Can I use SFX from Stage Research to send MIDI signals to our Congo?

We have a Congo console ( ver 7.2.0, Cobalt Software, Embedded Windows XP) that we want to use MIDI to run sequential Presets.  I have a PC laptop with SFX from Stage Research loaded on it that we want to use to both run Audio for Dance numbers and control the lighting.

So far, I have tried to set this up and get the Congo and laptop to recognize each other, but without success.

Does anyone know if SFX will do what we want with the Congo, or do I need to seek another solution? I know, I know, I hear people prescribe QLAB on a MAC, but we don't have a Mac (laptop or otherwise) that we can dedicate to this. So for now, I need a PC solution.

If SFX IS supposed to work, can someone offer assistance (step by step instructions would be GREAT) to set this up?  So far the Stage Research website has come up empty.

Thanks in advance!

  • Cobalt software supports MIDI Notes, MIDI Show Control (MSC), and MIDI Timecode (MTC), as well as UDP commands and OSC.

    So, the question becomes "Which show control outputs does SFX from Stage Research have?"

    As far as I can tell, the only type of show control output from SFX is MIDI Timecode - wiki page. (External link direct to SFX)

    Connect up everything, set up MIDI Timecode Output in SFX and start playing it.

    In Cobalt, hit [Setup] > MIDI tab and set Timecode to "External". You'll then see the timecode spin by in the top-right of your Cobalt screens.
    - If you don't see that clock, check your cables, USB adapter and SFX settings.

    Once you have that clock spinning by, all you need to do is to Learn or manually type/adjust the timecode numbers for each Sequence Step/Cue in Cobalt.

    Learning is basically:

    1. Put the right sequence on Main Playback, before the first timecoded step/cue.
    2. Turn on {LEARN} mode
    3. Play the track (sending timecode)
    4. Hit [GO] when required
    5. Turn off {LEARN} mode

    You have now recorded timecodes into all your sequence steps!

    It's likely that you were a little early or late for a few of them. To fix this, can open the Sequence List editor and adjust those, either by adding/subtracting a few frames or seconds, by typing in a complete new timecode, or by deleting the timecode and re-learning it 'live'.

    See Cobalt's built-in help for more details of using this.

    Some general hints:

    • The Timecode Dock is really useful for this type of show, it gives you onscreen softkeys for these settings as well as big numbers for the timecode.
    • You should always have a few seconds of "preroll" at the beginning of a timecoded section, where the timecode is running but nothing at all is happening.
      This allows you a breathing space to spot that timecode isn't running, pause and reconnect the cable.
      It is also generally needed for the console to fully 'sync up' to the incoming timecode. (Less important in MTC)
    • Make sure you don't use the same timecode times twice.
      If the timecode is not continuous throughout the whole show, make sure they all start after each other, with a bit of a gap in case.
      - eg section #1 runs from 01:00:00:00 to 01:30:00:00, section #2 from 02:00:00:00 etc.
      Timecode is 24 hours, it runs from 00:00:00:00 through 23:59:59:xx
    • There are several different framerates of timecode.
      Cobalt will accept any, however as frame 26 doesn't exist in a 24fps timecode, it's important check which one you are using before typing in numbers directly.