MIDI Conversion
#1
I have an acoustic PA and, fancying reversion to digital, wondered whether a midi conversion  (for about 1/3 the cost of a Roland accordion) might be an option.

I believe that a register selector on both treble and bass side could be sacrificed and used to select 'silencing' of acoustic sound thus allowing the accordion to be entirely MIDI.

Can a member advise me whether (like the Roland's bellows adjuster) this 'silencing' results in continual 'air escaping noises' when using the accordion purely in MIDI mode to drive an expander?
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#2
(14-01-2020, 01:49 PM)TW Wrote: I have an acoustic PA and, fancying reversion to digital, wondered whether a midi conversion  (for about 1/3 the cost of a Roland accordion) might be an option.

I believe that a register selector on both treble and bass side could be sacrificed and used to select 'silencing' of acoustic sound thus allowing the accordion to be entirely MIDI.

Can a member advise me whether (like the Roland's bellows adjuster) this 'silencing' results in continual 'air escaping noises' when using the accordion purely in MIDI mode to drive an expander?

The issues with lower end MIDI kits is that they don't have a bellows pressure sensor, nor do they have keyboard velocity and you are not including the cost of a sound board that gives you all those different sounds.  One gives up a LOT compared to a Roland V-accordion.  So, for about 1/3rd the cost, you get about 1/10th the digital accordion.  Of course, your budget overrides any such comparison, but it is a major factor.

As far as sacrificing a register for "mute", why not simply stop pulling the bellows?  That's the way I did it when I used my Elka (electric-midi/acoustic accordion, and it had a mute register from the factory on the right *and* left hands, something you forgot that will also add costs).  


Higher end MIDI kits can include bellows sensors and touch velocity sensors, but by then the cost of the kit, installation, sound module and accordion modifications, and you are about 30% away from a new v-accordion, and still thousands of sounds short on your average sound module.  Make that V-accordion a used one, and you are actually potentially of the game.

There is also the integration and button layout.  No conversion in the world currently comes close to the adjustability or versatility.  Not a real consideration if all you do is play at home in your basement, but if you are gigging with it, the press of a chin switch on a predefined set brings you to your next programming and off you go to play.  There is even the possibility of setting up a wireless Bluetooth pedal connected to the accordion and an iPad displaying you your sheet music, that with 1 press of that pedal, it goes to the next page or a new song on the list, selects the rhythm on the BK-7m and completely reprograms the V-accordion to a whole new registration... all with the single press of one pedal or chin switch.  


With this kind of a setup, time between pieces is 1-3 seconds, and on my Elka, it was 1-2 minutes, and that was with a lot of practice.

The reason is that on a MIDI accordion, there is a lot of button switching and setting up in between each song, because nothing is standardized and presets are very limited and generally not adjustable.  I looked briefly on the new near $18,000+ Concerto that Cory Pesaturo was playing (likely the best acoustic digital accordion in the world at this time), and though nice, there were no visible buttons that could have custom made registrations programmed and accessed without taking your hands off the keyboard.  Also each button had an instrument or function on it to keep it simpler.

On my 8X, I can take ANY of the 14 registers and select from 999 custom possibilities that I create within the accordion or use predefined options or access 3rd party programs that I bought, and that number basically becomes infinite, if I save those settings on a USB stick (on one small file we can save entire groups of 999 custom settings and thousands of these files fit on a single 32gb USB stick).

The good side is that a MIDI accordion is simple and a V-accordion can be very complex, it demands time and effort and study to get the most out of it if you want to do more than just use it as a basic accordion (which takes zero time to learn to do... just turn it on, and play).

I'm sorry if I sound like I am pushing the Roland, because, really, I am not, but I am showing some of the real life differences that someone that never owned one, would not likely know about, hence not take in to consideration.  Smile

In today's world, unless the accordion already came with MIDI, I would feel it is a waste of money to digitize an acoustic because in the end, it would never be as good as even a basic digital accordion.  Better to save your money, take a little more time, save a bit more and get the "real" thing.  Smile
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#3
Thank you for the explicit response and advice JerryPH and I regret that, in the interest of brevity in my original posting, I omitted much relevant experience.....

I have owned many Roland's since 2005 (currently an FR1XB and lately a 4XPA) but not the 8X you describe and use.
The FR1XB is used to drive a V3 triangle adjusted via a Sipario. This, when operated via a foot switch, allows 'set' changing (but I'm sure you will be familiar with this).
I have to disagree with you about the midi conversion. The one (limex) that I was offered includes bellows sensors etc fitted for well under a 1/3rd of the cost in UK of an FR4X .

Not moving the bellows just does not play....the whole point of my question was that - because the bellows swell action is important in midi - I should like to know whether  (like the Roland's bellows adjuster)  'muting' results in continual 'air escaping noises' when using the accordion purely in MIDI mode to drive an expander?
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#4
Another experience here: I own a few 1930's HOHNER CBAs, 37 treble 3 row with 48 (4x12) bass, LUCIA 2 voice and CORNELIA 3 voice ... all have the same button size and same distance between buttons ...

