Using MIDI to Control Your Strymon Pedals – Part 1

TimeLine MIDIIf you have a Timeline, BigSky, or Mobius, you will notice that there are MIDI IN and MIDI OUT ports on the back of your pedal.  These can be used to control the pedals from an external MIDI controller that is programmed to send MIDI messages that can change presets and control parameters on the pedal from the controller.

What is MIDI (briefly)?

If you are not familiar with MIDI, it is a communication language that is used for MIDI equipped hardware to talk to each other.  This allows one device to send a MIDI message to another device as a digital signal to pass along real time musical information.  There are several different types of MIDI messages that can be sent on up to 16 MIDI Channels.  These messages are sent via the MIDI IN and MIDI OUT ports on compatible devices.  It is important to also remember that MIDI does NOT transmit audio; only digital MIDI messages.  Today we will focus on MIDI Program Change to recall and change presets on the pedal.

MIDI Connections

MIDI messages are usually sent across MIDI cables that connect to the MIDI IN and MIDI OUT ports of MIDI compatible devices.  Most devices, like our pedals, utilize a 5-pin MIDI cable, but there are some 7-pin MIDI connections and some devices can communicate with MIDI over USB and other connections.

It is normal practice to connect a cable from the MIDI OUT port of a device like a MIDI controller to the MIDI IN port of the receiving device like one of our pedals. 

MIDI cable plugged into Strymon pedal and MIDI controller

There are also some devices and MIDI interfaces that will tell you where to connect the cables with text on the ends that may say TO MIDI IN or TO MIDI OUT.  Just be sure to check the MIDI device or its documentation for the correct connection setup.

If you would like to control two or more Strymon pedals with a MIDI connection, you can start by connecting the MIDI OUT from the MIDI Controller to the MIDI IN port of the first Strymon pedal.  Then, connect the MIDI OUT from that first Strymon pedal to the MIDI IN of the next Strymon pedal and do the same for any additional MIDI equipped pedals you would like to control.

Connecting multiple Strymon pedals together via MIDI

Now, in order for the MIDI messages from the controller to be passed on to each device in the MIDI chain, you must enable MIDI Through on each pedal before the last device in the MIDI chain.  On the Strymon pedals, this is found in the GLOBLS menu in the MIDI TH parameter.  Set MIDI TH to ON and this will enable MIDI Through on the pedal.

Set MIDI Through on TimeLine, BigSky, Mobius

MIDI and TimeLine, BigSky, and Mobius

With TimeLine, BigSky, and Mobius, MIDI can be used to control the presets and parameters of the pedal externally from a MIDI Controller or from another MIDI equipped Strymon pedal.  You would just need to make sure that the MIDI controller and the Strymon pedals are set to communicate on the same MIDI Channel.  MIDI Channel 1 is set as the default MIDI Channel on the Strymon pedals.  To change the MIDI Channel, go into the pedal’s GLOBLS menu by pressing and  holding the VALUE encoder button down for a few seconds.  Then, turn the VALUE encoder to the MIDI CH parameter and press VALUE once again.  Here you can select the MIDI Channel you would like to use to control the pedal through.  Once selected, you can exit this menu by pressing the VALUE encoder, then, the TYPE encoder buttons.

Set MIDI Channel on TimeLine, BigSky, Mobius

MIDI Program Change

MIDI Program Change by itself can provide access for up to 128 different presets by sending MIDI Program Change numbers 0-127.  This will correspond to the first 128 presets on TimeLine, BigSky, and Mobius.  The presets on these pedals all correspond to MIDI Program Change messages.  For example, on TimeLine and Mobius pedals:

  • Preset 00A = MIDI Program Change #0
  • Preset 00B = MIDI Program Change #1
  • Preset 01A = MIDI Program Change #2
  • Preset 01B = MIDI Program Change #3
  • etc…

On BigSky, each Bank has 3 presets (A, B, and C) instead of 2 (A and B) like TimeLine and Mobius.  Here is how the presets on BigSky correspond to MIDI Program Change messages:

  • Preset 00A = MIDI Program Change #0
  • Preset 00B = MIDI Program Change #1
  • Preset 00C = MIDI Program Change #2
  • Preset 01A = MIDI Program Change #3
  • etc…

As an example, you can program a switch or button on a MIDI controller to send MIDI Program Change #0 to a Strymon pedal and it will recall the first preset (00A) on the pedal.  Keep this in mind when programming the rest of the controls on your MIDI controller so that you can recall the presets that  you like using MIDI messages.  We will cover additional MIDI messages in a future blog post on using MIDI with our pedals.

