Help me understand how to run my MIDI drums into my computer

(I put this in Cafe because only musicians would be able to answer these questions.)

Ok. I guess I’m pretty dumb here but I can’t figure out how to get my drums to work with my computer and I know I have all the right gear.

Mixcraft 5.2
Roland TD-4S electronic kit
MIDI to USB interface
EZ Drummer with Drum kit from Hell.

So I have the MIDI output of my kit running into my laptop (running Windows 7). When I plugged the usb cable in windows went through an install process and said it was ready to use.

Now, I know the kit defaults to operating on MIDI channel 10, which from what I’ve read is standard for newer e-kits. I cannot for the life of me get my kit to register in Mixcraft. I can get EX Drummer up and I can create beats using the drag and drop off EZ Drummer onto a track no problem. I can record my guitar from my Toneport and my voice as well with no problem.

I just cannot figure out how MIDI works and it’s driving me crazy.

How do I configure my system so that my kit triggers EZ Drummer?

FYI I have read 1000 pages on EZ Drummer and MIDI and for some reason it’s just not clicking with me. I think I’m missing the basic step of configuring the kit-PC interface.


I don’t know anything about any of the equipment or software you’re using, but I do have MIDI on my USB audio I/O device, and have gotten it to talk to a device. Just a single thought:

In my (extremely limited) experience you have to connect the MIDI out AND in from/to a device to the computer or another device (and we won’t get into chaining devices) for them to talk successfully. The Out from your kit would go to the In of the computer’s MIDI, and the In from your kit would go to the Out from your computer’s MIDI.

I’m pretty sure there’s a slew of free utility software that could look at your MIDI chain and tell you what devices it sees, if any. Start there. If the utility sees your drums, and your other software does not, that other software is set up wrong. If the utility cannot see your device at all, then your cabling or MIDI interface is not correctly configured.

Okay, I was wrong there. Looking at the drum owners manual here (PDF!), your drums do indeed only have a MIDI out. My second suggestion, find util software that can see your MIDI chain, won’t work as I’d expected. If there’s no MIDI In jack on the drums, nothing on the PC side can query your drums and get an answer back, since the query cannot be received by the drum device. Only trigger data sent to the PC is available. It sounds like a utility that can look at all the MIDI channels and log events will help; you run that, and bang on a drum, and see if the data is getting received. If it is, go figure out why your drum software on the PC is being stupid. If you see no events, look at your cabling and MIDI interface setup.

Also, don’t discount that you may have a bad MIDI cable. This has happened to me.

While I’ve never used Mixcraft, the other audio software I’ve used required going into preferences and selecting the MIDI device. It is probably defaulted to Windows MIDI mapper. You might just need to select your USB device. Once you do that, select a MIDI track to record, with track 10 as the input source, and your VST EZdrummer as the output.

You want to use your roland kit to trigger the EZ drummer sounds?

You’ll be using EZ drummer as a virtual instrument (VST as above), then.

The first thing to do is make sure mixcraft is receiving midi input.

There should be some sort of indicator light in mixcraft that lights up whenever a midi-in signal is received. See if that works.

There should be an options or preferences in mixcraft that allow you to select your interface.

I’m not familiar with mixcraft, but typically you select a track, select the instrument (EZ drummer>drum kit from hell), and select the midi channel for that track (10).

One thing to keep in mind is that since you’re using ez drummer as a virtual instrument on a laptop there may be some delay (latency) between when you hit the pad and when the sound comes out. This can be tweaked, but that’s for later on.

If worse comes to worse or the latency is too much to deal with you can you run midi-out from the interface back into the roland module and use the module’s sounds to do the track, then select ez drummer afterwards to provide the sounds.

I agree with all of the above posts – the points about latency from my experience will depend largely on the ability of your soundcard. As a humble keyboardist, I used to run VSTs in real time, but only if the latency was below, say, 12 ms or so.

The second semi-original (?) point I have to (re)in(en)force is that there are a number of third-party (hardware and software) utilities that will enable you to MAP MIDI sequences into something recognizable by your software and/or your hardware. A custom-made box hardware might run you forty bucks or possibly twice that, but a software solution is easily going to be free or of even lesser cost. I used devices like this to jerry-rig some hardware control surfaces to work seamlessly with either VST instruments or to facilitate communication between prima facie incompatible bits of hardware chained via MIDI.


God damn midi-USB cable was bad. Now everything is working as expected. I knew I couldn’t be THAT stupid.

Now that I have it going the whole rig is amazing. I basically have the MIDI out running into Mixcraft triggering ezdrummer. There is a very slight delay if I monitor through my PC but I still mute the track and listen to my playing through the headphone out of the Roland brain. Then I can tweak out the sound to my hearts content on the computer.

I really don’t even know what to do with myself now. After years of trying to cobble together bits and pieces of PC recording gear I finally have all the pieces I need to,well, I dunno. Make a song?

For those interested in my setup I have the aformentioned software and:

Line 6 Toneport UX2 - This can process and send my Bass, Guitar and Voice to mixcraft. All very high quality since the effects and processing happens external to the PC which is great because there is zero delay.

Roland TD-4S electronic kit. Tons of fun and I can play the thing pretty effectively.

PRS, Yahama, Ibanez and Epiphone guitars.

Not sure where to go from here. Now that I finally have everything working (and own everything) my mind is scrambled trying to remember all that beats, riffs and songs I always wanted to lay down. Overwhelmed. Time to go play Xbox.

Here’s my first music video.

That’s good. Computer-based audio workstations can be finicky beasts. You just have to be patient and put on your geek hat from time to time. I was running Cubase with Sonic Synth and Propellerhead Reason on a Dell with a cre@mware card for a few years and it was like a golden age of boot up and create, latency-free joy. But then performance started to degrade and the system just sort of slowly died. Even formatting the hard drive and reinstalling everything couldn’t get it back to it’s former self. I did so many system performance tweaks over the years I forgot probably half of them. Now I can open Cubase, play sonic synth and the sound comes out, but cubase doesn’t register midi input. Now that’s weird.