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MIDI Thru Box with an uncommonly large number of thru ports



UK-based manufacturer Kenton makes a variety of handy MIDI utility and sync boxes designed to make your life easier on stage and in the studio. One of the most enduring MIDI problem solvers is a thru box. Unlike audio signals, MIDI signals can't be split with a simple Y cable. MIDI thru boxes act somewhat similar to a Y, taking a single MIDI output and routing it to multiple thru port jacks - essentially cloning the MIDI input signal and routing identical copies of it to multiple outputs. Most MIDI thru boxes typically offer four or maybe five thru jacks, but today we're going to take a look at a unit with a whopping 25 of them - the Kenton Thru-25 MIDI thru box.



What You Need To Know

  • The Kenton Thru-25 is exactly what its name suggests - a MIDI thru box with a staggering 25 thru ports. It's housed in an attractive brushed aluminum case with easy to read black silkscreening for the labeling. Considering the large number of thru ports this unit has, it's remarkably compact and measures a mere 11.81" W x 2.126" D x 1.278" H and weighs 13.4 ounces, not counting the included "wall wart" power supply.

  • The Kenton Thru-25 has a single MIDI input on a standard 5-pin DIN jack. The input jack is opto-coupled for isolation. A green LED indicator near the power jack illuminates when power is supplied to the unit, and also serves double duty as a MIDI data indicator by flashing whenever MIDI messages are received at the MIDI input jack.

  • There are a total of 25 MIDI Thru jacks, also on standard 5-pin DIN jacks. Each individual Thru jack has its own separate drive circuit to help optimize their performance. The Thru-25 uses Schmitt trigger logic for signal quality restoration.

  • All MIDI messages present at the Input are passed directly to the Thru jacks, including MIDI Clock, System Exclusive messages, MIDI Time Code, Note On and Note Off, velocity, aftertouch, MIDI CC data - literally everything that hits the input is passed through the unit and on to the 25 MIDI thru jacks.

  • Latency is exceptionally low - Kenton rates it at less than one microsecond. Of course, MIDI is still a serial interface, and commands are sent down the line one after the other, even for "simultaneous" events, and you still have the response time latency of the connected devices, which will typically add 2-6ms of delay, but the thru box itself isn't going to add any significant delay to your rig.

  • Kenton supplies the appropriate power adapter with the unit for the country it is shipped to. UK, EU, US and Australian power supply types are available. The supply is a 9V DC unit, and while it uses a 2.1mm plug that is similar to pedalboard and effects power supplies, don't try using one with it; the plug polarity is center positive, which is the opposite of what most effects use. Power draw is rated at 150mA.
  • The Kenton Thru-25 has a 12 month warranty, but you'll need to cover the cost of return shipping the unit back to Kenton Electronics in the UK for the repair or replacement.


Limitations

  • There is no routing flexibility, MIDI merge or filtering - all outputs will mirror everything that is present at the MIDI input. It's not a MIDI patch bay, filter, merger or programmable router - just a thru box with an unusually large number of thru ports.

  • The manual cautions you not to exceed 12V DC (regulated) at the power jack. Unregulated power supplies of more than 9V DC should not be used. Since an appropriate supply is provided with the unit, this will not be an issue for users as long as they stick to using the included power source.



Conclusions

Need to send the data from a single MIDI output to a variety of different destinations? The Kenton Thru-25 was built for exactly this purpose. Whether it's routing the single MIDI output from your computer to all of your rackmount synths and effects processors, or trying to achieve the ultimate "fat" synth tone by stacking 25 MIDI synths so they can all be played by a single MIDI controller, the Thru-25 can handle it with no problems. Of course, not every situation requires this many thru ports, and for a lot of users, this box is going to be overkill. For them, the Kenton Thru-5 may be a better option; at about $69.09 at current conversion rates, it's certainly a less expensive one. Still, for those who do need to send their MIDI signals to a lot of places simultaneously, the Thru-25 is a solid solution and one that works exactly as advertised.


Resources

Kenton Thru-25 1 in / 25 out MIDI Thru box (£128.92 ex VAT; about $197.93 at current conversion rates at the time of this writing. Available direct from Kenton.)


Kenton's product web page


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Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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