Have any questions? Post them below! Need some help setting up MIDI with your Strymon rig? Send us an email at support@strymon.net and we’ll help you out.

About Hugo
Hugo Hugo is Strymon’s customer support manager and calm voice of reason. When his cats stop yelling at him for food, he spends his time driving through local canyon roads and running marathons. He also loves to noodle on guitar and play old Nintendo games.

46 Responses

  1. samuel says:

    hi i uploaded the latest firmware on the disaster area dpc5 and i cannot get the midi mode to control the bank up and bank down of the timeline. should i upgrade the firmware for the timeline too? Thanks.

    • Hugo says:

      @Samuel – Sorry to hear that you are having trouble after updating your DPC5 controller. Nothing has changed in terms of changing the presets or banks on our pedals with the latest firmware updates. Do you know what has changed from the previous firmware of your controller to this latest version? Is your controller programmed to bank up and down after the update? Please check this when you get the chance and let me know if you continue to have trouble by sending an email to support@strymon.net

  2. Rob H says:

    Just want to say that I love the fact that the TimeLine has MIDI In.

    lately I’ve added the TimeLine to my Ableton Live/MIDI setup. I use only outboard synths and fx, all triggered and synced from Ableton Live and processed through a small Mackie 1202-VLZ3 Mixer.

    I have clips running in Live to trigger Record and then Play on my TimeLine. On my Mackie Mixer I use the MUTE Aux Send 3/4 to send audio to the TimeLine inputs. Whatever synth(s) or drum machines I have ‘muted’ to the Aux 3/4 Outs can be looped in the TimeLine in a perfect four-bar loop, and it plays back in time as well.

    This setup is great for turning random synth noise/sounds into loops with a timed structure. Adding a TimeLine delay after the loop helps with turning random sounds into time-structured loops. I find the Filter Delay or Pattern Delay (stereo to the mixer for ping pong) work best.

  3. Kuba leciej says:

    I stoły dont know how to Access via midi banks in my mobius and timeline after 128 preset (129-200) i have g lab gsc 4 midi looper fully programmable and i cannot do this. can u explain and help.? i belive that half of the world of users have the same problem with this devices

    • Hugo says:

      @Kuba Ieciej – If your pedal is already in the first MIDI bank, you can just send MIDI Program Change messages to recall the first 128 presets. To access the next set of 128 presets, you would need to program your MIDI controller to send MIDI CC# 0 with a value of 1 along with the MIDI Program Change message to access a preset from the second MIDI Bank. At this point, any MIDI Program Change messages sent to the pedal will access presets in this second MIDI Bank. Your MIDI controller would need to have the ability to send this MIDI CC along with MIDI Program Change to access presets from other MIDI Banks. Make sure to check your MIDI controller’s documentation for information on how to set this up.

  4. roel says:

    i get as far as the midi cable setup but it never passes that.

    • Hugo says:

      @Roel – Sorry to hear that you are having trouble with the MIDI connection. Make sure that your MIDI cable connections are correct:  MIDI IN cable to MIDI OUT port and MIDI OUT cable to MIDI IN port UNLESS the cable ends tell you where to connect them (To MIDI IN and TO MIDI OUT, for example).

      This usually happens when using a that is not robust enough for the data communication with our pedals such as plug-and-play MIDI interfaces that do not use developed drivers and MIDI ports found on audio interfaces or MIDI controllers. We recommend dedicated MIDI interfaces with developed drivers such as the Roland UM-ONE or the Yamaha UX-16 which work reliably for us when set up correctly. If you continue to have trouble, please email us at support@strymon.net

  5. Brian Jenkins says:

    hey saw in this tutorial a short mention of using a strymon pedal(like a timeline) to control other midi strymons
    my question is how does that work an is there any complications with it? I’d like to avoid a seperate midi controller if can
    like my biggest question would be banking and tap tempo vs c preset clashing?

