Old 04-14-2017, 10:02 AM   #1
michael diemer
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Default Question About Channels

If you're doing a large orchestral project, do you assign different channels to each instrument? The reason I ask is, when I enter a note via step record, the channel always gets assigned as 1. I then have to change it so it matches the rest of the notes for that inst. I always assign each inst. to a dedicated channel. flutes on 1, oboes on 2, etc. Having to deal with the channel is an extra step, which you don't have to deal with other DAWs, like Sonar. There doesn't seem to be any way around it, so I have to make the change immediately, or, more likely, I forget, and then have to go back and select all events, hit F2 and then fix them all at that point. Which makes me wonder, do I even need to do that? I mean, the channel is obviously important during setup, when you're routing everything, but after that, does it matter if, in the event list, the channel sometimes is different? Would it, for example, affect the pan or volume settings? It would be great if I could just not worry about it, workflow would be much improved.
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Old 04-14-2017, 10:33 AM   #2
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Set this to select the channel for the notes, before you enter them:

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Old 04-14-2017, 08:58 PM   #3
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Thanks Dark Star, but I tried it and it doesn't work. I don't know if it's because I'm working in the notation view, and they didn't think of this when they developed it, but when I set the channel per your suggestion, and then check in Event List to see the notes I entered, they all say channel 1.
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Old 04-15-2017, 07:33 AM   #4
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Ah, you didn't mention the Notation Editor earlier.
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Old 04-15-2017, 09:47 AM   #5
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I work with orchestral projects. Kontakt is my VSTi (it doesn´t matter it is kontakt or whatever). In my kontakt instance, each family of instruments has its own channel (piano in channel 1, first violins in channel 2, second violins in ch 3, violas in ch 4, ...) but all midi events are in channel 1, because my midi keyboard plays in channel 1.

No problem. I have my VSTi (kontakt) in a dedicated track. Just only for kontakt. The violas are in channel 4. Now I insert a track, the violas track. All viola midi events are in channel 1. But in the sends of the track, the routing is Midi: All to 4. So, that track receives midi events from all channel, but send them to kontakt by channel 4.

Kontakt receives these midi events by channel 4, and drive them to violas.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:11 AM   #6
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Ah, you didn't mention the Notation Editor earlier.
sorry, my mistake.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by teniente powell View Post
I work with orchestral projects. Kontakt is my VSTi (it doesn´t matter it is kontakt or whatever). In my kontakt instance, each family of instruments has its own channel (piano in channel 1, first violins in channel 2, second violins in ch 3, violas in ch 4, ...) but all midi events are in channel 1, because my midi keyboard plays in channel 1.

No problem. I have my VSTi (kontakt) in a dedicated track. Just only for kontakt. The violas are in channel 4. Now I insert a track, the violas track. All viola midi events are in channel 1. But in the sends of the track, the routing is Midi: All to 4. So, that track receives midi events from all channel, but send them to kontakt by channel 4.

Kontakt receives these midi events by channel 4, and drive them to violas.
Yes, that's how I do it to, I think if you have a VSTi where you can put the various instrument patches on different midi channels, then set you midi track "All->X", "X" being the channel number, then it will work properly.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:20 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by teniente powell View Post
I work with orchestral projects. Kontakt is my VSTi (it doesn´t matter it is kontakt or whatever). In my kontakt instance, each family of instruments has its own channel (piano in channel 1, first violins in channel 2, second violins in ch 3, violas in ch 4, ...) but all midi events are in channel 1, because my midi keyboard plays in channel 1.

No problem. I have my VSTi (kontakt) in a dedicated track. Just only for kontakt. The violas are in channel 4. Now I insert a track, the violas track. All viola midi events are in channel 1. But in the sends of the track, the routing is Midi: All to 4. So, that track receives midi events from all channel, but send them to kontakt by channel 4.

Kontakt receives these midi events by channel 4, and drive them to violas.
OK, so here is what I do:

Separate track for each inst.
separate track for each instance of a synth.
Each inst. routed to specific channel, corresponding to channel on synth.

