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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?
Babaluma
cool ross, i understand you!

i'm almost certainly going to be able to get midi before i get a sync lock, so i'll report back when i've got the midi up and running and done some more testing!

thanks so much for all the help people! this is a truly wonderful forum!

gregg
DGTom
Just for shits & giggles I recorded some of what I'm talking about

MIDI Slop;

http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/252415/Phasey_Kicks_128.mp3

2 passes from the MPC, Clocked from Ableton, 2 bar count in (empty bars) to allow MIDI Clock to 'settle'

What sounds like a flange is actually the sound of MIDI! Accurate sync to me would make a louder kick, maybe some slight - static - phase, but even over a short time you can hear the MIDI wander, not workable for me.

This is the same thing, but the MPC Kick + 808 Bass triggered by the Step Sequencer being driven by the MPC pulse out. This is acceptable to me.

http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/252415/MPC_BD808_128.mp3

& finally, modular in perfect harmony with its digital brethren!

http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/252415/Modular_House_Jam.mp3

This is quite long, skip thru. Synths & bass kick are all modular, rest of the percussion is MPC. 808 doesn't come in until halfway, where its just analogs, the ending shows how tight it all stays together without any kind of thud.

You may need to turn the volume up abit, I record pretty conservative levels & no added 'erbs n spices where used in the preperation.

Babaluma
thanks dgtom,

first example definitely not acceptable! my experiment yesterday was FAR WORSE after 10 minutes of just the mobius.

second examples perhaps acceptable, can still hear a little phasing, but i reckon in the context of a track perhaps nothing to worry about.

nice jam too!
Chuck E. Jesus
DGTom wrote:
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?


yes i have, and i understand your point....i'm not arguing that midi timing is as good as an analog pulse...the OP was having a problem lining up separately recorded tracks is his DAW, if he tries using midi from the DAW to drive the Mobius, he may find that quite acceptable...
Chuck E. Jesus
Babaluma wrote:

first example definitely not acceptable! my experiment yesterday was FAR WORSE after 10 minutes of just the mobius.


if the goal is to line up kick drums and have them sound perfectly in phase, i agree it's not acceptable...if you are trying to layer separate tracks of different instruments, chances are you won't notice a problem...

i'd recommend googling "midi timing" and read up, there's a ton of info available...
wetterberg
Babaluma wrote:
second examples perhaps acceptable, can still hear a little phasing, but i reckon in the context of a track perhaps nothing to worry about.
I don't think you'll ever hear midi-controlled timing that doesn't shift a few milliseconds back and forth every now and then... it's in the nature of the game.

In my experience *Perfectly* aligned sounds *need* post tweaks.
Ranxerox
ross g wrote:

if the goal is to line up kick drums and have them sound perfectly in phase, i agree it's not acceptable...if you are trying to layer separate tracks of different instruments, chances are you won't notice a problem...


Exactly. And probably not possible for all to be perfectly in phase anyway, unless you're using VSTs in a 'sample accurate' DAW - which you're understandably keen to avoid.

Babaluma wrote:

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.


You'll probably find that extremely tight timing, particularly in terms of the phase issue identified here, was probably the last thing on these guys' minds when they were in the studio.

Kraftwerk actually played half their stuff by hand for a start - check Wolfgang's funky drum-pads, for an example. And considering the gear used in the classic techno recordings (80s, 90s), they no doubt 'suffered' under the yoke of MIDI-clock, DIN- and tape-sync, just as you are!
wetterberg
Ranxerox wrote:
Babaluma wrote:

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.


You'll probably find that extremely tight timing, particularly in terms of the phase issue identified here, was probably the last thing on these guys' minds when they were in the studio.

Kraftwerk actually played half their stuff by hand for a start - check Wolfgang's funky drum-pads, for an example. And considering the gear used in the classic techno recordings (80s, 90s), they no doubt 'suffered' under the yoke of MIDI-clock, DIN- and tape-sync, just as you are!
I hate to be the negative nancy here, but I don't think that's entirely true, Ranx;
the early techno recordings didn't use midi clock and such nonsense... The Roland MC-4 was widely used for a lot of stuff, for instance, and that thing is INSANELY tight. So is din-sync (ie, analogue pulses==near instant playback) so all those 606, 808, 909, 303, 202 jams were anything but sloppy, from what I understand.

