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Fishman Triple Play/ MIDI Guitar app Comparison

Discussion in 'Music Creation' started by CSeye, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member

    Having played MIDI guitar beginning with the Yamaha G10, and working with several hardware converters over the years, I’m extremely geared up about two recent developments:

    A wireless hardware unit impressive in performance as well as in size as it’s smaller than a GK-3 pickup.

    A software solution, which is nothing short of evolutionary.

    I’m going to provide a brief comparison of the two so that the reader may better decide which is the best option for them.

    FTP = Fishman Triple Play
    MGA = MIDI Guitar app

    The FTP involves installation of hardware. On-line instructions are very clearly written. Unlike a GK-3 which provides a large number of different thickness spacers, the FTP comes with 4 different thicknesses. Those not comfortable with this type of modification will need to seek out a qualified guitar tech to install the hardware. In my case I used the Tuno-o-matic vintage bridge bracket and the thinnest pick up mounting pad to set up the FTP on my SG. This placed the 3rd and 4th strings at the recommended 1mm gap. Adjusting the two height-adjustment screws at both ends of the pick up brought the low and high E strings close to the 1mm gap. Of course the complexity of set up on other types of guitars will vary.

    The Software includes lite versions of Komplete Elements (Kontakt, GR LE, and Reaktor synths) , Sample Tank XT, a notation program, as well as the essential TriplePlay application. The TriplePlay app includes an excellent tuner, and a wide range of performance parameters such as sensitivity settings, poly vs mono mode and transposition.

    The stand alone application works in OSX 10.7.5 but not in OSX 10.8.3. However, I was able to load the plug-in version on instrument tracks in Logic 9.1.8. and other Mac DAW. A preset created and saved in one DAW is readily available in another. No need to recreate presets per DAW as apparently the data is saved in the app itself.

    About as easy as it gets. Install the app, make a few on-screen adjustments. Done! No additional hardware aside from the guitar of you choice, an interface, and a jack cord.

    Hook Ups
    FTP: Insert the USB receiver and turn on the on-guitar converter for wireless MIDI. A jack cord is still required for audio if needed. 80% of the time that I’ m playing guitar it’s for the purpose of triggering software instruments. As such, the FTP provides a truly minimalist MIDI set up: Guitar with FTP installed, computer, and head phones.

    MGA: Just connect a jack cord from your guitar of choice to the audio interface. Make a few on-screen adjustments. Done. Record-enable the type of track(s) needed as both audio and MIDI are now available to you. Amazing!!!

    Mono/Poly Mode
    FTP: The user can select either in the application including the option to save a preset for each one.

    MGA: It only works in Poly mode: all strings on one channel. I'm probably the lone odd ball in the MIDI guitar universe that actually prefers this as I play "piano, organ, orchestral strings, etc"

    My sense is that both options have some sort of built-in filtering to reduce false triggers (low velocity and short duration extraneous ghost notes). Having spent years trying to tame various MIDI guitar converters, both of these new options give the impression that I’m a more accurate player (than I actually am) based on absent or minimal false triggers compared to recorded output from hardware converters such as the Roland GI-20 and the Axon AX-100.

    Velocity/Dynamic Range
    FTP: A fairly wide velocity dynamic range from soft to loud.

    MGA- A very limited velocity dynamic range. Very difficult to play soft, then progressively louder. Too easy to hit velocities of 127.

    Use with Multiple guitars
    FTP: Right now, as with a GK-3 pickup, while not a permanent installation, removing it from one to set up on another is not a reasonable option. Each guitar requires its own hardware converter and pick up.

    MGA: Can be used with any electric guitar of your choice. You can save setup presets for each one. :thmbup:

    FTP: $399 street price

    MGA- $99 for full version. Still in beta but the developers are rapidly releasing updates with new features, with more on the way.

    FTP: For whatever reason, the unit spits out data on channel 8 (as well as channel 1) often with CC#30 but I’ve seen CC#61 as well. (See first attachment)

    Set up an Environment Transformer as shown in the second attachment to filter this out on input. Otherwise, it will need to be removed via the Event List after recording.

    MGA: The limited velocity range results in note values between around 70 to 127. Use an Environment Transformer with an Expon. value of 2 or 3 as in the third attachment. This will spread out the velocity values for greater dynamic range. I’ve even run two Transformers with the same setting in series for even more spread.

    However, it’s still too easy to hit a velocity value of 127 with relatively medium intensity picking. Another Transformer with a scaled or limited top range may be useful.

    I’m sure that Tangra of Audio Grocery has more eloquent solutions for the limited velocity range of the MIDI Guitar app.

    Ok, that’s a wrap. I hope this information proves helpful to current and prospective users of either of these exciting new options for MIDI guitar.
    When trying to decide which is better, a strat or a Les Paul, the answer is “Yes. One of each.”:D

    Attached Files:

  3. Doug Zangar

    Doug Zangar Senior member

    CSeye - thanks for posting your review!
  4. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member


    I appreciate the mention.

