Classical Organs need to play dozens of presets at once

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Posts: 9
Joined: July 18, 2014 - 09:46
Classical Organs need to play dozens of presets at once

A classical organ can have 50 or more ranks of pipes [known as 'stops'],  each contained in one sf2 preset [voice or instrument]

The Midi protocol restricts the number of simultaneously playable presets to 16, one in each midi 'channel'

Is there already a simple way to overcome this limitation via any API for user software ?

Currently my software has to share the 16 channels between the keyboards, so a keyboard is lucky if it can play say 5 stops at a time.

I've heard that some hardware synths offer 2 Midi IDs to the programmer, thus doubling the number of usable midi channels.

Any help appreciated - !

Bill S-B

Posts: 9
Joined: July 18, 2014 - 09:46
Re: Classical Organs need to play dozens of presets at once

Further to the above, I now hear that the BASS library allows up to 128 channels to be setup and played at once.

Of course the calls are to their own DLL, and  are not bit/byte-packed like the hardware midi format which only allows 4 bits for channel selection.

Could VirtualMIDISynth offer access via the same subroutine calls? 

 

Bill S-B

Posts: 1687
Joined: March 25, 2012 - 01:19
Re: Classical Organs need to play dozens of presets at once

Sadly Windows MIDI functions strictly follow the MIDI standard, so there's no (supported) way for any MIDI software to access more than 16 channels.

MIDI data is moved through Windows Multimedia layer within a WORD (2 bytes = 16 bits) but only the lower byte is significant: the HIGH nibble (4 bits) is the channel and the LOW nibble represents the message (NOTE ON, NOTE OFF, ...).

From the virtual device driver point of view there's no way to access more than 16 channels... other than using more than one device.
VMS 1.x is limited to a single virtual device, but VMS 2.x will have up to 4 devices, each one with its own soundfont configuration.
VMS 2.x is actually in alpha stage, but it's almost feature complete and stable to be safely tested.

This way you could reach a total of 64 channels, splitted over 4 devices.
Well, it's not like the 128 limit of BASS, I agree, but it's a x4 step forward ;)

Posts: 9
Joined: July 18, 2014 - 09:46
Re: Classical Organs need to play dozens of presets at once

Thanks - that sounds great.  64 is a pretty good number and most CPUs will be quite busy when big chords are played on 64 simultaneous presets!

Bill S-B

Posts: 1687
Joined: March 25, 2012 - 01:19
Re: Classical Organs need to play dozens of presets at once

Some user is successfully playing more than one Black MIDI track together, so it should only be a matter of CPU power ;)
Anyway having 64 channels in a single device or 64 splitted over 4 devices should not differ so much for the CPU.

Feel free to report your thoughts here or in VMS 2.x alpha thread.