Using an old Drum machine (Alessis SR-16) as a midi-sequencer driven drum module

androo235

New member
Yes, I know, this is years, three decades actually, on from the launch of the SR-16, but here goes. I have an SR-16 and I want to use it as a sound module driven by a sequencer in my DAW (Reaper). In theory I know this is possible as the 1991 video with Craig Anderton says you can use it as an "Expander Module" and so does the SR-16 manual, but neither video nor manual tell you, in detail, how to get it working. I have a Behringer UMC404HD interface which has DIN-Midi in and out/thru as well as a USB B interface to the PC, I also have an X-Touch control surface (CS) which too has DIN Midi in and out/thru as well as USB B to the PC and 2 USB A for devices. The SR-16 itself being vintage (even though I bought it new only a few years ago, yes, I wish I knew then what I know now, but, hey it's here now and I want to use it) has only DIN Midi in and out/thru as well as audio outputs (up to four, I'm using two). I have become fairly familiar with the SR-16 menu's and have been able to get the DAW click to drive the SR-16 or the SR-16 click to drive the DAW (which some have had trouble with), but, that isn't what I want. I have done that connecting the SR-16 via the interface or via the CS. So, although I can get the click to work in either direction either of those ways I can't get the SR-16 to respond, at least not audibly, to the DAW sequencer. I can see the Reaper track VU react apparently based on sequencer input but can't get any sound out, unless I hit the SR-16 pads. I hear those, but, they don't drive Reaper sequencer input and sequencer input doesn't drive them. Connected via the interface or the CS the SR-16 doesn't show up in Reaper's preferences as a midi-device. Maybe it's because I haven't got the settings right in Reaper which are, albeit very flexible and comprehensive looking, also somewhat confusing for a newcomer to life with a DAW (and midi, albeit that I've read a lot about it and been aware of it for 40 years or more). On the other hand maybe it's because I'm having to connect the SR-16 to the PC indirectly either via the interface or via the CS. So I'm getting a Midi DIN to USB cable so that I can connect the SR-16 directly to the PC, maybe that will solve the problem (but, I have to say, I thought that was the point of the interface and the CS that I have having the DIN Connections....). Any suggestions or encouragement welcome.
 
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rob aylestone

Well-known member
The drum machine would just show up as a GM device - it wouldn't have anything special that would need a dedicated MIDI profile.
 

androo235

New member
I don't think it shows up at all, but, I'm not on the machine where I do that stuff now. Later I will be and I'll post screenshots (assuming I'm allowed to) showing what I see (depending on whether it is plugged into the interface or the CS). That said, I think the take away you're giving me is that it won't work until I do see it as a midi-device, generic or not, in Reaper's preferences. Is that right? Should I be able to see it plugged via the interface +/or SC or wilI I likely need the dedicated midi DIN to USB cable? Thanks for responding.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
I would connect the SR-16 to the Behringer interface via MIDI IN/OUT - see if that lets it be recognized in Reaper.

This is how I have my controller keyboard routed in Reaper. Mine is seen by it's model number.. dunno what yours will appear as. Possibly "SR-16"..? Who knows.

routing.jpg
 

androo235

New member
I've just spent another couple of fruitless hours trying to get this to work. I've tried plugging it various ways but the SR16 just won't show up in the DAW (although, as I've said, I can get the DAW clock to drive it, or drive the DAW clock from it). Attached is a photo of a wordpad note with a couple of screenshots of Reaper preferences/midi-devices dialogue and a description of the things I've tried. I'll try connecting it direct to the PC when the DIN midi-USB cable shows up. If that doesn't work I'll probably give up. I'm aware that there are other ways to do this, not least with the MPKmini which I think comes with some more modern drum sounds or even using the SR16 sounds (which I bet can be downloaded from somewhere). It was just that I have this thing and thought I'd try to use it in the most flexible way it could, at least in theory, be used. Thanks for your suggestions.
 

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rob aylestone

Well-known member
Unless you have manually edited an entry, midi connected devices, are just MIDI - there is no clever connection, so you just need to select whichever generic MIDI port you have it connected to - I'm guessing MIDI in 1, as you have something on 2?
 

vox

Member
So you want MIDI from the DAW to trigger the sounds in the module and then record the audio outs? Or are you trying to use the module pads as triggers to record midi sequences into the DAW?
 

