix later.

CCs - Can be used for S/H and MOD Sources. Albeit you get 7 bit range of out them.

Program change must be sent to modify the patches. That is both bank and program should be sent.

Controller data is also used to turn on/off the latch arp (0xb0, 0x50, 0x7f switches it on, 0xb0, 0x50, 0x00 switches it off).

NRPNsEdit

The majority of the internal parameters require NRPNs (non-registered parameter numbers). WARNING: Alesis, and hence AKAI, did not follow the MIDI standard here. If you want to use a hardware controller PLEASE do some research up front if you are to avoid disappointment.

How do I send a NRPN?Edit

NRPNs consist of at most 4 midi CCs.

/* Type of message to be sent
0016F35A 1 -- B0 63 00 1 --- CC: NRPN MSB
0016F35A 1 -- B0 62 2F 1 --- CC: NRPN LSB
0016F35A 1 -- B0 06 00 1 --- CC: Data Entry MSB
0016F35A 1 -- B0 26 0C 1 --- CC: Data Entry LSB
*/

Once you have set the "address" (0x63 and 0x62), you can then send the "value" (0x06 and 0x26).

And until you want to change the address, you only need send the new values.

The "non-standard" parts are:

  • MIDI insists MSB is sent for 7 bit NRPNs
    • Alesis seemed to assume LSB is sent. As a programmer, this makes sense ... BUT it isnt the midi standard. If you want to use "button" type NRPN controllers, they tend to only send the MSB.
    • Of course, in software you can code what you like.
  • MIDI insists NRPNs are unsigned 14bit
    • Alas, again Alesis insisted on using a "signed" 14bit
    • therefore value ranges like [-100, 100] are really [16284, 16383] [0, 100]
    • most hardware interpets this as [0,100] ... [16284, 16383]
      • either a large gap in the middle (not very practical)
      • most will not over/underflow to only choice is to use 2 controls
      • one for the -ve range, one for the +ve range.
    • Best to use a suitably programmed VST, or write your own tool.
    • And NO you cannot use MIDI-OX (not at time of testing on version 7)
      • it only modifies 7 bit cc's.


Hardware controllersEdit

I have been successful with the BCR2000. I use 6 presets to expose all of the knobs/buttons. But note: you have to use Mark's software. Behringer are reluctant to change their hardware for us non-standard chaps.

Other folks have use the UC33, bespoke hardware and some iOS app with mixed success.

NOTE: As I said. NRPNs are 4 midi CC messages. You can use 4 pots to control, but it is not easy. The ION wins for ease of control.

Some problems:

