FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions on the Handsonic

How can I use MIDI with my Handsonic?

If you plug your Handsonic into your computer with 2 MIDI cables, one for IN and one for OUT, you can get the MIDI info (notes, patch changes, etc) from your Handsonic and also send MIDI info (saved patches, songs) to your Handsonic.

To try this out, You need some music software for your computer.

A basic music program for MIDI is called a “sequencer” Here's a list of them - some are free to download: http://www.sonicspot.com/sequencers.html Cakewalk is a good one – buy the Home version in a store.

MIDIOX is cool free utility for checking out what MIDI actually does. http://www.midiox.com/ It can show you exactly what your Handsonic is sending out. You can use it to save patches from the Handsonic and reload them later. It is a bit confusing to use at first.

I own an HPD-15 and want to use it to lay down some drum tracks, but find myself unable to play the Handsonic with anywhere close to enough precision to make these tracks sound good. The timing is just never quite right, no matter much I try to stay right on the beat. I love the HPD-15 sounds, however, so I'm wondering if there's any way to PROGRAM a computerized drum track (so that the timing is precise) and then just have this track trigger the Handsonic sounds via MIDI.

To me, it sounds like something that should be entirely possible, but I can't find any documentation in the Handsonic manual (or in the archives of this group) that discusses how to implement this kind of thing. Any suggestions? And does anybody know what piece of MIDI or sequencing software would allow me do this with the most minimal learning curve, since I'm really just looking to do some simple drum tracks, not anything comprehensive?

What you are looking for is a MIDI "sequencer".

The Handsonic has a built-in sequencer, but it is not that easy to use and has few features. There is a feature called "Quantize" (page 62) that will improve the adherence of notes to the beat tempo.

You can use any MIDI sequencer software on a PC or a Hardware sequencer (eg. Roland, Korg, etc) to control the Handsonic as a "Sound Module" (page 78 & 79 of the manual).

A sequencer allows you to create a drum track, and then edit it to fix it up. A sequencer can then play the track(s). If your PC has a MIDI-out jack (a cable on the game port or a USB device - eg. from M-audio.com) You can connect a MIDI cable from the PC to the MIDI-in jack on the Handsonic. The Handsonic will then play the sounds of the notes sent out by the sequencer software. Page 77 shows a chart of the MIDI note numbers that must be sent to the Handsonic to play different percussion sounds. The sounds of course depend on which patch is selected. The sequencer software can command the Handsonic to choose a different patch as well (MIDI bank select and program change messages).

The Handsonic can actually play 5 different tracks at once - 3 drum kits and 2 melody tracks. These are all accessed by sending MIDI notes on different channel numbers. Channel 10 is normally used for drums in the MIDI world, and so, by default, the Handsonic pads transmit MIDI notes on that channel and the built-in sound module expects to receive MIDI drum notes for the currently selected patch on channel 10.

I think the PC software option is the best, as you can really see what you are doing when programming. Cakewalk is one popular program.

Here is a page detailing many sequencer programs, some of them are free downloads.

How many MIDI channels can I play this thing on, and how do I set up the Handsonic for multitimbrality? What exactly is PAD CH and how is it different from the PERC parts? It seems to me that the Handsonic can only play two percussion channels at once i.e. PERC1/2 and in order to set this up I have to make an empty sequence? In order to take advantage of the PERC1/2 and MELO1/2 "parts" I have to have a sequence?

There are 5 MIDI channels that the HPD-15 responds to: PAD, Perc1, Perc2, Melo1, Melo2. You can set which channel number each of these respond to. You can assign an instrument to each Melody channel and a "pad set" to each Percussion channel (or assign an individual sound to each of 19 notes on each percussion channel).

You can then send MIDI to the Perc channels, and since their note assignments are independent of the main (pad) channel, you can have different sounds. I've done this as a way to get a full(er) GM drumkit: assign the other sounds to the correct notes on the *other* channels, then either send the GM drum notes to the correct channel - or simply send to all three channels (since won't produce any sound on channels where the notes aren't mapped.

So, you can have at most 3 active kits on the 3 percussion channels. No need to set up any internal dummy sequences to do this - you just have to set the channels under "system" - and map a kit to the channels. (As I recall, you can't do this with the Melody channels, because they're mapped specially to pitched instruments.)

Your post hints at the two most serious limits of the HPD:
- It only does (maps) 19 or so notes on any single channel
- There's no way to get two sounds mapped to a pad/note at the same time, to get the combined sound when the note is sent/pad struck (often called layering)


Is there a way to find out if my Handsonic has the latest system firmware (i.e. 1.06) without an external MIDI connection?

1) Power on while holding down EDIT and CHAIN.
2) Keep holding down CHAIN, release EDIT, then
press PATCH SEL.
3) Keep holding down PATCH SEL, release CHAIN, then
press EDIT. The current system version will be

Turn off power to restart.

I want to take a sound from a certain pad and move it to a different pad. In other words, I want to take a sound from Pot drums, one from TimbaleMix, one from tabla II and so on and combine them, assiging the chosen sound to a specific pad. There are about 20 sounds that I really like and I want to put them all together so I can access them all at once.

click on USER
pick any user instrument like congo or bongo for example click on edit twice all the pad lights will turn orange tap on the pad you want to change ths sound the name of for that pad sound will appear on the screen use the dial to change that sound to anything else you like once done click on write you can repeat this process for the rest of the pads, ribbons and even Ibeam.

I was wondering if anyone has used the Roland EV-5 expression pedal successfully as a volume pedal with the HS. I just bought one and it does not seem to do that, it only acts as a trigger pedal. I want to be able to change volume while still playing. Are there some settings i need to change to make it work?

