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Syncing Feeling :(
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Author Syncing Feeling :(
Babaluma
i was discussing overdubbing and syncing with cat-a-tonic yesterday, and mentioned i'd never tried overdubbing and actually checking whether my system drifts out of sync or not.

so today i tried and my worst suspicions were confirmed.

here's what i did as a simple experiment:

future retro mobius as a master clock. accent programmed on the first beat of every bar. accent out sent to metalbox 8008 trig in. basic 4/4 techno kick. i recorded 10 minutes of this, 124 bpm.

then i switched off the mobius and the modular. waited 10 minutes. switched it on again. i gave it 30 seconds to warm up and recorded another 10 minutes.

after this i lined up the first beat in a .wav editor exactly. the horrific thing was that after 10 minutes the second track was way in front of the first track. extremely noticeably so (you could distinctly hear two separate drums).

now if i had enough modules to run everything live, and a multi input sound card, it wouldn't be so much of a problem, as i usually use my mobius as a master clock, and everything would sync to it, even if its own timing wasn't perfect.

it also wouldn't be so much of a problem for ambient based pieces, but for rhythmic/dance/techno stuff it's a real pita!

but i don't have enough modules to realise full tracks in real time, and i don't have a multi input soundcard at the moment, and i do want to make techno tunes via a lot of over dubbing.

so, do any of you have an wise solutions?

would an innerclock systems device help me out? i need to know before dropping $400 on such a unit.

here's what i want to be able to do:

choose the mobius, or the pc, or the 606 (sync out) as master clock devices, and be sure in the fact that whatever option i choose, when i line up overdubs they will be sample accurate.

any dancey producers here care to offer a solution? surely people have been making techno that syncs for many many years with overdubs, how did they do it without drift?

many many thanks in advance,

gregg
ndkent
If your goal is to record on the computer then the computer should generate the master clock. I think that is the only viable option if the goal is an overdub. It's not practical or even a goal of designers to build gear that keeps time as if it were a good watch or scientific instrument.
Babaluma
thanks very much for the reply ndkent.

i don't currently have a midi interface for the pc, but when i upgrade to an audiofire 12 midi is built in.

what i'm worried about is if i carry out the same experiment with the pc as the master clock (sending midi clock to the mobius), and get the same sad results. can you confirm that doing it this way is rock solid/stable?
DGTom
ndkent wrote:
It's not practical or even a goal of designers to build gear that keeps time as if it were a good watch or scientific instrument.


I couldn't dissagree with this any less confused It was very possible for ATARI to build a solid MIDI interface (by accident?) It was possible for the MPC 60/3000 to have tiny amounts of jitter, DIN Sync works great! Connect 2 808s & the claps will phase with each other! try that with modern devices... you get slop.

Sadly Babaluma even with the PC acting as MIDI clock master you won't be happy with the results. Not at 120bpm+, not doing House or Techno.

For this kind of overdubbing you will need as close to sample accurate timing as you can get & I don't think any computer MIDI interface can do that.

Innerclock Systems idea is to use something that works. Audio.

I don't know if the Sync Lock works or not, the last email I got was... erm, brief & its still not out yet.

But, the idea is sound & the concept does, 100%, work. If you have an audio interface with 2 spare outs & an analog seq'er you can do it without anything else. Just sample a trig / clock pulse & create a 'sync track' in your DAW. One of those spare outs gets a regular pulse, every 16th note for example - which is fed into the clock in of your seq'ers, the 2nd out you use for reset.

The wierd thing is, this is what Moroder was doing! With 2" tape & a Moog doing drum tracks! Its still the best, most rock solid way to drive analog from a multitrack.

The trick of the Sync Lock is to take those sample accurate, DAW generated pulses & turn them into 3 differant clocks to drive a combo MIDI, DIN & Clock system.

The Sync Shift MKII isn't really what you need here, it can correct for lag, but it can't fix the slop coming from a MIDI interface. Its an awesome box for anyon with more than one drum machine / sequencer, it really needs 1 solid clock for it to shine.

Quote:
but i don't have enough modules to realise full tracks in real time, and i don't have a multi input soundcard at the moment, and i do want to make techno tunes via a lot of over dubbing.


I've been messing with just recording long chunks & compiling stuff in Ableton, it works pretty well, the MFB seq'ers keep pretty good time, but its still far from ideal. I'm at the point at the moment where the computer is more or less a stereo tape deck, but like you don't have nearly enough modules (& never will) to do a full tune.