    For a while now, I've thought that the new frontier in MIDI guitar would be cheap, plastic USB controllers like YRG, and similar.

    The software solution, now at beta version 0.7.5 has improved since I started using it at around v0.5. The fact that it exists still amazes me.

    The wireless option is equally impressive and is the one I tend to use most frequently as I'm finding myself less tolerant of getting tangled up in cables these days. :D
  5. Doug Zangar

    Doug Zangar Senior member

    I still step on my headphone cable once in a while to rip them off my head as I get out of my chair. Guitar cables seem to off to one side enough that they are spared my large feet. Wireless does have advantages....
  6. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member

    Sounds familiar. :D:eeek::D
  7. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member

  8. Doug Zangar

    Doug Zangar Senior member

    Been out of town - just downloaded and will check it out later this week. Curious on the velocity scaling.
  9. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member


    I'll be curious to hear your impressions.

    For whatever reason, this version spits out CC#119. An Environment Transformer set up remedies that.

    The Velocity curves are useful especially in combination with the Sensitivity setting in the Recognition section. See attached. I've lost track but I think that the default setting is 25.

    In my case lowering Sensitivity to 10 yields high velocity notes more or less when I want them.

    Attached Files:

  10. Orren Merton

    Orren Merton Logic Samurai / Administrator Staff Member

    I've really had little to say because I've been crazy busy, I mean CRAZY, but I've been following this thread and thank you for posting! I've wanted to say something but I've never had the time to really get into it--and still don't. :)

    I was an early adopter of the FTP and I think that you're on the money with your observations. FTP 1.1 is even better (and 64-bit for LPX). Definitely check it out.

    Okay, of to Comic Con in San Diego—musicians and geeks unite! :)

  11. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member

    Hey Orren,

    You're very welcome:thmbup:

    Exciting times for MIDI guitar.

    Within a few more days, Logic X will be my primary work environment. The thought of not having the 32 bit FTP app available as a plug-in in Logic was not making my day.;) So, thank you for the heads up on the 64 bit version. :D


  12. Doug Zangar

    Doug Zangar Senior member

    Buried in Logic X, might be a while before I get to the Jam Origin update
  13. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member

    Does that means tutorials are on the way? :D I can't wait.:thmbup:
  14. Doug Zangar

    Doug Zangar Senior member

    Look for some from both Eli and I in the not-to-distant future.
  15. DGarsGuitar

    DGarsGuitar New Member

    New Midi User

    Can you comment on which is a better option for someone completely new to Midi? My interests are almost exclusively as a live addition to electric guitar. I'd like to have the ability to add a synth, pad, strings, cello, choir, or any other midi instrument to my arsenal without impacting my normal electric guitar tone.

    Ideally, I'd have a wireless signal to an iPad or iPhone (either FMT or standard wireless guitar into iOS), which would then output sound to the mixer.

    The FMT and JamOrigin seem like the two best options for someone who hasn't already invested in lots of Roland gear. For polyphonic / chord purposes, is one materially better than the other? Is there any other solution out there that's worth considering?

  16. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    I use a Roland pickup and an Axon 100 and almost all the time together with the guitar's audio signal.

    Although the Fishman controller looks very much like the Roland, according to the review posted here the big differences are the wireless function and the less failure sensitive tracking.

    1. Forgiving tracking is a wish of all MIDI guitar players but how far does the Fishman system go with this help? Is fine-tuning possible? Sometimes I want to hear my failures and decide myself if this or the other note were wrong or not. Think about ghost strokes on drums or bass. Similar.

    2. Is the whole conversion done inside the controller and sent over wireless MIDI, or is this wireless audio and the conversion happens in software?

    3. What about this rather fat looking knob at the upper end of the pickup. This is the position where my palm rests when I dampen the low string(s). I am turning my hand there. Wouldn't that knob get in my way? Or is it not as large as it looks on the pictures?
  17. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    I tried the MIDI Guitar app a while ago and now again, the newest version.

    Not bad, really not bad. If the Mac/DAW allows a latency of 32 (which are not all software synths or Macs able to handle anyway) the app as a plugin comes close to an Axon, speed-wise.

    Not for the tracking yet. I've set the sensitivity pretty high and have a very good and clean input signal, but still notes are missing if I play a little faster.

    All notes on one channel – yes of course. They analyze a single audio stream, how should they know which string got picked.

    I don't have problems with the velocity, find it as good as it can be. With the proper setting (velocity gain around 16 and very soft curve) I am able to get values between 10 and 127. It would need some environment work to adapt the velocity response to the input signal, the guitar and the playing style. But hey, this is a realtime MIDI converter with velocity, out of a single audio stream, what do we expect ...

