MIDIMAN MIDISPORT 8x8 (M-AUDIO)

This article deals with driver install problems showing up when firmware out of date is running on this MIDI hub.  To correct the problem, the firmware upgrade procedure to version 1.21 is described further.

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I bought this USB MIDI box some time ago and so far I was satisfied with it. It is probably one of the best MIDI hubs available out there. It is produced under the name "MIDIMAN" one of M-AUDIO logos owned by .

Here are the features for this box as presented by manufacturer:

Features:
• 8 independent in / 8 independent out MIDI Interface (128x128 MIDI channels) in professional 19" single height rack mount chassis.
• High-speed connection to USB-equipped PC or Apple computers.
• Alternate "legacy" serial connection to non-USB PC or Apple computers.
• MIDI in and out activity indicators for each port.
• Includes 6 ft. USB cable.
• When disconnected from the PC, unit operates as a stand-alone MIDI patchbay.
• Built-in "MIDI cable tester" mode.
• Windows 98 compatible -- true Plug-and-Play installation requires no IRQ, I/O Address or DMA chan-nel setup.
• Mac OMS Compatible. Works with Mac OS 9 and above.
• Includes Windows and Mac Control Panel software.
• Performs "JAM" sync in all modes.
• Lifetime Warranty.

SMPTE Time Code Writer/Reader
• Reads and writes 24, 25, 29.97, 30 drop or 30 non-drop frame LTC SMPTE formats.
• Any SMPTE time write offset may be set-up via included control panel software.
• Converts LTC to MIDI Time Code (MTC) for syncing any MTC capable software.
• Selectable "flywheel" that can be set to any value from 1 frame to 255 frames, or forever.
• Can perfectly regenerate even the worst SMPTE Time Code.

My satisfaction didn't come trouble free, as I found later that I could not update to the latest drivers with my box. When I tried the driver update although the USB connection was detected, the driver/installer was not detecting properly the MIDI device. The problem lies with the USB driver named "Midiman USB MidiSport 8x8/s Loader".  This driver loads-up and enables the USB interface to communicate with the MIDISPORT 8x8 box. Then the system will detect the MIDI devices on the box and will install the required MIDI multimedia driver for Windows. This should had happened at the install time for later drivers starting with version 4.1.15. But because my box had an old firmware that didn't provide the kind of support required by this procedure, the install did not complete and the multimedia MIDI driver did not show up in the device list. The only driver supported with my box was version 1.08 but nothing released after.

I contacted M-AUDIO and they asked at first if my W2K OS got the latest service pack installed and other small details computer/OS related which may cause the driver installation to fail. After that, they recommended to do a complete manual un-install as per the following procedure:

  1. Download the latest driver for the Midisport 8x8 (4.1.21) AND the Midisport Uninstaller from M-AUDIO product support web site to the Desktop.
  2. Reboot the PC into Safe Mode(press F8 as the PC is booting). Go to the Device Manager(right-click My Computer and go to Properties|Hardware|Device Manager|Sound, Video and Game Controllers). Extend Sound, Video and Game Controllers, highlight and right-click “Midiman USB Midisport 8x8 Driver”, choose "Uninstall" and click "OK". Do the same for Universal Serial Bus Controllers. If for some reason the Midisport does not show up in the Device Manager in Safe Mode, go to step 4.
  3. Run the Uninstaller and go to step 5. If you don't not have the Uninstaller, do the following: Double-click My Computer and go to Tools|Folder Options|View. Select "Show all files", uncheck "Hide file extensions for known file types", and uncheck "Hide protected operating system files". Click "Apply" and "OK". You can come back here later and choose “Restore Defaults” to revert to the previous settings.
  4. Go to Start|Search|All Files or Folders. In the "Look in" box make sure the system drive is selected(usually C:). Do a search and destroy for the following:
    *8x8*.*
    usb88ldr.sys
    oem*.inf
    midsprt8.*

    Make sure that you don't delete the files from the folder that was downloaded!
    For oem*.inf, you will have to open each file that is found. If any of the files refer to the Midisport, delete them.
  5. Shut down the computer completely for 15 seconds, then restart.   Make sure the device is unplugged.
  6. When your computer is restarted, double click on the new driver (4.1.21) that you downloaded.  Press next, and the installer will extract driver to a temp directory in Windows.  When the installer is completed, DO NOT CLICK FINISH.  You should now plug the device in, and the new hardware wizard will pop up.  It will run through 2-3 times.  After the new hardware wizard is done, press FINISH on the original Installer.
  7. Restart the computer.