I was also under the impression that the Kraftwerk drum pads were only for shows? Surely those cats went through their share of analogue step sequencers?

a confused
Kwote
i'm gonna offer an alternative solution. buy more modules! SlayerBadger!
Kent
Ha! Fuck ya!

I think that MIDI Time Code, as a subset of the MIDI Spec, is getting unfair treatment in this discussion. Much of what people SEEM to be attributing specifically to the MIDI specification is actually based upon their empircal results derived from their entire system including the variables that have yet to be mentioned. Things like: USB drivers, chipsets, interface of choice, etc.

If you dedicate a cable to MTC and you have your sync (not to be confused with 'clock') in order then things will be tight. The Ataris are a working case in point. So are all of the systems that I've installed, to be honest. There is definitely enough bandwidth for MTC and some other odds 'n' ends.
Ranxerox
wetterberg wrote:
the early techno recordings didn't use midi clock and such nonsense... The Roland MC-4 was widely used for a lot of stuff, for instance, and that thing is INSANELY tight. So is din-sync (ie, analogue pulses==near instant playback) so all those 606, 808, 909, 303, 202 jams were anything but sloppy, from what I understand.


Yeah, but they weren't exclusively using those boxes. You also had cheesy MIDI synths like the Poly-800 - anything they could find at the pawn shop. Then they were having to overdub on 8-track reel-to-reel; maybe they found a way to record a timing pulse on one track, but I suspect they soon relied on MIDI to tie it all together.

Anyway, by the 90s they were definitely using Ataris and Ensoniq gear - Jeff Mills, Rob Hood, Carl Craig et al., indicating a switch to MIDI.

And lets not forget the 909's famous timing 'slop', integral to it's funkiness!

wetterberg wrote:

I was also under the impression that the Kraftwerk drum pads were only for shows? Surely those cats went through their share of analogue step sequencers?
a confused


There's a book by Wolfgang Flur called 'I Was A Robot' where he spills some beans regarding Kling-Klang Studios. They did sequence some of the recorded drums, but this wasn't their central mission - other electronic acts of the time were mixing sequencing and live-playing as well.
Ranxerox
Sorry to keep flogging this one, maybe it's turning into a pet subject?

Actually, I've re-checked my copy of 'I Was a Robot' and, you're right, most of their recorded percussion from 'Trans Europe Express' onwards was sequenced. The book says that they could get the timing better using a sequencer than with Wolfgang playing drum-pads, and that he increasingly felt like just a session musician!

The thing to remember about the MC-4 and Roland gear such as the 909 and MC-202 is that it they were 'microprocessor controlled' - meaning that even though the clock signal was analog, the 'brain' was still a digital processor struggling to multi-task, essentially a pre-MIDI digital IC running embedded code. The timing accuracy of different models varies significantly.

This link has a lot of interesting information about sync issues -

http://www.innerclocksystems.com/

Check out their veiled reference to the MC-202 under 'Q&A':-

Quote:
A quick look at the microprocessor task routine and the time intervals between them shows very clearly why this model will always be a loose rubber band on the timing stakes.


Mr. Green
Babaluma
good input everyone!

we've been discussing the innerclock systems site since the beginning wink yep, he has a lot of great info there. that's why i plan to get a sync lock once it becomes available, and knock this whole "problem" on the head once and for all!

some great tightly synced music was done without midi for sure, and some amazing techno was made with ataris and hardware synths and drum machines, for sure!

in my case it was just the mobius's timing that was not good enough. the mobius is a digital sequencer with analogue outputs. i naively expected to be able to run the sequencer, record, repatch, run the sequencer again and record and expect the waveforms to line up exactly, which they did not. :(

but i have hope i'll get it sorted!
Chuck E. Jesus
Babaluma wrote:
good input everyone!

we've been discussing the innerclock systems site since the beginning wink yep, he has a lot of great info there. that's why i plan to get a sync lock once it becomes available, and knock this whole "problem" on the head once and for all!

some great tightly synced music was done without midi for sure, and some amazing techno was made with ataris and hardware synths and drum machines, for sure!

in my case it was just the mobius's timing that was not good enough. the mobius is a digital sequencer with analogue outputs. i naively expected to be able to run the sequencer, record, repatch, run the sequencer again and record and expect the waveforms to line up exactly, which they did not. :(

but i have hope i'll get it sorted!


man, all i can say is good luck w00t
DGTom
Kent wrote:
I think that MIDI Time Code, as a subset of the MIDI Spec, is getting unfair treatment in this discussion.