I assume you have gone into the System menu and changed the PEDAL value from HI-HAT to EXP-PEDAL?

Please let me know how to turn off the metronome (click sound) when I am trying to record sequences.

Page 61 of the Handsonic manual: CLICK Mode OFF

  1. Press [SEQUENCER] to make it light up.
  2. Press [PARAMETER >] many times until you see "CLICK" in the upper right of the display and "Mode" in the lower left of the display.
  3. Turn [PATCH/VALUE] counter-clockwise until "OFF" appears in the bottom right of the display.
  4. Press [SEQUENCER] to make its light go off.

Your Handsonic will remember this setting.

Using the Handsonic with am external MIDI sequencer
Posted by: scott.d.harvey@lmco.com scodoha04

I don't think it really has been explained clearly that it IS possible to send an external sequence to the HPD-15 sequencer. I've done it.

The HPD sequencer is set up to begin recording at first note hit. (HitPadStart pg.62.)

Multiple parts can be recorded from the external sequencer with RecStby set to Import (pg. 62.) You might have to set up Seqeuncer sync Seq Sync as Remote or External (pg. 68)

You'll want to play the HPD from the sequencer first to establish what notes you want set up to play from the external sequencer to whatever patches on the five channels you choose on the HPD. I set up the HPD sequencer to accept [channels?] 12 through 16 just to make things neater in my own head.

When I record midi from my piano (Technics SX-PX338), Sonar 4 knows exactly what it's getting and plays it back correctly through the piano again without further ado, track after track.

When I record midi from my Handsonic, I feel like I'm in a madhouse. The instruments change, the timing changes, it plays through the piano, all hell breaks loose. The loops I see on the display (eg P10 04 Indian loop) don't correspond with the list of preset patterns P01 - P84. I had to download an instrument list off the internet so that Sonar has at least some idea of what it's talking to!

Surely there's a simple procedure for recording and playback that doesn't require me to study everything at the machine code, midi message type levels? Any ideas?


Your piano is a simple MIDI instrument. It just plays a single MIDI channel of ordinary notes. MIDI with such an instrument is really basic and simple. The Handsonic is a complex MIDI instrument. It is actually 5 MIDI instruments inside one housing. And it can play all five at once, as well as play loops/patterns. See Page 88 of the Handsonic manual. All this is fully controllable through MIDI messages, but that is necessarily more complex than for a piano.

When you play the Handsonic pads, the notes are transmitted out MIDI channel 10 (you can set this channel number, but channel 10 is normally the channel people use for drums). You should set Sonar to only pay attention to MIDI channel 10 for your Handsonic (until you know more – later you can have Sonar play all five instruments at once, if you like)

The other 4 channels a Handsonic uses by default are: Perc 1 (11), Perc 2 (12), Melo 1 (5) and Melo 2 (6). Perhaps you should turn these off to prevent confusion. See page 78 for how to do that. If these are enabled, anything that Sonar (or other MIDI instrument connected) transmits on MIDI channels 11,12,5 or 6 will play unexpected sounds on the Handsonic.

The next issue is that, as you change patches on the Handsonic, it transmits MIDI messages describing the changes on channel 10. Sonar is probably recording all that. Switching to a different patch transmits a MIDI Program Change number and possibly a Bank number.

If you want Sonar to control which patch is enabled, you have to have it transmit MIDI Bank Select and Program Change messages to the Handsonic on the channel you are working with (channel 10). The Bank numbers and Program numbers for each Preset Patch are given on page 90. There are three banks (groups) of patches in the Handsonic: Bank 1 selects the User patches, banks 2 and 3 select the Preset Patches.

A patch is a set of instruments (drums) assigned to pads (a MIDI note), with all the settings/parameters. The Preset Patches (built-in patches P01 01 thru P10 08) have instruments pre-assigned to the pads. When you press a pad, it transmits a MIDI note message.

About how the patterns/loops work: a Preset Pattern (P01 thru P99) or User Pattern (U01 thru U99) can be assigned to a pad, so when you hit the pad, the loop plays. (only the pads around the edges: B1-B5 and C1-C5) This means a single MIDI note triggers a whole pattern/loop.

In the Loops group of Preset Patches (P10) the pads have patterns/loops assigned to them instead of instruments. (A pattern is treated like an instrument in this case – you press the pad, it plays the pattern/loop). When you select Preset Patch P10 04, ten of the patterns listed on page 91 are assigned to ten pads.




P43 Indian Folk


P38 Tabla-Med


P39 Tabla-Slow


P40 Bhairavi


P41 Kashimir


P44 DholakBeat


P45 BengalRthm


P46 BanglaBeat


P47 Madal Seq.


P49 7Bt-Indian

Here's my Handsonic Librarian software displaying this patch:

Another issue is that the Handsonic has its own built-in sequencer. This sequencer plays the patterns. You can control the sequencer thru MIDI commands. I do not know much about using the sequencer with MIDI (except that you can assign a pattern to a note/pad and trigger it by tapping the pad).

So I don't know what is happening to screw things up for you. Try something simple:

  1. Turn the Handsonic on.
  2. Do a Factory Reset ALL. (Page 85 – This will erase anything you have stored in the Handsonic).
  3. Wait until it finishes in a several seconds. Do not change any other settings.
  4. Start Sonar recording a track on channel 10.
  5. Play some Congas on the Handsonic.
  6. Stop recording.
  7. Tell Sonar to play back the track you just recorded and see if that plays back OK.

This should work perfectly, just like your piano.