Updating presets on a Korg A3.

This all started when the brother-in-law of my wife asked me to buy a cheap generic USB to MIDI cable so he could update the presets of a Korg A3 performance signal processor.

The A3 is mostly known for the iconic “U2 – Mysterious Ways” guitar effect and is now a processor some guitarists want to have on their setups, being my brother-in-law a enthusiastic guitarist and U2 fan, this processor was on his wish list for a while and just to be safe he bought a pair of them (curious fact I do the same with in-ears I really like).

Now the only “problem” with the A3 is loading the presets to the processor, there are some steps involved with old hardware and software if you want to use the MIDI cable to transfer the data to the processor.
The easy way is via the original expansion cards you insert in front of the A3, but those are not cheap or easy to find these days.

The other way is by uploading a SYSEX data dump of said cards directly to the memory of the processor, something easier said than done.
Most software tools that work well with the A3 are for Windows XP or later, because I didn’t have XP installed on any computer I went ahead and installed the Midiox tool in Windows 10 using compatibility mode, then I followed the steps I found on an internet forum called forum.u2guitartutorials.com, below you have the original poster steps.

“mforester
Got much of these instructions from Bert, also posted up top. This works great!

Overview
1) Get a Korg A3 multieffects rack unit
2) Get a midi-to-USB cable
3) Download the “SPC-01 Guitar” user card from korgaseries.org to your computer
4) Transfer the user card to your Korg A3 using the midi cable
5) Select Preset 766) Tweak to taste

More detailed
1) First get a midi-usb cable to connect it to your computer. I have the M-audio Uno, which works great and it’s cheap.
2) Then you have to download midi-ox to your computer and install it on your computer.
3) With the A3 you must go into the Utility menu and select MIDI, then LOAD, then tell your software to send the file.
4) With the A2 you do not need to go into the menus, it will receive the SYSEX file automatically.
5) Note that the SYSEX file coming in will overwrite whatever is currently stored on your unit so you may want to save your current settings in a SYSEX file of your own. To do this, run a MIDI cable from your unit’s MIDI Out port to your computer’s soundcard MIDI In port, then tell your software to receive a file. On your unit, go into the Utility menu and select MIDI, then SAVE.
6) For further info and manuals go here: http://http://korgaseries.org/”

Now if all goes well and the USB to MIDI cable is compatible with the A3, the data uploading should be fast to do. Note the “if all goes well”…
In the end, one should have a working A3 with new presents ready to rock “U2 – Mysterious ways” right away.

I did try to upload the presents using Windows 10 in compatibility mode, but after the data upload, the A3 just didn’t receive the file. Tried various settings and still no luck.

Now the problem could be one of four things:
1. The software isn’t compatible with the operating system.
2. The software isn’t compatible with the cable.
3. The A3 has a hardware anomaly.
4. The USB to MIDI cable isn’t compatible.

Steps I took to solve the problem:
1. This one was removed by installing Windows XP on my oldest laptop, a tedious and unpleasant task.
2. The cable did light up when sending data, so the software was communicating with it.
3. I had two A3 from different sellers unless my brother-in-law had a lot of bad luck both machines couldn’t be broken.
4. Yea, I bought a generic Chinese cable and people on the forums complained some cables didn’t work with the A3, yea I had a problem.

I went ahead and asked my brother-in-law to buy a M-Audio Uno MIDI cable which was said to work fine with the A3.
A week would pass before I had the cable to try again.

When it arrived, I installed the M-Audio Uno driver, then I rebooted the operating system, connected the Midi plugs to the A3 (Don’t forget to put the back switch to OUT) and inserted the USB connector into my laptop, did the normal procedures to upload the SYSEX file in both software and A3.
I clicked “send” and the A3 received the file (it will automatically go out from the “load” state when it finishes).
From sending to receiving the file I’m talking 20 to 30 seconds tops, not minutes or hours.
After that, I just selected “Save” on the Korg A3 and it was done. 

Lessons learned
Read the forums and use the recommended cables.

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