I have a Line 6 Catalyst Amp (the 60W version) which is new to the market and yet annoyingly only has MIDI in via USB B
I have spent the last week trying every solution I can think of to get the amp connected to a MIDI controller but simply cannot get it to work;
A couple of caveats;
I do not want the amp connected to my MacBook to get MIDI commands to the amp. I want to use a footswitch to do this. The point of the amp is that it is a simple plug-n-play sort of thing so I want to keep the rig as cable free as possible - and I want to be able to control it using a footswitch.
I have therefore been searching for ways to get MIDI messages in via USB B and to my surprise I cannot find anywhere a USB B to 5 pin MIDI cable. It appears they don’t exist?
I have managed to connect the amp to my iPhone and have used a MIDI amp to get MIDI PC messages to it so I know it works. However this is obviously not a foot controllable set up, just one that allows me to test that MIDI is coming in to the amo.
This set uses a USB C to lightning cable, so I know that cable works.
However to connect a controller I have 3 options;
Option 1) Use my amp modeller / fx unit which is a Headrush MX5. This can send PC messages. It has TRS MIDI in/out ports. I was hoping I could do this using a simple TRS to USB B cable - but again it seems no such thing exists
So I then tried a TRS cable in to a ‘TRS female-USB C adapter’ which in turn goes in to a ‘USB C female to USB B male’ adapter.
This didn’t work;I know the TRS cable can carry the MIDI signal because I’ve tested it sending PC messages between the Headrush and a Boss looper that also has TRS MIDI ports.
I also know the ‘USB C female to USB B male’ adapter works for MIDI because I’ve tested that to get PC messages to the amp from my MacBook using the adapter and a ‘USB A to USB C cable’.
So the weak link in this equation appears to be the ‘TRS female-USB C adapter’.
Q: does anyone know if an adapter like this can carry MIDI?
Option 2) Use my Boss RC 5 looper, which can transmit PC messages, to change the amp channels via PC message. I know the Boss is sending PC messages because I can plug it in to my iPhone and the MIDI app shows incoming PC messages. To plug it in to my iPhone I use the same cable that I use to plug my iPhone in to the amp, so again I know that cable works.
However when I plug the Boss in to the amp, I have to replace the cable with a ‘USB B to USB C’ cable. I then use the same ‘USB C female to USB B male’ adapter, which I know works because that was tested as mentioned in Option 1, above.
So it appears it could be the ‘USB B to USB C’ that is the weak link here. I am unable to test this independently with the iPhone MIDI app, because I can’t connect USB C in to my iPhone and don’t have an Android phone in the house.
I have tried two‘USB B to USB C’ cables, bought on Amazon. One was sold as specifically being a MIDI cable, the other just a printer cable.
Q: Is there a difference in the capability of ‘USB B to USB C’ cables? Or should they all work to carry MIDI so it is just marketing hype it it says it will? Regardless neither have worked for me when added to adapters that I have tested and work with other set-ups.
Option 3) Use something like an XSonic Airstep Multi Controller to send PC message to the amp via the same ‘USB B to USB C’ cables I’ve used in Option 2.
The problems here are;
a) I don’t have the controller yet so would need to buy one in the hope it works. It should because it can send MIDI via its USB C socket and can act as a MIDI host.
b) I would be using the same cables that didn’t work before, so if it’s the cables that are the problem this is a very expensive way to find out! Although I would also be able to use the Airstep with other hardware so it will still get used.
This all leads me back to the main question, which is about the ‘USB B to USB C’ cables. From what I can tell they should be able to carry MIDI, and the adapter I used to connect it to the amp definitely works with other USB cables - so what am I missing? Are all cables equal or will only some carry MIDI signals and others (cheaper ones?) won’t?
This has been bugging me - and wasting my time (thank you, Line 6!) for long enough now that I’m thinking I may return the amp