Cirklon, TB-3, & System Exclusive

The Cirklon has arrived. And as exciting as it is to receive something you’ve waited four years for, the feeling is a bit tempered, because even though the feature was announced as “coming” in 2012,  sysex in the Cirklon is still not implemented.; it supports only pass-through of sysex and backup/restore functions for the sequencer. This is quite a bummer, as I had been controlling the TB-3 by recording the patch dump strings from TB-3 and then playing them back to reload the parameters no matter which patch it is on. That won’t be possible if and until that feature is implemented, at least directly though the Cirklon. That means I have to explore workarounds, which fall into roughly two camps: 1) hardware & 2) computer-based. At the basic level, the TB-3 will still need to receive exclusive data at the time the song is loaded, either over DIN or USB midi, and that midi will have to pass through the Cirklon.  Let’s go through the hardware options first.

Sending System Exclusive over Hardware

Some other machine will need to be able to send sysex through one of the Cirklon’s ports. I have a Knobby and a BCR2000 that can  send sysex, but they each have problems. I can send 8 of the 11 parts at once, meaning i could load the parts with just 2 or three clicks, but copying and pasting those values into the editor is a time consuming and inefficient way to do that. The BCR2000 can send 125 bytes at a time in a single button press but the TB3 needs 422 bytes to completely encode a patch’s properties. It would be a bit easier but would involve not only coding them in and remembering to call them manually every time but also hauling a not-small piece of gear along just for the purpose of changing patches.

The other option just involves saving the finished patches to slots in the user section of the TB3 and just manually changing them. This would be the easiest live solution (if the MPC was excluded) but since the Cirklon can’t record sysex,  I would still need to record the patch data some other way. In this scenario, the MPC could be used solely as a way to send sysex patches to the TB-3 in a studio setting, with one cable going into it and who merges that info with a one-time sysex call, while for live i would just number the patches according to the set, save the patches to the user bank of the TB-3, and just recall them manually.

Sending System Exclusive over Software

I don’t own any USB midi controllers that send exclusive, and the list of cross-platform DAWs that support sysex is short if non-existent. As far as I can tell, Sonar, FL Studio, Cubase , Logic, and perhaps the latest version of Ableton support sending sysex. But both platforms have a software that can send sysex, like MIDI-OX for windows and Sysex Librarian for mac, but the problem is the automating of those  calls, which would only be possible with a DAW that was playing in time with the project. This presents its own set of problems, and I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole.


Going through this whole thought exercise though, has allowed me to see a way forward with the Cirklon, converting all the old tracks to the Cirklon, except for the TB-3 patch data and the samples that will need to be moved to the Blackbox. and triggered from there, so a transition away from MPC is possible., if long and painful and still includes the MPC for patch recording and playback purposes. Still, it’s always nice to see a pathway forward. The conversion from MPC to Cirklon will not be easy and will take time, but a new future awaits…a Cirklon future.