MPort MIDI-Adaptor

Geschrieben von (01.07.2004 00:00 CET)

Without doubt you get into quite a boring routine when reviewing PDA option after PDA option. The number of products that really grab me and keep me using them has decreased over time, but MPort is definitely one of those. It costed me a weekend, but in a totally positive sense.

People like me who make music as a hobby (for those interested you find more information here), may have thought about the usage of their Pocket PCs. Some years ago, I played around a bit with Roland´s PMA-5, a "Personal Musical Assistant", that is operated though a touch screen and roughly offers a complete MIDI recording studio en miniature. And if you take a lokk onto the MIDI format, that is just a number of control strings that tell a connected device which tone to play for how long and with what sound scheme, and that uses a standard that identifies the sound schemes and theit mapping in a unique way. A music track, that uses Megabytes on a hard disk when stored as a WAV-file, can be put into some (if ever) 100KB.

So here we are in thinking that a Pocket PC could handle that! Han-d-solutions from Canada have developed a product called MPort that enables a Pocket PC to play MIDI files and control a connected MIDI device. The set consists of two cables that are connected via a standard SubD-plug. The charme of this solution: One part (left in the photo), the part containing the MIDI In and -Out, can be connected to any Pocket PC sync cable using an nullmodem adaptor, but it can also be connected to the serial port of any PC (more to that later). The second part (right) is used to directly connect to an iPAQ.

A small applicated has to be installed to the Pocket PC that allows opening MIDI files on the PDA and plabyck through MPort´s MIDI Out. The MIDI In-port ist not used on the PPC (yet).

Real life usage: Transfer the application to the PPC, drop the *.MID-files in the PDA´s synced files folder, and here we go:

The 16 supported channels are graphically represented though colored bars, the application itself allows control over tempo and pitch (transposition). Connected to a keyboard, the PDA totally controls what the keyboard does and for those who only listen to the music there is no way realizing that it is a PDA and not a PC playing the music.

Now just think about the consequences of this! While I had to sit besides the PC to use my MIDI-keyboard to play MID-files, or while I had to expand my notebook with expensive MIDI-ports, all of that is history now! I just take my iPAQ, connect it to the keyboard, and my band is with me instantly. Even more extreme: street musicians that may have some problems using a notebook due to the limited battery capacity now have the perfect solution. Connecting a battery pack to a PDA is much easier.

Another advantage of MPort is the ability to be used on a PC. The CD that accompanies the product contains the driver for windows PCs. After installation you can choose Mport as standard MIDI Output in your PC´s control panel:

I neither need a MIDI Port nor sound card in my PC to do that, just a standard serial port. E.g. every notebook may be used for that, too. Simply choose MPort (midiLink Serial Device) for playback, and you can use it to play MID files on your keyboard or use the MIDI In to record from your keyboard.

The whole thing is taken to another dimension when using the enclosed MIDIoverLAN driver which allows access to more than one MPort simultaneously and as a consequence access to more than one MIDI device.

The final cream on the gorgeous cake would be an application that allows the PDA to receord MIDI-signals. Just imagine: The long trip by train though the countryside, an melody line comes to your head.... you open the suitcase, take out a small MIDI keyboard and start recording.... and that is a thing that will be possible in the not too far future judging from the manufacturer´s website!

But even without that, MPort is a small revolution for all the hobby musicians out there and thus a clear recommendation:

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