Does the Mobius have an analog clock in? I might mess with Ableton generated clock tonight but I need to record the patch I have going at the moment first.
Babaluma
thanks so much dgtom, this is exactly the type of information and experience i was looking for.

i can't believe in this day and age that it can be so difficult to sync analogue and digital equipment adequately. what are we like?

atari and din sync always worked well for me in the past.

the moroder idea of recording an analogue click/trigger track for re-syncing the sequencers later on is an inspired and flawless one. the unfortunate thing is that the ONLY thing the mobius seriously lacks (imho) is a trigger in. it has midi clock in or internal clock, and midi and sync (and gate and cv) out. i am loathe to ditch the mobius or buy any more modular gear, as i am otherwise so happy with what i already have.

the inner clock systems sync lock looks ideal, i hadn't noticed that page so thanks for the link. i'll email the dude and see if and when it will be available. daw midi out to sync lock in, sync lock sync out to 606 in, sync lock midi out to mobius in, fab!

the ableton idea sounds like a nice try, but like you say, not ideal.

i also only use my computer as a stereo tape deck, and occasionally for mastering plugin touches once a track is finished. i want to stay in the analogue domain as much as possible.

let's hope that innerclock will save the day!
DGTom
Babaluma wrote:
i want to stay in the analogue domain as much as possible.


this is the only thing that makes me happy! Sadly I don't have the income or the real estate to follow it to its natural conclusion *cough* Fat Bastard *cough*

Babaluma wrote:
let's hope that innerclock will save the day!


I have very high hopes! I think that David is flat out building the little buggers & has been too busy to reply to my pestering Smacked in the head with a trout

Sync Lock should be ideal for your set-up & you'll have a clock & reset to spare (do you have a Binary Zone? I love feeding fast clocks into those & getting super wobbly, fast sequences out of it)

I've been using the 'programmed clock' technique from my MPC to drive the modular, quantized reset & messing with the clock patterns is magic, not only does it solve the scientific 'this needs to be accurate' side of the problem, but it opens up all kinds of creative uses!

I don't get it either why timing & MIDI clock got left behind so bad. Trying to multitrack stuff makes you realize why 99.9% of House / Techno etc. was done live to 2 track & why the ST / MPC / TR reigned for so long. You realize pretty quick why the shift went from 70ies tech -> Inside The Box almost overnight!!
Babaluma
DGTom wrote:
Sadly I don't have the income or the real estate to follow it to its natural conclusion *cough* Fat Bastard *cough*


me neither!

i just emailed the innerclock dude in australia (david?), so hopefully i'll get a reply soon. it really does seem like the ideal solution.

don't have a binary zone. am not really sure what you mean by having a clock and reset to spare? do you mean from my analogue audio outs from the pc interface? which modular sequencer are you using? i am guessing something with a trig in, maybe the hex zone?

yeah agreed about the technology. re: dance music, it seems like we went from analogue synced analogue hardware boxes to everything itb overnight! trouble is i love the analogue hardware boxes and hate itb, although i like the convenience of digital for recording/arranging/editing. maybe i should just buy a 1" 8 track tape deck and be done with. it wink

please innerclock systems, please please!!!
parasitk
Do you have an input module that puts out an envelope and gate? I just output an audio click track from my DAW, into the Blacet I/O, which then puts out a steady gate that I can send to clock inputs.
Kent
I missed out on how you were synchronizing the PC to the Mobius. Is it running as a MIDI Beat Clock Slave?

The only real way of synchronizing is via TimeCode Reference and sample-rate lock. In modular land we can make do with a TimeCode Ref though. Beat Clock can't correct for speeds, so you're kinda screwed on long passages.
Babaluma
thanks for all the great suggestions!

at the moment i have no midi interface. i am not using midi at all (well, except to play the modular and matrix 1000 in real time via the wavestation ex keyboard, but that's not connected to what i'm talking about here at all). in future i'll get an interface which has both multiple ins and outs, and midi.

but i was hoping to be able to do reliable overdubbing with my current setup. what i am doing is using the mobius as the master clock and sequncer, recording things into the pc, then overdubbing using the mobius as the master clock again, but the two recordings drift BADLY in time (see first post).

the only module i have that might work re: audio triggers, is the serge bananalogue vcs. i could send it an audio click from my soundcard, and i might just get reliable triggers out of the "out", "ac out" or "end out" jacks. but then that still doesn't help me trigger the mobius (remember, no trigger in), which is going to be the main module i'm using for sequncing and triggering everything else.

kent, i am not currently syncing the mobius to the pc via midi at all, and i have to admit to being ignorant of what a midi beat clock slave is, do you mean midi time code?

hmm... i'll keep pondering, but the best thing so far does still seem to be the innerclock systems device.
DGTom
Babaluma wrote:
am not really sure what you mean by having a clock and reset to spare?


