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Archive for November 7th, 2010

emagic Unitor8 Mk I

Posted by brunorc on November 7, 2010

Yeah, fantastic gear. Bulletproof and reliable. MIDI interface with 8 IN/OUT ports armed with flexible routing matrix (with filters, so you can toss out some transdendental bits of MIDI, like MTC, SysEx or Tune Request) it’s just awesome and makes working with multiple MIDI devices easy.

However, I cannot convince it to forward MIDI Clock signal from one MIDI input to another (and no, I don’t filter it out), which means I cannot use MIDI sync without launching the PC. I thought that maybe the firmware is old, and I started searching on the Internet. Of course, granted emagic got absorbed by Apple, one cannot expect that they would be interested in supporting anything older than four years. Luckily I found it, but it cost cost me a bit, so for the coming generations:

emagic Unitor8 (or Unitor 8, if you prefer) Mk I (serial) firmware update – version 1.3.1

It was definitely worth upgrading for me (had version 1.2.3):

unitor8 firmware revision 1.1.4:
beta version
eeprom cannot be updated! you must replace the eprom with a version
1.20 first.

unitor8 firmware revision 1.2.0 contains the following improvements:
first public release.
eeprom can be updated, but problems when updating via rs-232. you need
unitor8 control 1.0.6 and a special plug. see text file “unitor8 1.20
rs-232 update e”.

unitor8 firmware revision 1.2.2 contains the following improvements:
(not publicly released)

new features:
with amt, midi data can be transmitted inbetween. this feature is used
by logic audio 4.0 and higher.

unitor8 firmware revision 1.2.3 contains the following improvements:
(not publicly released)

new features:
amt realtime nesting (see above) can have up to 4 levels.

unitor8 firmware revision 1.2.4 contains the following improvements:
(not publicly released)

new features:
new command for settings computer unitor8 communication to 230 kbps.

eeprom update via rs-232 now works without the special plug.

unitor8 firmware revision 1.2.5 contains the following improvements:
(not publicly released)

new features:
all 6 frame formats can be striped

unitor8 firmware revision 1.2.6 contains the following improvements:

new features:
can mix video in with burn-in window (video thru)

unitor8 firmware revision 1.2.7 contains the following improvements:
(not publicly released)

new features:
all units (which have at least this version) now communicate with each
other with 230 kbps instead of 115 kbps.

sysex data is now transmitted to / received from pc (rs-232) with
hardward handshaking (rts/cts).

unitor8 firmware revision 1.2.8 contains the following improvements:
(not publicly released)

new features:
new modes for click input: switch to next/previous patch (in patch mode

clock master was not enabled if a device sends only the continue status
byte instead of the start byte.

unitor8 firmware revision 1.2.9 contains the following improvements:

eox (f7) was not transmitted reliably to the rs-232 port.

unitor8 firmware revision 1.3.0 contains the following improvements:

new features:
supports amt level 3 (former amt levels did not help at events at
different, but very close time stamps).

unitor8 firmware revision 1.3.1 contains the following improvements:

new features:
video thru burn in is now possible with ltc read and write.
sysex command for switching back to patch mode with the last selected

1024 byte parts of long sysex messages received by rs-232 port were
transmitted twice in very seldom situations.

Unfortunately, MIDI Clock sent from Novation KS5 still doesn’t get forwarded.

Update: In order to avoid clashes, Unitor accepts the clock signal from the first port, which sends the MTC Song Start command (and resets after receiving MTC Song Stop). KS5 doesn’t send MTC commands, but any decent hardware sequencer does (e.g. Yamaha SY77 or E-mu MP7), and Unitor nicely propagates MIDI Clock received from them.

After all, I recommend it wholeheartedly (I can survive sending MIDI Clock from the PC), however this model can soon end its career. Nowadays you cannot use Unitor8 serial with Mac OS X through a USB – RS232 interface. Also, Apple won’t be releasing any drivers for new Microsoft OSes for those device. To clarify a bit: the Mk I model is “serial only”, while Mk II model has then very modern USB port. And if you are not into syncing to some professional VCR or ADAT tape, you can get AMT8 – it’s just Unitor8 Mk II without the whole syncing stuff. No firmware updates though, but I hope they put the equivalent of 1.3.1 in this.

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Yamaha TG100

Posted by brunorc on November 7, 2010

Small and cheap multitimbral sound module, bought second-hand as well. Again, sound layering – but nothing more. No filters, no synthesis – NOTHING! So its size was comparable with its capabilities, while its price tag accurately described its sound quality – good, but not even above the average (to be honest, I don’t even remember the price). But it opened the doors to the next dimension of musical creation. Teamed with JX-1 it laid the foundations of my “recording studio” and gave me the first possibility of writing the music… and getting paid for it!

I didn’t keep it for long and sold it (again, no idea about the price) few days after getting my next synthesizer, which conveniently was multitimbral.

I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody – except that you get it for free and you still have some free MIDI output and audio input on your mixer. It’s full of bread’n’butter sounds and it’s small, but you can get Roland JV-1010, which is small as well, but has an awful lot of possibilities, compared to TG100. It was actually so boring crap, that I didn’t even bother to find a photo on the web.

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