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New MPC Live & X MIDI clock sync timing **UPDATED**
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Author New MPC Live & X MIDI clock sync timing **UPDATED**
ziggomatic
**UPDATE*** See my post from Feb 15th for testing results using new v2.1 firmware. Issue is 95% fixed :-)


I strongly feel this is a serious product functionality flaw so i'm posting this warning thread to spread awareness to other potential MPC users who want to sync their MPC to an external clock source in their setup, and to hopefully put some pressure on Akai to take seriously the severity of this issue and fix it as soon as possible. I figure there are a lot of synth heads on here who, like me, imagined adding the new MPC to their existing setup. Sadly Akai have continued not to address this problem since the new MPC Live & X release.

The new MPC's are great, except for one major flaw in that they all have horrible timing instability when you try to sync them to an external clock. So bad that i've visually measured up to 22ms of note timing drift (clock jitter) which is very noticeable when trying to sync with any sort of external gear, and for most people renders the MPC useless for any serious music production in this situation (when trying to sync with other gear). You can hear the timing issues just from enabling the click track audio & comparing timing against other gear the MPC is apparently "sync'd" to, without even needing to record/quantize any musical sequences.

To be clear, the 22ms is not a consistent delay or latency in the hardware, the timing of all notes played are unpredictably early or late, so there is no possible way to try solving this issue with delay compensation of any sort.

I have contacted Akai support several times with no real reply (other than pre-written responses saying they forward all issues to development team), and there are have been countless threads and replies on the Akai message boards with people experiencing the same issues since initial release. At one point I was communicating with David from Innerclock systems, who had just bought the MPC Live for testing, and found the issue so severe he immediately returned it to the store.

The new MPC's were released in July of 2017, have gone through about 3 new firmware version updates since then, and none of them have addressed the external sync timing issues. Akai seems not willing to recognize and/or address the severity of this issue, as they have only responded to my several customer service inquiries with generic replies.

Wanted to make the synth community aware that if you are planning to purchase a new MPC Live or X, it will NOT sync to an external MIDI clock properly as described.

Fingers staying crossing they will fix this issue ASAP.
Astrolabe23
I'm curious if others have had the same experience with these two Akai models. I know that within a midi studio ecosystem there are usually many devices at play and sometimes the problem can originate from something other than the gear that appears to be malfunctioning. I don't at all doubt that you are having issues, and good MIDI timing can be tricky at best and totally impossible with some gear. Would you mind giving a rundown of your testing setup? What is the master MIDI clock feeding the AKAI from? Is it from a DAW like Ableton? I've used MIDI for 30 years and consider myself quite good at getting it to work well, but I have yet to get Ableton live to work as a master clock with acceptable timing. I'm not saying that is the case for everyone, but in my ecosystem the DAW clock is not as stable as any of my hardware sequencers. I wish the best of luck to you in getting it all working together tightly.
Raven_Martin
I sync mine to a cirklon and it works absolutely fine.

Check out the tracks on my SoundCloud. Lots of the percussion sounds are from the MPC. Most other sounds are coming from other bits of hardware / modular running synced at the same time, all recorded simultaneously.

Have seen other people complaining of this but I've never experienced a problem at all.
ranix
are you using the latest release? You didn't explicitly clarify that so I am skeptical that your claim disproves the OP. He didn't say all MPCs exhibit this behavior, only the most recent mpc live & x release
Benoua
Mine has no probleme also.

Our live midi chain set up start from some elektron gear, mpc live in the middle and the modular at the end and everything is perfectly sync.

Did you try the last firmware (wich was supposed to fix this issue) ?

cheers
xparis001
Hi Folks,

Dan from Akai here. So this issue he's talking about has been discovered by a user on gearslutz, and we've been able to reproduce the issue on some units. Indeed it doesn't appear to be all units, which explains why some users see it, but others don't.

there are actually 3 separate issues, which was why it was so hard to chase down. There was a drift over time (3-4 minutes) that reset itself when you hit play, there was a jitter between notes, which I suspect the thread starter is talking about, and an offset that wouldnt remain consistent on start. again, not everyone had these issues, only a select few. The good news is all of these issues are fixable, and have been addressed in the next release, v2.1. it's scheduled to be released soon, probably within the next 7 days.

hope that clears things up!
estin
Wow, I am not affected by this but great support and follow up from Akai. Really refreshing to see the transparency and willingness to reach out.
SmartBits
Good to see you on this forum Dan, thanks for the update!
Raven_Martin
ranix wrote:
are you using the latest release? You didn't explicitly clarify that so I am skeptical that your claim disproves the OP. He didn't say all MPCs exhibit this behavior, only the most recent mpc live & x release


No idea tbh. I updated it once, soon after I got it, perhaps around September? Nothing since.
KaOsphere
estin wrote:
Wow, I am not affected by this but great support and follow up from Akai. Really refreshing to see the transparency and willingness to reach out.