androo235

New member
@rob aylestone What do you mean by manually edited? If a device shows up in Reaper's midi-device dialogue then you get some choices as to how to configure it for input or output and you can give it a name (alias). Is that what you mean? But, the thing is the SR-16 just isn't showing up at all. When you say "so you just need to select the generic midi port". Do you mean in Reaper? How? Where? Everything in that dialogue relates to a specific device that either is or has in the past been connected and recognised by Reaper. I can't see a "generic" midi port to connect to. Or do you mean in the SR-16. In the SR-16 midi-setup menus you can choose a channel mode, which is either, in Alessi speak, "Omni", i.e. it will receive midi data on any and all of the 16 midi channels (that's how I have it set presently as I just want to hear SOMETHING), or, once you have it working, so that it doesn't respond to the sequencer channel that has the bass or a lead synth or whatever on it, but, only to the drums, then you select the same channel as that on which the sequencer is outputting the drum part. Ports. Ports one and two are both the X-touch. I'm not sure why it needs two inputs and outputs, but, seems it does, everything else is a particular device too. I say ports they are midi ID's which are re-assignable in Reaper. The ID's associated with each device is assigned by the system when it recognises the device but, you can re-assign them to other ID's which I have done and it seems to make no difference so far as I can tell other than enabling these dialogue boxes to appear with things in an order which makes more sense to (me) you as the user.

But, hold on, as I thought, I've just found the the whole library of SR16 sounds available as a free download on this site https://sounds.pauseplayrepeat.com/ it looks legitimate. They don't appear to be trying to hide under a rock. I've downloaded but not tried them out yet (on the wrong computer again at the moment) but, if they work, I can stop banging my head on a wall trying to get the SR-16 itself to work as an "Expander Module". But, no, it's gone too far now, I'm committed, I must know. Well, that is, I will at least try again using the DIN Midi to USB cable I've ordered when I get it and see if that works.
So you want MIDI from the DAW to trigger the sounds in the module and then record the audio outs? Or are you trying to use the module pads as triggers to record midi sequences into the DAW?
The first one, "midi from the DAW to trigger sounds in the module and then record the audio outs"
 
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spantini

COO of me, inc.
Maybe we're overthinking this. I mean about trying to have Reaper recognize the SR-16. This was designed to slave to a computer sequencer from the year 1990, so perhaps no setting up is required for "recognition" as far as Reaper goes - just flip all the relevant switches in the SR-16.

The reference manual has a MIDI section describing exactly which settings to use for each application. I would loop a MIDI drum sequence in Reaper and let it play while making the correct settings on the SR-16 until it worked.

I dunno.. maybe I'm simplifying it too much, but it makes sense to me :unsure:
 

androo235

New member
@spantini and @vox . Thanks for those suggestions. I've think I've covered both those bases. I set up a sequencer drum pattern, well, actually, it just hits every note available once a bar, I can see the VU jumping, and left it running while I twiddled with the SR16 settings. Nothing. The SR16 settings I think ought to work are: Channel - Omni (at least in this "getting it to work" stage, if I ever do get it to work I will change this to a specific channel to match the channel the drum sequence is being output on), Drum In: On, Drum Out: Off, Note: Defaults as listed by Vox above, Clock in: off, Clock out: off, Midi thru: off, Prog Change: On (that's the default, have to admit I'm not clear what this setting is for) and lastly Note Map: Normal (again I don't really understand what this does, I think it switches Drum Sets). I think the use of the last two settings, if any in the context of how I want to use it, would become clear when/if I'm able to get it to start responding as a "Drum Module".
 

LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
The SR-16 in Omni mode or Poly? Omni recieves all but only sends on channel 1, you want poly for all/all. Matching is not necessary if that is the only module.

Screenshot 2022-01-02 185217.jpg
 
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LazerBeakShiek

AKA Optimus Prime LEGO Vampire
Screenshot 2022-01-02 185815.jpg
Drum In- set to- On V1 , V2 is for full volume only
Drum Out - set to 'ON'
Clock In- set to 'ON'
Clock Out-'ON'
MIDI THRU- set to 'ON'
 
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androo235

New member
The SR-16 in Omni mode or Poly? Omni recieves all but only sends on channel 1, you want poly for all/all.

View attachment 113821
Thanks for those suggestions @LazerBeakShiek . I want it to receive. Don't I? I want it to receive the midi signal from the sequencer to play a sound (hopefully the right one at the right time, but, anything would do to get started). I've chosen omni for now so that it should respond to anything and everything coming at it from the Reaper Sequencer. It doesn't. I have now tried going through the 16 channels in the misleadingly (I think) named "Poly" mode one by one, no result.

As for the other part. Yes I've read that, it's ambiguous I think. I thought I did want to use the SR16 as a drum machine slaved to a sequencer, but, this (it's from the manual I know, I've read it) seems to mean something different by that to what I'd expect. With Drum in: off or on and Click in: on in this mode it responds to the DAWs click (start/stop and tempo) but plays the pattern or song that's selected on the SR16. With Drum in on V1 or V2 (or V3, mine has that but the manual says nothing about it) and Click: off nothing at all whether in Omni or with any of the channels selected.

