I’m trying to complete a production.

Changing Air Hybrid 3 patches via MIDI

Where is the documentation for MIDI messages such as Program Change, Bank Change (MSB/LSB) for Air Hybrid 3?

It's not in the manual.
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  • Hello,

    Thanks for posting. 

    I apologize for the inconvenience, but this information is not currently available to the public. However, I'll be happy to submit this to my team as a feature request for you. 

    As an alternative, you can use a MIDI monitoring software (such as MIDI-Ox or MIDI Monitor) to find these messages using your controller.
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  • The thing to understand is soft synths aren't required to follow the MIDI conventions for MIDI program change and bank change, unless their developers want them to.

    Those standards were developed back when external MIDI hardware was the only option, and there had to be a way for the sequencer (DAW) to communicate with the synth. MIDI was the only way to remotely select patches, other than pushing buttons on the front panel of the synth.

    In my experience, most of the soft synths that I own today do not respond to these MIDI program/bank messages. They utilize an internal patch storage and browser system that is far more sophisticated than that offered by the MIDI standard.

    Program and bank change was limited to 128 patches per bank. That is not really practical with modern soft synths. Today's DAWs will save the patch state of all soft synths with the project files, so there's no need to load patches from scratch, once the project is set up.

    I have a few older soft synths that do respond to MIDI patch/bank messages, but most do not.

    What most folks do today is to create a separate instrument track with a new instance of the soft synth for each patch they want to use in their song and just switch active tracks to record/play the sound that they need. You could do this with Hybrid.

    Having all sounds pre-loaded, rather than switching them live, also helps prevent patch load times from causing an interruption in the performance, like you could experience with a sample heavy instrument. Older hardware synths used smaller sample sizes and so the patch changes back then were almost instant.

    If you really do require these MIDI program/bank messages for your workflow, maybe you could acquire an external synth and go old school! Or find a soft synth that does what you need.
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    • Unfortunately, AIR has not published any patches with fixes or updates in several years. Not denying the feature improvement requests make sense, just don't see them happening. Which leaves us users in the workaround mode.

      If you read through these forums you will see countless suggestions for product improvements, and while many have been "passed along to development", zero have been implemented so far. Makes you wonder what is up when they frequently sell these plugins for $1.
    • Are they still producing new products ?
      Anyway, all their soft synths seem to use the same base software platform and if they added something to that, they could probably rebuild and fix them all !
      I am not too upset about the few "issues" to work around with Xpand2 since I only paid 13 british pounds, but if I had paid the price on their own website, things might be different !
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  • Thank you, John. I do understand that soft synths don't have to comply with any or all MIDI messages, and they don't even have to specify in their manuals whether they do so. But if they don't, it's only expected that some users would eventually ask about it in forums such as this - even users that very familiar with workarounds.

    However, perhaps you are not aware that Hybrid 3 does respond to MIDI PC events. You could try that yourself. I found this accidentally, when researching why the current patch would not be saved in the DAW, and discovered it indeed was - but that upon playing a 3rd party MIDI file, Hybrid 3 was responding to PC events in it. Of course, I could delete those events completely, but I prefer to rewrite them instead for workflow reasons.
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  • Sorry, was just going by the information provided in the original question. It appeared that you had assumed that Hybrid was supposed to support the feature.

    I agree that undocumented responses to random MIDI messages contained in files can be very frustrating. I have seen this behavior before, but don't recall if it was with Hybrid specifically, but wouldn't be surprised. I have the complete AIR instrument collection, so it could have been others. I seem to recall this happening at least with Xpand!2 when I was playing back a MIDI sequence and the current patch was changing from what I had selected in the plugin.

    I believe the technique a developer would use to intentionally support bank/patch changes in modern soft synths, would be to provide a user bank that is coded to respond to those change messages, and then you could save your favorites in that bank of 128 patches. That way you could do it the old school way to select the patches from your bank, while the plugin could still have a proprietary patch browser interface for the other 1000's of patches. This would address the need to match a desired patch from a much larger set of patches in the plugin's library to a slot #1-127 in a custom user bank.

    In the case of AIR instruments responding to MIDI messages, it seems more like an accident, rather than by design as I can see no signs of fxb or fxp file support.
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  • Thanks. On further investigation it does seem like an accident - Hybrid 3 does respond to PC events by changing the patch, but to a semi-random patch number, that is, not always to the same patch. BTW, there are advantages to running patches from the DAW using an external file - d.g., the ability to search for a patch by name.
    • On Xpand2 the same happens. However I noticed that if you send a higher program change than before, it goes up by 1 patch (in the current bank), and if you sent a lower program change than before it goes down by 1 patch. So sometimes it appears to be working if the 2 things are in sync. But it is not 100% reliable in the behaviour.
      Surely if the design was to not respond to midi program changes, it would ignore the messages. Not just do strange things !
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  • In fact, it would be great if patch selection could be made from an external controller. Hybrid3 is amazing, but navigate through patches, just to know them, is frustrating because of the bad UI design. This feature would be great, as even simple interaction features like cursor up/down don’t work.
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  • I have Xpand2, but I think this applies to all the AIR soft synths. In contrast to a previous post, all my VST keyboard instruments can response to MIDI program changes ! Some you have to set up a special bank, but that is fine.
    Loading an instance into each track is fine for recording, but if you want access to say 100 patches for live performance, are you going to open 100 instances of a plugin. No of course not. But you can use the plugins patch browser. Well some are better than others, but what if you are using 10 different plugins. Are you going to wrestle with 10 plugin GUIs. No !
    So you absolutely do need midi program changes for live work. And if you have a multi-timbral synth like Xpand2, you want to control the patch on each layer separately ...
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