From the Sync Shift, it outputs MIDI, DIN & analog clock (I dunno, whats the proper term for that?) So as well as driving the Mobius & the 606 you'll have another clock you may be able to use straight into the modular.

Babaluma wrote:
which modular sequencer are you using?


The MFB SEQ-01 & SEQ-02, Euro step sequencers. I still really want a Hex, totally differant beast, but, I was seduced by the x0x style programming of the MFBs!


With regards to audio clicks / pulses etc.

So far (touch wood) I've not had to process these at all. I'm driving the MFB SEQ01 & 02 straight from the unbalanced outputs of my MPC2000XL.

To create my pulse I took the Square out of an MFB LFO (made sure it would drive the seq'er by patching it up first) & sampled it straight into the Akai, I then edited the sample so it was just the + section of the waveform.

Works great! To trigger my little 808 Bass clone I have to edit the sample preset so that it fades out as it seems to re-trigger on the negative slope of the pure square, but other than that, its cool. Having half a bar with triplet clock, half speed clock, wierd patterned clock is 100% seemless & being able to sequence the reset (same sample differant output) means you can always get the sequence lined up at the start of the bar 8)
parasitk
It doesn't take trigger in, but will it take clock? An I/O module (worth every penny) will out put gate signals that can be used as a clock source. No MIDI required.
Kent
MIDI Beat Clock (MBC) is strictly a count. Like a Gate or Trigger pulse. Think "Metronome".

MIDI Time Code (MTC) is much more sophisticated, has nothing to do with Bars/Beats/Ticks & can be self-correcting for slop. It is based upon SMPTE and is just a MIDI protocol version of SMPTE that was added in the next revision of the MIDI spec.

Society of Motion Picture & Television Experts (SMPTE) is linear timecode that is specified for XLR cables but is also found on TRS & TS 1/4" jacks.

Vertically Integrated Time Code (VITC) is the bomb but is almost never used in music.

My setup is somewhat similar to yours, but I've got the Octopus and a few MIDI to CV convertors. I like to start off everything without a computer as much as possible and the Octo lets me drive everything. I generate a 1/4 note track in the Octo and it goes to one or more MIDI to CV converters and that is converted to a Gate. This then goes wherever it needs to and almost always at least multed to the Model 28 Tap Clock.

The problem comes when laying synchronized audio back to my MacInTrash. My DAW of choice can generate MIDI Beat Clock and fortunately, the Octo can slave to it and then repeat the MBC out of its ports, so things are all fine and dandy. However, if I laydown a bunch of multi-tracks & then try to do the same again I have to start at the EXACT same point in the DAW and hope that the Octo and all of the other gear latches on before the 'punch in' point. Make sure to leave yourself enough room (1, 2 or 4 bars) depending upon how long it takes and what kind of track you are laying down.

Since you don't have a MIDI interface at the moment, you could 'stripe' (aka 'record') a click track to your PC and then use an audio interface output to send to the Mobius IF the Mobius can lock to a 'click' or 'gate' like that. The obvious hurdle here is whether your audio interface will spew out a DC click.

You can not achieve your desired sample accurate lock without your Master & Slave clocks both resolving to a common Master Synchronization source. Don't confuse "Synch" with "Timecode".

Timecode is analogous to "How Far" or "Where are we along these markers"

Sync (Wordclock, Sample Rate, Blackburst, etc) is analogous to "How Quickly Are We Driving Between These Markers"

And again, Beat Clock is just tick, tick, tick like a metronome.

When using only Beat Clock, it is very possible that steps will be skipped (clock drift) as the slave device tries to align itself to 'drop' on the 'one' of the incoming Beat Clock. The problem is that every 'pulse' or 'count off' is on the 'one'. So, it is just counting off "One, One, One, One..." and the Slave attempts to run at that exact rate. Again, think metronome.
Also, there is only so much accuracy coming from the Master Beat Clock source. The weakness of Beat Clock is that it only sends "Start", "Stop" & "Rate" information, but has no indication of where we are in the song with an absolute value.

