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Daniele Spadavecchia

Ways around Alesis MMT-8 small memory?

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I love the simplicity of Alesis MMT-8! I would love to run an entire solo show with it as a sequencer controlling a couple of multitimbral midi synths and a digital piano.

I only want simple function machines on stage, no computers.

 

You can save up to 99 songs on it, but I am not sure if its 9,000 to 11,000 notes memory will be enough.

 

So what ways do I have to have external memory that it is easy and fast to load?

 

Originally you could do dump and load Sysex files on external Alesis Data Disk, or tape out/in. I read of somebody using tape out/in with an mp3 player these days, but know nothing about it specifically.

 

Any experiences and opinions with any of these?biggrin.png

Edited by Daniele Spadavecchia

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Hey, someone else who still uses an MMT-8! I use mine just to send program & patch changes to my keys when playing live. It's a lot faster than using the keyboards' built-in methods.

 

Because of the way I use it, I haven't run into any memory shortage, but I would imagine that an MP3 player would work, as long as the data is saved as uncompressed (e. g., .wav) files. Compressed files like MP3s would almost certainly destroy the data.

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I guess makes that four of us! If you have/get a Data Disk and it has the upgrade eprom in it, you can create your sequences on the MMT-8, play them as songs into the Data Disk and then play them directly out of the Data Disk from the disc using it as a MIDI player to your equipment. No load times and reliable... Unless some idiot trips on the power cable.

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Thanks guys!

 

I don't have the Alesis Data Disk. So you suggest it is worth and plays the songs without the need to load them. Can I do the eprom update myself or how do I know it is updated and how many songs will fit in a disk?

 

Tonight, I will try to record a song with the tape out onto a digital recorder.

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Thanks guys!

 

I don't have the Alesis Data Disk. So you suggest it is worth and plays the songs without the need to load them. Can I do the eprom update myself or how do I know it is updated and how many songs will fit in a disk?

 

Tonight, I will try to record a song with the tape out onto a digital recorder.

 

?

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Like the MMT-8, the Datadisk is an old machine, so as with anything that age proceed at your own risk. You are looking for Version 2.00 SQ or higher, I believe. It's been a long time. The upgrade was easily done by anyone vaguely familiar with electronics and the proper tools. I think the power up screen for the newer version eprom has the "SQ" displayed. The newer version allows you not only to store Sys Ex data, but also record and play full MIDI sequences directly from the disk. Keep in mind that the SysEx files and MIDI files are two completely different formats and not interchangeable. The tape in/out on the MMT-8 was very painfully slow and horribly unreliable for data storage, but until the Datadisk came out, it was the only option. I remember spending the entire 15 minute break at my keyboards trying multiple several times to get it to load the next set. I honestly don't know if a digital recorder will work or not. Rather than working with a continuous linear data stream, I think it may store it in packets, which the MMT-8 may not like when it comes to load data back in. In any case, it will be just as slow and tedious as using tapes was/is. Ebay has the Datadisks for around $100 and theres and SQ on there for $40 and shipping right now. Better more modern ways to do it, but if you want to stay with OEM, the Datadisk is still pretty handy.

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I am sold on the Data Disk! The idea of going back to tape data loading time doesn't excite me at all... I used to do it when I had a Commodore 64 computer and it would take about 10 to 20 minutes to load a program from tape memory, and 20% of times it would fail and I had to start over!

I just found a SQ data disk on eBay for $75 and jumped on it.

 

Can I use any generic 3'5" floppy disk? I have a bunch of them in the attic...

 

By the way, last night it was too late anyhow so I didn't end up saving my experiment on digital recorder through tape out.

I only created a 4 track part with drums, bass, ep,, and organ sounds: it was fun, fast and spontaneous, just the opposite of writing and arranging music with DAW. Do you feel the same?

 

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I was sequencing 80's/90's pop music. While not as repetitious as an 8 bar rap loop, like most music it had a predictable intro, verse, chorus, bridge and outro. By doing each of those in the part mode, I could sting them together in the song mode and do extended version if needed. You can even mute tracks that weren't in some of the choruses in song mode. I got really good at micro editing on it as well. That was really handy for taming the one wrong note or the note that needed to be a little louder, without re-tracking the whole part. I've written songs on it that I have never played altogether, because once the parts were done, they were put together into a song and played from the sequencer. The only thing I wanted that it didn't have was tempo mapping, but you either do without or sequence the click track with the tempo changes.

 

Just curious; I keep mine because, well, I already have it from two decades ago. Why are you going this route rather than going with a current software version with a lot more versatility and options?

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I appreciated your help and suggestions.

I bought mine almost a year ago when I was learning synth, as I wanted to learn to make some 80's electronic music.

On one of my synths -the Korg Radias- there is a sequencer but it is step based and hated it because I am a musician and not a programmer. After a little research, I read a lot of happy users and bought one. When I started using it to learn some songs I was after, I discovered how easy and musician oriented it is.

