Emagic SoundDiver

Refusing to let go...

SoundDiver running on Mac OS9First let me start off by saying that SoundDiver is my 2nd most used piece of music software after Logic Pro. I have been using it since I got my first Mac in 1998 (version 2.0.4 I think); it is without doubt the best piece of software ever written for editing MIDI devices. It allows me to save all my patches for each song in a library and move patches around with ease. Editing MIDI devices using SoundDiver on a big monitor makes the job so much more intuitive and fun than trying to edit some of these devices using their own tiny displays, I think someone once described that process as “like trying to paint a room through a letterbox”! When editing using SoundDiver you tend to learn how to edit and work your MIDI devices a lot faster than reading any user manuals.

In Mac OS9, Logic and SoundDiver could be used at the same time using a great feature called Autolink. This was brilliant because it allowed you to load all the patches for a song into your devices from a SoundDiver library as soon as you opened a Logic Song, all automatically. It also fed patch names into Logic’s Multi instrument objects from the Patch banks setup in SoundDiver. Most importantly (which at the time seemed a given), it allowed you to use Logic, SoundDiver and a Unitor8/AMT8 MIDI interface at the SAME TIME.

Enter Mac OS X...

Along came this amazing new OS and really did throw a spanner in the works!
I switched to Mac OS X for music in 2005 mainly because Logic was rock solid using it, but that left me with a bit of a problem with SoundDiver. Autolink was gone and while SoundDiver ran OK in Classic in Mac OS X, it couldn’t be used at the same time as Logic when trying to use the same MIDI interface for the 2 programs, aargh!

Emagic did release a beta version for OS X, but I think it was more of a gesture than a serious piece of software, quite frankly, it’s crap. One of the buggiest pieces of software I’ve used and can’t believe it was ever released.

Problems for me include:

  • 3 of the adaptions I use don’t work correctly
  • The patch dependency manager doesn’t work properly
  • It’s way too easy to quit the program with patches unsaved!
  • It quits unexpectedly far too often
  • When used alongside Logic and you open a new song, notes get transposed in Logic

So I decided to use SoundDiver only in Classic, not as convenient as the (booted in) OS9 days but it worked correctly and was stable. I just had to get used to quitting out of Logic to use SoundDiver.

Leopard, Intel – and a whole new set of problems...

When Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) came out I realised this was gonna cause some serious difficulties running SoundDiver because Classic was no more. Mac OS 9 had finally bitten the dust and it was looking as though SoundDiver was heading that way too if I were to upgrade to this new OS.

The solution

Although it went against the grain to admit it, the solution to running SoundDiver on Leopard was Windows XP. Yes, a move to the ‘Dark Side’ was in order to get SoundDiver up and running alongside Logic Pro on Leopard! This move was quite an expensive one for me because in order to run Windows XP at full speed on Leopard it meant using Parallels, which only ran on Intel Macs. I was thinking of upgrading my trusty Power Mac G4 later in the year (2008) but the realisation that Leopard was not gonna run SoundDiver without Parallels made the decision for me.

SoundDiver running on Windows XP within Parallels on Mac OS XSo one new Mac Pro and a copy of Parallels later I set about installing SoundDiver on Windows XP within Parallels. After going through the usual ‘jumping through hoops’ you get when installing drivers in Windows, I had it working using my AMT8 as the MIDI interface. I hadn’t used SoundDiver before in Windows but I was quite relieved to find it was just as stable as the Mac OS9 version, although the new key commands took a bit of getting used to. All my libraries worked fine as did all the adaptations I use including some of my own edited versions. Fortunately, the Windows version of SoundDiver 3 came on the same installer CD as the Mac one.

The million-dollar question...

SoundDiver running within Parallels alongside Logic Pro on Mac OS X (Exposé screenshot)Does it work alongside Logic Pro on Mac OS X on an Intel Mac?
The answer is YES!!

Here is my current setup:

  • Mac Pro Dual Quad Core 3.0GHz (Early 2008) running Mac OS 10.11
  • Parallels 11
  • Logic Pro 9
  • SoundDiver 3.0.5 (last Windows version)
  • Emagic AMT8

When I said SoundDiver works alongside Logic, it's not as good the Mac OS9 days when Logic and SoundDiver could share the same MIDI interface but it does work much better than when using Logic and SoundDiver in Classic on Mac OS 10.4. As both programs are trying to use the AMT8, there has to be some kind of compromise because both operating systems can’t use the interface at the same time.

Connecting to the AMT8 MIDI interface within ParallelsThe answer is to start up Logic first* and then connect to the AMT8 in Parallels from the USB devices menu. The first time you ‘grab’ the AMT8 from the Mac (& Logic), Logic complains that it has lost its connection to the device. This only happens the first time though. Now start SoundDiver and start editing those synths again! To go back to Logic, all you need to do is deselect the AMT8 from the USB devices menu in Parallels, SoundDiver will start complaining now that it has lost its connection to the AMT8, but just ignore it. Switch back to Logic and start sequencing again.

Now on my system there is a small problem here, although the AMT8 has been given back to the Mac, it hasn’t properly been given back to Logic.
But there is a solution...
* I’ve found that if you copy the Physical Input object in Logic’s Environment before using the AMT8 on the PC and then when you come back to the Mac/Logic paste replace the Physical Input object back again you will have MIDI back in Logic!
UPDATE: I have found that if you are just using the SUM port of the Physical Input object to connect to the Sequencer Input object then you don't lose the MIDI connection when switching back to Logic, it's only if you are using the separate ports on the Physical Input object that the connection is lost. Very odd...

Isn’t all this a pain in the arse?!?

Well it depends how much you want something I suppose. I love using SoundDiver alongside Logic, editing patches when I’m working on tracks is all part of the fun for me. To be honest the setup I have working now is far more workable than the one I was using in the 10.4 days and Classic. At least now I can leave both programs open and just connect the AMT8 back to each OS when I need to switch between the two.

I have written this to share my experiences with any SoundDiver users who are looking to use the program on an Intel Mac and Mac OS 10.5 and later. If anyone has any further questions about how I’m using this setup please feel free to get in touch.

NOTE: Please DO NOT ask me for SoundDiver updates. I realise these are now getting more difficult to find since Apple decided to remove them from their website, but I would be breaking copyright laws if I were to send them to anyone. Any email requests for software will be ignored.

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