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Laggy pads with external Midi – OR – No USB-Midi Hub (RK-005) possible?

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  • Laggy pads with external Midi – OR – No USB-Midi Hub (RK-005) possible?

    First of all let me say that I really like the Blackbox for its potential in condensing my setup for live purposes - excellent form factor and well thought out little box. But for all it's potential, there is one major reliability / connectivity problem that currently prevents me using it in a live performance ...

    I would like to trigger the Pads and Sequences on the Blackbox with an external sequencer (Deluge).

    My standard Blackbox pad Midi channel is 13 – Eight different drum loop Clips (each 1 bar long) are loaded on the lowest Blackbox pads (Notes 36 - 43), to be sequenced on ch 13 (each pads Midi In and Out are set to "None"). These Clips are in Gate mode (Loop: On, Beat Count 4, Quant: 1 bar, Sync: 1/16)
    Additionally, I have a Slicer set on Midi In ch 14 to play the different bass lines (also sequenced externally).

    When connecting the Deluge via Midi (Deluge Midi Out to Backbox Midi In, via Blackbox Midi adapter cable), I found that i could only reliable trigger a max of 4 pads on ch 13 to start playing at the same time. The other pads cue up and only sound on the second bar (= once the loop starts repeating).

    When connecting the Deluge to the Blackbox via their USB ports, there were no such problems - all Clips and the Slicer triggered just fine and right on time.

    Since the Deluge is usually connected to a USB MIDI Hub (Retrokits RK-005), I tried connecting the Blackbox's "Device" USB port as well, but this does not seem to work. Neither Midi Clock nor Midi Notes / CC's seem to be received by the Blackbox. I tried different modes of connection with the RK-005 (directly between Deluge & Blackbox, with unpowered USB-Hub, with powered USB-Hub) but none of this works.

    Does anyone have an idea how to get external Midi (via Midi In) reliably trigger all pads on the Blackbox in sync on the next quant intervall
    – or –
    got the Blackbox to work with the RK-005 or a similar USB-Midi hub (if so, how did you do it) ?

  • #2
    Hi mmediacy -

    The Blackbox "Device" port is for powering the device only. No data is passed through this port.

    I tested a similar scenario (though I do not have a Deluge) and found that I had no issues....so I want to ask you a few questions. Have you looked at the various MIDI Sync settings in the Deluge? Are the drum loops all 1 bar? Does more than 1 drum loop play simultaneously? If so, how many? Have you tried Trigger Mode instead of Gate? Any difference? Does the Slicer experience the same issues? And finally, does splitting the 8 loops to different MIDI channels fix the issue?

    I know, lots of questions. There might be more... I'll do my best to help you.

    Thanks for using the Blacbox

    Steve

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Steve,

      thank you for getting back to me so swiftly. In regards to your questions I made a few tests - here are the results:

      Originally posted by Steve J View Post
      The Blackbox "Device" port is for powering the device only. No data is passed through this port.
      I assume you are mixing up the two USB ports on the Blackbox - the one labeled "POWER" is for powering the Blackbox. The one labeled "DEVICE" should therefore be the Midi-carrying USB port. So my question in regards to the missing USB Midi hub support still stands.

      Originally posted by Steve J View Post
      Have you looked at the various MIDI Sync settings in the Deluge?
      Yes, there aren't too many. At the moment the Deluge is only connected via Midi Out to the Blackboxes Midi In (via the official white and black adapter cable), no other Midi or USB connections are present on either machine. I send out Midi Clock to the the Blackbox and it does receive it and all Midi Transport Control Commands correctly and stays in sync. Only the pads don't all trigger at the same time.
      Other than Clock and MTC, there are no more options to set on the Deluge (my test sequence has 120 bpm withour any swing, and contains only the Midi notes to send to the Blackbox).

      Originally posted by Steve J View Post
      Are the drum loops all 1 bar?
      Yes - all drum loop Clips are sampled with the Blackbox and are each 1 bar long. The Slicer ist a bass sample, rougly a minute long.

      Originally posted by Steve J View Post
      Does more than 1 drum loop play simultaneously?
      If so, how many?
      Yes, at the moment I try to launch 8 clips and 1 slicer at the same time (but hope to eventually launch all pads at the same time).
      Of these 8 pads with clips, only the first 4 launch reliably on the first beat, when sequenced with the Deluge and triggered via Midi In (when triggered via USB Midi, all pad launches are perfectly in sync). The pads that should have launched but didnt show a white "Loading bar" and mostly start playing in sync on the first beat of the second bar. However, sometimes a pad seems to get stuck and does not trigger on subsequent bars (meaning the "Loading bar" always stays white and is not moving.