Fair enough. It must be said that things weren't quite as bad until USB came on the scene. Lots of people held on for grim life to their serial MIDI hardware for ages until they were left behind in the technological rush. The USB MIDI interface was not a step in the right direction.

I'm not sure if the MIDI spec actually makes any demands on minimum / maximum, acceptable levels of jitter?

Loads of classic tunes used MIDI (was the ATARI as big in the US as the UK tho?) but mostly hardware sequencers. Kenny larkin called Carl Craig the 'King of the MMT8 Mutes' Juan Atkins used the Roland MC-50 for the longest times. Alot of East Coast House & Garage was MPC, even SP, based. & all the while there were Roland MSQ sequencers & bits like the Korg KM30 (think thats right) sync box linking MIDI to Din Sync.

But yeah, MIDI Sync will work, I wouldn't call the phasey kick drum example I posted 'out of time' but it is out of the pocket. The problem I have with it is, if I have built a groove & was then to try & track that out piece by piece with MIDI as the master the resulting multitrack recording would not sound like what I had wanted to record.

Babaluma wrote:
first example definitely not acceptable! my experiment yesterday was FAR WORSE after 10 minutes of just the mobius.

second examples perhaps acceptable, can still hear a little phasing, but i reckon in the context of a track perhaps nothing to worry about.


I think the 2nd one is due to the amount of 'air' around my kick sample hihi In reality I'd hi pass that one & turn the volume way down, just to give the overall kick abit of grit, but the differance is its a fixed time differance, the 1st example you can clearly hear the timing 'move' you can't work with that! You can't program a rythm if you don't know where & when sounds will hit everytime.

Babaluma wrote:
nice jam too!


Thanks! Mr. Green Just a synth noodle really (window comparator in full effect!) I think the end is best for showing the analog seq'ers dancing with the MPC.
Ranxerox
DGTom wrote:
Kenny larkin called Carl Craig the 'King of the MMT8 Mutes'


Man, this would be a real acquired talent - have you ever tried doing live mutes on an MMT8? The switches are really cheap, with nasty rubber buttons with a really stiff action - you almost habitually end up double-tapping or pressing hell out of them to ensure they engage properly. I think I read an interview with a guy from Alesis who admitted they'd cut a lot of corners on that and the HR-16 to keep the prices down.
DGTom
Wow! Never knew that! Makes the fact so many people (Orbital I'm looking @ you!) used them for live!!

hihi I don't think Craig even owned it! Pretty sure the story went he borrowed it from Larkin!!
suitandtieguy
Ranxerox wrote:
Man, this would be a real acquired talent - have you ever tried doing live mutes on an MMT8?


yeah. I don't think it's nearly as bad as the impression you're giving.

this thread is totally making me look forward to plugging Numerology into my MMT8 as soon as I get a new mac and can move my current one over to the keyboard rig.
Ranxerox
suitandtieguy wrote:

yeah. I don't think it's nearly as bad as the impression you're giving.


This was some years ago, but I distinctly remember the buttons being stiff. Maybe mine was defective then? Or the contacts needed a clean...

Actually, just found this link:

http://www.mmt8.com/faq.html

Apparently 'sticky' button syndrome is a known problem with MMT-8s.

Maybe I'm not full of shit after all! razz

(Edit: - Just to defend my (non-existent) rep some more, I'm gonna go over the top!)

See the following link for more information regarding this common complaint regarding the MMT-8's buttons:

http://machines.hyperreal.org/manufacturers/Alesis/MMT-8/

I've quoted the following from other users of the MMT-8 for posterity, and to prove I'm not talking out my arse:

Quote:
...No more crappy membrane buttons for me.. the improvement is amazing. The mmt-8 is now a usable tool instead of a frustrating one. The mute buttons are snappy and responsive, and each button gives a satisfying "click" instead of being mooshy.



Quote:
...Fixing the problem is highly recommended - if you don't do it, one or
both of the following will occur:

1 - It will drive you bananas and mess up your music making.

2 - The extra force that you use on the panel will tear the front
panel printed circuit board from the plastic case.

