SYSEX revisited

Ok, I picked up a used i5 laptop so now I want to leave my Roland hardware at home and go with Roland’s Sound Canvas VA (SCVA). My system is off the beaten path. I use both Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 and PowerTracks 8 at the same time, essentially emulating two turntables. That allows me to independently search, pick, load and start a song while performing a song. Lately I’ve added in One Man Band software as a basic drum machine. I figured I would throw three instances of SCVA into Cantabile 3 and connect them to the sequencer software via LoopBe30 from

SCVA, like the hardware Sound Canvas series, is very SYSEX dependent and it doesn’t look like they are getting through. Anybody know - 1) Is my observation correct? 2) Is there any way for my sequencers to send SYSEX data to VST instruments?

I found what you are referring to here: Roland - Sound Canvas VA | Software Synthesizer

Indeed it does still use Sysex messages! It included a “Reminder” paragraph there that says,

"Depending on your host application, system exclusive messages contained in MIDI tracks might not be supported with VSTi or AU plug-ins.

The Sound Canvas VA plug-in must initialize its parameters and read various settings when it loads, and this may take about 15 seconds for each plug-in instance. For example, if you’re using four Sound Canvas VA plug-in instances in a project, it may take approximately one minute to load all the plug-ins when you open the file (four plug-ins at 15 seconds each). The actual times may vary depending on your computer’s performance and setup.

No plugin bridge will enable to run 32bit SOUND Canvas VA on 64bit OS/DAW environment."

Quite a curious item! Well, I seem to recall something about Cantabile 2 being able to pass Sysex messages, but I don’t know if that has made it into Cantabile 3 yet.


BTW - Cakewalk CAN store Sysex messages as files in a library and send them over a port, but I do not know if it can get them to a VSTi. I wouldn’t see why not, though, since it allows you to channelize the port you send it over. You may need a loopback via LoopBE30 or LoopMidi or something.

In Cakewalk, it is STILL under Views/Sysx for that librarian.


Embed in a midi file?

Cantabile supports sys-ex in the following ways:

  1. Sysex will pass through all MIDI routes as per any other MIDI event, including incoming sysex from MIDI ports, sysex to and from plugins and sysex to MIDI output ports
  2. Bindings can send fixed sysex data
  3. The Sysex Encoder and Sysex Decoder MIDI filters which can parse or generate sysex data to/from other MIDI event kinds.

Need something else?


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Holy cow! I am in heaven!

If anyone needs the SYSEX codes for manipulating a Lexicon LXP-5, I just copied it all out of my Peavey PC 1600x controller and will happily share it here.

I have tons, coming as I have from a hardware-only existence until pretty recently (a couple years into VSTi’s now).

I’m definitely playing with that stuff, Brad! Had no idea it was supported! :blush:

For the OP, then, Cantabile CAN get some SYSEX messages into his VSTi Sound Canvas VA?

As Ade suggests, can it be within a MIDI file? (And how to get it in there? Cakewalk does not record SYSEX into a track, I’m pretty sure.)


I’d be surprised. There are usually filter settings in DAWs which are set to ignore sysex, as in this Nuendo screenshot?

Well, I very likely am wrong about the current versions, but my Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 version limited you to using their librarian, if I recall correctly the version, which was why I ended up buying a Kawai Q80 (and then Q80EX) hardware MIDI recorder back then.

I should take a look at my copy of Sonar Platinum to see if it can capture Sysex now. I used to love doing tweaks to my Wavestation and Kawai K5000s and recording the resulting Sysex messages so it would capture my edits in order to keep a record of my edits. On occasion I would use these live alterations as part of a piece.


Many thanks to everyone and especially Brad for the definitive answer. Now I have to fight the SC-8820 SYSEX implementation that the SCVA is based on. I also own an SC-8820 so I know the SC-8820 hardware and software are dogs when it comes to how the various maps work. Unfortunately, there’s virtually no documentation or user information on the net. The question came about because the VST wasn’t responding to a basic GS reset. Looks like I’ll have to go back to pounding on it again. Thanks!

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Oh, I neglected to mention that of course the media players also send sys-ex in MIDI files.

Let me know if sys-ex handling can be improved in any way.

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Ok, it looks like SYSEX is not getting through correctly. The built in midi monitor shows the reset sysex correctly but when I substitute the Piz midi-monitor VST for the Sound Canvas VA I get: FO OO OO OO. I tried out two other midi monitor VSTs and they both indicate SYSEX but do not display any of the following SYSEX data.

HI @ohernie

OK thanks for reporting this. I’ll look into this before the next build.


Ugh… ambiguities in the VST spec strike again. Fixed for the next build.