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Old 5th March 2016
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by Monotremata View Post
All MIDI Thru does is take a copy of what comes in at the MIDI In and passes it along to whatever its connected to. Its only really useful when you have multiple synths and need to play back something from a sequencer that only has one MIDI output.. Your data comes out on multiple MIDI channels from the sequencer, and each synth only plays back and reacts to the data coming in from the channel its set to respond to. But it will send a copy of that entire data stream to the MIDI Thru port, so the next synth thats set to MIDI channel 2/3/4/5/etc can play back their corresponding MIDI tracks. After about 3 or 4 devices though you could start running into lag receiving data which can cause the playback to be off on the machines further down the chain.

MIDI Out on the other hand, doesn't do anything with the MIDI In data and only sends whatever output the synth is doing when you hit keys, or mess with a controller knob, so you can record it back into the sequencer..

If you're going to look at the MOTU MIDI Express XT, just make sure you get the USB version. Theres two versions of it. The 'older' one is a serial/parallel port based interface, and Im pretty sure your laptop doesn't have those 'ancient' connections anymore. I just did a quick search on eBay, and the USB versions, no matter how old are nowhere near $20.. The old ones might but even some of those people are trying to get $100 for em (there was one for $289 that made me laugh out loud hehe). The USB XT's run about $400 new so $20 is wishful thinking, or just dumb luck. I had the original one and it was pretty awesome, but ditched it when I moved to a Mac in like 2001 and ended up with a USB Emagic AMT8 which is basically the same thing, only aside from serial ports, its USB.. Im shocked Apple is still supporting it in OS X, but its never given me a single issue in the 10+ years Ive owned it and is still my MIDI hub to this day.
Non USB work fine if you just want a patchbay. Front panel buttons give a decent amount of options too. Really the only thing the drivers/serial connection does is allow you to use it as an interface and open up some filtering options, but for a basic I/O patchbay, the work great.