Then I started writing prog rock music and thought to use it because of its simplicity. On the other hand, I use Logic Pro 9 and hate to set up midi hardware for external devices. On the MMT-8 I just plug and play/record!

Also using virtual instruments is OK when I compose, but their sound is dull to my ear and the virtual instruments drag too many resources slowing the system down for live activity.

Finally, I love the idea "one object, one function". Computers are too many things at once, which is very distractive to me and too virtual, as they don't look and feel like musical instruments in my hands.

Edited by Daniele Spadavecchia

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Actually, that why I got all those years ago. It was so "tape like" in its functionality, but so easily manipulated with the ability to edit, punch in and out and merge MIDI tracks down.

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I happen to have one of these on my workbench right now. I am upgrading the RAM in it for a friend. When finished, you will be able to select which memory bank you want use by turning a jog wheel and changing a the output of a 7-segment LED, and it will have 16 banks.

 

If you have a friend who is VERY good with digital electronics, I would be willing to share schematics when I am done.

 

Wes

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Don't forget to clean those PITA button membranes and contact surfaces while you're in there! I've been severely pissed at those buttons at times. I'd be interested in seeing those schematics when you're done. Do you have to reboot when you switch banks?

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The Data Disk SQ just arrived and I just started formatting a bunch of colorful old 3'5" disks from the attic and so far it has been very easy! Next few days, I will start recording with it... looking forward to it!

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trevcda - I'll post schematics in this forum when I'm finished.

 

I don't expect to have to reboot when switching banks, but you'll have to have the MMT in a quiescent state when doing so. I am undecided right now whether or not to build a reset button into the unit or not. The risk is that it could get hit by accident. It depends how often the MMT glitches when bank switching, I expect. The other alternative is strobing the PIC's reset line every time the encoder moves. I am using a quadrature encoder, so that is relatively easy.

 

Wes

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Cool! I love stuff like that. If it needs a reset button, you could put to of them in series on opposite sides or at least far enough a part so that it would require a deliberate effort to initiate a reset. Hopefully it will be glitch free.

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Gear pr0n for trevcda --

 

Schematics to follow at some point.

 

I solved the need for a reset button by building a zero-crossing detector in the LSb of the bank address line; the detector strobes the 8031's reset line whenever the bank switches, essentially powering up into the new bank. The power up sequence takes about a second.

 

Wes

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That is really, really cool! I just wish it made even a little sense to do a small production run with something like this. I haven't haunted an MMT-8 user site lately and don't know exactly how many actually still use the product but I'd bet all four of us would buy one! :)

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I could probably build another one with about 6 hours of labour, now that I know what I'm doing. I probably have over 100 hours in this one. Less if I upgraded my tooling and/or made up real PCBs.

 

The hardest part of the build is finding the right traces to cut to intercept the reset line. The schematic diagram I have is wrong, I think they "reflowed" the PCB layout in the CAD program and it chose different gates within the same chips than the earlier version..and they did not reflect this change on the schematic.

 

I bet you could totally build one in a weekend if you were suitably motivated and had my notes. Which I intend to clean up and post.

 

The last major thing I have to do is to order shorter power supply filter caps. The old ones are keeping the case from closing. Can't hurt to replace them anyhow.

 

Wes

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I'm not sure I'd actually do the mod to mine. I don't use it live and have a data disk for back up, although if I were to use live again I'd do it in a heartbeat. It's been several years since I tore down the studio and put it in the garage with all the Hammonds, Rhodes and other vintage keys I'd intended to bring in. But I can sure admire the time and effort you spent on it! I did spend a little time in the seedy under belly of the internet on MMT-8 sites. It took some supreme control to not shout from the roof tops about your new mod! I figured you may not want that kind of attention. I did find out that our own Craig Anderton from here at Harmony Central literally wrote the book on the MMT-8 and HR-16: http://www.mmt8.com/cg.php I'm kind of surprised he hasn't chimed in on this thread. Maybe he's moved on from 28 year old technology? Not me. I fear change!

Edited by trevcda

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I wonder if a Yamaha MDF2 (MIDI data filer) would also work? I have one. I think it's the Yamaha version of the Alesis data disk so it should.

Edited by pinkfloydcramer61

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I just stumbled on some old MMT8 files that I have on my computer. They are nearly 30 years old! I bought a used MMT8 from ebay and would love to load these files to it, but I have no idea how the heck I saved these files in the first place. I thought they might be MIDI files, but it doesn't seem like it. I added .midi as the file extension and no luck. Now I'm thinking they might be sysex. Any thoughts on how I might get these files into the MMT8? I'm on OS X.
Here's a link to a couple of the files:

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Do you have a DAW program? If so, see if you can load the sysex data into your DAW, then use MIDI to transfer the sysex data into your MMT8. 

There are also sysex apps available for the Mac, but whether or not they'll work for you will probably depend on which version of OS X you're running. 

https://www.snoize.com/SysExLibrarian/

https://www.geosynths.com/tools

 

You might also find this article helpful:

https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/how-do-i-send-and-receive-sysex-on-pc-or-mac/

 

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