Hardware sequencer + DAW. Your workflow?

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boboter
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Hardware sequencer + DAW. Your workflow?

Post by boboter » Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:28 am

Hey guys,

so far the DAW (Ableton) has been my main sequencer for running hardware and software synths. When I added hardware sequencers they were mainly to gain some specific features in addition to Ableton (think beatstep or somehing similar). Those were synced via innerclock synclock.

But I'm wondering how you guys use more complex hardware sequencers that can be the brain of a complete setup together with a DAW (eg Cirklon / MPC)? Specially when it comes to tracking. I guess it's easier when you have a big enough arsenal of synths to make a whole tune in one go. But what if you need to record several layers of each synth. How do you keep everything in sync?

Do you use the hardware sequencer as the master and slave the DAW? Or do you just start/stop the DAW and don't sync at all? Or do you still use the DAW as master?

Please share your process and thoughts.
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Post by SubliminalSandwich » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:15 am

I prefer the transport controls on the mpc.. so with ableton as the slave you can control it from the mpc.. I've found the clock really stable. But I would use the setup with the tightest timing..

Using ableton for multitracking.. you could use the hardware sequencer for your synths..

The mpc1000 has 6 outputs.. handy for tracking to pc..

I use the mpc 5000 a lot.. and the complexity comes from the sample editing and sequencing.. so the style and the use of soumd files is much different to using ableton..

You could line up synth tracks in ableton to compensate for any timing errors.. but if the clocking system is stable between machines.. you shpuldnt have issues..

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Post by skkatter » Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:04 am

I use the Cirklon to record a lot of synths and drum machines into a mixing desk, then use Logic to record a stereo track from the mixing desk. It's all done in one take. Any mistakes and I have to do the whole thing over again.

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Post by softroom » Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:26 am

skkatter wrote:I use the Cirklon to record a lot of synths and drum machines into a mixing desk, then use Logic to record a stereo track from the mixing desk. It's all done in one take. Any mistakes and I have to do the whole thing over again.
Similar but I have Cirklon as the master sequencer running a P3 & Beatstep Pro, plus Electribes, Analog Four, Tanzbar etc. I record to Logic but not synced, I simply set the tempo the same and do any arrangement later. I also use a series of submixers divided by role so (e.g.) if I cock up the drums, I can carry on and simply chop that bar later. It allows all the flow and spontaneity of a one-pass live performance but enough editability so I needn't fear trying anything risky or mad that occurs.

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Post by CF3 » Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:32 am

Cirklon + Ableton here.

I'm basically just using Ableton as a fancy multi-track hard disk recorder at this point. Cirklon to compose (CV, MIDI) and for basic arrangement. Ableton only enters the picture at the very end of the process, at which point it takes over as the master clock and transport (for convenience during tracking). Now for the rub... Sync is being done currently thru Cirklons USB buss (MIDI Clock from Ableton). I've got my latency settings to a minimum. Audio is just lined up afterwards by adjusting the start points with the Warp Markers. It works. It's not sexy, but it works. I need to kick down the loot and buy a sample accurate Audio to MIDI box like a Sync-Gen, Multiclock, ACME-4, etc.. I'm just stubborn and cheap as a motherfucker :deadbanana:

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Post by visible cow » Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:33 pm

I also use the cirklon/ableton combo wth ableton being used as my mixer (controlled by a Livid DS1). I'm using an Expert Sleepers USAMO to keep everything locked in sync. So far this arrangement is super fast and flexible. A balanced nw2s IO modules feeds 8 channels of audio into and out of the modular.

Something like the USAMO is essential in order to go back and do overdubs that are perfectly locked in.

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Post by visible cow » Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:33 pm

Double post

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Post by Paraphonique » Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:17 pm

I usually program basic rhytms on hardware drum machines and, if the groove is ok, i proceed with locking everything else via MIDI to an old version of Pro Tools on my Mac. I find slaved hardware stuff like the original Beatstep or most of Electribes are "tight" enough.

It isn't always perfect of course. Mind you, my music doesn't require perfect timing and, usually, I'm ready to spend time afterward to adjust things manually. I find the human ear is the best guide for that.

Again, this is far from perfect and I wish we had a 100% predictable method for synchronization. Oh well.