I didn't intend to write a book! That's the general gist of it. Wikipedia surely has more in depth info if you need it.
For now, you need to see if you can get the Mobius to lock to incoming Beat Clock, analog gate or analog gate via the VCS that you mentioned. The Gate from Computer will only work if your interface will pass it though.
Chuck E. Jesus
to the OP: do you have a game port on your PC? you can use it as a midi port, you just need to buy a cable...google "game port midi"
suitandtieguy
right now i'm using an MMT-8 to stripe a track on the ADAT HD24XR with FSK tape sync, and then using that as clcok master using a Mark of the Unicron MIDI Timepiece AV to redistribute it. the x0xb0x is converting the MIDI sync to DIN for the modular, the TR-909, and the CR-8000.

i'm extremely happy with this right now.

however, i should point out that anyone using Digital Performer or Numerology with a Mark of the Unicron interface nice than the Fastlane should not be experiencing any MIDI clock drift or jitter unless your cables are shit.
Babaluma
thanks again for the help and explanations everyone.

please be aware that the mobius ONLY HAS MIDI IN for sync purposes. no trigger in, no gate in, no din sync 24 in, so any suggestion of syncing the mobius via audio, trig, gate or sync24 is mute.

like i said before, that's the only real weakness of the mobius (i guess not having individually programmable gate time for each not is also a weakness, but not one that bothers me).

it looks like i'm just going to have to wait until i get a new multi in out audio and midi interface. the innerclock sync lock will be the icing on the cake.

dgtom, get what you mean about having a spare output now, thanks!

parasitk, used to have an i/o but sold it as i have most of the functionality in other modules (e.g. outboard preamps and the vcs for deriving trigs and slew etc).

kent thanks for the in depth explanation of midi timing stuff. i can see why i left midi behind so long ago now! it always was a nightmare to get everything working happily together!

rossg, no game port, but i could easily go out and get a little 2 in 2 out usb midi port today, but i think it's best to wait until i get the echo audiofire 12.
Ranxerox
Babaluma wrote:

after this i lined up the first beat in a .wav editor exactly. the horrific thing was that after 10 minutes the second track was way in front of the first track. extremely noticeably so (you could distinctly hear two separate drums).


I hate to sound like a MIDI wiener, and it's sort of already been pointed out to you already, but unless all devices - recorder included - are being run off the same clock, this experiment is basically pointless.

The whole purpose of synchronisation is to have all your timings running in a closed loop off a single master clock, which in this case should be the computer since it represents the 'point of reconcile' for all of your overdubs.

Get yourself a MIDI interface for your Mac (not more than US $50 will do the trick) and run the experiment again with the computer as master both times. There may be a timing 'slop' of Plus or Minus a few milleseconds, but this will hardly be noticable and anyway isn't the same as a cumulative divergence in timing.

FWIW, I slave my Otari Radar to Logic via SMPTE / LTC without any problems. Prior to that I've used MTC and MIDI clocks w/song position pointer, in various configurations using various hardware (including an MMT-8!), and I've never had the problem you're describing, so long as I overdub using the same 'closed loop' of Sync master and slaves for each overdub.
Babaluma
thanks ranxerox.

yeah, i guess i was just under the deluded opinion that the built in clocks on outboard sequencers would be more stable than they actually are. wink i have to admit i was expecting the mobius to be as stable as a watch, which is clearly not the case. i wonder why this is? the mobius is a digital device, and you can buy digital watches for next to no money that keep time extremely well, so how come devices used for rhythmic music can't do this? it's pretty crap i reckon!

btw i don't use a mac for music, but pc. i'll get a midi interface with the new audio inteface, but it won't be for a few months unfortunately. perhaps i should consider getting a cheap usb midi interface for now and running the test again with the mobius synced to audiomulch, audition or reaper on the pc.

it's good to know that what i want to do is possible, but bad to know that i can't achieve it with my current setup!
Ranxerox
Yeah, drift is inherent in all things involving electrons and resistance, and even the tiniest amount of it accumulates surprisingly quickly.

Like I say, it's always best to sync with the recorder, since it will always be in sync with itself and so with whatever was recorded previously.

