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Difference between midi console and expander?

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Ganza
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Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by Ganza » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:35 pm

Hi all,

I'm still not quite sure what the difference is between a midi console and an expander (please see photos).

What do you need inside your accordion to make an expander work? The same as is required for a midi console?
And, in fact, why would you have both? On my Piermaria I have both a midi console and I also have an expander that came with the accordion.
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Re: Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by Alan Sharkis » Fri Jan 13, 2017 10:47 pm

Do you mean "console," or "controller," or both?

I am assuming that the picture of your accordion's grille shows that a midi controller has been installed. From what I can see it's one of the MusicTech products, although I don't use MusicTech so I can't identify which one it is.

There should also be a connector on the accordion and a cable which leads to a box that supplies power to the controller and to the magnetic contacts for the treble and bass and, maybe, a bellows pressure transducer to send midi volume messages. That box will also have a sound card in it to provide the midi sounds associated with that controller. It will have audio output connectors that will feed your amplifier and speakers, perhaps one or several foot pedal connectors for various functions, and, at least, one connection called. "midi-out", or "ext-out," or just plain "out" so that you can use a midi cable to connect it to the expander. Maybe that's what is referred to as a console?

Now, the second picture is of a Ketron SD-4, which is one of many units that are usually referred to as expanders. These can provide chordal rhythm, drum sounds, and additional midi sounds.

If it sounds confusing, I sympathize completely. Not only is the language used to describe midi setups and their components a little technical, but manufacturer of midi gear A will use the terms to mean something that is different from what manufacturer B will mean by the same term. So tell me, please, what else is included with that accordion and I will tell you if anything is missing. From there, we can go into how to interpret any manuals that came with the components and get you started.

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Re: Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by JerryPH » Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:53 am

Ganza wrote:Hi all,

I'm still not quite sure what the difference is between a midi console and an expander...

What do you need inside your accordion to make an expander work? The same as is required for a midi console?
MIDI expander: you can typically consider this as an external device that is connected to a MIDI controller (coming up in a second). An expander is first used as a rhythm unit. Meaning it outputs drum sounds and various drum rhythms. If yours includes an "arranger", it also adds one or more instruments as background accompaniment. You may also have additional digital instruments that can be assigned for use on the right hand. An expander accepts controlled commands from a MIDI controller.

MIDI Controller: A controller is typically INSIDE the accordion. It can consist of either switches and contacts or magnetic contacts. This is then sent to it's internal electronics that maps a note or notes to a key. More advanced MIDI controllers also permit key velocity control (hit key harder, volume of note increases) and sometimes even a bellows pressure sensor (pull harder and volume of notes increases).

MIDI is designed to be essentially a 16 channel data path where a channel is sometimes mapped to a specific function, like using channel 1 for the right hand treble notes, channel 2 for the bass notes and channel 3 for the chords. Depending on the implementation this can change and is individual to the make/manufacturer of the accordion.

Here is a little something... Some MIDI controllers can have the addition of an internal sound module so that they can have the addition of digital instruments via and integrated board on the MIDI controller. Normally these are extra cost options in most cases.

I could continue and write a book, but just returned from a long trip of 11 hours driving a car. Ask specific questions if something is not clear. :)
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Re: Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by Ganza » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:16 am

Hi Jerry and Alan, thanks for your replies.

My specific question is, in this clip from 2mins onwards, how does Richard Galliano play midi using that box (looks like it has Hammond organ switches) on a table next to his accordion, yet his accordion doesn't have a midi controller on it? There is also another box (black one) underneath the first red box. What is that second one?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcWh5AVaEuk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by JerryPH » Tue Jan 17, 2017 3:02 am

Obviously his accordion is MIDI equipped (he even mentions that he can connect to other synthesizers)... See that cable running from the accordion between his legs? Now if there even was no cable and he was doing this, there are 2 kinds of wireless MIDI available out there... Short range (Bluetooth) and longer range (for example 2.4ghz). Both work but the Bluetooth has a short range of about 30 feet or so versus 100-200 feet for the other systems. ;)

That second box... Its near impossible to tell, but it could be nothing more than another module or perhaps an amplifier for the speakers that you are hearing.
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Re: Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by Ganza » Tue Jan 17, 2017 5:37 am

JerryPH wrote:Obviously his accordion is MIDI equipped (he even mentions that he can connect to other synthesizers)... See that cable running from the accordion between his legs? Now if there even was no cable and he was doing this, there are 2 kinds of wireless MIDI available out there... Short range (Bluetooth) and longer range (for example 2.4ghz). Both work but the Bluetooth has a short range of about 30 feet or so versus 100-200 feet for the other systems. ;)

That second box... Its near impossible to tell, but it could be nothing more than another module or perhaps an amplifier for the speakers that you are hearing.
Hi Jerry,

so it's possible to equip your accordion for MIDI (with all the cables etc), and then connect it to some synthesiser box (like the red one he has) without the need for a midi controller stuck on the front of your accordion? Is that right?

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Re: Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by JerryPH » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:07 pm

Ganza wrote:so it's possible to equip your accordion for MIDI (with all the cables etc), and then connect it to some synthesiser box (like the red one he has) without the need for a midi controller stuck on the front of your accordion? Is that right?
It all depends on the manufacturer and what you want. The sensors are placed on all the treble and bass keys/buttons, a basic or more advanced controller is either inside or outside the accordion and leads to a sound/arranger/rhythm module.

On my Elka, for example, they placed the MIDI controller in the large external tone generator.

I think for the most part people want some kind of small external box on the outside so that they can cobfigure the MIDI parameters and also change the MIDI sounds that are often included with a MIDI kit. musictech places it on the front, Limex, the Cadillac of accordion MIDI kits places a small screen/controller on the top. Older kits used to be inside, but I am not sure these are made anymore as they were very basic in functionality and lower in reliability.
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Re: Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by Ganza » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:51 am

Essentially I'm looking to get something that just plugs in externally...

So get all the contacts etc done inside the accordion, and then buy a box and just get connect it (like Galliano does).

Do you know what companies/products I could search for that provide that?

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Re: Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by JerryPH » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:47 pm

For a "do it yourself" kit, https://www.midikits.net" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; should have what you want, but I also think you should contact Limex and Musictech as well to see if they could have what you want. A lot depends on what you want and your level of technical skill to properly install these kinds of kits.
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Re: Difference between midi console and expander?

Post by Ganza » Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:25 am

JerryPH wrote:For a "do it yourself" kit, https://www.midikits.net" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; should have what you want, but I also think you should contact Limex and Musictech as well to see if they could have what you want. A lot depends on what you want and your level of technical skill to properly install these kinds of kits.

Cheers jerry.

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