This sounds like what you have going. My midi keyboard is as basic as it gets, you can't even set a channel on it. It has keys and an on/off switch. That's it. I have no idea what channel it's sending on. Maybe I have to route things differently because of this?

My concern: my volume changes could get screwed up. I use the Event List for volume changes (also velocity), so won't that need to be on same channel?

I clearly don't understand this...hopefully you can help me sort it out!
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:23 AM   #9
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Yes, that's how I do it to, I think if you have a VSTi where you can put the various instrument patches on different midi channels, then set you midi track "All->X", "X" being the channel number, then it will work properly.
Hmm, you've given me an idea, Todd. I'll have to try something and get back to you.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:33 AM   #10
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OK, so here is what I do:

Separate track for each inst.
separate track for each instance of a synth.
Each inst. routed to specific channel, corresponding to channel on synth.

This sounds like what you have going. My midi keyboard is as basic as it gets, you can't even set a channel on it. It has keys and an on/off switch. That's it. I have no idea what channel it's sending on. Maybe I have to route things differently because of this?

My concern: my volume changes could get screwed up. I use the Event List for volume changes (also velocity), so won't that need to be on same channel?

I clearly don't understand this...hopefully you can help me sort it out!
If you're using one instance of Kontakt for each instrument, then it shouldn't matter what midi channel the midi events are on, as long as you've got the midi track send set to All->Chan#. Chan# is the midi channel you've got the instrument in Kontakt set to.

Actually if you're only using one instrument in Kontakt, then set the instrument patch in Kontakt to "Omni", and it wont matter what the midi track is set to.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:41 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by michael diemer View Post
Each inst. routed to specific channel, corresponding to channel on synth.
You have to route each instrument as I (and Tod) have told you: Midi: All -> (specific channel).


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My midi keyboard is as basic as it gets, you can't even set a channel on it. It has keys and an on/off switch. That's it. I have no idea what channel it's sending on.
A midi event always, always, has a channel. If your keyboard is a midi keyboard, then it sends midi events, and its midi events have a channel. Try to record something in a track with your keyboard and in Event List you can see its channel. I bet for channel 1.
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Old 04-15-2017, 11:45 AM   #12
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... can't the MIDI channel for new notes be set in the Notation Editor?
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Old 04-15-2017, 12:25 PM   #13
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... can't the MIDI channel for new notes be set in the Notation Editor?
Yes Star, it can be. I can set it for say, ch 7 (Trumpets), enter the note (via step record, my preferred method as you can enter a series). But, when I look in the Event List, the channel will be 1. (This answers also the question about what channel my keyboard is sending on - it's 1, as Sr. Powell stated).

Also, my projects were all originally done in Sonar. I imported them as midi files into Reaper. Interestingly, all the channels in event list were imported correctly, so that all the trumpet notes were on ch 7, all the violin s on 12, etc. Back in Sonar, when using Step Record, the new notes would be on the "correct" channel. Which is not happening in Reaper. the question is, does it matter? Am I obsessing needlessly? (as opposed to purposeful obsessing. If there is such a thing).

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Old 04-15-2017, 12:31 PM   #14
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If you're using one instance of Kontakt for each instrument, then it shouldn't matter what midi channel the midi events are on, as long as you've got the midi track send set to All->Chan#. Chan# is the midi channel you've got the instrument in Kontakt set to.

Actually if you're only using one instrument in Kontakt, then set the instrument patch in Kontakt to "Omni", and it wont matter what the midi track is set to.
Tod, I generally use many insts. per synth instance. The exception is Dim Pro, which is limited to one inst (I know supposedly multi-timbral, but that's hogwash. I phoned Cakewalk a long time ago and they told me you can't really use it that way). On Kontakt, the only thing I use is Cinematic Strings. Five insts, one Kontakt Player. Then, I have Aria, Play and Vienna Player. I may have a few to several ints. on each. all with own channel, geared to the inst track.
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Old 04-15-2017, 12:42 PM   #15
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Tod, I generally use many insts. per synth instance. The exception is Dim Pro, which is limited to one inst (I know supposedly multi-timbral, but that's hogwash. I phoned Cakewalk a long time ago and they told me you can't really use it that way). On Kontakt, the only thing I use is Cinematic Strings. Five insts, one Kontakt Player. Then, I have Aria, Play and Vienna Player. I may have a few to several ints. on each. all with own channel, geared to the inst track.
Okay Michael, I thought you'd said you said something about using VSTis with just one instrument, but I must have misunderstood.