Have you been to akai official forum lately ?

To be honest thet are really fortunate to have Dan on board taking time to post here and there...

Because akaï does not seem to care at all...
estin
^ I have not, I guess credit to Dan in particular then. Its still refreshing to see.
ziggomatic
xparis001 wrote:
Hi Folks,

Dan from Akai here. So this issue he's talking about has been discovered by a user on gearslutz, and we've been able to reproduce the issue on some units. Indeed it doesn't appear to be all units, which explains why some users see it, but others don't.

there are actually 3 separate issues, which was why it was so hard to chase down. There was a drift over time (3-4 minutes) that reset itself when you hit play, there was a jitter between notes, which I suspect the thread starter is talking about, and an offset that wouldnt remain consistent on start. again, not everyone had these issues, only a select few. The good news is all of these issues are fixable, and have been addressed in the next release, v2.1. it's scheduled to be released soon, probably within the next 7 days.

hope that clears things up!


Dan, really appreciate your feedback here, as I have sent countless tech support requests and either not received any response, or only heard back some sort of pre-written "we will look into it". Your confirmation that Akai is aware of the issues and has apparently addressed them in the next imminent firmware release is very promising. This is the best response I have received by a long shot so thank you very much.

Interesting that you say the issue seems to be happening on some units. Where as I have tested these issues on all firmware versions on my MPC Live, hopefully that does not mean its a potential hardware issue on certain devices. We will see once the new v2.1 firmware is released, i'm really hoping it solves everything myself and countless others have been experiencing and I can finally get to using this MPC as originally intended.

FYI for testing purposes I was syncing my MPC Live first to my Cirklon, then Analog RYTM. Both devices on their own produce rock solid timing, and the RYTM also was rock solid when sync'd to the Cirklon, so I have a few use case examples that I can be certain are working properly with the same test equipment.
Panason
MIDI sync issues keep going strong in many new products. Just Why? very frustrating
Funky40
so great that i could resist one time !
elektron taking allready all my nerves and positiveness.
a -X would definitly pair well with my setup.
Sync beeing THE MAIN THING that would have to work well.



picture: i in the music store.
i let the guy bring me a nice stack of MPC X boxes.
I with my tablet, reading the last posts in forums,
then counting from buttom up: 1,2,3,4,5,6,.......7 OK, i take this one, this one will work
lol
ziggomatic
FIRMWARE v2.1 RESULTS UPDATE:

New firmware was just released, after installing and running various tests this morning I am happy to report that the major clock jitter issue has been GREATLY improved!! Syncing the MPC Live to an external MIDI clock (in this case Cirklon) now carries a consistent MIDI latency of 12.8-15ms, this 2.2ms window is SO MUCH BETTER than the roughly 20ms I was experiencing in previous tests. Obviously the latency isn't ideal but I am so thankful now that its consistent I can account for this using delay compensation on all other instruments in my setup. I now feel like the MPC timing is usable for musical applications when syncing to an external MIDI clock.

Thank you Dan from Akai for chiming in last week and sharing the status of bugs vs. firmware updates, very much appreciate you sharing your information.
Fentune
Absolutely insane that the 4000 MIDI clock is much more accurate than today's models. I used to use my MPC R. but then they fucked up with MIDI timing and completely abandoned Win 7 users, forcing us to update to Win 10 just to get the MIDI timing at a usable state. And then the ridiculous charge to update to 2.0 software...Not this time Akai, I'm out. Switched to Maschine MK3 and making the best music of my life thumbs up Still have my trusty hardware MPCs if I need one, but Maschine MK3 does everything I need it to do and more when it comes to computer integration.
sutekina bipu-on
Panason wrote:
MIDI sync issues keep going strong in many new products. Just Why? very frustrating

I could be wrong but so many people working in the box is my theory on why. Any modern computer is going to be just awful in midi timing consistency compared to a device whose main job is MIDI clock. PC's can get within a few milliseconds of jitter, but that's enough to break the feel of a track. I think this mentality spilled out into other products that also use a more powerful CPU to control everything and MIDI timing accuracy being dead on might not be the most important thing to that CPU anymore ..... especially if has to receive MIDI over USB which might not even be asynchronous... Just my 2 cents
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