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Interfacing Vintage Synths with MIDI

As you may have realised, I own a few Vintage Synths

  • Yamaha CS-5
  • Korg Delta
  • Roland SH2000
  • Korg m500SP

None of the above are equipped with MIDI.

However. some are equipped with cv (control volt) and trigger (or gate) inputs and outputs. The easy solution is to simply use a midi-cv converter such as the Kenton Pro Solo or Philip Rees Little MCV.

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Just to complicate matters, there are two completely different standards : 1v/Octave, and Hz/Volt. You need to make sure that you get the right one for your synth..

There are also issues with trigger voltages: for instance I am aware that the Yamaha CS-5 needs “tweaked” signals that the Kenton converter can provide.

An advantage of using a converter box is that no modification is required to your vintage hardware, however internal midi retrofit systems are available.  An example of this is the Synhouse MIDIJACK II, but this only works with v/octave systems (not Hz/Volt).

If like me, you have a Korg m500, your options are very limited indeed: you’ll need to somehow install cv and trigger/gate sockets, before you can even start to think about midi/cv converters..