February 26, 2006

MidiNES maxi-review...

by Chris Randall
 



Okay, so I've been fighting this incredible head-cold for like 3 weeks now. My sister brought me some bad-ass Belgian strain of sinus trouble when she came to visit, and I just can't shake this shit. So, knowing when to say when, I went to the grocery store and put up with the "are you sure you're not a meth dealer?" questions to buy some serious sinus shit. (For those of you that don't live in America, you can't buy anything with ephedrine in it off the rack any more, part of the War On Meth, which is entering its 20th year or so.)


The net result of this serious sinus shit, and my ingestion thereof, was that I was up 'til 3 in the morning, bouncing off the fucking walls. Which leads me to the following: the above screencap is of my now-completed Nuendo/Cubase MIDI device map for the Wayfar MidiNES cartridge. It allows full control over every parameter from one window. (On a side note, the program that Steinberg provides to make these things is really fucking lame.) If you own a MidiNES, you might want this, so here you go. Drop the XML file in /program files/Steinberg/Nuendo 3/Device Maps/ (or Cubase SX or whatever) and load that bitch up.


In use, the cartridge itself is actually rather limited. The triangle wave can't be edited at all, and the envelope features of the pulse waves are counter-intuitive to people used to normal subtractive programming. And, of course, the sounds it is capable of making in any case are chippy, so there's that to consider. But that said, this unit is still fun as hell, and quite useful. Once I rack it up, I'll be using it often for my Scanalyzer and Micronaut projects.


I whipped up a little demo that doesn't sound like the hell-for-leather chipfest stuff that is on the .:wayfar:. site. You can grab the MP3 here. This track has all five channels of the MidiNES playing, recorded in one pass. The triangle channel is doing the bass. The hi-hat is the noise channel, and the kick and snare are from the built-in samples on the sample channel. The melody and rhythm part are the two pulse channels. (And boy, does this shit rock or what? Sorry, Herbie.)


I squished the result with Waves RComp, and added a touch of Princeton 'verb (because audio without reverb is like cornflakes without milk), but otherwise it's straight MidiNES. You can plainly hear the noise that is omnipresent in the beginning. If you multi-tracked all five channels, this would have to be dealt with, either with gates or some noise-killing plug, as it would quickly build up in to a chorus of hell-spawned whistling.


So the verdict? Fun as fuck. Can you live without it? Sure, but why would you want to? $89 for the cart and like $5 for an NES, and you've got a chip-tastic synth that really doesn't sound like anything else, and has quite a bit of depth. That's a bargain by anyone's standards.


Now, to rack-mount it.

 
 
 

10 comments:

 
 

 
Feb.26.2006 @ 1:16 PM
okpokp
seems i heard somewhere that the midi is really unreliable, lots of missed notes / etc, esp when playing fast. has that been your experience?
 
 

 
Feb.26.2006 @ 1:38 PM
Chris Randall
Well, it is last-note priority, and if you play a note, then legato another note, then release that second note, it doesn't flip the first one back on. That's a little bit annoying, but can be dealt with.

Another thing that might cause some consternation is the low resolution of the velocity. At the curve I find comfortable for playing, anything below mp or so (let's go ahead and say a velocity of 60 is mp and leave it at that) is not necessarily gonna play. So I had to do some editing to get my mp notes up to the mf neck of the woods.

But other than that, I had no problems. It's worth noting that I have no interest in 190-bpm blipcore fiestas, so I'm never gonna push this thing that hard. Other than having to alter my legato style a little bit, and whacking the keys a bit harder, it's certainly playable. Also, it's unlikely I'll ever use all five channels at once again. I'll be using it to accent my normal pallette, not replace it. ;-)

-CR

 
 

 
Mar.02.2006 @ 9:55 PM
herrprof
Sure you can rack it, but whatabout the custom gameboy drawer

link [myspace-553.vo]">link [myspace-553.vo.wd.ne...]

 
 

 
May.13.2006 @ 11:23 AM
brandon daniel
After finally getting a working NES for my midiNES, I noticed something about this (not that you care now that you've sold yours, or that it's really that big of a deal, but...): Your graphic switches turn over at non-zero CC values, whereas midi spec and the midiNES turn over their sound switches at 64/65ish.
 
 

 
Jun.17.2006 @ 11:26 AM
nairb
can i use your device map download with protools using a mac (i have a vst to rtas converter if that helps) thanks alot
 
 

 
Sep.15.2006 @ 10:41 AM
Xmuzik
cool
 
 

 
May.02.2007 @ 9:31 PM
nairb
I love the midines, its extremely fun and nostalgic. Is it possible to run your device map on a mac, running DP5, Logic, or ProTools? Thanks alot!
 
 

 
Oct.08.2007 @ 11:15 PM
picklehammer
I think the Cubase device map is a broken link which is upsetting because I really want to use it. I hope you keep checking this page and can make sure the file is still up. Thanks.
 
 

 
Jan.07.2008 @ 1:40 PM
circuitben
yep, think this might be broken, help! help!
 
 

 
Apr.01.2009 @ 11:31 AM
ipatch
Any chance I could nab this? The link is broken.
 
 

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