PowerBook + Ultralite: Unable to Launch MIDI server

We had a guy drop in the store with a machine today. He just couldn’t get the MIDI to work at all, and the problem appeared to happen on the OS and not the software level.

We would go into the Audio MIDI Setup utility, and after spinning the beach ball for a little while, the MIDI tab would tell us that it was “Unable to Launch MIDI server”. Turns out, Digidesign was to blame. I think they are quickly turning into the audio world scape goat ala Microsoft, and for a good reason too.

UPDATE: One of the people who commented on this post, franck, may have come up with a solution, or at least a temporary fix. I don’t have an Ultralite on hand so let me know if it works out for you. And make sure to comment if it doesn’t – maybe we can at least make MOTU listen and absorb the costs of getting this worked out. Seriously, what the fuck.

After going through the list of drivers under /Library/Audio/MIDI Devices/ I noticed there were some Digidesign drivers present. What has happened was the customer had a MacBook Pro which was acting weird, so they’ve rented out an older PowerBook G4, and transferred all the data from the MBP via the Migration Utility. Along with that, o’course, they’ve transferred over all the Digidesign drivers and shit that was left over from their installation of Pro Tools.

I’ve booted into the safe mode (holding Shift while booting up the PowerBook, no less), and trashed everything Digidesign related. The guy has previously used an 002, and those have MIDI ports, so my guess was that the MIDI drivers from Digidesign took over the system, but due to some incompatability, they have blocked the MIDI server altogether.

After the restart, MIDI worked! It seems like the world gets better with every single Digidesign thing you get rid of. Hope this helps some of you who are having the same problem.

Now, we’ve tried to update the firmware on the UltraLite that the guy has now, and that’s a whole ‘nother story. To sum up, we just couldn’t do it. It seemed like the interface wouldn’t go through the process entirely, and 3 out of the 20 times that we’ve attempted to install the firmware, it would seem to actually do it succesfully, and tell us to power cycle the unit. However, every time we would, on the little LCD screen it would say “CPU not valid”, and boot back into the firmware uploader.

I’ve searched the internet, and found absolutely nothing, which is really rare. Just recently I found a website about breeding frogs as pets. But no trace of UltraLite related problems! Over the past few months, I’ve had problems finding support for MOTU products in general, and while I kind of like Digital Performer, lack of support is one thing that still scares me off about it. I’ll just stick to Logic and Cubase for now, I guess.


23 Responses to “PowerBook + Ultralite: Unable to Launch MIDI server”

  1. 1 mike February 19, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    im having the same cpu not valid issue, did you ever find a fix?

  2. 2 earpick February 19, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    I did not. We’ve tried just about everything we could, called all the local stores (who told us to restart the computer, for Christ’s sakes), and after 10 minutes trying to call MOTU, the REP there told us that we should probably exchange the unit.

    I’m yet to see the guy with that UltraLite. I’ll ask him about what he ended up doing, and post it on here.

  3. 3 Walter March 25, 2007 at 1:15 am

    I’m having the sam problems…

  4. 4 Walter March 25, 2007 at 1:16 am

    I’m having thre exact same problems

  5. 5 earpick March 25, 2007 at 3:55 am

    Ok, so looks like it did happen to a few people.

    Did you make a post about it on Unicornation? If not you should, just so others can find it, and perhaps find the solution too.

    What’s your problem? Same thing, weird CPU message on the Ultralite, and firmware not updating?

  6. 6 newelement April 6, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Same error.. unable to launch midi server. Drivers folder is empty too.

  7. 7 earpick April 16, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Guys – if someone gets that problem resolved, post the solution here. Though my guess will be that the only solution is to send the unit back to MOTU.

  8. 8 Gavin June 7, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    I had this problem too. I had some success with holding down various buttons (cursor, value) while booting the device. Nothing consistent though.

  9. 9 earpick June 7, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    Exactly what we had happen in store – we spent about an hour trying to flush the firmware, and 2-3 times out of 40 it actually got to point wher it let us do it. But in the end it would still say that there is an error. Quite inconsistent, and the MOTU people weren’t very helpful either.

    That said, I think the UltraLite will be my next interface because it’s one of the few affordable interfaces that come with built in SMPTE timecode decoder. The only alternative would be something like a discontinued Emagic Unitor which is almost the price of the UltraLite on eBay. Plus, you get all the great preamps and converters. A pretty cool little box.

  10. 10 franck November 18, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    I had the same problem. I just unplugged everything on my ultralite and then started the unit without any connection. Now it’s working.

  11. 11 BassTooth February 11, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    same problem. +1

    have always hated Faux-Tools!

  12. 12 franck April 21, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Ok Guys,
    I got the same problem, but I ve finally find a workaround (for me, don’t know if it s working for others)

    1/ I downgraded my Ultralite to update 1.00.
    2/ At the end of the downgrad, I DID NOT SWITCH my motu off.
    3/ Then I launched the 1.15 update.
    4/ At the end of the update (that take 20 minutes, really), I got a message error saying the firmware could not be verified, eroor blablab… would you try again.
    6/ relaunch the updater
    7/ At the end , shut down the ultralite like asked in the installer window.
    8/ And now, everything seems to work perfectly.
    I dont know if all the step I have done are required to make this f&%%$%& sound card working but I suspect that there is some problems with the airport wireless connection.
    I don’t want to test again but I emcouraged some guy to try the update while the airport connection is cutted.
    Hope it helps

    PS: sorry for my poor english speaking

  13. 13 earpick April 21, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Thanks for the suggestion franck! Hopefully it will work for others too.

    Odd that you mention airport, however. I myself have a firebox and it’s been having issues as well, with the audio cutting in and out whenever airport is enabled (and behaving normally whenever there would be any sort of airport activity, like downloading a file or going to a image heavy page).

  14. 14 franck April 21, 2008 at 9:27 pm


    After a few try , I did get the ‘cpu not valid’ message again and more than this my dp crashed and crashed.
    I decided to redo an update (1.15) whith immediately the airport connection shutted down. Then I do the dp update, the motu audio driver update, repared the autorisations, verify my disk and finally clean everything with onyx.
    Everything was working but on one specific file, I had always noises (like clicks) and suddenly crash with DP. I finally decided to erase all the fade in this file and now everything is working fine. I have started and shut down my ultralite a lots of time and no more ‘cpu not valid’ message.

    Hope it will be an issue for other

  15. 15 earpick April 21, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Shite, that sounds like quite a bit trouble to go through for a simple firmware upgrade, plus the fact that MOTU supposedly created both the software and the hardware.

  16. 16 franck April 21, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    I totally agree with you. I think it’s a shame that a firmware update makes your gear be unusable. I always liked Motu but I think for my next soundcard I ll probably buy something else than Motu.
    I cannot understand how they could release a firmware update that makes crash so manys ultralites and more thant this, I cannot understand why people have to paid to get their ultralite working again as I think its the motu fault and not the customer fault.

    Anyway my story has a good end. Hope it will the case for others as well

  17. 17 earpick April 21, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Let’s hope your suggestion helps others – I’ll update the post with a reference to your comment. Other than that, I really think MOTU will at least cover the costs associated with getting it all fixed up. A bit of a shit situation to end up in, having to pay for it yourself.

  18. 19 earpick May 1, 2008 at 6:12 am

    Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve done. RM is a *nix remove command. And the asterisk is just a wildcard that tells it to trash all the drivers it finds.

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