Synths with MIDI interface
I will describe the procedure for the PC, though exactly the same process applies for other computers such as Mac, Linux etc. In here i will detail the use of free MIDI/SYX utility program called MIDI-OX which is used among many other things, for system exclusive (aka Sys-Ex aka SYX) transfers. First step is to obtain a MIDI cable that can be connected to your soundcard MIDI jack. If your soundcard does not provide MIDI jacks then you will have to buy a MIDI-USB interface. This will let you connect MIDI cables to your computer via USB and transfer SYX files. The cable that you purchase (ie via eBay) should look something like this:
After you’ve purchased the cable and installed its drivers (important!) then you can proceed with the next step. And that is to download MIDI-OX software which is available here. If you’re on a Mac there also freeware available for MIDI transfers and is called Sysex Librarian by Snoize, available here. There is also a cool guide for using Snoize available here.
Ok back to PC. Once you start the MIDI-OX first step to do is to look for MIDI Devices in one of the menus and make sure that your USB cable device is selected there under MIDI Outputs. Although the picture below shows selection of MIDI Inputs, please make sure you have MIDI outputs selected with the USB cable and its name. If you have a soundcard that already features MIDI jacks, then in the below dialogue you will select your soundacrd’s MIDI outputs, and that’s it.
Once you have the device selected, close the dialogue. At this point connect MIDI Out jack from your USB MIDI Out cable (or your soundcard’s MIDI Out jack) and connect it to MIDI In jack on the back of your instrument (ie Roland JD-990). Now go back to main window and select the following command:
The program will ask you for the location of the .syx file. It is the same file that you have purchased, so you will guide program to its location on the hard disk and the transfer will begin. Wait for around 1 minute for transfer to finish, and you’re done. In case device does not receive patches, you will have to read user manual of the particular synthesizer and look for System Exclusive Enable/Disable setting. Most synths have this enabled by default, however, if any problem occurs at this stage it is most likely because System Exclusive on the synth was disabled. For example on Roland JV/1080 this setting is under system as Rx.Exc ON/OFF. Another problem might be wrong Device ID. On most units i can think of, it should be set to Unit#17 or Device ID=17. This is also set under System or MIDI settings within the synth. If you still have problems, try resetting the unit to factory defaults.
Synths with USB interface (i.e Waldorf Blofeld)
If you own a synth with USB interface then you don’t have to purchase USB-MIDI cable. Just download latest USB driver from the synth’s manufacturer’s web site and install it into your computer following the provided instructions. Once you do that, and the USB MIDI drivers are installed, connect the synthesizer to your computer via USB cable. Now start your MIDI/SYX utility of choice (MIDI OX or Snoize) and select the MIDI Outputs, which in this case should be USB Audio Device <synth name>.
One important thing for Waldorf Blofeld users: make sure the buffers in the MIDI transfer program are set to number larger than 1024 bytes. For example in MIDI OX program go to View menu. Inside you will see a command called Sysex… Click on it and the Sysex view window will open. In its header you will find Sysex menu. Inside that menu you will find a command that says Configure… Image above shows the window that should be open. Click on it and set Low Level Input and Output Buffers Size to 1048 bytes. Leave other values at default. Click Ok. Close the Sysex window as well. The rest of the procedure (transfer) is exactly the same as was described earlier and that is: Actions / Send / Sysex File…
As of the MIDI-USB cable interface, while it is cool thing for transferring system exclusive messages i do not recommend using it for MIDI sequencing. Please google for: midi jitter usb.