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flannmann

Helix, MIDI and SysEx

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I have been using touchOSC to make a controller for the Helix using MIDI over USB. Getting the app to control a parameter has been very straightforward - on the Helix press in the knob for a parameter, select the parameter to be controlled, press Learn Controller and then activate the desired controller in the app. I have been using Kinky Boost because it only has 3 parameters and it is straightforward to control them.

 

So transmitting MIDI from the controller works great. But I would really like to know the state of of a preset and its blocks. The only midi messages I currently see coming from the Helix are the ones generated when entering a preset. Are the Helix equivalents of the Fractal SysEx commands available?

 

https://wiki.fractalaudio.com/axefx2/index.php?title=MIDI_SysEx

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Helix doesn't really do SysEx. I totally get how it can be immensely powerful and flexible, considering any hardcore MIDI controller could be used to control anything, but:

  • SysEx is beyond the vast, vast majority of Helix users. Even our most hardcore power users still want things to "just work" (I once worked at a SysEx-heavy MI company where no more than two or three of us in the entire building could talk SysEx)
  • Given the myriad routing schemes and completely dynamic DSP allocation, SysEx implementation would have to be deep. This is the same reason we don't hardwire DAW automation lanes to Helix Native parameters; the user has to manually assign them
  • Although it may sound like greed—and I assure you it's not—we REALLY want people to use Helix Control with Helix Rack, because of the seamless user experience. Adding comprehensive SysEx implementation would mean we'd be spending resources on a notably inferior user experience. Like Apple, Line 6 kinda frowns on that sort of thing
  • Our own FBV protocol is much more consistent for us to support and test (and retest!) than SysEx
  • SysEx is still at the mercy of MIDI data rates; FBV lets us easily accomplish communication at speeds that can sometimes choke MIDI
  • Upvote 1

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I agree that SysEx is beyond most people's capabilities, but it's just a arbitrary binary format using Midi as a transport. I think you can pack anything in Sysex, right? Given that your FBV protocol is likely a binary format it could be stored in Sysex. I agree that the speed of midi might pose a problem especially when sending large patches (with like IR's). The benefits may be too little to spend any time implementing Sysex, but I think it's possible, or am I off base? Of course, in order to allow users to use the Sysex, the formats would have to be published. Again that's a lot of work and may open Line 6 to exposing proprietary information. Note: I've done some limited parsing of Sysex for a side project that never got going. 

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