If 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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 [email protected] and we’ll help you out.