Stereo outputs synth channels and the Minifuse 4?

Hello Everyone.

I am thinking about getting a Minifuse 4 and have been thinking about how I want to set it up.

My current set-up is MC-101, TB-03, and Blofeld, the Blofeld has its audio out going into the TB-03 mix-in audio interface, which is then, along with the MC-101 plugged into my Macbook via USB as an aggregate device to record in Ableton Live 11 Live. As it stands I can have channels 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10 record each of the MC-101 four tracks independently, If I want to add the TB-03 audio interface, I will usually swap channel 3/4 for 11/12. I will upgrade and/or find a good daw that can record everything in one go at some point.

If I run all my synths through the Minifuse 4, will I lose all of those independent channels from 3/4 to 11/12? …and will those channels be replaced with just four channels with the audio consolidated? ( sorry for the noob question )

Also, if I plug the four track/10-in 4 out MC-101 into the front combo as a line-in will it record mono or stereo and treat the groovebox the same as a guitar/bass? I have stereo outs from each of the synths to stereo 3.5mm jack + stereo 6.35mm adapters.

If I sound confused, it’s because I am :smiley: All the demos I can find focus on Mics and Guitars for the front panel, neither of which I use…yet ( I am thinking of getting a bass guitar at some point though,… and I really can’t sing, so a mic not an option that’s on my radar ).

Many thanks in advance.


Yes, you will lose them. The MiniFuse 4 can only record up to four mono or two stereo tracks at a time. Furthermore, as far as I can tell, the MC-101 only has a single stereo analog output path.

All of the line-level inputs are balanced mono inputs (this is true for most audio interfaces). Connecting a TRS cable directly from a stereo output to a balanced mono input won’t give you a stereo recording, and it also won’t give you a correct mono recording. You’ll need to either use a mono (TS) cable if you want to do a mono recording, or use a TRS to dual TS stereo breakout cable to connect it to a pair of inputs for stereo.

For example:

That’s what you would want to use for the TB-03. I suppose you might already have a similar cable to connect the Blofeld to the TB-03.

For the MC-101, you have the 1/4" L/R outputs on the back, which look like unbalanced TS jacks. You would use two TS cables to connect those to a pair of inputs on the MiniFuse 4.

You can connect line-level sources (such as synths & drum machines) to the front panel inputs on the MiniFuse 4, too. You just need to be sure to turn off the instrument switch.

All of that said, it seems like you have a pretty good setup now with the aggregate device and USB audio from the Roland boxes. What is the problem that you’re looking to solve by introducing the MiniFuse 4? You won’t get a better quality recording by converting the audio from the Roland boxes from digital to analog and back.

If you need the MiniFuse mainly for the outputs, you could always add it to your aggregate device and keep recording the audio over USB. Then, if you add guitars and mics in the future, you can use those through the MiniFuse and keep recording the synths over USB. Mics are useful for more than just vocals!

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Thank you so much for your comprehensive reply, It has really helped me understand how the Minifuse works.

I am starting to think I need a mixer with more inputs, not an audio interface this time. The problem I was hoping to resolve is twofold.

  1. I wanted to route everything through a device so I could listen to all of my synths through one set of headphones. I was thinking of routing all outputs into the Minifuse and using the headphone jack in a dawless set-up. Currently, if I want to hear all of the synths I use two sets of headphones, in-ear connected to the TB-03/Blofeld and over-ear connected to the MC-101, a bit weird, and sometimes the patches are hard to hear fully. Not ideal and a bit of a hack.

  2. I don’t record in DAW a lot, but when I do, I want full control of each synth with the ability to independently edit each track and record everything as if live instead of adding some tracks later on in the mix. So using USB midi is the way for that, I guess. I will be adding new gear soon so to keep cable clutter down I thought it would be handy to have all audio routed through a device and then directed to the Macbook, which only has two USB ports ( so frustrating )…also the Macbook creates ground loop noise in the MC-101 if powered by the Mac and its output is routed to the TB-03 mix-in. Batteries fix that, but they only last a few hours.

If I can find a simple solution for listening to everything through one set of headphones I would be happy at this time.

All the best and thanks again for taking the time to help me.

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That’s good context. I think you have a few options. The best one will depend partly on your budget and how you might expand your setup. Here are some things to think about.

You might be right that you’d be better off with a mixer just for DAWless jamming with your setup with a headphone mix. That’s definitely the cheapest option, and there are lots of them available with different sizes and channel counts. You can often find cheap second-hand ones around. Even some DJ mixers can be a good solution—most analog mixers for musicians tend to be heavy on mono channels and only have a few stereo channels, while DJ mixers are generally all stereo.

However, you’d still need an audio interface if you want to record your Blofeld individually, and for other gear you acquire in the future. You can keep recording the SH-101 and TB-03 into the computer using USB audio and get the individual tracks that way, but not all gear supports this. It’s not very common outside of Roland.

So if you want to both have a DAWless mix and record each instrument simultaneously, you’ll need a mixer that can act as an audio interface or an audio interface that can act as a mixer. This starts to get expensive pretty quickly if you have a lot of instruments to connect.

I used to use a Tascam Model 12, which looks like an analogue mixer but can act as an audio interface, or as a multitrack recorder directly to an SD card, which can be nice if you want to avoid the DAW and still record each instrument separately (although it wouldn’t be able to get the individual tracks from the 101). You can load the tracks into a DAW later by popping the SD card into your computer or connecting a USB cable to the mixer. They also make bigger versions with more channels, but—like most mixers—they are mostly mono channels. If you run out of stereo channels, you can use two monos and hard pan them, but it’s a bit annoying.

More recently, I upgraded to the Arturia AudioFuse 16Rig, which is perfect for a larger setup but not cheap.

Another option that might be interesting is the Roland MX-1. It’s discontinued now, but you might be able to find it second-hand. It has the unique ability to take audio over USB from other Roland synths, as well as analog inputs from other devices. I haven’t used it myself, and I don’t know what the support for it is like these days, but it’s also possible they have a new version planned that might be worth holding out for (maybe using a cheap analog mixer for jamming in the meantime).

There are other options, but they’ll tend to be priced even higher than these. The first step is to figure out the right balance between how many inputs you think you’ll need to grow into and how much you can spend right now. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Oh, and for USB recording, there are little ground loop hum eliminator adapters you can get. My KeyStep 37 came with one, but you can also find them at Amazon and other places.

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Amazing. Thank you.

I will look into mixers with integrated audio interfaces. I almost bought an MX-1 many years back when budgets weren’t an issue. Oh well.

There seems to be a demand for a new MX-1 version. If I have mostly Roland gear, it would make sense to keep the Roland ecosystem together to a certain extent as there might be additional benefits for that. Although I will look around.

Many many thanks.

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I managed to find a solution/workaround for the first issue, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before and it was prompted by the suggestion that the USB set-up has things covered for recording.

I simply have my synths set as an aggregate group in Ableton Live 11 and have them all USB-synced with my headphones as the default output from the laptop. It works, I can hear everything through the headphones within Ableton. I guess, I blanked this idea before because of latency issues, which are still there with a very slight delay between keypress and audio, but, I have tweaked the setting for the best compromise. So far there is no popping or crackling from Ableton with just the hardware talking to each other. It’s another story when I have Analogue V or Zenology going…the CPU hits 80% to 125% so that’s a problem for my Macbook ( 2015 ). That’s another can of worms I might put off until it gets really bad. :smile:

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