So then just use the right sends on the individual midi tracks and you should be good to go.
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Old 04-15-2017, 12:44 PM   #16
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You have to route each instrument as I (and Tod) have told you: Midi: All -> (specific channel).


A midi event always, always, has a channel. If your keyboard is a midi keyboard, then it sends midi events, and its midi events have a channel. Try to record something in a track with your keyboard and in Event List you can see its channel. I bet for channel 1.
Yes, tu es correctamente. When I use step record, the channels will be entered as 1 in event list. so my keyboard sends on ch 1.

Dark Star worked (very patiently) with me to get the routing right. The two endpoint settings are "all" and then the specific channel the inst. is on in the synth. Any other way and I get no sound, so the routing must be right. I think it's also what you and Tod have been saying, n'est pas?
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Old 04-15-2017, 01:20 PM   #17
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Aha, I've made a discovery. You know when you click on the button on the left of the inst, and do a bunch of settings (monitor input, record input, etc)? On the one for midi input, under "all midi inputs" I've been selecting "all channels," and then under the sub menu "map to channel X". As I said, something Tod said gave me an idea. I changed the "all channels" setting to channel one. And lo and behold, now when I step record, the channel is registered correctly in event list.

Holy Machamadunga!! The problem may be solved! I'll do some work and let you all know. In the meantime, thanks for the help, everyone.
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Old 04-15-2017, 05:24 PM   #18
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On the other hand, I still have a problem when I drag notes from inst A to inst B (in notation view). They will have the channel of inst A, when they are now on inst B. I figured out how to copy/paste OK. I first select the notes, copy them, then change the channel control in lower right corner to receiving inst, paste them, then reset the channel control to "all channels" (otherwise you won't see any notes).

So, I've solved the step-record thing, and copy/paste. But I still have the issue with dragging notes. At least I can copy/cut/paste OK, but dragging notes would still be helpful. not sure if there is a solution there. but then again, I'm not sure it matters. Maybe I should just not worry about it, and if I don't hear any difference in the music, why bother? It may just be something I remember being a certain way in Sonar, so I think it needs to be that way in Reaper. Maybe it's irrelevant.
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Old 04-16-2017, 11:30 AM   #19
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Been doing some thinking and searching about midi channels, and it appears the larger issue is that there are really two kinds of channels. One related to your interface or sound-making module, and the other relating to channels on a VSTi, or soft-synth.

My current thinking is that once you have set things up, routed everything so that you can play your keyboard, hear your tracks through a VSTi, etc, then it doesn't really matter what the channels in the Event List are.

The midi channels on the VSTi are separate from the channels your keyboard is transmitting on. Like CC messages, they relate only to the inst. on that channel in your VSTi. As long as things are routed correctly, everything plays/records the way it should. If a "midi channel" for the flutes get changed from 2 to 1, why should it matter? (I'm not talking about a change in the way the inst is routed, just the midi channel in Event List). It's not a real channel anyway, more like a virtual channel. After all, a VSTi is a virtual instrument.

