[resolved] Allow CTRLR VSTs to communicate via MIDI w/ external gear

if you own a MIDI capable synth/drum machine/sampler/anything w/ a 5 pin DIN this would benefit you whether you realize it or not.

Want to wipe the dust of your hardware synth and use it within renoise? You could if renoise was able to allow VST instruments to communicate via MIDI to and from your MIDI interface to and from your MIDI outboard gear.

The method for setting up a ctrlr vst/au instance within any DAW is as follows:

  1. Disable the midi ports of the machine you want to control in your DAW.

  2. Load ctrlr VST (or the ctrlr exported VST) into your DAW.

  3. Select the MIDI Out Device connected to your synth in the VST’s menu.

4.Click Input from plugin host‚ and Output to plugin host under the MIDI menu. Both these items should appear in the MIDI menu with a check mark next to them.

5.Additionally you must enable Plugin Host-> Output Device under MIDI, MIDI Thru (In the VST’s Menu) in order for MIDI to go from the DAW to your synth connected to the MIDI Output Device you select in step 3 above.

Guys I really do not intend to be a pest but there has been no reply from any renoise dev to this request and I am severely confused as to why this has not been replied to with any weight or substance.
Is the request not understood? Do renoise devs assume no renoise users own or use outboard gear? I really don’t think that’s the case.

I really really hate making comparisons to other DAWs as I know it gets people in a tizzy but currently renoise is the only DAW I own which does not allow ctrlr VSTs to operate as a plugin to handle triggering notes and automating parameters of outboard gear.
Besides renoise, I own and operate: Live, Cubase, Sonar, Reaper, FL, Audiomulch, Studio One, EnergyXT, Tracktion and about dozen other software sequencers. EVERY single one listed works with ctrlr as a VST… Renoise is the only exception even as of the 3.0 beta.
None of the aforementioned sequencers require any special instrument MIDI settings within the DAW - The only pre-requisite is that the MIDI port be disabled within the DAW so it is available to the ctrlr VST loaded as an instrument.

Many thanks for taking the time to look this over and consider. This has been posted in one form or another several times in several other threads over the course of several years and has garnered support from those who understand what is being talked about.
Any questions as to what the hell I’m asking for please by all means ask me to elaborate and I’d be more than happy to explain.
wtf is ctrlr?

Ctrlr is a great idea, a great application. No question about that.

But from what I’ve seen and tested it should work in Renoise as well when selecting the raw MIDI device I/O in ctrlr instead of doing the routing in the host:

  1. Disable the midi ports of the machine you want to control in your DAW (Renoise prefs -> MIDI).
  2. Load ctrlr VST (or the ctrlr exported VST).
  3. Select the MIDI Out and Control Device connected to your synth !in ctrlr!.
  4. Click “Input from plugin host” under the MIDI menu.
  5. Enable MIDI Thru in ctrlr’s MIDI Menu as well.

ctrlr will then receive MIDI notes from Renoise (e.g. computer keyboard or from patterns) and from the MIDI device as well.
That said, it of course would be great to allow routing MIDI from/to plugins within Renoise to HW devices at some time as well.

Please… stick with me here Taktik! I deeply appreciate your reply here however first of all by “it should work” - have you seen it work? because the steps you supplied is identical to the steps I supplied except you truncated some of the specifics. I’ve helped hundreds of users with these steps in other DAWS but it doesn’t work in renoise. Within the 3 years I’ve been deving for ctrlr editors neither myself or anyone else has been able to get ctrlr to work in renoise. It should trigger notes to the hardware synth from either the qwerty kb or from notes triggered to that instrument in a pattern but it doesn’t.

I’ll gladly wipe egg off my face if I’m incorrect and you know something I don’t or renoise is an anomaly and for some reason has different set up steps than the other software sequencers, but as far as I have seen with my own eyes what you state is true - it should work… but in reality it does not.

Thank you again for your reply. I hope to hear back with proof positive - I really hope I’m wrong here but I’ll likely continue to nag the forums on this otherwise so you can send me happily on my way if you can school me here.