I think the key to this is that the SR16 doesn't show up at all as a midi device in Reaper. The midi-Din to USB patch cable/interface from Amazon arrives Tuesday I'll try that then. I've now opened the downloaded SR16 drum samples I mentioned earlier, they seem ok, but, it's only some of the kicks, some of the snares and some of the hi-hats. I'll look again I guess, but I may as well wait until after Tuesday as if it does work then I won't need the downloads anyway.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
Thanks for those suggestions @LazerBeakShiek . I want it to receive. Don't I? I want it to receive the midi signal from the sequencer to play a sound (hopefully the right one at the right time, but, anything would do to get started). I've chosen omni for now so that it should respond to anything and everything coming at it from the Reaper Sequencer. It doesn't. I have now tried going through the 16 channels in the misleadingly (I think) named "Poly" mode one by one, no result.

As for the other part. Yes I've read that, it's ambiguous I think. I thought I did want to use the SR16 as a drum machine slaved to a sequencer, but, this (it's from the manual I know, I've read it) seems to mean something different by that to what I'd expect. With Drum in: off or on and Click in: on in this mode it responds to the DAWs click (start/stop and tempo) but plays the pattern or song that's selected on the SR16. With Drum in on V1 or V2 (or V3, mine has that but the manual says nothing about it) and Click: off nothing at all whether in Omni or with any of the channels selected.

I think the key to this is that the SR16 doesn't show up at all as a midi device in Reaper. The midi-Din to USB patch cable/interface from Amazon arrives Tuesday I'll try that then. I've now opened the downloaded SR16 drum samples I mentioned earlier, they seem ok, but, it's only some of the kicks, some of the snares and some of the hi-hats. I'll look again I guess, but I may as well wait until after Tuesday as if it does work then I won't need the downloads anyway.
If you're lucky, it'll turn out to be a bad cable 😉
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
We have become so used to MIDI devices being two way - as in what happens when you connect with USB, that we forget that driving MIDI legacy devices through plan ordinary 5 pin DIN connectors is one way. Your DAW does not know, or care if there is a receiving device the other end. The SR-16 cannot come up in reaper unless you tell it that output X is the drum module, and at best, the label changes. It doesn't receive any response from the unit. To be honest, it doesn't matter because the SR-16 just plays a sound if the incoming MIDI data is valid and on the right channel. Don't wait for the SR-16 to show up in the DAW, it won't! It doesn't matter. Just send it some notes on the right channel and noise will come out. If you took a bog standard SR-16 out of the box and connected it to virtually any DAW - using the MIDI ins and outs then you send to it on ch 10, the pads on it can be recorded on your DAW, and as said omni probably is the simplest setting - so any MIDI activity coming in works.

One thing that plagued MIDI DIN connections was the words MIDI in and MIDI out. On a keyboard or module that makes sense, but on a cable, is it saying this connector goes TO the MIDI in, or does it mean this is where MIDI goes in? As in the other direction? if you ever get MIDI issues, swap the in and out around, just in case.

If you have the Behringer interface with the MIDI sockets connected - you send your data to that output. It won't change to SR-16 or anything like that - just direct it to the MIDI out from the Behringer, and that goes to the SR-16 midi in. That's really it. Do you have any other devices with a MIDI out? Old keyboards or pianos? If so, use their out to the SR-16 in and see if they can make sounds pop out.
 

androo235

New member
Thanks. I do have access to a Clavinova (and a NORD, though that is in another room) both have three DIN midi-sockets, an in an out and a thru. If the midi/DIN to USB cable I'll get tomorrow doesn't help I'll try with the Clavinova. @spantini , I have a few cables, I've tried different ones. I guess they could all be duff:cursing: I've also tried, with different cables, swapping in to in for in to out, out to in etc. Perhaps I'll need a little spreadsheet to make sure I've tried every permutation. @rob aylestone and @vox in another thread in another forum on this, and Robs post above, have helped me to understand that this is more like a radio broadcast situation. The SR16 doesn't have the capability to respond to the PC/Reaper and tell it what it is and that it is there so it won't show up as a midi-device in the Reaper/DAW preferences. What I have to do is "broadcast" the midi from the pc/DAW and then try to tune the SR16 into that. What a mission this is! I expect the solution, when it comes, will be one of those that was/is there all the time just staring at me.
 

androo235

New member
Actually, there's another approach angle approach too. My son (he's the piano player) has Cubase on the same PC, perhaps it's worth a try with that. If that works at least it will establish "proof of concept".
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
That's what I use - connecting the clavinova would work as long as you change the send or the receive MIDI channel - enough to work out the problem, although in your other topic you mention the activity light only working on the click which makes me think it's routing.
 
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