Alesis Vortex: Testing remote Patch switch

The Alesis Vortex, using firmware 1.20, can now receive and act upon Program Change requests. This means that you can select a Vortex Patch remotely.

I tested the new feature using my M-Audio Oxygen keyboard, but this will work with any Midi input that can send Program Change Request (PC). I am also using a Mac, as I have the tools readily available.

In order for the Vortex to receive Midi commands, you will have to connect it to a computer using the USB connection. The Vortex’s Midi connection is output only. So your other equipment will also have to connect using USB. My M-Audio is strictly USB.

On the Mac, you need a way to tell the PC generating equipment to send the command to the Vortex. I use MIDI Patchbay, a simple open source program. Here’s a screen shot of the setup:

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 11.14.31I specify “Block all notes” to restrain Midi traffic.

That’s it! Sending a PC from the Oxygen 49 will trigger a Patch change on the Vortex. Of course, the Vortex is limited to 24 patches, so it will not react to values outside of the 1-14 range. Here’s an example of the Midi command exchange:

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 11.21.37

This will load Patch 04 on the Vortex. I know, I know, it should be Patch 03, but Vortex is counting from 1, not zero. Also, the last 3 commands are sent by the Vortex since it is programmed to send a PC itself (which can be removed). The Vortex will receive the PC command, change to the Patch, and may send a different PC command if that Patch is programmed to do it. I explain how to program this here. What you have to understand is the difference between the Vortex receiving a PC and the Vortex sending a PC. They have very different meanings. For example, even after receiving a PC to switch to Patch 12, pressing the Program Up button on the Vortex will send a PC out in sequence, which could very well be any 0-127 number. Also, if you have assigned a Pad to send a PC in a Patch, Vortex will just send that PC. It’s pretty obvious when you look at the display: the Vortex will show an incoming Patch selection as “P03” for example, and an outgoing PC as “03”.

I then tested this using a Behringer FCB1010, connected to a Midi-to-USB device (like the M-Audio Uno) and routed that through the Midi Patchbay. It worked like a charm!

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 12.00.04

Of course, Vortex switched to Patch 17, but you get it.

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