  • You can enable and disable entries in the modulation matrix as much as you like, but it won't change the amount of active ones. The best thing is to add them all at level 0 on the hardware.
  • some parameters are slow with updating, sometimes it's just the display that is slow with updating.
  • NOTE: Be careful how you interpet the NRPN value. Take 692 patch cable source. This arguably should be 180. If you assign a parameter to one of the available X, Y, Z knobs, the Y add 0x02 to the MSB value, and the Z adds 0x04 to the MSB value. IE 256 and 512 respectively.
  • All parameters have a "root" value in range [0, 256]. If you find NRPNs larger than this, chances are they are "knob Y" or "knob Z" versions. Generally wiser to use the "root" versions.
  • The arpeggiator pattern therefore _could_ be interpreted as 0. Which would clash with the polyphony. Infact on the Miniak I dont find these 512 values to work. I assume this functionality was dropped from Miniak.
NRPN Meaning min max notes
0 polyphony 0 1
1 unison voices 0 3
2 unison detune 0 100
3 portamento enabled 0 2
4 portamento type 0 3
5 portamento time 0 127
6 pitchwheel type 0 1
7 analog drift 0 100
8 oscillator sync type 0 4
9 FM amount 0 1000
10 FM type 0 5
11 oscillator 1 waveform 0 2
12 oscillator 1 wave shape -100 100
13 oscillator 1 octave -3 3
14 oscillator 1 transpose -7 7
15 oscillator 1 pitch -999 999
16 oscillator 1 pitchwheel range 0 12
17 oscillator 2 waveform 0 2
18 oscillator 2 wave shape -100 100
19 oscillator 2 octave -3 3
20 oscillator 2 transpose -7 7
21 oscillator 2 pitch -999 999
22 oscillator 2 pitchwheel range 0 12
23 oscillator 3 waveform 0 2
24 oscillator 3 wave shape -100 100
25 oscillator 3 octave -3 3
26 oscillator 3 transpose -7 7
27 oscillator 3 pitch -999 999
28 oscillator 3 pitchwheel range 0 12
29 Oscillator1 level 0 100
30 Oscillator2 level 0 100
31 Oscillator3 level 0 100
32 RingModulation level 0 100
33 Noise level 0 100
34 ExtIn level 0 100
35 Oscillator1 balance -50 50
36 Oscillator2 balance -50 50
37 Oscillator3 balance -50 50
38 RingModulation balance -50 50
39 Noise balance -50 50
40 ExtIn balance -50 50
41 series level??? 0 100
42 noise type 0 1
43 filter 1 type 0 20
44 filter 1 frequency 0 1023
45 filter 1 resonance 0 100
46 filter 1 key track -100 200
47 filter 1 envelope amount -100 100
48 filter 2 relative to 1 0 1
49 filter 2 type 0 20
50 filter 2 frequency absolute 0 1023
51 filter 2 resonance 0 100
52 filter 2 key track -100 200
53 filter 2 envelope amount -100 100
54 filter 1 level 0 100
55 filter 2 level 0 100
56 pre-filter level 0 100
57 filter 1 pan -100 100
58 filter 2 pan -100 100
59 pre-filter pan -100 100
60 pre-filter source 0 6
61 filter 1 invert phase 0 1
62 drive type 0 6
63 drive level 0 100
64 program level 0 100
65 fx mix -50 50
66 envelope 1 attack time 0 255
67 envelope 1 attack slope 0 2
68 envelope 1 decay time 0 255
69 envelope 1 decay slope 0 2
70 envelope 1 sustain time 0 255
71 envelope 1 sustain level 0 100
72 envelope 1 release time 0 255
73 envelope 1 release slope 0 2
74 envelope 1 velocity to envelope 0 100
75 envelope 1 reset every note 0 1
76 envelope 1 free run 0 1
77 envelope 1 loop 0 3
78 envelope 1 sustain pedal 0 1
79 envelope 2 attack time 0 255
80 envelope 2 attack slope 0 2
81 envelope 2 decay time 0 255
82 envelope 2 decay slope 0 2
83 envelope 2 sustain time 0 255
84 envelope 2 sustain level -100 100
85 envelope 2 release time 0 255
86 envelope 2 release slope 0 2
87 envelope 2 velocity to envelope 0 100
88 envelope 2 reset every note 0 1
89 envelope 2 free run 0 1
90 envelope 2 loop 0 3
91 envelope 2 sustain pedal 0 1
92 envelope 3 attack time 0 255
93 envelope 3 attack slope 0 2
94 envelope 3 decay time 0 255
95 envelope 3 decay slope 0 2
96 envelope 3 sustain time 0 255
97 envelope 3 sustain level -100 100
98 envelope 3 release time 0 255
99 envelope 3 release slope 0 2
100 envelope 3 velocity to envelope 0 100
101 envelope 3 reset every note 0 1
102 envelope 3 free run 0 1
103 envelope 3 loop 0 3
104 envelope 3 sustain pedal 0 1
