MIDI w/ old drum machine...?

Set-up for Yamaha RX120

I’m making up for a little lost time here! I’m looking for a little info on setting up this old drum-gadget. Here’s the scenario:

This Yammy RX120 has one MIDI-in jack. I have a cable going from the Terratec EWS88MT soundcard’s MIDI-out to the Yamaha.
The 1/4" outs L&R from the RX120 are going back to the Terratec’s ins 3&4. The Terratec Control Panel is set up properly, I believe. What I’m after is the signal flow for n-Track…

I want to be able to use the RX120 to control a MIDI track in n-Track, and to monitor as it plays. I also want to render it to .wav when I’m done composing it. This might be complicated to explain?

As I understand it, I need to ‘write’ a MIDI track in Paino Roll, assign it to an instrument (here the RX120), and assign the output of that instrument to an audio track. Am I close?

Hey Sloom,

I think the instrument assigns in the n-track midi are for vsti’s. If you play a midi file in n-track, it will go to what ever outboard device you have just by selecting EWS 88MT MIDI OUT in the instrument out section. It actually should be the only thing there unless you put a vsti in using the “Add New Instrument” drop down box. I use a Roland JV-1010 as my Drums.

I tried using a Yamaha RX17 Drum Machine with a midi file I had written in Cakewalk. I found out that Yamaha did not use GM in assigning the drum pads to the notes needed to play them. But, if you’re going to use it to write to the n-track, you should be okay. But, I couldn’t swear to it.

Hope that helps,


Hey Jeff,

So far there’s no sound from the RX120. But it may be as you mentioned about Yamaha not seeing GM. This device is only a pattern machine- not programmable for sounds or individual drum hits, so maybe I’m unable to do much with this. I’ll keep at it a bit- but I’m going to watch “Madagascar” with the kids now!
Thanks for the reply, dude. And sorry about the instant mssgr trip! I’m not in one place for long around here!

Hope you enjoyed Madagasgar.

I was with you up to this point:


I want to be able to use the RX120 to control a MIDI track in n-Track

I don’t think you mean this? You mean that you want n-track to play a drum track (via MIDI) on the Yamaha? Yes?

If so, then you are all cabled up correctly. As a double check of your monitoring/playback, hit play on the drum machine and make sure you can hear it in the speakers.

Then you need to check n’s Preferences to make sure that your MIDI output device is the PC’s hardware MIDI output.

Now create a drum track in n-track and set the MIDI Channel to 10. This is very important; the drum machine will probably ignore everything that isn’t on channel 10 (normally channel 10 is reserved for drums). Now the Piano Roll should show drum instruments.

Now if you are lucky you’ll get some sounds when you hit play in n-track.

If not, you might want to add a load of (random) notes all over the piano scale - from high to low - the Yamaha will probably have a limited number of instruments it can play and if you have a nice simple “boom splat” drum pattern on hat/snare/kick it’s possible you might miss the ones it can play.

Finally, the Yamaha will probably have some MIDI settings in it somewhere. These can range from turning MIDI on/off to which channel it receives on, etc. Check them out.

That should get you going…

To render the track, just hit record and the the song play to the end.

But here’s some thoughts from someone who used to do exactly what you are doing when I first started out…

You really need to sync the drum machine to n-track if you can. Otherwise mods to the drum track later are pretty close to impossible. So is using the grid to edit. Synching can be done by getting the Yamaha to respond to the n-track PLAY command via MIDI, or by getting the Yamaha to clock n-track (the Yamaha needs a MIDI-out port).

Unless you are looking for a particular flavour of cheese I think you’ll quickly get tired of the Yamaha’s limited/dated sounds. Once you’ve gone through he trouble of creating a good MIDI drum track, it’s much easier to throw it at a Vsti drum machine with your favourite samples!



Mark’s quote: “I don’t think you mean this? You mean that you want n-track to play a drum track (via MIDI) on the Yamaha? Yes?”…

Thanks, Mark: Yes! Truth is, MIDI is a strange shopkeeper in a strange land, and I’m trying to find a bathroom! But I got all your message, very clearly put. ‘Channel 10’ is key here, and the kind of info I’m after. This is a new way of thinking about things, absolutely a new language.

From the look of the surface of this device, the limitations of it will bear out pretty quickly, I’m sure. But it’s all I have for a controller, so I’m seeing it as a way to learn a little something about MIDI, because the concept looks handy. There is no MIDI out, though, so there you go…

The VSTi idea will definitely be the way to go. Maybe there’s an Oxygen 8 in my future? That M-Tron software instrument (by M-Audio, a virtual Mellotron) looks pretty great. And I actually play enough drums to get over in a pinch- I just happened to have this old thing lying around.

Thanks again, Mark!