Hands-On Review:MT4 MIDI Interface


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Emagic MT4 USB MIDI: MT4 MIDI Interface

 

Part 1: Diagnosis/Installation

Emagic MT4 USB MIDI Interface (Mac/Win)

 

Dr. Digital's Diagnosis
The compact size and sturdy construction of Emagic's MT4 make it an ideal MIDI interface for those who record in home studios with limited space or on-the-go with USB-equipped laptops. You will not find a better MIDI interface with four MIDI outputs at this price, and it's especially useful when used with Emagic's Logic software.

 

Ease of Use: 5
Value: 4
Look: 4
Functionality: 5

 

When Apple decided to ditch the standard serial ports on its Mac computers in 1999 and replace them with the Universal Serial Bus (USB), manufacturers began scrambling to produce MIDI interfaces that would be compatible with the new computers. (See the What is USB? sidebar for more info.) We've already seen USB MIDI interfaces of all sizes and shapes, and Emagic has previously released two full-size rack interfaces, the Unitor 8 Mk II and the AMT8; the MT4 is Emagic's first compact and lightweight USB MIDI interface. While the MT4 is compatible with both Mac and PC, I tested it out on my Macintosh G4.

 

First Impressions

On first taking the MT4 out of the box, I was immediately impressed with the small size and practical structure. The MT4 is 6" across, 1.25" high and 2.5" deep. It sports two MIDI inputs and four MIDI outputs - more outputs than most MIDI interfaces of the same size and price range. The MT4 looks similar to its bigger brothers in the Emagic Unitor family, but it's small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. If nothing else, this is probably one of the cutest MIDI interfaces I've seen.

 

 

Made of plastic, the unit appears a bit cheap and flimsy, although the ads showing a truck driving over an MT4 make me think that it was designed to withstand a lot of pressure. I decided not to try this experiment, because I didn't want to end up with a chunk of plastic and wiring before I could actually test out the MT4 with my computer.

 

Installation
I tend to be a bit cautious about adding USB devices to my computer, because I've visited "USB hell" too many times before when trying to run a number of USB peripherals off the same port. I've always recommended that Mac users set up a separate extension set for doing MIDI and digital audio by shutting off any extensions needed for other USB peripherals such as scanners.

 

Nevertheless, I decided to attempt an installation of the MT4 with my normal extension set, which includes USB scanner, printer, mouse and floppy drive plus the hardware key needed to run the Logic software. To make things interesting, I also left my other USB interface, a MOTU USB Fast Lane, hooked up to the computer, just to see how far I could push the envelope.

 

Hooking up the MT4 to your computer is simple enough; just plug it directly into any USB port or hub using the accompanying cable. The MT4 is bus-powered, which means the host computer supplies the power for the unit, so there are no power cables to plug in. When first plugged in, the MT4 "Patch" light comes on to indicate it has power. Like Emagic's other interfaces, the MT4 starts up in Patch mode, where all the inputs are routed to all of the other outputs. Patch mode is useful if you just want to play your sound modules from a controller without opening any sequencing software.

 

Software installation for the MT4 is as simple as running an installer program from the included CD. This installs all of the necessary Mac extensions (and drivers for Windows) as well as the Unitor 8 Control software, which allows one to configure the MT4 as a MIDI patchbay. Emagic also provides a driver for Opcode's Open Music System (OMS) software, allowing the MT4 to be used with other manufacturer's sequencing software.