(contd.) ...Later MMT8s and HR16s did not have such trouble as the early
machines - which is most of them, I think. Perhaps they changed the
composition of the rubber contacts.


Quote:
...I have owned quite a few pieces of Alesis gear over the years and I too have had problems with intermittent buttons on HR16 & MMT8
machines.


So there! How's that for anal!! twisted
b3nsf
I'm gonna throw more fuel on the fire at this point.... razz Has anybody noticed the timing differences between an MPC3000 and an MPC2000XL? At first I thought I was just having a wee bit of gearlust, but now I'm totally convinvced the 3000 has more swing and the 2000XL is more rigid.

Mr. Green

My MMT8 is mortally wounded in the LCD, buying a new screen might be more expensive than the whole unit! Damn drunk roommates! d'oh!
Ranxerox
b3nsf wrote:
Has anybody noticed the timing differences between an MPC3000 and an MPC2000XL? At first I thought I was just having a wee bit of gearlust, but now I'm totally convinvced the 3000 has more swing and the 2000XL is more rigid.


I had heard the 3000 was extremely tight. Wasn't the 2000XL the budget model?

b3nsf wrote:
My MMT8 is mortally wounded in the LCD, buying a new screen might be more expensive than the whole unit! Damn drunk roommates! d'oh!


In spite of the button problems I found it a fun and surprisingly simple sequencer to use. The great thing about learning a piece of gear like this is that you build up muscle-memory, so using it becomes very fast and automatic.

I knew a guy who had an Emax II sampler - horrible thing, but he had used it down to the point where his hands were a blur, and he could operate it blindfolded (at a guess). Try that with a computer!
b3nsf
oh, I meant the swing was good, or more natural sounding.... the 2000XL has more of a computer's metronome sound, cold and inhumane!
DGTom
The 3000 is tighter / keeps better time than the 2KXL. You can measure it.

The 2000XL is still alot better than 99% of software / computer midi sequencers timing, plus the integration of the sampling engine & sequencer has obvious benefits.

The 3000 was the last MPC Roger Linn worked on, from there the akai guys took over. The MPC2000 was basically an S2000 with a seq'er, pads & a decent screen. Same upgrade options etc.

The XL is basically the 2K with a few better things & a crappier data entry wheel! XL doesn't need the OS loaded from disk every boot-up, I fitted a card reader / writer in mine so no fucking with SCSI or floppies. The XL adds a few nice performance features.

The AD/DA on the 3000 is differant as well, most say the XL is abit more clinical, colder - the differance between the S1000 & the S2000 I guess. I mostly use the digital I/O so my Metric Halo is the front end of the MPC, works out nice!

I think the biggest differance is the 3000 will allow you to edit & do most things while the seq'er is playing, the XL will allow most things but you can't drop into / out of 16 levels for example without stopping & starting, I can imagine the 3000 is alot quicker, smoother to work with because of this but its not something I've ever been bothered by.

If I was gonna trade the XL out for a 3K, I'd go the whole hog & get a 60mkII or a Linn 9000!
Babaluma
just ordered an echo audiofire 12 so will let you know how the midi syncing goes in a few days!
b3nsf
Quote:
If I was gonna trade the XL out for a 3K, I'd go the whole hog & get a 60mkII or a Linn 9000!


I thought for sure the 3000 was the "tops" as far as Linn design extent, audio quality, build quality and lack of system bugs...

maybe Im just suffering from severe gear lust love

my maxed out XL is very unhappy right now!!!!! d'oh! meh angry Mr. Green
Kent
Babaluma wrote:

in my case it was just the mobius's timing that was not good enough. the mobius is a digital sequencer with analogue outputs. i naively expected to be able to run the sequencer, record, repatch, run the sequencer again and record and expect the waveforms to line up exactly, which they did not. :(


Just to clarify here: The Mobius and the PC could have exactly the same speed of internal clock and they would still never lock up unless physically connected/synched together. When you push 'PLAY' on both, you will be milli- or micro-seconds out of time and this gap would always be there. Now, since neither of them are synched to each other that gap will grow.

