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Help! USB in to my guitar amp (Line 6 Catalyst 60) via USB B

Hi all.

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 :smirk:

Hello, welcome in this forum :slightly_smiling_face:
From what you say, and since you don’t mention it, I assume your amp is a model 60.
This one does not have a MIDI DIN connection to drive it with a MIDI controller, only the 100 and 200 models have a MIDI DIN connection.
The USB connection cannot receive MIDI data directly but can only exchange audio data or configuration messages via the dedicated app.

Hi, sorry, thats my bad; yes, it’s the 60W.

It does accept MIDI messages though; I’ve proved that by using my iPhone with an app called ‘MIDI Wrench’ to send MIDI PC messages directly to the amp from the phone using a USB B to Lightning cable.

From page 10 of the Catalyst user manual;

‘Using a MIDI Controller with CATALYST;
Optionally, using MIDI controllers can open a number of control possibilities for CATALYST amplifiers, providing total hands-free, remote control of all Amp Voicings & Effects, including their parameters. See the following MIDI Implementation Table for a list of controllable functions.

  1. Start by connecting a MIDI controller to the MIDI IN jack on your CATALYST 100 or 200 (or send MIDI from your computer via USB to the CATALYST 60, 100, or 200). Set your MIDI controller to transmit on MIDI channel 1.’

So all 3 of the Catalyst Amos take MIDI in via USB, it’s only the 100W and 200W that have the 5 pin MIDI in addition.

When I tried my iPhone in to the amp it worked perfectly to change the amp presets; (NB: I was using the phone to send MIDI messages, via a MIDI app, a NOT using the dedicated Line 6 Catalyst Edit app. FWIW I also tried the Line 6 app using the same phone/ cable and that worked perfectly too. In fact I assume app actually uses MIDI signals in a more user friendly interface to achieve the same aim of changing settings on the amp)

Using a phone of course is only a way of testing that the amp is receiving MIDI though of course because I can’t be dragging my finger up and down an iPhone screen when playing the guitar. Which is why I want to be able to send signals to the amp via a MIDI footswitch

Ok, I was not clear enough in my message: midi messages can be sent to the amp (what I called “configuration messages”) but through an application: in the manual: “…or send MIDI from your computer via USB”.

But a usb midi controller will not be able to send messages directly to the amp’s usb input (it does not contain an application).
If you do not want to use a computer for this, you still need to run the Midi controller through a device with a usb input and output and hosting a compatible application.

SNAP

Do consider the CME MIDI Uhost for this. MIDI Is fast over Bluetooth, and there is a MIDI through mode you can set the Host (in the computer) to. You can use a USB-c to USB-b cable for this. In this case you are sending your foot controller MIDI to the computer that relays it back out to your amp. And with no cables. Worth checking out at least?

MIDI Guitar 2 and Wireless MIDI - Testing the CME WIDI Uhost - YouTube

Thank you guys.

What about this; the XSonic Airstep?

It’s a midi controller footswitch that can send midi via usb, Bluetooth and 5 pin.

On their website it says it can act as a USB Host when you use the USB port;

“USB HOST: USB HOST is a unique function of AIRSTEP. In this mode, AIRSTEP’s USB interface is equivalent to the USB on the computer. It means that you can plug-in devices that can be controlled by the computer. Many hardware effects only have a USB port, which is only controlled by a computer, like the ZOOM MS Series, now you can use AIRSTEP to extend more footswitches for them. You can also plug in your USB MIDI controller to AIRSTEP, it will power the controller directly, and forward MIDI messages to Bluetooth, then, your controller becomes wireless.”

Would I be right in thinking that if it can act as a usb host, then it should work to control the patch selection on the amp (which uses Program Change messages) just by plugging it in directly, and without any other hardware/software required?

Ps, so to be clear when you say you need an application to send midi in to the amp via usb, you don’t necessarily mean the Line 6 Catalyst Edit app specifically, but any app that can take midi messages from a controller and transmit them in to a usb unit?

If so that implies that the USB C to B cables I have aren’t the weak link, but actually it’s the Boos RC 5 Looper that I’ve been using the test everything? The Boss will transmit MIDI messages via USB, but the only way I’ve been able to test this is by using the MIDI Wrench app on my phone; I think you’re saying that the phone only detects midi messages coming in from the Boss, BECAUSE I have the midi app on my phone, but it doesn’t work when I plug the Boss straight in to the amp because although the Boss is still sending the midi messages, there is no software app on the amp to ‘read’ them. Have I understood you correctly?

Exactly, the only advantage of the Line 6 application is that it is specifically dedicated to the amp and therefore makes it easier to manage the settings.

