I love my A4, but I wish it had a one knob per function interface.
So Im just wondering if USB controllers such as the novation launch control XL can be used directly with an analog four ? Or should I connect them via a USB->midi host ?
Not directly. But you can use an iConnectivity MIDI ^4 as USB host for both, anyway first check if the Novation transmits standard MIDI messages or it just work with the automap software, and remember that A4 doesn’t send parameters updates when changing sound/ kit, nor when performing the reload function.
=> USB/MIDI bridge needed (like the Kenton MIDI USB HOST, maybe the iConnectMIDI ones).
Or a computer with a DAW to redirect MIDI.
Or if you can hack, a Raspberry Pi (the latest model is the best, as it has 4 USB ports, no need for an external USB hub on top) with a cheap USB/MIDI cable (15€/$).
Skills needed for that (not for everyone) : installing and configuring linux, write a script or 2 to automate the USB-MIDI routing. The advantage : completely configurable, can connect as many USB and MIDI devices you want, DIY, much cheaper than the other choices.
As I understand, using simultaneously an external keyboard and a controller requires quite a lot of “plumbing” since the controller has to go into a USB first, and then a midi merger is required to merge the midi out of the USB host and the keyboard.
Im not sure if it is worth the hassle or not …
It’d kindof ridiculous that a dedicated synth like the A4 can’t function as a USB host when it comes to using a controller. There’s a new synth on the horizon, the Futuresonus Pavra, that intends to function as a host. Supposed to ship in August.
USB MIDI controllers with knobs and sliders aren’t exactly a new concept though? Sound on Sound has a review of one from 2002, and although I admit I don’t know when the concept of class-compliant USB MIDI came about I’m pretty sure it’s been around a few years.
USB MIDI does seem like a complete mess though. When is that new MIDI spec coming out… obviously current devices won’t support it but does it address stuff like this?
It would be wonderful to see more compatibility. The Parva is a step in the right direction. But it’s a small startup. And who knows if the bigger players will adopt usb midi host capabilities.
Otherwise you’ve got to go with the Kenton ($115), the iConnectMidi4+ ($199), or the TE Oplab ($299).
(I’m mostly keen on the TE Oplab due to its CV–>Midi and CV—>USB capabilities. $300 is steep though, but it’s a key that unlocks a whole world of compatibility.)
It would be more likely for an established player to come in and undercut the current offerings for this rather unique function. Keep in mind that this type of functionality is more of a response to inadequate hardware offerings. I.e. “midi” controllers without din midi ports, and USB only.
Or maybe we’ll see more adoption of the 1/8" jack with 1/8" to midi cable (as on the Beatstep Pro and new electribe) on controllers that would otherwise be USB only.
My point is, it’s a niche feature, and not something I expect a synth company to consider. It was smart for Futuresonus, though, as it was a unique feature that differentiated their unknown product from the rest. It ultimately assisted in what they needed most, raising money.
Not saying they would have missed the kickstarter goal without that feature, but it couldn’t have hurt them.
Now that Elektron has implemented overbridge, it would be theoreticaly possible for them to make a USB hardware controller for the A4/AR which would support a bi-directionnal midi communication through USB.
It would basically be a “computer” running the OB VST + some knob packed into a box. That would transform an A4 into something even greater !