I've had great success with my DAW and the Octopus yet I'm still thinking of adding that Sync-Lock to the mix since I have a ton of outputs on my audio rig. It seems like a very good solution.
Babaluma
i just want to report back to let everyone who has offered advice know that i think my problem is sorted!

i repeated the experiment but instead of using the mobius as the master, i used it as a slave synced via midi time code to my new pc audio/midi interface (echo audiofire 12).

lo and behold, when lining up two separate takes of exactly the same thing, i get almost sample accurate sync even after 10 minutes!!! there is a tiny little bit of "flamming" on some beats, but no continual drift like there was before.

i am now safe and sure in the knowledge that i can overdub and things are not going to drift out of sync.

thanks to everyone who has offered help!
innerclock
Hi all - just an update for those interested:-

Midi Clock or MTC In or Out from your DAW will always be a rough ride. Take it as fact. Firewire or USB. Doesn't matter. There are loads of reasons. If it bothers you or not it still makes a difference to how things sound.

At least if you have good hardware as master - something in your rig will be keeping time. With the DAW running your rig via USB/Midi Firewire the whole show gets the wobbly knee syndrome.

We are a few weeks off production of a solution we've been at for 18 months.

Sample and tempo accurate Midi Clock from any DAW. And it does simultaneous Din Sync and Trigger Outs for your TR-808s/303s and Step Sequencers too.

We've been continually testing MPC-3000s running Mansell Labs Vailixi 3.50OS on our lab prototype and getting maximum 2 samples variation off perfect timing which is the limit of the MPC stability and testing anyway.

Our sync conversion between DAW and External Hardware is less than 20 microseconds firm.

Apart from sounding truly amazing - having your external hardware and DAW locked properly means you can record/overdub and have everything line up properly in the grid.

Less editing to make up for tight beats ruined by a rough clock on the way in.

http://web.webhost4life.com/innerclock/index.asp?action=page&name=16

There is a VST/AU Plug-In supplied with the Sync-Lock.

It runs on any DAW Host and provides sample accurate sync pulses to the Sync-Lock.

The Sync-Lock converts pulses to Midi Clock/Din and Trigs in under 20 microseconds.

From this you get grid/tempo/sample accurate sync from your DAW.

No question.

We're busy putting final touches to packaging and Plug-In graphics this week.

Check with Analogue Haven in the US or Schneiders in Europe for stock availability.

Our predicted RRP at this stage is $395 USD and that gets you:-

Sync-Lock
Universal Power Supply
Y-Adapter for Footswitch/Trigger Output
Sync-Gen Plug-In Software Installer CDRom
Owners Manual

best - David
http://www.innerclocksystems.com
Babaluma
good news!
tragedybysyntax
WOW!!! Been looking for a healthy way to lock up my DAW as master.. then to a 606/Bent HR-16. Here it is! smile
Bryan B
I had an idea (not neccessarily an original one) to use Audio as a Din Clock Signal, but my first attempt failed miserably. After reading through this thread I found the great advice of using an oscillator to create the audio. I had to trim the pulse width down as small as possible then beatmatch the Frequency of the oscillator to get my 808 to match close in tempo with Ableton. Then I edited the recorded audio to have 24 pulses per quarter note. I also had to bump the volume up to the red to get it to work, but it had my 808 and 303 locked in perfect time with Ableton Live, which is a first after years of trying different converters, chaining and methods!

Thanks to everyone who posted ideas.
innerclock
Forgot to mention an important point earlier people - you don't need DC Coupled or Output Modified Audio Hardware to use the Sync-Lock. She is built and designed to take standard audio signal from any audio interface or Hard Disk Recorder (or iPod for that matter - yes my test rig is an iPod!) and convert it within 20 microseconds to Sync. No need to worry about DIY modded hardware or sending nasty voltages around the studio!

Updated Webpage here with a screenshot of the Plug-In too.

http://web.webhost4life.com/innerclock/index.asp?action=page&name=16

Ships late October.