    • Hugo says:

      @Brian Jenkins – You can use our large Strymon pedals (BigSky, Mobius, and TimeLine) to send MIDI to the other larger Strymon pedals to sync their presets and send other MIDI commands. Just make sure all the pedals are set to the same MIDI Channel in the GLOBLS menu and turn ON MIDI PA for sending MIDI Program Change messages to change presets and MIDI CT for sending MIDI CC messages for other controls. With these settings, switching presets on the first pedal in the MIDI chain will send MIDI Program Change messages to change presets on the other Strymon pedals receiving this MIDI data. Also, pressing on the TAP switch of the first pedal of this MIDI chain will send CC# 81 to the other pedals which can control tap for the TimeLine and Mobius, but will also engage and disengage the C preset on the BigSky. There is no way for the pedals to ignore the MIDI data being sent to them unless the pedals are on a separate channel or you use a MIDI filtering device to block this MIDI CC message.

      Some things to keep in mind are that you should save your presets in the order you would like them recalled together starting with the first preset 00A on each of your pedals. Also, turning ON the MIDI CT parameter will cause the pedals to send MIDI CC messages for all of the controls that you adjust on the pedals which will affect the settings of the other pedals down the line. As this can lead to undesirable changes if you adjust your pedals during performance, we recommend setting MIDI CT to OFF.

  6. moussorange says:

    Hello, i have g-lab gsc-2 midi switcher and i still have not found how to program buttons to send ‘bank up’ and ‘bank down’ midi messages to the timeline
    Can you help me?
    Thanks

    • Hugo says:

      @moussorange – If you are using the GSC-2 MIDI switcher, you can use that to just recall the presets directly without having to bank up or down. Unless you plan on selecting the presets with the switches on the TimeLine itself, there is no need to bank up or down. To Bank Up or Down via MIDI, you would need to mimic the MIDI behavior of the onboard footswitches. You would need to send MIDI CC#’s 81+82 with values 0 then 127 at the same time to Bank up and CC#’s 80+82 with values 0 then 127 at the same time to bank down.

  7. Marten says:

    Hi,

    So if I have a midi controller sending a program change to my let’s say three Strymon pedals, Mobius, Timeline and BigSky. Will all of them change to the same preset? Or can I send a message saying 1 on Mobius, 2 on Timeline and 5 on BigSky?
    Or do I need to re-arrange the presets on the pedals so that when I send 1 all pedals change to preset 1? What if I want a preset with just the timeline and the other pedals bypassed?

    • Hugo says:

      @Marten – If all 3 pedals are set to the same MIDI Channel, then all three will respond by changing to the same preset in numerical order. If each pedal is set to a different MIDI Channel in the GLOBLS menu, you would need to send MIDI Program Change messages to each of these MIDI Channels to recall presets on each pedal separately. If all pedals are on the same MIDI Channel, it would be wise to save the presets in the order you would like them recalled with the presets of the other pedals. For a bypassed pedal, you can save a preset with the MIX parameter set to 0% to use this as a bypass preset. The Mobius Chorus effect has a MIX parameter in the PARAMS menu to use this way.

  8. Rick says:

    Hi – Just to clarify from the above post… there is no way to send a program change message which turns an effect (preset) on the Bigsky off? I use a MFC-101. I can get the program change message to send and activate a Bigsky preset, but clicking the footswitch again on the MFC-101 does not turn the effect off. Thanks for your feedback!

    • Hugo says:

      @Rick – Thanks for supporting Strymon! 🙂 For clarification, MIDI Program Change messages will only recall the presets on the pedal in either bypassed or engaged state depending on the bypass state before receiving this MIDI message. MIDI CC# 102 controls the BYPASS state of the pedal. You must send MIDI CC# 102 with a VALUE of 0 to bypass the effect and MIDI CC# 102 with a value of 127 to engage the effect. This can be done with a MIDI toggle switch sending CC# 102. Sending MIDI Program Change along will not act as a bypass control for the presets.