Does this make any sense? I'm really interested in people's thoughts on this as I have been confused about this issue forever. along with a boatload of other stuff. sometimes I think this stuff IS rocket science.
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Old 04-16-2017, 12:05 PM   #20
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Think the channels as bus lines stopping at Kontakt Street. Until Kontakt Street no matter what bus you travel in. Beyond Kontakt Street each bus line takes a different way. In Kontakt Street is very important you get the right bus line.
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:39 PM   #21
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A guy on the Sonar forum says that the channels in Event List don't matter, they are overridden by the routing settings. This is what I've suspected all along. So, I'm concluding they don't matter and will try to let them be. The less you have to fool with things, the better. If I find this is not the case, I'll let you know. Meantime, thanks again to all who helped out here.
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Old 04-18-2017, 11:04 AM   #22
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It may just be something I remember being a certain way in Sonar, so I think it needs to be that way in Reaper. Maybe it's irrelevant.
I think that much of the confusion regarding channels stems from the fact that the term "channel" can have at least three different meanings in DAWs:
* Audio: 2 channel in stereo, etc
* Mixing: Channel as synonym for track or bus.
* MIDI: Each note or CC must be assigned to one of 16 MIDI channels, which allows virtual instruments (if they are so programmed) to handle these channels separately. The virtual instrument can, for example, play a different instrument for each channel.

As per standard MIDI specifications, MIDI channel is a property of each individual note of CC, similar to pitch or velocity. MIDI channel is *not* a track property, and MIDI channel does not have any correlation to track number (unless the user deliberately makes them line up). Each track or MIDI take can include MIDI events of multiple channels.

When you perform a standard copy/paste of MIDI events between tracks, REAPER faithfully copies the events' properties. It does not know whether it should change the MIDI channel to conform to the MIDI channel(s) of existing events in the track (nor, for example, does it analyze the key signature or velocity range of existing events and change the pitches or velocities to match).

Some DAWs, such as SONAR, includes MIDI channel ("Ch") as a track control, which gives the impression that MIDI channel is a track property:




This is misleading, however: The track control simply overrides the notes' and CCs' own MIDI channel properties.

In REAPER, you can also override the notes' and CCs' MIDI channels. For example:
* When routing MIDI to another track, select "Send to channel X" in the routing window.
* Use a JSFX such MIDI Tool II before the VSTi's. You can emulate SONAR's interface by linking the JSFX sliders to track controls:




P.S. REAPER has powerful multi-channel MIDI editing capabilities. If you use routing or JSFX to force all MIDI playback into a single channel (or if your VSTi does not care about MIDI channels), then the MIDI inside the track can freely be assigned to any channel, and channels can be employed as 16 all-purpose groups that can be independently edited, similar to FL Studio's "color groups".

Also: If you have installed ReaPack, you will find several scripts that are very useful for multi-channel MIDI editing. Just search for "script" and "channel" in the Action list's Main and MIDI Editor contexts.

Last edited by juliansader; 04-18-2017 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 04-19-2017, 07:37 PM   #23
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Thank you Julian for that instructive reply. You seem to be saying that I don't have to bother with the channels in Event List, which is what I've pretty much concluded. I don't need them to emulate Sonar; I am a confirmed Reaper user. I will continue freely ignoring the fact that they no longer are all lined up nice and proper. Anything that improves workflow is a no brainer.
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Old 04-19-2017, 08:24 PM   #24
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On the other hand, I still have a problem when I drag notes from inst A to inst B (in notation view). They will have the channel of inst A, when they are now on inst B.
The fact that Sonar automatically changed the MIDI channel when dragging notes from one track to another is completely backwards. It may stem from its earlier MIDI centric says (maybe they only allowed 16 tracks - one for each MIDI channel).

Anyway, Julian's summary of types of channels is accurate and concise.

Personally, I primarily use MIDI channel 1 on all tracks and only change channels to leverage articulations loaded into different channels of the VSTi. This means that each track is its own dedicated instrument. For example, flute I and flute II would each be on its own track. I also load the VSTi on the same track as my MIDI data. This is vastly different from Sonar. Any MIDI effect would go before the VSTi while any audio effect would go after and/or be leveraged via parent or sends. This setup keeps my tracks from getting too cluttered (I have one track for my solo trumpet instead of a track for MIDI and a separate track for audio), removes the need for MIDI sends in most cases, and makes it easy to freeze tracks on large projects.
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Old 04-19-2017, 09:51 PM   #25
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The fact that Sonar automatically changed the MIDI channel when dragging notes from one track to another is completely backwards. It may stem from its earlier MIDI centric says (maybe they only allowed 16 tracks - one for each MIDI channel).

