ESI M8U eX – MIDI Interface
Sound On Sound Magazine
by Paul White
In this age of USB controller keyboards and so many excellent plug-in virtual instruments, some users may never feel the need to go near a MIDI cable, but those with hardware synths or non-USB MIDI controllers still need those five-pin DIN ports. There are rather fewer manufacturers building MIDI interfaces than once there were, but ESI provide cost-effective solutions for those needing multiple MIDI ins and outs. Their M8U eX is a USB 3.1 multi-port MIDI interface. It offers 16 MIDI ports, though if that isn't enough, you can hook up multiple interfaces to the same computer courtesy of a DIP switch on the bottom of the unit which sets the device ID. If you don't need so many ports, they also offer the smaller M4U eX — this comes with eight ports but in other respects has the same feature set as its larger sibling.
Eight of the M8U eX's ports are on the front panel and eight more are on the rear of its bronze-coloured desktop case, the overall measurements being 32.5 x 14.5 x 4.5cm. Although it's a USB 3 device, the M8U eX also works fine with USB 2. It also incorporates some novel features that you don't find in competing products. Perhaps the most radical of these is that any port can be set to act either as an input or an output. Thus, you can merge multiple inputs or use only a single input but have 15 outputs.