Have you ever wanted to use your Digitech GNX4 as a MIDI drum machine from your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)? Recently I was working on a MIDI drum pattern and I wondered if it would be possible to send a MIDI track from my DAW to the GNX4 to perform and record it. Typically I use one of several drum kit VSTs within the DAW to generate my drum audio, but I was looking for some variety in the drum sounds. The good news is that I was able to send the MIDI track from the DAW to the GNX4 and record its playback in the DAW. Follow the steps in this post to output Digitech GNX4 MIDI drums through your DAW.
29 May 2020 – Written by Michael R. Myers
31 May 2021 – Ported to new website myersmediaplace.com by Mike M.
Skill Level : Intermediate
Tags: #mykmyrs mikem #usbinterface #audiointerface #myersmediaplace #digitech #gnx4 #audio #guitar #homerecording #homerecordingwithmikem #recording #drums #drummer #drumkit #midi
Before we begin, I use Tracktion Waveform 11 Free as my DAW. I have not tried this GNX4 configuration in any other DAW. If you used another DAW, and got it to work correctly, please let me know the configuration steps. I will gladly update this post, giving you full credit, so that we can help others get up and running easily on varied software products.
Dealing with Audio Latency
Latency is a factor in this configuration, so playback can and will be affected by the latency you are going to experience. Even at 16ms, the fastest setting I have available to me while working on my Mac, there is a small delay while recording the GNX4’s output. When you record, be sure to set some lead-in space before the start of your drum MIDI and also at the end of the track to pick up any audio trails of the drum instruments.
I initially got this configuration to work on my 2011 iMac running High Sierra. When I wrote this post, I was using my iMac booted into Windows 10. The latency values in Mac went down to 16ms. On the same computer, running Windows 10, my lowest latency was 256ms in Windows Audio (Exclusive Mode). That is a HUGE difference in combating latency while recording.
What You’ll Need to Play Digitech GNX4 MIDI Drums Through Your DAW
- Tracktion Waveform 11 – while free to use, it does require an account at their web site
- Digitech GNX4 connected to a PC or Mac via USB
- GNX4 drivers, if using Windows. Mac users do not need any drivers
- Ability to configure your DAW software for MIDI and audio inputs/outputs
- Ability to configure the GNX4 MIDI channel and USB audio sources
- MIDI files of drum kit instruments
Steps to Configure MIDI Drum Playback
- Create a new project in your DAW.
- Add a new MIDI track and name it “MIDI Source”. Create a MIDI drum kit pattern in the “MIDI Source” track, or insert one you have available.
- Ensure your GNX4 is powered on and connected to your computer via USB so that we can configure it as an input device.
- In Settings>Audio Devices, set your Digitech USB 1-2 as your input device. Set your speakers/monitors as your output device. Set your audio buffer as low as possible. 160 ms was the lowest I could set without Waveform telling me I was exceeding capabilities.
- In Settings>MIDI Devices, enable anything Digitech USB-related. Waveform gives the devices an alias, which is shown in the screen shot below. We’ll need this alias later, so I point it out for your information.
- Now we’ll switch to the GNX4 unit and complete the configuration there.
- Let’s set the MIDI channel for the GNX4. Press the Utility button to the right of the data wheel until the display shows “MIDICHNL”. Turn the data wheel until it shows “AL”. This sets the GNX4 to Omni mode where it can handle MIDI on any channel.
- Now set the USB source option for USB channel 1-2. Before you begin, make a note of what the initial value is so that you can change it back when you’re finished. Press the Shift button under the built-in recorder on the GNX, then press the CF USB 1-2 SRC button. Use the data wheel and change the value to “DRUMS ST”. Press Shift to exit.
- Return to your DAW now. Configure your MIDI track’s output setting on the far right-hand side of the track. I had to choose “Digitech Mac USB-2” as my default MIDI output. To test, press play on your DAW’s transport. If the GNX4 is receiving the MIDI, its level meter (at the top right-hand side of the built-in recorder) will show flashing lights. You will not hear any sounds in the DAW yet, but you will know that your signal is getting to the GNX4.
- Create a new audio track and name it “GNX4 Drums”. Set its input source as the USB 1 channel and its output to the standard 1+2 output. Turn on your live input monitoring and press play on the DAW. You should be hearing your GNX4 playing the MIDI file.
- Arm your “GNX4 Drums” track for recording and record your MIDI file. Your track should display a dynamic waveform of the recorded audio.
- If you want to try other GNX4 drum kits, feel free to change them and see what sounds the best to you. There are several stock kits available and auditioning them all may prove useful to you in your DAW’s mix.
- You may need to experiment with an ideal latency recording setting, and also setting it much higher for playback. In Mac, I needed to record at 16 ms and play back at 256 ms. In Windows 10, changing the latency for playback didn’t seem to be needed.
- At this point, the tutorial is complete.
Where To Go From Here
Now that we’ve seen that it’s possible to use your GNX4’s drummer capabilities in a DAW, I’d suggest a few enhancements. First, break the individual kit pieces into their own distinct audio output tracks. This will give you fine-grained control over each piece’s sound and allow for better mixing. Second, record multiple takes of the output audio with different GNX4 kits so that you can blend them together and see if a hybrid of the audio works in your style of music. Finally, experiment with integrating the GNX4 output with the output of other drum VSTs to create something new and unique.
I hope this tutorial has helped you and that you found it useful to learn how to play Digitech GNX4 MIDI Drums Through Your DAW.
Anderton, Craig. Digitech GNX4 Guitar Workstation: The Power User’s Guide. Schirmer Trade Books, 2005. Digitech. (2004).
GNX4 Multi-Modeling Recording Guitar Workstation Owner’s Manual. Sandy, UT.