Yes the steps are rather inconclusive since you have several options that you can do here…
You can run the stand-alone executable and you can load the VST inside Renoise and in that you also have the 32-bit and 64-bit flavor.

Which creates several extra questions with the given answers…

In Renoise only or also in the standalone exe?

The VST in Renoise or the stand-alone exe?

In the VST running in Renoise or the Midi output device section of the Midi tab?

In the VST plugin or the stand alone executable?

In the VST plugin or the stand alone executable?

I can accomplish things when using a virtual midi driver, but you do not specifically mention this…

Hi vV,
The standalone is irrelevant here. I’m talking about using ctrlr exported VSTs. you can not use the standalone software within any DAW. That’s like trying to use the standalone version of FM8 within renoise. ??!!

Because I can use ctrlr and ctrlr exported vsts within any other DAW without using virtual midi ports they should not be necessary for use within renoise.

Yes, I’ve only quickly tested it with MIDI monitors. When following the steps I’ve provided above, what exactly does not work, where does it break for you?

On Windows a MIDI device can not be opened several times by several applications (or within the same application in this case), so if one ctrl instance uses “device XYZ” other instances can not open “device XYZ” anymore. This will work on OSX and Linux though. This is the only thing I can think of now which could break things here. Else it really should just work.

After setting up the plugin following the steps I provided (your list is missing necessary details), basic note on/off messages never go from the host to the plugin. In other words: You can not trigger notes to the MIDI synth from patterns or by using the qwerty kb. To say it breaks at some point would insinuate that it works at some point - which it doesn’t :(/>

If you or the renoise devs have a MIDI synth and interface (or midi synth that uses USB for MIDI) you can try this yourself… I’m assuming one of you does? You’ll clearly see it doesn’t work. You can download reaper for free and try these aforementioned steps there and you’ll see it works w/o a hitch. You shouldn’t even need to make a panel with any controls, we’re just talking basic communication from the host to the plugin in the form of note on/off messages.

Yes, this is why my step one is to disable MIDI ports in the host. I’m fully aware of the issue you describe even if I’m mainly using OS X to test renoise 3 anyway.

Thanks for following up, hope to hear some good news back that I’m missing something stupid.

That was how I got it working here. I think I misunderstood your third point, thought you mean that you have to route MIDI in the !host’s VST! settings, but you obviously meant ctrlr’s MIDI settings here then.
That’s why I “rewrote” your small HOWTO.

Anyway. Gave this another try with a very simple test panel and a Casio CZ-1: Realtime played and sequenced notes in Renoise are sent to the HW, ctrlr’s UI sends MIDI data to the device as well. So all in all this seems to work just fine. This was a very very simple panel I’ve tested with, yes, but I don’t see why this should not work with more complex ones.

Test was done on Windows 7, 64bit, using Renoise3 b4 64bit, and Ctrlr_1655 64bit version from http://ctrlr.org/nightly/ running unbridged. Haven’t tested this with older version of Renoise.

Thanks a lot for the sanity check there taktik. I’ll try out a basic simple panel with the same specs and then go from there to figure out what about the more complex panels prevents them from working in renoise - I agree… there shouldn’t be anything different that prevent that.

I deeply appreciate you taking a look at this and reporting back your findings.


well damn…
Although I literally stated the thru setting from plugin host to output device in the list in my OP,
I was inadvertently and way too quickly w/o reading the menu items setting the thru setting to the wrong option out of habit/autopilot menu selections. The order of those items has changed and I was just hitting the wrong thru setting.

Issue resolved!

ctrlr doesnt work for me in renoise, standalone or reaper.

program looks good but doesnt seem to do anything, has anyone except mSepsis had any luck with getting it to work whatsoever?

well damn…
Although I literally stated the thru setting from plugin host to output device in the list in my OP,
I was inadvertently and way too quickly w/o reading the menu items setting the thru setting to the wrong option out of habit/autopilot menu selections. The order of those items has changed and I was just hitting the wrong thru setting.

Issue resolved!

How are you finding this setup? Do you find that there is a lot of latency (midi > audio roundtrip)?

AFAIKS this method doesn’t benefit from the Midi Return Mode/LineIn Ret latency correction, unless there is another way…