Thursday, 24 March 2016


A year or two ago, I bought a MIDI guitar controller. This comes in two parts. One is a reciever that plugs into a USB port on a computer. The other is a pickup, converter and transmitter. It picks up the vibrations from the guitar strings, converts them into MIDI information, and transmits them via the reciever to the PC.

15 years or so ago, I had a set up that worked well for me, but trying to duplicate that setup on my current system was unsuccessful. The soundcard I tried to put in wasn't compatible with anything later than Windows XP, the onboard sound card that I did have would not allow me to record what I was doing, and the software that came with the MIDI controller wouldn't work with anything earlier than Windows 7.

After getting nowhere much with it, I put it on hold for a while, but recently dug out the MIDI controller, and tried again. Same issues, but this time, I had an idea. - Buy an old computer with XP on it, recreate something like the hardware and software setup that worked well back in the day, and send the sound output from my modern PC to it.

So from left to right, Signal comes from guitar and into posh fast modern PC. Outputted through audio out or headphone socket to old XP PC, and from there it can be multitracked and sequenced etc. And between the two PCs, there can be other things. I have a Boss ME-5 multi-effects unit that might make for some interesting sounds.

So how far have I got? Well, I bought the PC for £40 from ebay. An old Dell Dimension, that comes with windows XP and a valid serial number. I had to put a new CD/DVD drive in it as the old one wouldn't work, and since the hard drive had been formatted prior to sale, this caused me a lot of head scratching and question asking on support forums. (Clue: It was the jumper settings on the newly installed DVD drive that were screwing everything up.)

This can work as a standalone unit, since it comes with keyboard, mouse and monitor. I intend to keep it unconnected to the internet, and could possibly use the XP disk with my laptop, which currently has a hooky copy of windows 7 on it.

I've put the old successful soundcard into it, and it's associated breakout box but cannot yet find the lead that connects the two within the case of the PC. The disk that contains the drivers for the card is scratched to buggery. I downloaded a modern version of Creative Wave Studio, which is a very simple sound player that allows you to play/record several things at once, and put that on there.

What is left to do?

Well first of all, tidy up. Organise things so that things will fit optimally in a confined space. This is a big job, but necessary. Part of the reson for tidying and sorting things is so that I can find some of the things I need. The lead between the soundcard and the breakout box, for one. A compact disk containing loads of old music software, for another.

Second, put everything where it needs to be. Leads going to and from where they should. Software installed where it's needed.

Third, test it all, and spend hours days and weeks trying to work out why it's not working the way it should.

Fourth, get my head around how to use the modern software, which is baroque in it's complexity, and rediscover how to get the best out of the old software.

driving lessons in North Wirral? learn to drive in Hoylake? driving instructor in Birkenhead?

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