When they were dreaming this technology up back in the 70s and 80s, they were mainly concerned with getting everything down on the recorder in preparation for mix-down. Like STG does, they would record linear timecode onto one track of their multitrack tape machine (i.e. sacrificing that track!) which would become the master sync reference for any sequencers, arpeggiators, drum boxes or other tape machines used during subsequent overdubs.

Trying to let the sequencer drive things is kind of like putting the kids in charge of the class.
Chuck E. Jesus
Babaluma wrote:
perhaps i should consider getting a cheap usb midi interface for now and running the test again with the mobius synced to audiomulch, audition or reaper on the pc.



yes, this is what you should do! they are cheap and you might find it's fine for your purposes for now...learn how to overdub tracks while syncing to your DAW first off, you can always use the interface if you get another midi device later (better than daisy chaining midi ports)
wetterberg
or do what I do; throw caution to the wind, just record whatever, and sync it in post! Only takes a couple of minutes.

Viva Ableton Live Coffee Addiction FTW
DGTom
Ranxerox wrote:
There may be a timing 'slop' of Plus or Minus a few milleseconds, but this will hardly be noticable and anyway isn't the same as a cumulative divergence in timing.


Plus or Minus a few milleseconds sounds like alot to me, when we are talking 120+bpm, with a mostly 4x4 kick & alot of bass.

+/- a few ms would be ok, if, it was a constant +/- ms - you could correct / allow for it, but it never is, midi clock wanders home like your drunk uncle.

It works ok, but not for mid-high tempos, not for highly syncopated music. At the moment I'm able to have a bass drum played by step sequencers lock up with drums & percussion from the MPC, in perfect time. I've never seen that with MIDI Clock. +/- a few ms is the differace between in the pocket & middle of the road.

suitandtieguy wrote:
right now i'm using an MMT-8 to stripe a track on the ADAT HD24XR with FSK tape sync, and then using that as clcok master using a Mark of the Unicron MIDI Timepiece AV to redistribute it. the x0xb0x is converting the MIDI sync to DIN for the modular, the TR-909, and the CR-8000.


What I love about this is that you've removed the major weakness of linear timecode, tape! HD recorders instantally make FSK & SMPTE so much better, even though they were designed for & worked well enough with tape. I'm intrigued by your comment re; MOTU.

wetterberg wrote:
or do what I do; throw caution to the wind, just record whatever, and sync it in post! Only takes a couple of minutes.

Viva Ableton Live Coffee Addiction FTW


hihi Yep! This is my method at the moment when it becomes computer time! I try not to warp the clips tho, lots of copying numbers into boxes, kinda fiddly but works, then you can warp your way out of any total fuck ups!

I used to use the 'Holger Czukay' method. Overdub without listening to the previous recorded tracks, you listen to them inside your head! Throw all this sync nonsense out the window... GET ZEN YO!
Babaluma
i'm certainly more with you dgtom. the idea of having my modular and all my amazing analogue gear synced to a pc with a wandering midi clock just feels somehow "dirty" to me. wink therefore i'd rather not go the direct mtc route if i don't have to.

extremely tight timing (think kraftwerk, vince clarke, good techno) is very important to me, as is steering clear of the computer and midi as much as is humanly possible.

i am thinking the best solution to the problem is going to be generating an audio click/drum track in the pc with software (which should be sample accurate), and then using this click out into an innerclock systems sync lock to sync all the analogue gear for overdubbing. there would then be no need for a midi interface from the pc. wink i'd only be using midi from the sync lock to the mobius, which should then be sample accurate.

that means i still need a multi output interface and a sync lock though...

i might just have to trump up for the audiofire 12 sooner than i imagined, and hope that the innerclock systems dude has the sync lock ready to go soon!

i still can't believe in this day and age that it can be so difficult to get accurate time/sync. i just want to be able to make very tight techno with overdubbing!
Chuck E. Jesus
seriously: at least try using a midi interface with your pc to the Mobius and overdub kick, then snare, then bass, whatever...see if the sync sounds sloppy to you, then make some decisions on how to correct it...there is a lot of misinformation in this thread and you are putting the cart before the horse...
DGTom
ross g wrote:
seriously: at least try using a midi interface with your pc to the Mobius and overdub kick, then snare, then bass, whatever...see if the sync sounds sloppy to you, then make some decisions on how to correct it...there is a lot of misinformation in this thread and you are putting the cart before the horse...


Have you ever done this? Overdubbing kick, snare, bass with MIDI Clock as the master?
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