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Post by ahmo » Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:18 pm

I use a MPC-1000 JJ OS 2XL for everything recording into reaper. I used to use a MPC 60. When I had a 4 input soundcard I had to do ultiple passes and sync was an issue. Lots of problematic fixes later I expanded to 8 inputs and mixed everything down to that an didn't sync.

With the 1000 and rme soundcard, ableton slaves perfectly, reaper too but the transport does weird things. I basically use the comp unsynced and recording 8 tracks, if I needed more I would get more and still do one pass. if you can get a good stereo mix then recording live to stereo is an option if multiple inputs are out of reach.

I have to say its good to see so many using the cirklon with ableton, seems like an incredible combination, if I didn't love the 1000 I' be on a cirklon.

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Post by JosefK » Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:10 am

I too compose all my stuff and arrangement with the cirklon and simply use the ableton as a multitrack recorder. If I need to go back and do another pass on a synth or drum part I slave Ableton to the cirklon so I can hear how my recorded material sounds with the new pass. I've found a weird delay right at the beginning when I do this hitting play on the cirklon but then ableton is able to somewhat fall in step. Def need a sync-gen at some point.

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Post by boboter » Thu Oct 15, 2015 8:13 am

Thanks for all the replies. The Cirklon seems to be the dominant force when it comes to hardware sequencing. Very tempted to go the route as well.

How do you Cirklon users record most of your sequences? Do you program them or is it also easy enough to record notes with a keyboard and edit them?

I tend to play most of my tracks and just do some fine tuning afterwards. But I love a classic step sequencer to come up with different ideas that I just couldn't play.
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Post by CF3 » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:05 am

boboter wrote:Thanks for all the replies. The Cirklon seems to be the dominant force when it comes to hardware sequencing. Very tempted to go the route as well.

How do you Cirklon users record most of your sequences? Do you program them or is it also easy enough to record notes with a keyboard and edit them?

I tend to play most of my tracks and just do some fine tuning afterwards. But I love a classic step sequencer to come up with different ideas that I just couldn't play.
Very easy to record note data from a keyboard or pad controller. Two different kinds of patterns in the Cirklon... P3 and CK. P3 are the "step sequencer" patterns and CK is the "piano roll" style pattern. Both do different things. To record in either pattern you just simply hit RECORD and enter notes.... Dead easy. When youre done hit record again. Then you can go in afterwards and micro edit every note if need be. Cirklon also has a very good "MIDI soft thru" feature called edtrk. I definitely suggest downloading the manual and skimming thru. The only problem with the Cirklon is actually BUYING ONE. The waiting list is brutal. As it's just one dude (Colin) and his wife (Barbara). Well worth it though and the build quality and support are excellent. I previously had a P3 sequencer and this is hands down WAY easier to use.

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Post by GYS » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:40 am

I sequence from my Octatrack and/or Machinedrum and like other have said, I use my DAW (Reaper or Logic) as a multitrack recorder. I will typically do multiple takes and just line up the audio manually in my DAW as I've never been able to have a rock solid MIDI clock slave between the computer and my hardware.

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Post by bphenix » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:44 am

Similar to the above in that I use the Genoqs Octopus to do the composition. Live acts as midi and audio patchbay. When it comes time to, I record both audio and associated midi track into Live. Having both is very useful.

My plan is to go back to Logic because I enjoy mixing and working with audio more in Logic than Ableton but I haven't taken the time to setup the proper environments to easily support the routing environment.

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Post by Phil999 » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:00 pm

I do similar things (multitracking with a DAW, recently Harrison Mixbus) and Doepfer 16/3. But I also like to use iPad sequencers (midiSequencer, Patterning, etc.) which are apps, but in the context and interaction function almost like hardware. It's not necessary if there is a computer with wifi running, but hardware iOS interfaces help for direct interaction with the modular system.

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Post by Ranxerox » Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:17 pm

I have had good results slaving sequencer to recorder using SMPTE LTC in the past. Multiple overdubs and a decent monitor mix are a must.

MTC is the only valid substitute for LTC if the latter is not available; I have found MIDI clocks to be not much good for anything except tempo-synced delays and arpeggiations, and even then it fucks up occasionally.

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Post by oozitron » Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:43 pm

Anyone wanting a Cirklon should consider a MIDIBox Sequencer.

Yes there's some things that the Cirklon does that the MIDIBox doesn't (and vice-versa), but there's a lot of overlap. If you have basic DIY skills it's a no-brainer.