Used to rent a practice room about 20 minutes driving from home ... but I really fancied a silent accordion for practice so I could practice whenever a free moment showed up ...

So I found another HOHNER LUCIA on german ebay and got it for quite cheap ...

This LUCIA was converted to MIDI by Roy Whiteley from Accordion Magic (link = http://www.accordionmagic.com/index.html ) and for me it is perfect for silent practice ... I connect it to my headphone amp + headphones and here we go ... very easy ... and it also has a MIDI OUT connector so if I wanted so I can connect another sound module for custom output ...

Although I have no knowledge about the technical and/or digital parts involved in this mod, my MIDI LUCIA works like exactly my ACOUSTIC LUCIA (bellows, buttons, etc ...) and now I can really practice whenever I see so ...

Of course, ymmv ...
Carpe diem, C.
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#5
Thanks for the link Corinto, a very interesting site indeed.

I'm still not clear about your 'silent' CBA however.
Does the midi'd LUCIA still have reeds?
If so, how are they silenced?
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#6
Hi TW,

My LUCIA is reedless ... MIDI only ... but I have 2 more, acoustic ones ... so it's perfect for practice here at home.
I understand you want both systems in one accordion ... I really don't know ... just commented about mine as is.
Carpe diem, C.
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#7
Yes Corinto I do want to establish both systems.

I am curious about how 'muting' is achieved - presumably the bellows air must be evacuated before it attacks the reeds, so does 'muting' result in continual 'air escaping noises'.

I'll have to ask the supplier how it is done but thought I'd see if anyone here could shed light.
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#8
I have found that one way of muting in MIDI conversions is the mechanical blocking of the reeds when the the muting coupler is operated (I don't know how) thus preventing any reeds sounding.
There is no venting of bellows pressure - so theoretically no bellows movement - however it is said that in practice  some bellow movement occurs.

This is, in essence the 'no bellows use' suggested by JerryPH in his original reply to my post.

Sacrificing all reeds (as in Corinto's CBA) and using the mechanism to operate MIDI is a good way if you acquire a donor accordion.

However MIDI conversion of that kind is not for me (the accordion for conversion is too good as an acoustic) and I do need bellows control so I have to endorse the explicitly expressed thoughts of JerryPH :-

In today's world, unless the accordion already came with MIDI, I would feel it is a waste of money to digitize an acoustic because in the end, it would never be as good as even a basic digital accordion.  Better to save your money, take a little more time, save a bit more and get the "real" thing. 

For my purposes, the newer Roland accordions are the better solution
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#9
(14-01-2020, 04:03 PM)TW Wrote: 1. I have to disagree with you about the midi conversion. The one (limex) that I was offered includes bellows sensors etc fitted for well under a 1/3rd of the cost in UK of an FR4X .

2. Not moving the bellows just does not play....the whole point of my question was that - because the bellows swell action is important in midi - I should like to know whether  (like the Roland's bellows adjuster)  'muting' results in continual 'air escaping noises' when using the accordion purely in MIDI mode to drive an expander?

Yes, you did forget the experience... and knowing that now surprises me that you are looking in to this option, knowing how the results would be.  But of course, everyone is different, and that is what makes the world go around.  Smile

1. Per the man that I just spoke to (Vincenzo at Limex USA), the only unit that has bellows control is the "pro" version and it has no provisions for bellows air control (the pro unit has had no changes n the last 4 years), and those prices start at $3246.00 US (installation not included):

[Image: limexprices.jpg]

The list price of a 4X is $5500.00US and are available for a fair bit less.  That is nowhere near 1/3rd the cost, so I am not understanding where your calculations are coming from.  Smile
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#10
I had assumed Limex was still my supplier's treatment of choice however the quotation was in fact for Blue Line Midi.
The cost for treble and bass (on a 34/96) with bellow sensor being £850 + Mute coupler on treble and bass £60
As I remarked, 1/3 the UK 4X cost (£2791 from a discounter).

in respect of my original simple question, any previous digital experience was not relevant to the query.
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#11
Ok, all good. Smile
As far as your original question... no MIDI manufacturer anywhere currently offers the option of an air release control for when the accordion is muted. You could likely easily make something that the 3X and 4X have, which is basically an adjustable button that permits fixed amounts of air to escape and the amounts regulated by button position, but you could never do something like the 8X, where it offers an intelligent bellows air controller that is computer controlled and changes based on the number and types of buttons pressed... ie:
- more air is released the more buttons are pressed from either/or left and/or right hands
- more air is released the lower the tones are or when more "virtual reeds" are selected to play (like happens in real life).

