DIY MIDI switchers and routers

I’m looking for a box that will swizzle MIDI channels around and route notes and sysex messages to various boxes (Pianos, Synths) on the MIDI Out pots, from a variety of MIDI controllers (drum pads, Novation launchpad, computers, etc.). I’m handy with a soldering iron, so am not averse to building a kit for this function.

Has anyone found some good DIY resources on this? 8 IN and 8 OUT would be a basic requirement, based on the amount of equipment I have.

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I assume you’re referring to a MIDI patch bay? All MIDI patch bays pass & reroute all MIDI messages, incl. sysex like you said you want.

I don’t know of any DIY kits. But if you’re open to buying an existing product, in my opinion the MOTU MIDI Express 128 8x8 (8 in/8 out) is the best patch bay on the market right now. I have a JL Cooper MSB+ Rev 2 8x8 MIDI patch bay (bought it in 1993) which I think is even better, but it’s out of production and doesn’t have USB, so syncing it to a DAW is a huge pain in the butt.

You might also find some interesting products on the MIDI Solutions site. They make all sorts of racks & boxes for manipulating MIDI, like mergers, routers, thru modules, almost anything one would need:

I used a Digital Music MX-8 when I was touring, and it did the job beautifully. I would program ‘songs’ in the sequencer of my master keyboard, and the song was really just a title that would send a program change to the MX-8. Then the MX-8 would send program changes to every keyboard and rack unit, layer what needed layering, etc., all with a single button push.

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Sam, I had a similar setup with my old band. I bought an Alesis Datadisk around 1992 to store all my sysex dumps, then Alesis released an upgrade that allowed the Datadisk to be the master program changer and store/play back sequences for a MIDI rig (re: sequences, that’s if I remember correctly…i had an MMT-8 at the time but don’t’ think I used it live). I would just load a file from the Datadisk and it would load all the sequences for a song and change programs on my MIDI patch bay, JX-3P, DW-8000 and our two guitarist’s Quadraverb GTs, all just by pressing my little foot pedal. In 1993, on my limited budget, that was awesome!


Roland A-880
Edirol UM-880
MOTU Midi Express XT
Edirol UM-550
amt8/Emagic Unitor-8
JL Cooper Synapse
Akai ME-80P
Rocktron Prophesy II Rack Preamp Multi-Effects Unit.
Kawai MAV-8
Digital Music Corp MX-8
Yamaha MJC-8
Studio 64 Xtc Midi Patch
JL Cooper MSB+ Rev 2 Midi Patch Bay
MIDIman Midisport 8 x 8
OMS Opcode Studio 4 (MIDI PATCH BAY)
Steinberg Midex 8

@ralphw: I just came across an old article from the September 1987 issue of Sound On Sound which discusses modding or creating MIDI patch bays per your original post:

The above link is for pt.1 of an 8 part series of articles. Links to all parts are on the right side of each page.

Hope this helps.

Edit: fixed URL

I’ve used a JL Copper Synapse for the last year and it is quite easy to use as a patch bay. It has other capabilities including filtering and sending realtime note transposition, which are probably negated by most moderately powerful standalone sequencers (and DAW setups, of course). Here’s a quick overview and demo of the basic features: