[alsa-devel] unpadded USB MIDI commands

Willem Jan Palenstijn wjp at usecode.org
Wed Feb 10 18:17:14 CET 2010


I recently investigated some trouble with sending MIDI via a USB MIDI cable
(15ca:1806) to a Roland MT-32. In some cases, commands were being dropped.

(This is what is reported on
https://bugtrack.alsa-project.org/alsa-bug/view.php?id=3752 . I'm the colleague
mentioned by druon in note 0021737 there.)

After we experimented a bit, it turned out that packets of 2 MIDI commands (8
bytes total) were being sent to the USB MIDI cable, and that if the first of
these was a 2-byte MIDI command (such as a 0xC0 or 0xD0 command), the second
command in the packet would get dropped.

A workaround is to limit the packet size to 4 bytes, as is already happening on
at least one other device (the ESI M4U referred to in usbmidi.c).

I played with it some more this week, and it turns out that if the zero-padding
from the USB MIDI commands is removed (violating the specs, as far as I
understand), the second command does actually not get dropped.


When sending the two commands 0xD1 0x10 and 0x91 0x40 0x40 normally,
it would produce:
sending packet: [ 0d d1 10 00 09 91 40 40 ]
When routing the MIDI output through the MIDI THRU port on the MT-32 to a
MIDI port on an ES1371, the captured stream is:
d1 10
and no note is played on the MT-32. (The 0x91 command is a note-on.)

After hacking out the zero padding, it looks like this:
sending packet: [ 0d d1 10 09 91 40 40 ]
The re-captured stream is:
d1 10 91 40 40,
and a note is properly played.

What do you think would be the right way to handle this problem? Don't zero-pad
the outgoing packets for this specific device (and maybe a few others mentioned
on bug #3752, if they end up suffering from the same bug)? Limit the outgoing
packets to 4 bytes like with the ESI M4U for these devices? Add an option to
the snd-usb-audio module to toggle this behaviour? Something else?

Best regards,
Willem Jan

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