Sending MIDI from iPad software to play DGX-660 internal voices


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I have an iPad 2018 model (the kind that supports iPencil) with a DGX-660. I've connected them with a direct USB-B to lightning cable from Amazon that was specifically to connect keyboards to the iPad. I'm trying to use it as a "closed-loop" recorder/editor/playback device to capture keyboard inputs, edit it and then play the MIDI codes back on the DGX using one (or more) of its pre-selected internal voices. I can capture the keyboard playing just fine, but when I play back the recorded music on the iPad it won't play the selected voice on the DGX. Now if I use MTBX and play its soft piano keys, I hear what sounds like the DGX grand piano on the DGX, but not the different voice that I've selected on the DGX locally. I've tried ALL the combinations of "Local On/Off" and "PC Modes" to no avail.

Is it possible that I need a different iPad to USB-B cable adapter setup like a USB-B male to USB-A male plus the USB-A female to Lightning male cable combo? I know there are 2 "lanes" used on the lightning connector that has chips inside the housing. Could it be that I'm only using the "input lane" and not the "output lane" if there is such a thing? I'm just guessing out loud now.
 
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Welcome, iPad to keyboard connections are usually made with a standard USB A to B cable with the A plug going into a genuine Apple Camera Adaptor.

Before you rush out an buy said adaptor can you check you cable by using another App such as Music Studio or Galileo 2 organ etc

I have my Yamaha P series connected this way and can use any music related App that I have on my piano, so by selecting an instrument in Music Studio it will sound on my P series.

BTW, always connect up the iPad and keyboard before powering them up.

Do note my terminology ..... genuine Apple Camera adaptor.
 
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Thanks Biggles! I do use Music Studio (MS) to record the keystrokes from the DGX just fine. It's when I want to play that back to a particular sound on the DGX that's the problem. I just verified that I am getting MIDI out of the iPad when I play the MS piano keys or playback the recorded song. But it always plays the Digital Grand sound and not the "selected" sound that would play if I turned on "Local" voice like an ePiano or harpsichord.

I guess this is a DGX question now. How do I "map" the MIDI channel from an MS track to a particular sound on the DGX? Seems to me that any stream of MIDI keystrokes from a given source channel should go to a unique sound that's generated by the DGX on that channel, no?
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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Incoming MIDI channel messages don't affect the keyboard parts, only the song parts. The keyboard doesn't have any settings for assigning specific MIDI IN channels to specific keyboard parts, as are found on some keyboards.

To do what you're wanting to do, turn off the keyboard's Local Control to silence the keyboard parts. The incoming MIDI will still be played using the song parts, as it is currently doing.

You then have two or three options for selecting the desired voices:

1) Send the necessary messages for the desired voices to the keyboard over the MIDI connection. These primarily consist of the Bank Select MSB, Bank Select LSB, and Program Change messages which select the desired voices, but can also include the XG System Exclusive messages for selecting the effects types-- Reverb Type, Chorus Type, and DSP Type-- as well as any desired Control Change messages for settings such as Channel Volume, Pan, Reverb Depth, Chorus Depth, DSP Depth, Attack Time, Release Time, Filter Cutoff, and Filter Resonance.

2) If you're doing a MIDI THRU type of arrangement with the iPad-- that is, sending live MIDI from the keyboard to the iPad, slicing, dicing, and spicing the MIDI data as you see fit on the iPad, then sending the MIDI back to the keyboard-- you can select the voice on the keyboard, let the keyboard send the resulting Bank Select, Program Change, System Exclusive, and Control Change messages for that voice to the iPad, and have the iPad echo those messages back to the keyboard so they will select that same voice on the appropriate song part (MIDI channel).

3) A variation of the second solution is to create a MIDI "song" file for each voice setup that you want to use. The file won't contain any MIDI Note On/Off events, just the MIDI messages which select the desired voices and apply the desired settings to them-- that is, Channel Volume, Pan, Reverb Depth, Chorus Depth, DSP Depth, Attack Time, Release Time, Filter Cutoff, and Filter Resonance. When you select one of these "song" files on the keyboard, the MIDI messages it contains will affect the appropriate song parts such that the incoming MIDI messages will play using the selected voices.
 
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I just figured out the paradigm for the DGX-660. You must set up a "User Song" by assigning a different voice to each "channel". On the DGX you go to "User Song #X" (101-105 on the DGX). Then you select a track to record with the "REC + #" combo where # is 1-5 (track "A" is reserved for Accompaniments). Then select the voice you want for that track. Then start recording but press only one key on the piano (like the lowest) to "lock in" the voice setting for that track. Repeat for the other 4 tracks. Then you can use DAW software to set up the same number of tracks and their voices are "pre-assigned" by the DGX for that "song". Fortunately you can build as many "songs" like this saved to USB flash drive and not be limited to the mere 5 User Songs stored internally on the DGX.

I suspect this general concept of mapping tracks and voices using a specific "song" as the mapping structure may be true on other "arranger" keyboards in general.