  9. Andy says:

    Hi – I have a Mobius and am using a MIDI foot controller (GLAB GSC3).

    I need to have patches whereby the Mobius is bypassed but if I bypass the effect and save it when the patch is recalled it automatically turns the effect on again.

    I was hoping that if I could store a patch bypassed it would be possible to then use the Mobius to activate the two patches associated with that MIDI channel.

    For instance on a clean setting it would be useful to hit the clean patch on the MIDI controller and then have say a Phaser or a Chorus pedal that could be activated directly from the Mobius to save having to bank through the patches on the MIDI controller.

    Is this possible or do I need to set the mix to zero for a bypassed sound and then have access to only one?

    Would it be possible to change this in the future with a firmware update as this would be a really useful feature?

    Cheers and Happy New Year !!

    Andy

  10. Thomas says:

    Hi,
    I use my Strymon Timeline a lot and it is very important in my pedal setup.

    Because I like to use it to make feedback and sounds, I very often sit down on the ground to work with the knobs. Sitting down during a gig is OK for a few times, but not if you have to do it every song.
    So, I want to put the Timeline on a key-stand to tweak the delay in an easier way.
    I’m a guitar player, so switching between channel A and B is much easier with my feet. A foot-controller would be the perfect solution for my problem.
    Unfortunately it is not, because I use an expression pedal (which is amazing). It means I miss an output for the foot-controller.

    Is there a solution for my problem? I thought maybe a simple MIDI controller works?
    Switching between Banks I can do with my hands (Per song I mostly use 2 presets). So I need to switch between A and B in a bank with a footcontroller. Can someone help me out?

    Thanks a lot!

    Thomas

    • Hugo says:

      @Thomas – Thanks for supporting Strymon! 🙂 You can use a MIDI controller that is programmed to send the Program Change messages that correspond to the presets you would like to use in your performances to change presets. As this would connect through the MIDI IN port of the TimeLine, you can continue using an expression pedal in the EXP input of the pedal to control other parameters.

  11. Andrea says:

    Hi, I have a timeline and I need to connet it with my midi program change. I’ve try to Connect it and working ,but what can I do if i want the same delay in more program ?for exemple: delay 00A on Programs change 1-2-4-6-24thanks
    Andrea

    • Hugo says:

      @Andrea – Thanks for supporting Strymon! 🙂 You would need to save this preset in different locations on your TimeLine. To copy a preset to a new location via MIDI, press and hold the TYPE encoder button on the TimeLine until the display shows ‘SAVE’, then, press the switch on your MIDI controller to send the MIDI Program Change message you would like to copy this preset to. It will then save this preset in the new location on the TimeLine that corresponds to the MIDI Program Change message you sent to the pedal.

  12. Kurt Buchanan says:

    can expression pedal changes be sent through midi? For example, big sky möbius and timeline are connected through midi and one expression pedal is changing the desired parameters on all three devices.

    • Hugo says:

      @Kurt Buchanan – Yes, MIDI CC# 100 corresponds to the expression pedal on all 3 of those pedals, so if you have MIDI CT in the GLOBLS menu set to ON, it will send this MIDI CC# 100 to the other pedals to control the parameter assigned to expression pedal on those other units. Just keep in mind that moving any knobs or additional parameters on the first pedal will also send MIDI CC# messages that correspond to those parameters to the other pedals in the MIDI chain.

  13. David says:

    Hi there

    I have a question, I own a timeline, I can connect a MIDI controller such as DMC3 (Disaster Area) to control banks, and connected to the input EXP Tap Tempo?.

    Thank you

    • Hugo says:

      @David – Thanks for supporting Strymon! 🙂 Yes you can use a MIDI Controller like the DMC with the TimeLine along with using a separate device like a tap switch to control TAP Tempo through the EXP input.

  14. Steve Mayhew says:

    When I send a PC to switch the TimeLine to switch to a patch it loads the patch and turns on the effect (Yeah! very nice). However it does not affect the bank the pedal thinks it last was in when you select bank mode (press and hold A+B or B+TAP).

