SPECTRUM MAKES MUSIC
AN UNUSUAL and costly device for the Spectrum is MIDI interface manufactured by Siel (UK) Ltd. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and it is a standard format for the exchange of information between digital musical instruments, those typically being keyboard instruments such as synthesisers. The information it handles is the pitch of the note, duration of the note and dynamic information such as the speed at which the key has been pressed.
It was decided to test the Siel interface on the Siel DK600 synthesiser and the Siel Expander - although it will drive any MIDI compatible instrument - using two Siel software cassettes, the Live Sequencer and Expander Editor, both for the Spectrum.
The instructions for connecting instruments to the interface were a little confusing, and Siel would do well to give more explanation here, although its instruction manual gives the full protocol of the MIDI standard, invaluable if you want to write your own programs for it.
With the DK600 connected to the Spectrum via the MIDI interface, the Live Sequencer allows the computer to record a single polyphonic track in real time as you play it on the keyboard. It can then play it back. There is a function for varying the tempo of playback and for producing refrains by looping. When you have perfected your tune you can save it onto cassette for later use.
The second piece of software, the Expander Editor, is for the Siel Expander. The Expander is just another DK600 synthesiser but has no keyboard or controls. To set it up you can either load it from the DK600 or from the Spectrum using the Expander Editor. That gives a high resolution graphics display of the controls, and via menu and graphics options all the controls can be set from the Spectrum.
You can judge when you have set up the sound by using the pre-programmed note and chord sequences and adjusting until they are correct. It also has a HELP facility for explaining what effect the controls have on the sound. A very nice piece of software indeed.
The whole system is very impressive and of high quality and, as you may by now be thinking, it is not cheap.
The MIDI interface retails at £99.00 including the Live Sequencer. If brought separately, the latter is £22.00. The DK600 six voice polyphonic synthesiser is £999.00 and a six voice Expander is £649.00. Siel is bringing out the MK9000 keyboard instrument which will retail at £449.00. The Expander Editor costs £53.50. Siel is planning more software for the Spectrum and if you are interested in music you should look at the Siel range. In terms of technical ability and ease of use it is good and inexpensive compared to other equipment on the market.
Siel (UK) Ltd, is at Ahed Depot, Reigate Road, Hookwood, Horley, Surrey, RH6 0AY. Tel: (02934) 76153/4.