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Interfacing the Axe-Fx II + RJM MM/GT + SetListMaker/BandHelper + phantom power

yek

Legend!
Copy of a post I've written on the RJM forum:


Controlling the Axe-Fx II with RJM MM/GT + SetListMaker/BandHelper + phantom power

The popularity of iPad/Android apps such as SetListMaker or BandHelper (the advanced version of SetListMaker) seems be increasing. These apps are very handy to display song lyrics, chords, notes etc.

Taking it a step further is to automate song/preset switching. This means that the app will change songs automatically when switching presets on the controller. And vice versa: selecting a different song in the app will change presets on the Axe-Fx (and controller).

The first (app is slave; controller/Axe-Fx is master) is the easiest to accomplish. Use MIDI Thru on the Axe-Fx and a Midi/USB-interface to pass through MIDI Program Changes to the iPad.

The latter (both ends are slave/master) poses a challenge. This requires connecting all devices and enabling MIDI in both directions. The Axe-Fx II however provides only a single MIDI IN port. I’ve solved this issue, maintaining all functionality. I’ll describe the connections and required stuff below.

It requires:

- Axe-Fx II
- RJM GT/MM and its power supply
- RJM phantom power box
- iPad
- SetListMaker or BandHelper app for iOS
- MIDI Merger box
- Apple Lightning-to-USB cable
- 7-pins MIDI cable
- a bunch of 5-pin MIDI cables

Connection: Axe-Fx MIDI Out >> (5-pin MIDI) >> RJM MIDI In

You can’t use bidirectional MIDI between Axe-Fx and RJM, because both the RJM and the iPad need access to the MIDI In port on the Axe-Fx. So you need to use separate MIDI In and MIDI Out connections.
This is MIDI Out from the Axe-Fx to the RJM.

Connection: Axe-Fx MIDI IN >> (5-pin MIDI) >> MIDI Merger MIDI Out

A MIDI Merger is required to let the Axe-Fx handle multiple incoming MIDI signals. I use MIDI Solutions’s MIDI Merger, but there are cheaper alternatives. It's in my rack. The MIDI merger draws power from the MIDI connection.
This cable connects the merger’s output to the MIDI In port on the Axe-Fx.

Connection: Axe-Fx MIDI Thru >> (fixed MIDI cable) >> UM-One MIDI

The Axe-Fx’s USB port doesn’t provide host USB capability. A separate MIDI-to-USB interface is required, such as Roland’s UM-One. I used IK Multimedia iRig MIDI 2 previously but its connectors are flimsy. The UM-One is simple, reliable and cheap. It’s in my rack. The UM-One draws power from the MIDI/USB connection.
Connect MIDI Thru on the Axe-Fx to the UM-One. This passes through MIDI PCs from the controller to the iPad.

Connection: UM-One USB >> Apple Lightning-to-USB >> iPad

The UM-One must be connected to the iPad. This requires the use of Apple’s Lightning-to-USB cable/adapter.

Connection: UM-One MIDI >> (fixed MIDI cable) >> MIDI Merger MIDI In

This cable connects the UM-One to one of the MIDI Merger’s inputs.

Connection: RJM MIDI Out >> (7-pin MIDI) >> RJM phantom power box

You can use a 5-pin MIDI cable to connect the RJM to the MIDI Merger. But if you want to use phantom power, you’ll need RJM’s separate phantom power box and a 7-pin MIDI cable. The phantom power box is in my rack and powered by the RJM’s power supply. Do NOT connect the RJM’s power supply to the phantom power input on the Axe-Fx itself!

Connection: RJM phantom power box MIDI >> (5-pin MIDI) >> MIDI Merger MIDI In

This connects the phantom power box to the MIDI Merger.

Configuring the RJM MM/GT:

Not much to configure. Bidirectional MIDI, MIDI Merge and MIDI Receive Channel are disabled in the MIDI settings, to prevent loops.

Configuring the Axe-Fx II:

Not needed.

Configuring the iPad app:

The app handles outgoing MIDI differently from incoming MIDI.

No need to set up a MIDI device in "Repertoire > MIDI Devices".

Verify that Port and Channels are set to "All" in "Settings > Remote Control > MIDI".

Also in that menu: assign "MIDI Program Number" to "Program Change".

To make it recognize incoming MIDI Program Changes and switch songs, you need to add a MIDI Program Number to each song. MSB is the bank number ("0" = 0-127, "1" = 128-256" etc.), LSB stays at "0", and program is the preset number (Program Change) within the bank. Don't use preceding zeros.

Now let’s configure it to send outgoing MIDI data when switching songs in the app. For this you need to create "MIDI presets" IN "Repertoire > MIDI Presets". Create one for each song, and fill in the data as described above, in Channel 1. No need to add raw MIDI data. Now attach each MIDI preset to the appropriate song by editing the songs.
You have the option to send this MIDI data automatically upon selecting a song in the app. But on my system this can result in a MIDI loop. Better to keep this disabled in "Repertoire > Layout > my layout > Edit Details > Send MIDI". I've added a MIDI button to my layout, which will send the MIDI data upon pressing.