Best -David
www.innerclocksystems.com
innerclock
An update for those interested:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3ULMpaBpeo

http://web.webhost4life.com/innerclock/index.asp?action=page&name=16

Best regards - David
www.innerclocksystems.com
Mr White
innerclock, that's what the fuck I was looking for!!! applause

thanks DGtom to show it out! applause


...I was a huge fan of the MMT8, past years I had 3 for livesets, paid how? 25 bucks? awesome price/quality ratio! hihi
Bryan B
David/Innerlock:

I PM'd you about your Sync Clock software. Keep up the great work!
Suburban Bather
d'oh! I see that the release date has been pushed back. Any idea on a rough estimate of when the Sync-Lock will ship out to AH?
Babaluma
i know it's my old old thread, but i just wanted to say that i finally cured all of my synchronisation problems with an innerclock systems sync lock. i've had it for a while, but only had enough free time today to really get it up and running properly and WOW!!!

previously the 606 and mobius (sequencing the modular) would sync up fine via din sync, and obviously all the stuff i did internally on the pc (audiomulch) would sync to itself too, but my problem was getting reliable sync between the pc and the mobius/606/modular combo.

i tried many different configurations, pc master -> mobius slave, mobius master -> pc slave, all to no avail and seriously sloppy and terrible midi timing.

but today has been a real revelation. i now have perfect sync between audiomulch, the modular, the 606 and the mobius and it is just incredible! not only does everything sync up perfectly in real time, but it means that i will be able to get reliable overdubbing synchronisation too. i can work on tracks, record them, come back months later and know that the sample accurate sync will still be there (as long as i have made a note of the bpm in audiomulch!)

this was my last excuse NOT to be able to produce really good techno tracks. with no excuses left, expect some fun soon. wink

unfortunately i couldn't use the method of synchronisation listed in the sync-lock manual, as neither of my "daws" (audiomulch and cooledit pro) allow for easy triplet grids (long story, read the sync-lock manual if you are interested), but this shouldn't be a problem with a "regular" daw like cubase, reaper or logic etc.

luckily, they included their "sync gen" vst plugin on the cd-rom, which works fantastically in audiomulch. not only can i get reliable sync with this plugin, but for the first time in its life my 606 can achieve the insanely funky swing/shuffle (adjustable as a % no less) of its big brothers, the 808 and 909.



and i haven't even begun to play with the possibilities offered by the "patterns" and "loop lengths" yet!

now i just need a "real" analogue sequencer to be able to make good use of the trigger out too!

i am VERY interested to see what features the forthcoming sync gen 2 plugin will add!!!

great work innerclock systems!!!
bwhittington
I'm going to confess that I only skimmed the 4 pages of this thread, but I at least didn't notice my question being discussed. I'm wondering if any of you Sync Lock owners have attempted to sync MIDI to a trigger pulse that is changing in tempo. In short, can it accurately sync a MIDI device to an analog clock? And then will it stay in sync in response to tempo changes?

I asked David about this about a year ago, and he said it should work fine, but he never got around to posting the video he promised to demonstrate this. If it works, the Sync Lock would be a must-have for me. If it doesn't, I don't want to spend $600 finding that out.

I've been curious about this application for some time now and would be grateful for some feedback from someone who's given it a shot.

Cheers,
Brian
Rozzer
It tracks tempo changes just fine. Because the midi clock is generated purely from audio pulses, you can do all sorts of other tricks too, like swing for drum machines that don't have it, or dividing down clocks on the fly (the new Sync Gen II software makes this very easy).

I can't praise the Sync Lock enough.
bwhittington
Oh, wow. I guess I'm going to have to get one now. hyper Just to clarify, it treats a square wave LFO as an audio input? Thanks for your thoughts. Sounds like a tone of fun!

Cheers,
Brian
Babaluma
a square wave lfo may not do it, i haven't tried it, but as far as i'm aware (from the manual i believe), the unit can be quite finicky on the type of audio click sent to clock it.

like you already know, theoretically it should work, and you should be able to send it an audio click from the modular (under voltage control if desired), and have the midi, din sync and trigger outs all sync up just fine.

studio is still in pieces, with no pc or monitors, otherwise i'd do some experiements for you!
bwhittington
If you think to do so when you have it all together, I would be very curious to hear of the results. Controlling a MIDI device with an analog clock is something of a holy grail for me. Not that I need to do it at all; it just sounds fun. And people seem to ask about this a few times a year here.

It sounds like using that LFO to trigger an audio pulse for the synclock would work just fine, though.

Cheers,
Brian
Tun
Quote:
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!


Love this! Big Can and Holger Czukay fan here, think I’ll try it!

As an aside, I use Ableton as master midi clock and have so far managed to get away without a sync lock solution like USAMO and similar - I use an RME HDSPe PCIe card with 2 midi outs and it’s tight enough for me!

thumbs up
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