    Also, it never sends the bank it is currently on in any Sysex or other message I can see (it does send the current patch, on power on or change).

    It would be nice if either:
    1) TL’s internal ‘current bank’ # would update when a program change set preset on
    2) TL reported it’s ‘current bank’ # and current patch when it was sent some Sysex message.

    Thanks,
    Midi control is awesome, and I’m sure you have lots of often conflicting requests to change it!

    • Hugo says:

      @Steve Mayhew – I am not clear on the behavior you described when sending the pedal a MIDI Program Change message. It is designed to respond by loading the preset that corresponds to the MIDI PC message it receives, and that is all. Can you please clarify exactly what you are trying to achieve here? If possible, please send an email to support@strymon.net.

  15. Zhenya says:

    I have Big Sky, Time Line and Mobius pedals. I want to switch ON and OFF them at the same time with Strymon Multi Switch. I was advised to do it through MIDI sockes and cables. I’ve done that. I can change banks and presents at the same time on all of them, BUT I CANT Switch ON and OFF at the same time. I can switch OFF and ON only one of them to which the external multi pedal connected. Its connected through EXP socket. What to do?

    • Hugo says:

      @Zhenya – With a MultiSwitch connected to one pedal like the TimeLine, and the TimeLine connected to the BigSky via the MIDI ports, you can change presets on both the TimeLine and BigSky by using the MultiSwitch through the TimeLine. However, there is no way to bypass or engage the presets with a MultiSwitch since a Bypass message is not sent from the pedals. The best workaround is to save ‘BYPASS’ presets on the TimeLine and BigSky where the MIX on these presets is set to 0% to remove the effect from the audio output. As the TimeLine and BigSky have an analog dry-signal pass-through, you can save these ‘BYPASS’ presets anywhere in your pedals’ memory when you need the effects bypassed.

  16. Aaron Grimwood says:

    Thanks for the article Strymon, I’m using a G2 to control my Big Sky presets, I was wondering if there was anyway to control the ‘hold’ (freeze) functions on the Big Sky remotely?

    • Hugo says:

      @Aaron Grimwood – Thanks for supporting Strymon! 🙂 The only way to do this would be by using an external MIDI controller (like your G2) with a latching switch programmed to send MIDI CC# 97 with values of 0=OFF and 127=ON to control the HOLD feature.

  17. Marco says:

    Hi, i have the timeline, big sky and mobius togheter.

    I would like to control them all with my MIDI pedalboard in this way :

    MIDI program change 1 : bank 01A (all 3 pedals)
    MIDI program change 2 : bank 02A (all 3 pedals)
    MIDI program change 3 : bank 03A (all 3 pedals)

    and so on….

    What i have to do?
    Thx

    • Hugo says:

      @Marco – There is no way to have all 3 pedals on the same bank and preset together since the BigSky has 3 presets per bank (A,B, and C) and the TimeLine and Mobius have 2 presets per bank (A and B). The TimeLine and Mobius will sync up in the manner that you like, but not the BigSky.

      • Marco says:

        Ok. How i can sync up the Timeline and Mobius in the manner i like?

        For example i would like to sync up like this :

        MIDI program change 1 : bank 6A (Timeline / Mobius)
        MIDI program change 2 : bank 10B (Timeline / Mobius)
        MIDI program change 3 : bank 15A (Timeline / Mobius)

        • Hugo says:

          @Marco – Unfortunately, there is no way for the pedals to be synced up together to recall these specific presets together. You would either need to send the specific MIDI Program Change messages for each of these presets on a separate MIDI channel for each pedal, or save the presets in the banks and preset numbers that DO sync up together when recalled with a single MIDI Program Change message (MIDI Program Change #2 will recall presets 01A on TimeLine and Mobius, and 00C on the BigSky, for example).

  18. Hi,

    I love the strymon products, own the BigSky, Mobius and Timeline.

    I was wondering if Strymon will support 14bit midi in the future to allow for more precise controle over midi?

    And I’d love to see your take on pitch shifting!