Note that the DAW software MIDI configuration must be set up with "MIDI Thru" (to hear what you're sending to the computer) and then you have to experiment with the MIDI IN and MIDI OUT configurations. In Music Studio you set the MIDI IN to "Channel=ALL"; "Port=ALL" and MIDI OUT to "Channel=Tracks"; "Port=ALL". Note that when you play that part you may hear your input as the channel #1 voice. But when you play it back on the DAW you'll hear it show up on that track with the correct voice as generated on the keyboard device. You can mute one or more tracks during playback on the computer to keep things from getting confused.
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
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Once you've created User Songs that way, you should be able to save them as SMFs or MIDI song files, load them into a MIDI editor on your computer, and remove the single note that was required for making the recording on the keyboard. That should leave just the messages which select the voices for the various channels, and you can save the modified file as though it were a song even though there are no Note events in it.

When you're browsing through the available songs on your keyboard, you don't even need to press Play or Start, because as soon as you browse to a song file in the list the keyboard will load the indicated voices in preparation for playing the song. This is similar to the way that more advanced PSR-S, Tyros, and Genos models let you create User Voice files, which are simple noteless MIDI files that select an available voice and then apply changes to it as programmed by the user-- that is, adjustments to the volume, pan, reverb and other effects depths, and even the ADSR envelope and filter settings. But on those models these files have special filename extensions such as .VCE (for "Voice"), or .LIV (for "Live!"). The DGX models aren't programmed to recognize those extensions, but those files are nothing more than .MID files without any Note events in them.

If you plan ahead, you can create "song" files like this and name them in such a way that they'll be listed in a given order-- that is, alphabetically and numerically-- so if you plan to play a particular song and you'll need to switch voices five different times while playing that song then you could name the files something like MySong01, MySong02, MySong03, MySong04, and MySong05. That way you can navigate to MySong01 and begin playing, then advance to MySong02 at the appropriate moment, then advance to MySong03, etc.

If you make the initial "song" recordings on the keyboard, you'll be stuck with the settings (Volume, Pan, Attack, Release, Cutoff, Resonance, etc.) which are defined for the preset voices, unless you adjust them in the Function menu while setting up the song-- except the DGX doesn't have functions for Attack Time, Release Time, Filter Cutoff, and Filter Resonance as the PSR-E463 and similar models do. But once you load the "song" into a DAW or other MIDI editor, you can adjust those "hidden" settings and have a lot of fun creating "new" voices-- not really new voices, because they still use the built-in voices, but adjusting the Attack/Release and Cutoff/Resonance can make them sound totally different.

Also, in a DAW you can set up voices for all 16 MIDI song channels if you want, and depending on the features in your DAW you should be able to layer or split those 16 voices as you wish, such as layering three or more voices together instead of just two, or splitting the keyboard into three or more voices instead of just two, or layering two or more voices together on the left side of a split instead of being limited to just one voice on the left, etc. This is sometimes called "MIDI effects" in some DAWs, and you can filter the Note events of a given MIDI IN channel by their Note values, then redirect the filtered Note events to a given MIDI OUT channel.

Another possibility would be to play some of the channels live, and use the voices on the remaining channels for Notes which are being sent to the keyboard by your DAW or other sequencer.

But you have to be careful when doing these sorts of multi-layers, multi-splits, and sequenced channels, because it will eat away at your keyboard's maximum polyphony. I believe the DGX-660 has a nice, high maximum polyphony, so you should be okay as long as you don't start using the sustain pedal. But my PSR-E models have maximum polyphonies of just 32 or 48 notes, so I have to be very mindful of that!
 
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Dear SeaGtGruff:

Fantastic detailed suggestions! THANK YOU SO MUCH! Seems to me the trend is to move towards "virtual devices" such as DAWs and VSTs and use hardware to provide a more convenient user interface (to hands, fingers, feet, breath, etc.). I'm now looking to expand beyond the hardware-limited instruments like the DGX (which I love for its tactile keyboard, sampled voices and fun sequencer) towards enhancing the quality and functionality of that instrument. Currently using Music Studio as my DAW, and Synth One as my VST. Nice starting point for each. Getting some really cool songs out of that combo, especially when I can now (with your help) incorporate the DGX's sampled sounds.

I've looked long and hard on YouTube for tutorials and demos on enhancing and leveraging existing arranger keyboards like the DGX. Seems like one future possibility is for designers of those "next gen" arranger instruments should treat them like independent modules that are conveniently integrated and cross-coupled within the hardware for "on-the-go" sessions, yet can each be accessed fully (programmable input and output MIDI controls) as though they were stand-alone units. Maybe even have removable and upgradable hardware slide-in modules or cards like instrument racks do?

In the longer-term I see a future where the only hardware you'll want (keyboard, foot controller, VST controller panel, etc.) will be to provide convenient and fast (configurable) real-time user control without having to be limited to mini-keyboards or switching between apps. The rest goes to software.

Final Thoughts for Instrument Designers: (especially portable ones)
a) Make the internal batteries USB-chargeable, maybe even with wireless charging (Qi) capable!
b) Provide Bluetooth interface (get rid of the cables!!!)
c) Provide built-in LED R/G/B lights (like on the fretboard or keyboard) which are as configurable as DAW tracks
d) Create new programmable tactile feedback hardware (like user-defined key or string back-pressure curves during the stroke)
e) Add "haptic" types of user inputs like instrument pressure, temperature, orientation, acceleration, etc. (all of which are available in a single chip)
 

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