Using NRPN Synths (Akai Miniak) with CC Hardware Controllers

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Using NRPN Synths (Akai Miniak) with CC Hardware Controllers

Postby Antimatter » Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:20 am

I'm planning on buying a Miniak, but I also want to buy a BCR2000 hardware control surface which is supposed to interface with the Miniak via MIDI.

As far as I've heard, the BCR2000 works with Miniak's cousin, the Alesis Micron, but doesn't support the Miniak because the BCR2000 uses CC while the Miniak uses NRPN.

I saw a project where some guy used an Arduino to convert NRPN to CC and vice-versa or whatever so he could use the Miniak and BCR2000 without software.

Are there any other ways to do this without software, or should I maybe go for an Alesis Micron?
OR, are there any hardware controllers that natively support NRPN?


On another note, do most Guitar Centers have playable demos of the Alesis Micron?
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Re: Using NRPN Synths (Akai Miniak) with CC Hardware Control

Postby Broadwave » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:36 am

The BCR2000 can be programmed to send NRPN's, but the problem is with Ion/Micron/Miniak's interpretation of NRPN's... It's not standard :(

Some of the parameters require a "negative/thru zero" NRPN stream (for want of a better description), it can be done using two BCR encoders, but it gets messy very quickly.
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Re: Using NRPN Synths (Akai Miniak) with CC Hardware Control

Postby pflosi » Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:02 pm

Well, that's the thing about "NRPN", there's no standard by definition. "Non-registered parameter number". They can have any arbitrary resolution the designer chooses.

I only tried with my A6, automating it from a DAW. Had to take workarounds, e.g. in the A6 there are six midi-cc values that you can assign as sources in the modulation matrix; or the pitch / modulation wheels that are normal cc; or with the ribbon, you can record an automation and play it back (this works, but it results in completely arbitrary automation patterns - you can play them back correctly, but no way to edit); etc....
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Re: Using NRPN Synths (Akai Miniak) with CC Hardware Control

Postby gridsleep » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:32 pm

The interrupted NRPN value means that, there being no 14-bit negative NRPNs, the value that goes to the computer (or synth) may be listed as "-7 to 7" for example, but will show up over the cable as 16377 to 16383 and then 0 to 7.
"-100 to 100" would actually be 16284 to 16383 and 0 to 100. No continuous track of numbers to assign to a single pot or fader. You have to split the flow into two different steps, either two separate controls in one map or two maps for the same control.

There is a comprehensive spreadsheet of Micron NRPN values available in the download area of the Yahoo! Micron/Ion/Miniak user group. Here is a link to the spreadsheet in my Dropbox Alesis Micron NRPN Spreadsheet PDF. This is greatly expanded from the severely incomplete spreadsheet that is available from the Alesis company download area.

The Novation Remote controllers also can transmit 14-bit NRPN values. There are surprisingly few MIDI controllers that can. Most are limited to 7-bit CC and NRPN, quite useless for the Micron. Adequate for most VST I imagine. For the interrupted Micron values, I set up one Remote page for the lower values and another for the upper values. Going from one to the other requires only a click of a dial to change the page. It is not perfect as the switch leaves you at whatever value you were at when you last accessed that page. Usually it is continuous since being in the lower, for instance, means that the upper was last at 0, or vice versa meaning that the lower was left at 16383, so it isn't much of an interruption and usually not a jump. Aside from writing a completely customized software control interface, I have not found another way to gain knobby access to the Micron's interior.
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