105 lfo 1 tempo sync 0 1
106 lfo 1 rate (free) 0 1023
107 lfo 1 reset 0 6
108 m1 slider influencelfo 1 0 100
109 lfo 2 tempo sync 0 1
110 lfo 2 rate (free) 0 1023
111 lfo 2 reset 0 6
112 m1 slider influencelfo 2 0 100
113 S&H tempo sync 0 1
114 S&H rate(free) 0 1023
115 S&H reset 0 4
116 S&H input 0 1
117 S&H smoothing 0 100
118 tracking input 0 111
119 tracking preset 0 9
120 tracking gridsize 0 1
121 tracking point -16 -100 100
122 tracking point -15 -100 100
123 tracking point -14 -100 100
124 tracking point -13 -100 100
125 tracking point -12 -100 100
126 tracking point -11 -100 100
127 tracking point -10 -100 100
128 tracking point -9 -100 100
129 tracking point -8 -100 100
130 tracking point -7 -100 100
131 tracking point -6 -100 100
132 tracking point -5 -100 100
133 tracking point -4 -100 100
134 tracking point -3 -100 100
135 tracking point -2 -100 100
136 tracking point -1 -100 100
137 tracking point 0 -100 100
138 tracking point 1 -100 100
139 tracking point 2 -100 100
140 tracking point 3 -100 100
141 tracking point 4 -100 100
142 tracking point 5 -100 100
143 tracking point 6 -100 100
144 tracking point 7 -100 100
145 tracking point 8 -100 100
146 tracking point 9 -100 100
147 tracking point 10 -100 100
148 tracking point 11 -100 100
149 tracking point 12 -100 100
150 tracking point 13 -100 100
151 tracking point 14 -100 100
152 tracking point 15 -100 100
153 tracking point 16 -100 100
154 program category 0 8
155 Knob X 0 161
156 Knob Y 0 161
157 Knob Z 0 161
158 filter 2 frequency relative -400 400
159 lfo 1 rate (follow tempo) 0 24
160 lfo 2 rate (follow tempo) 0 24
161 S&H rate(synced) 0 24
180 patch cable 1 source 0 77
181 patch cable 1 destination 0 77
182 patch cable 1 level -1000 1000
183 patch cable 1 offset -1000 1000
184 patch cable 2 source 0 114
185 patch cable 2 destination 0 77
186 patch cable 2 level -1000 1000
187 patch cable 2 offset -1000 1000
188 patch cable 3 source 0 114
189 patch cable 3 destination 0 77
190 patch cable 3 level -1000 1000
191 patch cable 3 offset -1000 1000
192 patch cable 4 source 0 114
193 patch cable 4 destination 0 77
194 patch cable 4 level -1000 1000
195 patch cable 4 offset -1000 1000
196 patch cable 5 source 0 114
197 patch cable 5 destination 0 77
198 patch cable 5 level -1000 1000
199 patch cable 5 offset -1000 1000
200 patch cable 6 source 0 114
201 patch cable 6 destination 0 77
202 patch cable 6 level -1000 1000
203 patch cable 6 offset -1000 1000
204 patch cable 7 source 0 114
205 patch cable 7 destination 0 77
206 patch cable 7 level -1000 1000
207 patch cable 7 offset -1000 1000
208 patch cable 8 source 0 114
209 patch cable 8 destination 0 77
210 patch cable 8 level -1000 1000
211 patch cable 8 offset -1000 1000
212 patch cable 9 source 0 114
213 patch cable 9 destination 0 77
214 patch cable 9 level -1000 1000
215 patch cable 9 offset -1000 1000
216 patch cable 10 source 0 114
217 patch cable 10 destination 0 77
218 patch cable 10 level -1000 1000
219 patch cable 10 offset -1000 1000
220 patch cable 11 source 0 114
221 patch cable 11 destination 0 77
222 patch cable 11 level -1000 1000
223 patch cable 11 offset -1000 1000
224 patch cable 12 source 0 114
225 patch cable 12 destination 0 77
226 patch cable 12 level -1000 1000
227 patch cable 12 offset -1000 1000
230 fx balance -50 50
231 fx type 0 0 6
232 fx param a -128 127
233 fx param b -128 127
234 fx param c -128 127
235 fx param d -128 127
236 fx param e -128 127
237 fx param f -128 127
238 fx param g -128 127
239 fx param h lfo synced 0 24
245 fx2 type 0 6
246 fx2 param a -32768 32767 ***
247 fx2 param b -32768 32767 ***
248 fx2 param c -32768 32767 ***
249 fx2 param d -32768 32767 ***
250 fx param a synced 0 24
512 arpeggiator pattern 0 31 **
513 arpeggiator pattern multiplier 0 6 **
514 arpeggiator length 0 14 **
515 arpeggiator octave range 0 4 **
516 arpeggiator octave span 0 2 **
517 arpeggiator note order 0 5 **
518 arpeggiator enabled 0 2 **
519 arpeggiator program tempo 500 2500 **

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