Anyway, Julian's summary of types of channels is accurate and concise.

Personally, I primarily use MIDI channel 1 on all tracks and only change channels to leverage articulations loaded into different channels of the VSTi. This means that each track is its own dedicated instrument. For example, flute I and flute II would each be on its own track. I also load the VSTi on the same track as my MIDI data. This is vastly different from Sonar. Any MIDI effect would go before the VSTi while any audio effect would go after and/or be leveraged via parent or sends. This setup keeps my tracks from getting too cluttered (I have one track for my solo trumpet instead of a track for MIDI and a separate track for audio), removes the need for MIDI sends in most cases, and makes it easy to freeze tracks on large projects.
I've thought about a dedicated track for literally each inst, but have been content so far to put flutes 1 and 2 on the same track. I do occasionally separate violins out when divisi gets too complicated, but that isn't often.

As you say, Sonar has been around so long that the way they do things may be different than newer DAWS. This particular issue is a good example, it really threw me when I switched to Reaper, a newer DAW that treats midi in a more modern fashion. Fortunately, looks like it's resolved. And I have learned quite a bit, both here and on the Sonar forum. All forums should be this good!
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Old 08-12-2017, 02:04 PM   #26
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Update on this thread: I decided to correct all the channel assignments in Event List as I near completion of piece I'm working on. I did this because I thought I was hearing the clarinets on the right, when they should be on the left. To my surprise, assigning correct channels fixed this. Furthermore, the piece sounds distinctly different now. I will need to correct volumes, as pans have obviously changed. In other words, since not bothering about "correct" channels anymore, I've been mixing wrong. Now, with "correct" channels reestablished, I will need to remix everything.

So, it looks like it does matter which channel things are on. To refresh, I'm talking here about when you copy/cut paste material from one inst. to another. Reaper gets the channels wrong, and you have to correct it manually. This thread came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter, and that is the assumption I've been operating under. However, I now have empirical evidence (the best kind) that IT DOES matter.
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Old 08-12-2017, 03:24 PM   #27
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Maybe you can make custom actions with "Select all Events" ("Events" includes the CCs) and "Set selected to channel X" (One for each channel). Then you can add these to half-size toolbar buttons with numbers 1 to 16 and can change the channel with one click.

hopi made some very good halfsized ones and even included a Photoshop file, thread is here: Toolbar Spacers and Titles - a different method.
They look like this: Screenshot

Just wanted to mention this, maybe it's of some use for you...
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Old 08-12-2017, 04:18 PM   #28
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This thread came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter, and that is the assumption I've been operating under.
Eh? This is an unfortunate misunderstanding -- nothing in this thread was intended to imply that MIDI channels don't matter.

The thread did advise that IF the MIDI is forced to a specific channel before going to the VI, then it wouldn't matter what the original channels of the MIDI were.


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Reaper gets the channels wrong, and you have to correct it manually.
You appear to assume that the correct way of handling MIDI channels is to make it a track property, similar to what SONAR does?
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Old 08-12-2017, 05:11 PM   #29
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Eh? This is an unfortunate misunderstanding -- nothing in this thread was intended to imply that MIDI channels don't matter.

ME: Sorry, I should have re-read this whole thread. Also, I may have got this thread confused with others of the same question on the Soanr and East West forums.

Julian: The thread did advise that IF the MIDI is forced to a specific channel before going to the VI, then it wouldn't matter what the original channels of the MIDI were.

ME: With my setup, having a primitive keyboard, I can only get sound if I set the track channels to either Source or channel 1. This is just to get sound from keyboard. I do then route each inst. to the channel it's on in the synth/VSTi it is in.




Julian:You appear to assume that the correct way of handling MIDI channels is to make it a track property, similar to what SONAR does?
Yes, I no doubt am still carrying some of the tendencies I had on sonar, which were conditioned by years of usage. But maybe not. Since I work a lot in Event List, I usually put a pan setting there for each inst. Although lately I've been setting pans on the VSTi if it lets me.
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