As said @LoFiLeiF Thorleif, a wireless controller may be the most practical solution to access to the amp or to the app working well with the amp.

So to be clear, my phone only detects midi messages coming in from the Boss, BECAUSE I have the midi app on my phone.
And the reason I’m not getting PC messages to the amp when I plug the Boss straight in to the it is because although the Boss is still sending the midi messages, there is no software app on the amp to ‘read’ them?

Any thoughts on the Airstep, by the way?

It seems to be the perfect (only??) solution for what I want, IF it will act as a USB host (in place of my MacBook) and send midi messages via USB to the amp. Which their website seems pretty clear it will do…

I advise you to contact xsonic and ask them to be sure that their controller can do what you need for your amp.

:+1:t2::+1:t2: I’ve emailed them to see what they can tell me

Just a thought, but I’ve noticed a disparity between the MIDI PC message the Boss sends and the PC message that my phone receives; when I send PC message #1 from the Boss, my phone receives PC # 0 (and when I send PC #2 from the Boss the phone receives #1 etc)

Could this be part of the problem with the amp not getting messages? The amp uses PC # 0-12

in binary language the first digit (1) is 0.
For Midi data, some manufacturers use the values starting from 0, others from 1.
This does not prevent data transmission, but can only shift the value received by the amp by one unit.

Please keep us informed of xsonic’s responses, as this may be useful to other users.

Of course; so far they seem very positive; they’ve told me they don’t have a Catalyst to try with the Airstep yet but they will make sure it can work with the amp :+1:t2:

I am SOOO glad you posted this because I have spent the past week trying the same thing. I also emailed Airstep and they said the same thing. They don’t have a catalyst but they will test it soon. Not sure if they’re going to get back to me but let’s hope so. I also called Line 6 and they basically told me I had to use a computer. I said “Man, I am not taking my $3,000 macbook to a gig just so I can run my $300 amp” and he didn’t seem to see why. I am at my wit’s end with this issue and am very close to returning this amp or selling it. I really don’t want to do that but there is no solution to this problem other than to buy a 100, which I am not going to do. I have watched a countless demos of this amp series and they all gloss over the miidi aspect of this amp. They’re all like “also it has midi” and they move on. I find this to be ridiculous. If anyone finds anything out, I would celebrate.

Glad I’m not alone! Getting this amp to work with a simple ‘guitar style’ midi footswitch has become a bit of a mission for me.

But I simply can’t get my head around why Line 6 release a new amp and really hype up the ‘return to basics’ plug-n-play aspects of it - but then as you say need you to take $3000 MacBook to a gig to control it! If they were worried about lack of space for a 5 pin socket why not use a TRS one?

Anyway as soon as I get tne Airstep I’ll report back. But even if it works it’s an expensive way of expanding the amps capabilities.

Yes. Totally on a mission. I heard back from Line 6 today. Not the most confident answer but it’s something. Also the “as are detailed in the manual” part is unnecessarily condescending. It’s not my fault that no one knows how to make this work. Here was today’s reply:

You can use any standard MIDI program over USB to control Catalyst features, as are detailed in the amp’s manual. We do not have any official suggestions, but my colleague has offered the suggestion of FBV Express>Kenton USB/MIDI host box>Catalyst. I hope this helps somewhat.
Kind regards,

I may be wrong, but this solution does not seem possible to me: I use an FBV Express that have only a USB B MIDI output.
However, out of the 3 possible connections with the Kenton, none of them allows to connect it to the Catalyst 60’s USB MIDI input. Here are the 3 possible connections of the Kenton, as said in the manual:

  • Standard mode (LED Green): MIDI data received at the MIDI In socket is sent to the USB device and MID data from the USB device is sent to the MIDI Out socket.
  • Merge 1 mode (LED Amber): MIDI IN does not go to USB device but instead is merged with MIDI data coming from the USB device which is then sent to the MIDI Out socket.
  • Merge 2 mode (LED Red):MIDI IN data is sent to the USB device & is also merged with MIDI data from the USB device which is then sent to the MIDI Out socket.

This may be useful for connecting a MIDI DIN controller to the Catalyst’s USB MIDI input but I do not think this will work anyway.
Why? Because I have emailed Line 6 to ask if I could control the Catalyst 60 without an application with the FBV Express or another MIDI controller and they agreed that it was not possible without an application.

As for this solution proposed by Line, it will work very well to connect the FBV Express which is in USB B to the MIDI DIN input… of the Catalyst 100 or 200 only. :angry:

This is so damn frustrating. This was sent to me today by Airstep and I am not sure if it helps either. They said:

AIRSETP can be a USB HOST and send MIDI PC or CC.