In terms of passing MIDI volume signals to the expander, that is an easy one... most modern MIDI kits with bellows control can do this. The MIDI volume signals come in 128 "levels" if you will, and if the expander understands these signals, can adjust volume levels to match (which most modern modules do nowadays, even my old Ketron X4 can do this).
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#12
(16-01-2020, 01:29 PM)JerryPH Wrote: Ok, all good.  Smile
As far as your original question... no MIDI manufacturer anywhere currently offers the option of an air release control for when the accordion is muted.  You could likely easily make something that the 3X and 4X have, which is basically an adjustable button that permits fixed amounts of air to escape and the amounts regulated by button position, but you could never do something like the 8X, where it offers an intelligent bellows air controller that is computer controlled and changes based on the number and types of buttons pressed... ie:
- more air is released the more buttons are pressed from either/or left and/or right hands
- more air is released the lower the tones are or when more "virtual reeds" are selected to play (like happens in real life).

In terms of passing MIDI volume signals to the expander, that is an easy one... most modern MIDI kits with bellows control can do this.  The MIDI volume signals come in 128 "levels" if you will, and if the expander understands these signals, can adjust volume levels to match (which most modern modules do nowadays, even my old Ketron X4 can do this).
 Hello Jerry,

My acoustic accordion doesn't have a mute option.  If I want to have the reeds sound along with the midi, I set the Master midi in it to "dynamic" and get my volume control with the bellows.  If I want only the midi sounds, I lock up the bellows and control volume with a foot pedal.

As an aside on midi volume messages, I discovered back when I had a Ciao reedless that those messages (CC 11 or 12 -- go remember Smile ) from the bellows transducers are sent in a continuous stream.  That would be OK with an expander or arranger module, but recording midi directly to a DAW was a problem that I solved with a device from Midi Solutions called an Event Processor.  It can be used to filter out specific midi messages and a ton of other functions, but with today's faster computers and better DAWs it might not be necessary.  

But my FR-4x has all of that built in. Smile

Alan Sharkis
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#13
(16-01-2020, 11:58 PM)Alan Sharkis Wrote: 1 - My acoustic accordion doesn't have a mute option.  If I want to have the reeds sound along with the midi, I set the Master midi in it to "dynamic" and get my volume control with the bellows.  If I want only the midi sounds, I lock up the bellows and control volume with a foot pedal.

2 - As an aside on midi volume messages... <snip>...recording midi directly to a DAW was a problem that I solved with a device from Midi Solutions called an Event Processor.  It can be used to filter out specific midi messages and a ton of other functions, but with today's faster computers and better DAWs it might not be necessary.  

3 - But my FR-4x has all of that built in. Smile

1 - that's what I liked about the Elkavox, it has registers to mute acoustic sound on both the treble and bass side.  Makes things so much easier.  Smile

[Image: closed.jpg]

That said, it had the 1980's version of MIDI that was much simpler with fewer features.  This accordion had no MIDI volume bellows control, but I learned to control and balance all that on separate tracks on the DAW via multitracking.

2 - Even an (about) 10 year old computer today should be able to handle all that easily enough.  It's the software that's vastly improved.  For audio alone, I really like Reaper, it has some very nice MIDI control abilities... not that I record MIDI much at all nowadays, its all meant for final output as a video, so its final output are 96k audio on 48k videos at standard HD sizes for YouTube consumption.

3 - Hey when did you get your 4X?  I don't think you mentioned it anywhere here!  Smile
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My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com
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#14
(Yesterday, 04:48 PM)JerryPH Wrote:
(16-01-2020, 11:58 PM)Alan Sharkis Wrote: 1 - My acoustic accordion doesn't have a mute option.  If I want to have the reeds sound along with the midi, I set the Master midi in it to "dynamic" and get my volume control with the bellows.  If I want only the midi sounds, I lock up the bellows and control volume with a foot pedal.

2 - As an aside on midi volume messages... <snip>...recording midi directly to a DAW was a problem that I solved with a device from Midi Solutions called an Event Processor.  It can be used to filter out specific midi messages and a ton of other functions, but with today's faster computers and better DAWs it might not be necessary.  

3 - But my FR-4x has all of that built in. Smile

1 - that's what I liked about the Elkavox, it has registers to mute acoustic sound on both the treble and bass side.  Makes things so much easier.  Smile

[Image: closed.jpg]

That said, it had the 1980's version of MIDI that was much simpler with fewer features.  This accordion had no MIDI volume bellows control, but I learned to control and balance all that on separate tracks on the DAW via multitracking.

2 - Even an (about) 10 year old computer today should be able to handle all that easily enough.  It's the software that's vastly improved.  For audio alone, I really like Reaper, it has some very nice MIDI control abilities... not that I record MIDI much at all nowadays, its all meant for final output as a video, so its final output are 96k audio on 48k videos at standard HD sizes for YouTube consumption.

3 - Hey when did you get your 4X?  I don't think you mentioned it anywhere here!  Smile
Jerry, 

I've had my 4x for a little over a year.  I've also moved from PC to Mac, so sometimes I'll start developing in Garage Band on an iPad, but it almost always gets finished in Logic. I start with Logic most of the time.  

Alan Sharkis
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#15
I know you were researching Free Bass, have you tried this with the 4X? On my 8X it is not something that I like, it cramps up my fingers, something that doesn't happen when I play on the Hohner Morino. Smile
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