      Originally posted by Steve J View Post
      Have you tried Trigger Mode instead of Gate? Any difference?
      When all the pads Clips are set to Trigger Mode, the probability of more pads initially triggering seems slightly higher. But the maximum number of pads that can be reliably triggered from the Deluge every time still seems to be only 4.

      Originally posted by Steve J View Post
      Does the Slicer experience the same issues?
      The launching of the Slicer seems to be more stable, although sometimes it doesn't trigger or stops playing when other, unrelated pads are triggered (mind you, the slicer ist 32 bars long, with 3 slices - maybe thats too much?).

      Originally posted by Steve J View Post
      And finally, does splitting the 8 loops to different MIDI channels fix the issue?
      No, the problem persists, even with every pads sequenced on different Midi channels on the Deluge (1-8) and and set to the same channels in the Blackbox (as Midi In for each pad).

      Originally posted by Steve J View Post
      I know, lots of questions. There might be more... I'll do my best to help you.
      I'm glad for all the help I can get - after all I do want to continue using this marvelous little box :-)

      Thank you for your time!

      mm

      Comment


      • Steve J
        Steve J commented
        Editing a comment
        I was referring to the USB port labeled power -- not sure why I typed "Device." Let me look over the answers and I'll get back to you.

        Just to confirm, you are powering the Blackbox from the supplied cable? And the Deluge is powered on its own? What are the full specs of the microSD card you are using?

        Thanks

        Steve

      • mmediacy
        mmediacy commented
        Editing a comment
        Hi Steve,

        Yes, indeed, I'm using the USB-Cable that was included to power the Blackbox with a USB-Powerbank.
        I use a second USB-Powerbank to power the Deluge (independantly).

        For the SD card I use "SanDisk Extreme microSD V30 UHS-I U3" with 32Gb and transfer speeds of up to 100MB/s (according to the manufacturer). The model number is SDSQXAF-032G-GN6MA.

        Thank you

        mm

    • #4
      Hello,

      I'm using the blackbox with the deluge to. I'm powering the deluge with 9V DC over the DC in (not USB, and nothing via USB connected) and the blackbox with a powerbank. Midi-Out from the deluge is connected to the Midi-In of the blackbox.

      I've triggered some loops manual on the blackbox and played some pads in sample mode via a MIDI-Track on deluge and two pads with slices on different MIDI-Chanels from MIDI-Tracks on the deluge. So far I've not noticed any problems. Even with a second deluge of my friend as the Master-Clock and the Clock goes thru my deluge to the blackbox.

      Are you using the latest deluge and blackbox firmware?

      Maby SD-Card of the blackbox to slow?

      Comment


      • #5
        Hello underwood,

        Thank you so much for your feedback. To add to my earlier remarks:

        Originally posted by underwood View Post
        I'm using the blackbox with the deluge to. I'm powering the deluge with 9V DC over the DC in (not USB, and nothing via USB connected) and the blackbox with a powerbank. Midi-Out from the deluge is connected to the Midi-In of the blackbox.
        I'm using pretty much the same setup (with a 9V ripcord powering the Deluge via a second powerbank).

        Originally posted by underwood View Post
        I've triggered some loops manual on the blackbox and played some pads in sample mode via a MIDI-Track on deluge and two pads with slices on different MIDI-Chanels from MIDI-Tracks on the deluge. So far I've not noticed any problems. Even with a second deluge of my friend as the Master-Clock and the Clock goes thru my deluge to the blackbox.
        If you find the time, could you maybe try to trigger 8 pads with Clips (instead of Samples or Slicers) from the Deluge, set to your general Pad Midi channel on the Blackbox? If you succeed in launching them all in sync, it would mean the problem is specific to my devices.

        Originally posted by underwood View Post
        Are you using the latest deluge and blackbox firmware?
        Yes, 1.3.6 on the Blackbox and 3.0.2 on the Deluge.

        Originally posted by underwood View Post
        Maby SD-Card of the blackbox to slow?
        Hmm, I'm using a Sandisk Extreme SDHC with 32Gb - is this maybe too slow?