    Best regards,
    Leon

    • Hugo says:

      @Leon Kleikers – The current generation of Strymon pedals, will continue with the current MIDI control they have, but I cannot speak for products we choose to release in the future. Thanks for the feedback!

  19. In says:

    I use TIMELINE and MOBIUS
    My MIDI controller doesn’t support CC value, so it doesn’t on/off.

    In order to turn off timeline, I set MIX knob to 0(zero).

    However, MOBIUS applies effector even if the depth value is 0(zero)

    I set tremolo value at 0 (zero) to workaround this problem, however I feel still there is some effect on tone.

    Please let me know how to turn completely off the effector while I turn on the MOBIUS effector itself on.

    • Hugo says:

      @In – A better way to achieve a bypass sound from the Mobius without actually bypassing the effect with MIDI or the on-board switches would be to set the switch on the back of the pedal to PRE/POST and use only the LEFT INPUT and LEFT OUTPUT connections for a MONO signal path. In this setup, if you set the PRE/POST parameter in the PARAMS menu of each preset to POST, you will only hear a (buffered) bypassed sound. You can save you presets with this setting and connection setup for a bypassed setting on the Mobius. And for the presets you would like to have active, set the PRE/POST parameter to PRE and the effect will be heard on the presets saved this way.

  20. Goran Racic says:

    Hi there,

    I have following MIDI chain
    VoodooLab Commander -> Mobius -> Timeline -> BigSky

    It switches devices as expected. I also noticed that I can tap tempo into Mobius and it will set the same tempo in Timeline which is really nice feature. Unfortunately tapping tempo in Mobius always activates BigSky’s preset C in any bank am at the moment. Is there are way not to pass tempo changes to BigSky and pass only midi information from VoodooLab Commander? Hope this question makes are sense.

    Cheers
    Goran

    • Goran Racic says:

      Sorry guys, left wrong email last time. Here’s the email again.

    • Hugo says:

      @Goran Racic – This behavior sounds like you are sending MIDI CC’s that correspond to the footswitches of the pedals (MIDI CC# 81) instead of just sending a REMOTE TAP message (MIDI CC# 93). The BigSky will still correspond to this MIDI CC# 93 which will control its PRE-DELAY time, however, it will no longer engage the C preset. Another option would be to set each pedal to its own MIDI Channel and send MIDI Messages to each pedal on its own channel so that it does not affect the other pedals. If you have further questions, please email us directly to support@strymon.net

  21. Ross says:

    Is it possible for the multi switcher to control the timeline and send midi signals for preset up and preset down to the big sky from the timeline without the tap button on the external foot switch effecting the big sky? Ie I would have the multi switcher setup to do preset up and down and tap in the middle.

    Or would I have to use a proper midi controller to have an external tap?

  22. Tato says:

    Hi there,
    It’s possible to use a wireless MIDI interface like Quicco m.1?
    Cheers
    Tato

    • Hugo says:

      @Tato – Unfortunately we do not recommend a wireless MIDI interface like the Quicco as the MIDI ports do not provide enough voltage to power these devices from the MIDI ports. We have a Quicco m.1 here that we tested and does not work reliably with our products.

  23. Houston Blancett says:

    Great article! I love your products. I currently have the Mobius, Big Sky and Timeline. I have Mobius midi out to Big Sky midi in, to midi out to Timeline midi in. If I use the tap button on the Timeline to set tempo, it does not affect any of the presets at all. However, if I unplug the midi in cable from the Big Sky, Timeline tap tempo works perfectly fine. I also eliminated the Big Sky and came from the Mobius to the Timeline via midi and had the same issue. The same problem occurs when I am using a Boss ES-8 to control midi messages and tap tempo to these units.

    • Hugo says:

      @Houston Blancett – Sorry to hear that you are having trouble with the TimeLine tap tempo in this setup. The Mobius and BigSky do not have the ability to send any messages to impede the on-board TAP TEMPO of the TimeLine. Is the TimeLine receiving MIDI clock from the ES-8 through these pedals when you experience this behavior? Please send us an email to support@strymon.net with further details on how you experience this behavior with the TimeLine when connected via MIDI.

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