To be OT, I use the MIDIBox as my main sequencer as well as clock provider to the 808, Fat Controller, WaveStation, etc etc etc. When I record I go directly to my old Fostex 8 track HD recorder. Then mix from that.

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Post by Bath House » Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:30 am

I use FSK sync - an audio sync signal that sounds like a modem dialing - as my sync track, then route it into either a korg KMS-30 which can translate it into multiple MIDI and DIN outputs simultaneously or directly into my MC-4. It's rock solid because it's an audio signal and thus not subject to any jitter - you can even use it on tape machines without drama. I've never really understood why people spend big bucks on the innerclock stuff when FSK is so perfectly solid! You can get a KMS-30 pretty cheap or pick up an MC-50 for under $100 and use it to pass multiple MIDI outputs from your rock solid FSK. If you have an MC-202, it can use FSK and pass through two DINsync outputs. The only drawback is that you can't jump around in a song for punching in or doing overdubs, you have to wait in realtime until you get to that part or just record and move/edit.
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Post by nepsis » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:23 am

Bath House so what would be rhe difference in between FSK and Usamo?
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Post by Torn n Frayed » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:30 am

CF3 wrote:
boboter wrote:Thanks for all the replies. The Cirklon seems to be the dominant force when it comes to hardware sequencing. Very tempted to go the route as well.

How do you Cirklon users record most of your sequences? Do you program them or is it also easy enough to record notes with a keyboard and edit them?

I tend to play most of my tracks and just do some fine tuning afterwards. But I love a classic step sequencer to come up with different ideas that I just couldn't play.
Very easy to record note data from a keyboard or pad controller. Two different kinds of patterns in the Cirklon... P3 and CK. P3 are the "step sequencer" patterns and CK is the "piano roll" style pattern. Both do different things. To record in either pattern you just simply hit RECORD and enter notes.... Dead easy. When youre done hit record again. Then you can go in afterwards and micro edit every note if need be. Cirklon also has a very good "MIDI soft thru" feature called edtrk. I definitely suggest downloading the manual and skimming thru. The only problem with the Cirklon is actually BUYING ONE. The waiting list is brutal. As it's just one dude (Colin) and his wife (Barbara). Well worth it though and the build quality and support are excellent. I previously had a P3 sequencer and this is hands down WAY easier to use.
Got an email from Barbara in the past few days and she said they are going to be upping their production and using a manufacturing plant in England starting next year with Colin overseeing all pieces before they're shipped out. Sorry for the wait etc...but next year I will be getting one! :banana:

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Post by DiscoDevil » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:56 am

Ableton is master clock using Innerclock SyncGen to keep all external sequencers locked in. I can record drum passes multitracked in Ableton and then play back those tracks while I overdub new patterns live and everything is locked up tight.

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Post by Phil999 » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:28 am

never heard of Innerclock SyncGen. I know FSK sync and still have the Korg KMS-30, although I use both only with tape. But I could use it to sync computer DAW's and sequencers as well.

I often change my setup, so for one project the DAW is master, sending MTC to other computers/iPad, and MIDI clock to CV-interfaces, and for the other project it is the tape as master, sending FSK. And sometimes the 16/3 or an iPad sequencer is master. Lot's of variation, lot's of options.

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Post by DiscoDevil » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:32 am

Phil999 wrote:never heard of Innerclock SyncGen. I know FSK sync and still have the Korg KMS-30, although I use both only with tape. But I could use it to sync computer DAW's and sequencers as well.

I often change my setup, so for one project the DAW is master, sending MTC to other computers/iPad, and MIDI clock to CV-interfaces, and for the other project it is the tape as master, sending FSK. And sometimes the 16/3 or an iPad sequencer is master. Lot's of variation, lot's of options.
SyncGen takes 2x audio tracks out of your DAW and uses one for clock and one for start/stop. Those outputs go in to a black box that generates sample accurate clock from those audio tracks and spits out DIN, MIDI and analog pulse.

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Post by PhatKat » Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:00 am

I haven't spent time digging into the DAW to control everything so I just used the BSP to sync everything and chuck it into Reaper.

I do like the element of playing live still, so if I ever do get off my ass and get a gig, I could play just like I do at my desk.

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Post by Cat-A-Tonic » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:42 pm

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