        Thanks again for taking the time and helping me out,

        cheers,

        mm

        Comment


        • #6
          Steve J
          I did some more test regarding the laggy pads when played via the Deluge with external Midi (not USB midi) - these are my findings:
          • I tested different Midi cables but the problem remains.
          • When setting the pads to Samples OR Slicers instead of Clips everything was triggering perfectly in Sync - it seems to be exclusively a Clip problem.
          • I set up a new preset with 16 looping Clips (with different samples than before) but the problem remains: When all 16 Clip pads are triggered externally at the same time (either with the MTC "Play" command or while the pattern is already playing) the higher pads (Notes 40-51) seem to get "stuck" on the first bar (showing the empty white "loading bar" rectangle below the pads name).
          • When the Clips are in Gate Mode and Loop Mode is ON, these pads only play from the first beat of the second bar.
          • When the Clips are in Trigger Mode and Loop Mode is OFF (= they get a NoteOn event each loop cycle from the Deluge), the stuck pads show the empty white "loading bar" on bar 1, changing to empty blue rectangle on bar 2, and back to empty white on bar 3 and so on with each new NoteOn event – but the pad never actually starts playing.
          • When sending the corresponding NoteOff events for all pads currently playing, the higher pads (Notes 44-51) remain playing for one more bar after the NoteOff event.
          • There are a couple of other oddities – when sending NoteOn and NoteOff events at the same time (by changing a pattern on the Deluge) sometimes pads randomly stop playing clips or get stuck in the white/blue rectangle switcheroo without actually playing.

          It seems to me that there might a problem in the way the Blackbox handles the buffering of Midi messages and / or the triggering of related Clips.

          Comment


          • #7
            Hello Steve J
            Do you have any updates for me, regarding the Midi sync problem?
            Do you need more information from my side?

            Comment


            • Steve J
              Steve J commented
              Editing a comment
              Unfortunately, not yet! I promise this is on my list of things to validate. I do not have a Deluge so I need to reproduce this using other devices. Also, there's a lot of info and detail in this so I want to be sure I get the right answer the first time. Thanks for your patience.

          • #8
            ​​Maby mmediacy can record the midi-data that he sends from the deluge to the blackbox with MIDIOX (http://www.midiox.com/) to help finding the error.

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by mmediacy View Post
              Steve J[*]When setting the pads to Samples OR Slicers instead of Clips everything was triggering perfectly in Sync - it seems to be exclusively a Clip problem.[*]I set up a new preset with 16 looping Clips (with different samples than before) but the problem remains: When all 16 Clip pads are triggered externally at the same time (either with the MTC "Play" command or while the pattern is already playing) the higher pads (Notes 40-51) seem to get "stuck" on the first bar (showing the empty white "loading bar" rectangle below the pads name).
              I am not able to reproduce this issue. I tried using an external hardware sequencer (toolbox) and Logic X. I triggered all 16 pads (in Toggle Mode) simultaneously several times in a running sequence.

              [*]When the Clips are in Gate Mode and Loop Mode is ON, these pads only play from the first beat of the second bar.
              I do not get this result. However, I do see some not-so-desirable behavior when triggering in Gate Mode. This seems normal as Gate Mode should only trigger when the Pad is being actively triggered. The combination of Gate Mode and Quant Size: 1 bar does create a similar outcome to what you describe. Still, when using a combination of these two settings I would expect this behavior.

              [*]When the Clips are in Trigger Mode and Loop Mode is OFF (= they get a NoteOn event each loop cycle from the Deluge), the stuck pads show the empty white "loading bar" on bar 1, changing to empty blue rectangle on bar 2, and back to empty white on bar 3 and so on with each new NoteOn event – but the pad never actually starts playing.
              I am not able to reproduce this. When I try this scenario from the two sequencers mentioned above, it seems to work as expected. However, when using Quant Size parameter, there will be a short delay for the clip start. If you are using a Quant Size that is equal to or greater than the frequency at which you are sending the NoteOn event this will lead to start/stop issues.


              [*]When sending the corresponding NoteOff events for all pads currently playing, the higher pads (Notes 44-51) remain playing for one more bar after the NoteOff event.
              Again, I am not able to reproduce this but the frequency of the NoteON/Off events and the Quant Size parameter will certainly affect this. A Pad set to Quant Size: 1 bar would be expected to turn off exactly 1 bar after the NoteOff event is sent to Blackbox.


              [*]There are a couple of other oddities – when sending NoteOn and NoteOff events at the same time (by changing a pattern on the Deluge) sometimes pads randomly stop playing clips or get stuck in the white/blue rectangle switcheroo without actually playing.
              It is possible that the incoming MIDI NoteOn/Off messages are getting crossed and not received in the correct sequence by the Blackbox. Overall, I tend to believe your issues are connected to a combination of things: LaunchMode, Quant Size, and the frequency that you send NoteOn/Off messages from the Deluge. Can you try turning OFF Quant Size for each pad to see if they start/stop when expected? If you send a NoteOn message to a pad with a Quant Size that is either equal to or greater than the frequency of NoteOn/Off messages you will (I believe) continue to have these issues. If you use Gate you need to time the NoteOn/Off messages appropriately. If you are using shorter loops be sure to adjust the Quant Size parameter to a value smaller than the loop length. Another thing to consider is checking out the Delgue MIDI "nudge" functions. This might help make sure messages are received in time to trigger properly on the Blackbox.

              Let me know the outcome of these tests/suggestions.


              Thanks for your patience

              Steve


              Comment

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