This procedure will troubleshoot usually faulty driver installations cleaning the system of older driver components. But when this procedure didn't produce the results I realized that the hardware was troublesome. I explained my worry to M-AUDIO tech-support and they finally agreed that the problem lies with the hardware and not with the installation. They recommended a firmware upgrade and asked me to get in touch with their repair department. The Repairs asked me if I want to send over the unit for firmware update or as an alternative if I can replace the firmware chips myself. I live in Canada and I preferred to replace the chips myself. I do everything to avoid shipping costs, delays and customs paperwork. From my experience it was a trivial thing to pull two EPROMs out of their sockets and replace them with new ones. I asked Repairs to mail me the new firmware which they did. The whole thing since first time reported until I got the upgrade chips took about a month. The EPROMs inside the unit and the ones mailed were in reality EEPROMS (Electrical Erasable PROMS) which allow re-programming of the device without extraction from their socket or UV exposure. Too bad M-AUDIO didn't take under consideration when they designed the unit to provide an end user application that would update the firmware through MIDI, USB or serial interface. After I read the data from my old EEPROMS I found that the previous firmware version was 1.05. The version that I received with the EEPROMs is 1.21.

Once the new EPROMs were in place and after I've cleaned off my system of the older v1.08 driver following the above procedure the new driver was installed in no time.

 

Firmware update procedure for MIDIMAN MIDISPORT 8x8

If you are experiencing the problem described and you are knowledgeable with hardware and EPROM programming then the next procedure is for you, otherwise take my advice and contact M-AUDIO for help.

If you decide this is a DIY job, then you must understand this is also a job you will have to do on your own risk. I  cannot be and will not be held responsible for any damage you may do to your equipment as a result of your actions. If you are not sure, your first option should be to contact M-AUDIO. They have a great customer support and it might be worth the time to wait until the EPROMs will be delivered to your door or the unit will be upgraded by supplier.

This being said, the following is what you need to have the job done:

  1. Remove the 8 screws for the unit top cover and remove the cover.
    Note: On the front panel side screws do not hold the top cover. Remove only the top-middle screw.
  2. The EEPROMs are located as shown in the pictures. The 64KB EEPROM is inserted into a 28 pin socket inside the unit, right in the center of the box and it's marked on the PCB as U4. The 4KB I2C (serial) EPROM is inserted into a small 8 pin DIL socket marked on the PCB as U3.
  3.  Click for closer look... Click for closer look...
  4. Extract the W27C512 EEPROM chip (Winbond 64KB) marked as U4.
  5. Extract the I2C (serial) 24LC32A EEPROM (Microchip 4KB) marked as U3.
  6. Download Firmware version 1.21 to re-program the  64KB EEPROM (U4) and  the 4KB
  7. Use an EEPROM programmer (BP Microsystems have been my choice) and re-program both EEPROM devices with version 1.21 of the firmware.
    Note: I don't give here details about using the programmer to burn firmware onto EPROMs. If you read this far I assume you know how it's done, but if you are not sure, then contact M-AUDIO to send you programmed EPROMs.
  8. Reinsert the EEPROMs back into sockets. Make sure they are inserted in the exact same position before were extracted. The PROMS can easily be damaged when orientation is not respected or pins are not properly aligned.
  9. After you put back the EPROMS into their sockets, lock-up the top cover with screws, and you are all set.

 

You can email me with your questions. I will try to answer in the limit of my free time.

Alec Ciolac

 

Last update December 8, 2003

 

visitors since June 12, 2003