So, yeah, it does take a lot of tools and configuring, but this setup fully automates song switching in both ways. and it's worth it for me, because I play in multiple bands and have to know a lot of songs.

The setup is more simple if you only want the iPad to sync when changing presets on your RJM, not the other way around. In that case a single bidirectional 7-pin MIDI cable between RJM and Axe-Fx and a MIDI/USB interface suffice.

If you don’t use phantom power, there’s no need to use the phantom power box and a 7-pin MIDI cable.

A MIDI merger would also not be required when connecting the UM-One to the RJM’s MIDI In. In my case that’s not a handy configuration.

You can also try to create a wireless connection between Axe-Fx and iPad. I've tried Yamaha's MD-BT101, but the short MIDI cable is an obstacle and essential bytes were lost during transmitting when I tested it, so I can't recommend it.
 
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Toopy14

Fractal Fanatic
Great information by @yek.

Here's a link I've started on this very topic;

https://forum.fractalaudio.com/thre...ger-preset-scene-changes-w-bandhelper.125461/

If you have never had a look at Bandhelper/Setlist Maker, you should really have a look at it. For a single user, it's only $10 per year. There's a 30 day trial and if you sign-up before the 30 days are up, the remaining days are added to the 1 year membership. I signed up within a few days using it. The support is fantastic as well.

I've since pulled my GCPro and have completely automated my entire rack, which consists of the Axe-Fx II (of course) a Korg A3, SDD-3000 preamp, SDD-3000 pedal, CS-2, Dynacomp, SD-1, TS-9, OD-2 and GCX switcher, all controlled by an iPad Mini 4 and Bandhelper/Setlist Maker! I use a Roland MM-4 MIDI Thru box to connect all my MIDI devices.

The iPad Mini 4, with the help of Bandhelper/Setlist Maker, uses automation tracks to automatically select what ever gear I would like for a song, play a backing track and scroll the lyrics, which can also be projected to other wireless devices. All I have to do is play the guitar!

I've also posted information on how to interpret MIDI PC and CC messages so you can use them to control presets, the GCX, controller, scenes, you name it. I'll be posting more as I progress through my automation project. Just waiting for my Yamaha MD-BT01, which is on back order, so I can connect my Mini 4 using Bluetooth.
 
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yek

Legend!
My MD-BT101 (firmware 1.03) looses bytes and doesn't handle process incoming data reliable.
 

yek

Legend!
Simple setup to test: straight into MIDI IN / OUT on rear of Axe-Fx, so minimum distance.

Send is okay. But incoming MIDI messages (thru the MD) are incomplete / invalid.
 

yek

Legend!
Changing songs in BandHelper will switch presets on Axe-Fx, but not the other way around.

Note that switching presets on the Axe-Fx using the encoder wheel does not send out Program Changes, but sysex.
The app needs to understand and interpret that sysex (like FracPad) does.
That's why I've configured my system to make BandHelper listen to incoming MIDI data from MIDI THRU, not MIDI OUT.

But somehow the MD messes up the data and will not switch songs accordingly.
 

Callan

Experienced
Thanks @yek. I'm going to give BandHelper -> AX8 a trial tonight, with the intention of using it at a gig this Friday.
I'm hoping to use MIDI over Wi-Fi to my Mac, which will then plug into the AX8 directly, at least for my POC.
Much simpler than your setup, but I need to start somewhere :)
 
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Callan

Experienced
I wish I knew this was possible a year ago -This integration is awesome!
Thanks again for the post, looks like I'll be using bandhelper this weekend :)
 

Toopy14

Fractal Fanatic
I wish I knew this was possible a year ago -This integration is awesome!
Thanks again for the post, looks like I'll be using bandhelper this weekend :)

I've been using BH with my iPad Mini to control my gear via Bluetooth, ever since my post in April. I've since sold my GCPro.
 
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zionplayer

Inspired
OK - Bandhelper newbie here, but I am completely sold as well. Set it up with all my songs and data for the cover band (95 songs so far), then decided to try and learn some midi and got it working somehow with my DMX lighting program, so that a song change also sends midi change to light scene. Just 2 days ago decided that was so cool, I want to get my Axe FX II in on this as well.

Now a song change in Bandhelper auto sends midi to change my lighting scene, and midi to change my Axe FX to the proper patch AND then proper scene if needed. Not band for 20 days into it, considering no understanding of midi at all to begin with.

Next is getting our keyboard player set up with both keyboards changing automatically by song choice, and we will be crusin. Awesome program and support, and $25 / year for my 5 piece band is worth every penny.
 
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