    Great work, I hope they will also get a grip on the missing notes sooner or later. And they have a little problem to recognize the buffer size. But at the moment the app is already good for many synth sounds.


    If one has a hexaphonic pickup like the Roland may think about a breakout box for it. This can send 6 audio streams from 6 strings into the DAW. With 6 instances of MIDI Guitar app, the string information would be here and analysis may be even more accurate.

    We would get rid of converter hardware. Well, we might replace it by another box because not all of us have 6 free preamps available. But the possibilities are great, if we get our single-string audio AND the midi convertion.
  18. CSeye

    CSeye Senior member


    I only record MIDI to a software sequencer and do not play live. I'm essentially an iPad iOS illiterate. :D So, just a few questions.
    What music application will you be using? For the iPad or iPhone?

    Are you a live performer playing solo or as part of an ensemble?

    I can't comment on the iPad app version, but the JamOrigin MIDI Guitar app version for Mac OSX is very easy to set up and use. From a cost stand point, is hard to beat. It plays single lines and chords very accurately once you've adjusted some parameters on the GUI.

    Contact JamOrigin directly about using their app with FMT and your specific iPad music app.

    The Fishman would give you more options such as setting each string to a separate MIDI channel if you need that. I've read that live performers can be up to 20 feet away (maybe more) from the transmitter without compromising the MIDI signal.

    Peter raises several good points. The actually-not-so-large plastic knob can get in the way, inadvertently raising or lowering the mixer fader for the currently active software instrument. I've adapted after a period of annoyance:mad::D Also the false triggers ghost notes can sometimes be a gift, like musical grace notes sprinkled here and there.;)

    The tracking accuracy of the Fishman is pretty darn amazing. Very little time if any is spent removing short, low velocity false triggers. Same with the JamOrigin app.

    Hope this helps.
  19. Orren Merton

    Orren Merton Logic Samurai / Administrator Staff Member

    I have the app on my iPad, although I only used it once and I don't feel confident enough to speak about it's quality. However, I can say that you can't "use" the FTP (which I guess is what you mean by "FMT?") with the Jam App. The JamOrigin app deals with Audio, and the FTP only sends MIDI. However, you *can* use the FTP with any iOS app that accepts standard CoreMIDI input (which is all of them, AFAIK).

    I should mention as a left-handed user, I have the FTP installed near the very center bottom of my guitar, so it's totally and completely out of the way (the knob is also completely useless to me, as it's upside down and backwards).

    Again, I can't speak to the JamOrigin, but the tracking of the FTP is absolutely fantastic. It was designed by the Axon developer and it's firmware contains the latest updates to the Axon pitch-to-MIDI technology, which was the best for a long time.

    My wishes for the FTP (and they know this) would be more accommodations to lefties, and an internal kit. :)

  20. DGarsGuitar

    DGarsGuitar New Member

    Thanks for the reply, CSeye. Let me clarify the options I'm looking at:

    1. Fishman Triple Play into iOS Device via the camera connection kit (USB) - iPhone 5, iPad 2 or iPad Mini. MIDI would be fed into something like Sample Tank or GarageBand, then audio would go out of the headphone jack and into the mixer.

    2. Wireless guitar (old AKG unit) into an iRig HD or other high quality iOS converter. Guitar signal would feed into MIDI Guitar App, then into Sample Tank or Garage Band, and audio out of the headphone jack to mixer.

    I'd primarily use it as a pad or synth underneath either an acoustic or electric sound produced through the Variax / POD HD500 setup, and occasionally use MIDI for something like a piano, cello, vocal chorus, etc.

    With the option for wireless guitar from my AKG unit, Fishman's wireless capability is no longer a selling point. I won't be splitting strings like Burr Johnson in the forseeable future, so Fishman loses another point. I'm primarily interested in price, latency, and polyphonic tracking performance. If the FMT doesn't have markedly better performance in either latency or polyphonic tracking, it seems like a no-brainer to go with either the $20 MIDI Guitar app for iOS or the full $100 MIDI Guitar app for Mac/Windows.

    All that said, if there's another setup that would get me into MIDI on my guitar for the same or less money with better tracking / latency, I'm all ears.
  21. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    When Orren says that the tracking of the Fishman is fantastic, then it is a good lot better than the MIDI Guitar app. As I said, I found it astonishing close to an Axon 100 but well, it was not exactly there and the last few milliseconds are the hardest to get. I had to use a buffer of 32. I have synths that don't run with this small buffer on my Mac and not all Macs can use such a buffer anyway. Users on older machines may rather use a buffer of 512 (like me, for many years).

    At the moment you are ok with the software if you need synth sounds with relatively slow attack. Pads, thick leads, maybe a soft flute or a whining cello, background noise, things like that. Of course it depends on your latency tolerance and if you mix the synth with the guitar audio. For sharp attacks the latency might be too long for you. If the comparison tells you anything: you get about the speed of a Roland GR-20.

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