SOMA LaboratoryMetaconformer Experimental MIDI Utility


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SOMA Laboratory Metaconformer

SOMA Laboratory's Metaconformer is a MIDI routing utility designed to bring new life to your MIDI controllers and and MIDI-capable instruments. By cleverly misusing standard parts of the ubiquitous MIDI protocol, Metaconformer makes it possible to play your instruments in entirely new ways. The basic idea is this: you connect Metaconformer between your MIDI controller and MIDI instrument(s). Metaconformer uses various internal modes of operation to alter the MIDI data you send in—transforming or dynamically re-routing it to its final destination(s). It offers two MIDI inputs and four MIDI outputs on 3.5mm TRS connections, each of which can be set via front-panel switch to TRS MIDI Type A or Type B standards. The fourth output can alternatively serve as a variable sync source for external devices.

As of its initial ship date, Metaconformer features three modes, each of which provides a unique way of controlling your instruments.

The first mode is Splitter. Splitter allows you to connect a single-channel MIDI controller and specify "keyboard splits," which each get sent out of Metaconformer on separate MIDI channels. This allows you to divide a single keyboard into ranges that each play different instruments—or to use a sequencer as a way of dynamically addressing several synthesizers at once. The "zones" can overlap one another as well, allowing for layered sounds with multiple instruments. Clever users will note that this set of functions also allows for standard Thru-like behavior and programmable note filtering—the possibilities are nearly endless.

The second mode is Combiner—which allows you to dynamically re-route your MIDI to different destinations polyphonically. You decide on a specific set of output channels, and use a single-channel MIDI controller as input. When you press a note, it will be assigned to the lowest available MIDI output channel. When you play a chord, each note will be dynamically re-routed to a different MIDI output channel, creating harmonies from several instruments (or several channels of a multi-timbral synthesizer or sampler).

Finally, the Translator mode allows you to use MIDI notes as a method of CC control, allowing for keyboard or sequencer-based control of parameters on your favorite synthesizer or sampler. Think of arpeggiating your sample selection or sequencing your delay time—anything that accepts CCs is fair game. (Note—you'll need a way of playing multiple channels at once for this to work...but Soma notes that there's a handy way to use two Metaconformers to achieve this).

Metaconformer is ever-evolving, and we expect to see new modes emerge in the future. In short, though, it's a powerful MIDI utility, far more complex and playable than the average MIDI Thru or Merge box. It's a way of re-thinking how MIDI works altogether, and of bringing all-new means of control to your studio. You can start to think of your entire studio of instruments like a single, playable, multi-timbral instrument: Metaconformer makes all of this possible, and more.

Metaconformer Features

  • Experimental MIDI utility
  • Insert between your MIDI controller and MIDI sound modules for expanded control possibilities
  • Can turn single-channel MIDI controllers into multi-channel control sources—and more!
  • Two 3.5mm TRS MIDI Inputs (individually switchable between Type A or Type B)
  • Three MIDI 3.5mm TRS Outputs (individually switchable between Type A or Type B)
  • One additional Hybrid output can be used for MIDI or variable analog sync
  • LEDs for visual feedback of settings
  • Initial factory firmware features three modes: Splitter, Combiner, and Translator
  • Splitter mode allows you to turn a single-channel MIDI controller into a multi-zone, multi-channel controller
  • Combiner allows polyphonic distribution of a single-channel MIDI source to multiple MIDI output channels
  • Translator mode allows you to convert MIDI notes to CCs for playable parametric control (though you'll still need to be able to send a note to open your synth's VCA as well!)
  • More modes to come in future firmware
  • Dimensions: 148 х 50 х 20mm
  • Power: 5V input via USB
  • Inputs: 2x 3.5mm TRS MIDI inputs (A or B)
  • Outputs: 3x 3.5mm TRS MIDI outputs (A or B), one Hybrid output for MIDI or Sync
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SOMA Laboratory Metaconformer Experimental MIDI Utility Reviews