There are two fundamental types of record scenarios when using Motif XS via firewire with Cubase: MIDI recording and Audio recording. It always comes down to these two categories of recording. MIDI, as we all know, is a series of coded messages that represent music and musical performance gestures. It cannot be heard. A MIDI tone generator must interpret MIDI data. The tone generator will convert the messages into audible sound. We will start our discussion with an explanation of the MIDI function “Local Control”. It will be important to understand why this parameter is necessary, and then we will get into a discussion of the audio equivalent, if you will.
The MIDI scenario – Local Control
It is fairly standard operating procedure when recording MIDI to an external sequencer (like Cubase) to operate with the LOCAL CONTROL of the XS in the OFF position. LOCAL CONTROL is what sends your key presses directly to the XS tone generator, or not, thus the term “local”. In normal operation you will press an XS key and the XS tone generator responds. However, when recording OUT via MIDI, you turn LOCAL CONTROL = OFF, this means that the key press information goes OUT via MIDI first, traveling via Firewire in this case, to Cubase, where it is received by an active MIDI track which will echo, or Thru, the signal back OUT on a specific MIDI PORT and MIDI channel to the appropriate tone generator.
This allows the controller keyboard to be used to trigger virtually any tone engine or module, internal or external, that you have in your system. It separates, in this instance the Motif XS key bed from the Motif XS tone generator. The keys become just a “controller” and the rest becomes just a tone module.
If you select the PORT (Motif XS Main) and MIDI Channel 1, for example, the key press information will trigger the sound in PART 1 of the Motif XS.
If you select PORT (Motif XS MIDI OUT) and MIDI Channel 1, the key press information will trigger the device connected to the MIDI OUT jack of the Motif XS – say you have a VL70-m module connected via MIDI to the MIDI OUT jack.
If you select a PORT that feeds a VST Instrument, then the key press information will trigger the VST Instrument you have selected in your computer.
Local Control being OFF turns your Motif XS keyboard into just a controller. It can trigger any device in your setup, on any port, on any channel. All this is determined by the currently active track in Cubase. If you select a channel number 1-16 on the track’s Track Inspector, it will not matter what MIDI channel you are actually sending from the Motif XS. All “re-channel-ization” of the MIDI signal is done in Cubase by the currently active track’s Track Inspector.
If you do not turn Local Control to OFF, when recording MIDI to an external sequencer, you will create a situation where you will have double signal. You will hear the Motif XS (directly) being triggered normally, and you will hear whatever the Track Inspector is set to trigger.
If this happens to be back to the Motif XS you run a real risk of a MIDI loop (stuck notes, strange behavior, even system crashes… oh, Mac’s don’t crash, they just shut down, sometimes).
The Audio scenario
It is fairly standard operating procedure when recording Audio to an external sequencer (like Cubase) to operate with LOCAL CONTROL = ON. This is because you want the key presses to trigger the tone generator of the Motif XS and you are interested in capturing the actual audio that is generated by this action.
There are exceptions to the above two situations and there are many variations as well. But that is as simple and as basic an explanation of the Local Control parameter as we need so far.
As you can imagine it can get more complex. What if you are doing MIDI and Audio simultaneously? What about if you are sending MIDI to the XS from Cubase, and at the same time returning audio from the XS to Cubase? Are you going to “playing” during the operation? Or are you just playing back data and printing audio tracks? How does this impact the setup? The following parameters are there to allow you the utmost flexibility in how you work.
What we will discuss now is that when you are using the Motif XS via firewire, it is handling both MIDI and audio in both directions simultaneously. Sometimes it is easier to wrap your head around analog cabling because you can physically follow the signal flow. But in the digital world, there are virtual connections that carry signal to and fro. These virtual connections do, in fact, follow the same exact rules as the analog cabling – so signal flow is very important. The basic theory is this, the signal moves from one device to another and then back again in a specific flow. Where you are going to be monitoring (listening) is what we will be determining. This signal flow theory is very important because at different places along the path, what you hear can be quite different.