Using Multitimbral Synths in P5

P5 was originally designed around the idea of one track one synth which closes the door on the traditional way of using using multiple MIDI tracks to drive multiple channels and different sounds in a single instance of a multitimbral synth, but there are ways around this limit. P5 V2 added a feature called track lanes that overcomes this limitation, but there are ways to overcome it by using MIDI routers or Virtual MIDI Cables in older versions of P5.

P5 2.x: Using Track Layers to Play Multitimbral Synths

P5 V2 introduced the cool "Lanes" feature where a single track has "lanes" within it that function like sub-tracks, or tracks within a track. It is a group that shares the same instrument, but each lane can have its own MIDI channel and MIDI data sent to the instrument.

  1. Create a new instrument with your favorite multitrimbral DXi loaded in it.
  2. Right-click on your track/synth and select Create Layer. Do this twice more for four channels (the main Track 1 plus Track Layers 1.1, 1.2. and 1.3).
  3. Click on each track and layer, and change the Send To in the Track Inspector (for each layer) from None to [MIDI] Chan 1-4 or whatever, up to Chan 16.

This will get you four layers; each on a different MIDI channel. Add more layers if desired. Each layer has its own MIDI data to be sent to the shared synth of the parent/owning track.

P5 1.x: Virtual MIDI Routing to Play Multitimbral Synths

We've been telling each other that the only way to use a single instance of a multitimbral synth in Project5 1.0/1.5 is to layer all of our patterns on the track that holds the synth and set each pattern to a different MIDI channel. It works but its ugly.

Well, there IS another way.

This tip requires two additional pieces of software which are freely available: the RGC MIDIOut DXi Plugin, and the MIDI Yoke.

Instructions:

  1. Install both the additinal software programs (MIDI Yoke and MIDIOut).
  2. Launch a P5 project.
  3. Insert a new track using a multitimbral instrumnet--say the DS864 for example.
  4. Create a synth configuration (DS864 program that has up to 8 layers) that has multiple layers or channels. Load a different patch into each layer or element and force the MIDI channel to be the same as the layer number. This creates an multitimbral instance.
  5. Right-click on the track name and select the "MIDI Yoke NT Port 1" with "Omni".
  6. Insert a new track using the MIDIOut DXi plugin.
  7. Right-click on the new track name and select either "No Ports" or select your hardware MIDI input port.
  8. With the MIDIOut track selected click on the "MIDIOut" icon in the SynOps view panel and select the "MIDI Yoke NT Port 1".
  9. Repeat setting up tracks until you have all the tracks you need.

Basically, this allows you to use a virtual MIDI router to pipe the MIDIOutput DXi on each track to the multitimbral synths MIDI inputs. I tested this with 1 DS864 track and 4 MIDIOut tracks. The DS864 track did not have any patterns in it.

The only issue I encountered was some type of MIDI Note-On/Off event was being sent to channel 1 every time I hit play and I don't know from whence it came. Be very careful about selecting the correct flow of MIDI inputs to outputs on the various tracks or you could get some nasty MIDI feedback loops going.

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