Hardware sequencer + DAW. Your workflow?

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a.d.a.m.baby
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Post by a.d.a.m.baby » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:53 pm

Bath House wrote:I use FSK sync - .... 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.
This is where you need "Smart FSK", this allows you to pick up sync from anywhere in the track. A few late 80s/early 90s hardware sequencers used this sync method.
I have had some success in synthesizing this for slaving my Roland MC50 mkii to Ableton, see my page:
http://www.adambaby.com/studiotech_sync.html

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Post by Noha » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:32 pm

I'm also using Ableton and a Cirklon. It's a great combo, the best in my mind.
Cirklon is connected directly to all of the Midi synths so it can be used without a computer, but when Ableton is going I use an ESX-8MD to sync the Cirklon via Silent Way for repeatable recording. Also fun with this is I have softsynths set up as channels in Ableton that listen to Cirklon's USB outputs, so I can use FM8, Razor, Aalto etc. right alongside the modular CV and hardware MIDI outs.

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Post by Bath House » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:19 pm

nepsis wrote:Bath House so what would be rhe difference in between FSK and Usamo?
No MIDI in the mix anywhere. The killer thing about making a perfect midi clock is you still have no control over how the slave device actually interprets and follows it.
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Post by Bath House » Fri Nov 06, 2015 9:20 pm

a.d.a.m.baby wrote:
Bath House wrote:I use FSK sync - .... 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.
This is where you need "Smart FSK", this allows you to pick up sync from anywhere in the track. A few late 80s/early 90s hardware sequencers used this sync method.
I have had some success in synthesizing this for slaving my Roland MC50 mkii to Ableton, see my page:
http://www.adambaby.com/studiotech_sync.html
I've consulted your site many times and didn't realize you were on here! Respect.
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Post by a.d.a.m.baby » Sun Nov 08, 2015 11:47 pm

Bath House wrote: I've consulted your site many times and didn't realize you were on here! Respect.
Thanks - I'm glad it was helpful.
With the increasing use of hardware sequencing boxes alongside DAWs, and more people paying close attention to sync issues, I personally would have thought a modern update of this technology would be timely and well-received.
I wrote to David from Innerclock, and Colin from Cirklon a few years ago suggesting this but didn't get any interest.
Unfortunately I've never found any hard technical data on the web about how the code is implemented. I don't have a coding/EE background myself. My experiments were just transcribing the pulses as they were generated by the MC50, and feeding this back as audio created by a midi file.

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Post by Bath House » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:45 am

It bums me to see all of these cool hardware sequencers appearing with no audio-based master syncing protocol. Even a simple trigger input would be preferable to MIDI-only.
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Post by edgek8d » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:23 am

I use Expert Sleepers with various sequencers, all synced to Logic Pro.

The Silent Way software converts MIDI data to audio signals, out through an ADAT port into am Expert Sleepers module, which then converts the audio signal to CV. Since its an audio signal, not really MIDI, it is as fast as light, virtually instantaneous.

Silent way can send gates, triggers, pitch cv, envelopes, LFOs, pretty much anything. It can also send a sync signal. I can lock various sequencers to a given tempo, and if they allow, can also start/stop/reset them by pressing space bar.

With this configuration, I can sequence hardware with virtual instruments without latency. I use mostly hardware synths, the modular a lot, and do my drums ITB. Everything is locked in, it just works. The piano roll is still the king of the sequencers, at least for me, as it can be any length, send velocity, record my playing, quantize a lot or a little, randomize all kinds of stuff. This allows me to get the benefits of both sequencers at the same time.

Layering in hardware is a lot harder, which is why you don't hear it a ton, but I certainly do multitrack, although usually the same sound, slight detune, and panned. With the modular, I can send the same signal to different voices, and then record them on their own channel.

Expert Sleepers also now makes a MIDI port module, allowing you to sync all computer DAW, CV, and MIDI. It sounds crazy, but it really works. I will NEVER not use it again. I can sequence poly synths through my modular....thats crazy. How about sequence a software synth with a hardware CV sequencer like Intellijel Metropolis? And have it in sync? Yup, it can do that too.

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Post by nepsis » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:05 pm

Noha wrote:I'm also using Ableton and a Cirklon. It's a great combo, the best in my mind.
Cirklon is connected directly to all of the Midi synths so it can be used without a computer, but when Ableton is going I use an ESX-8MD to sync the Cirklon via Silent Way for repeatable recording. Also fun with this is I have softsynths set up as channels in Ableton that listen to Cirklon's USB outputs, so I can use FM8, Razor, Aalto etc. right alongside the modular CV and hardware MIDI outs.
I have a Cirklon, and the one thing I've been trying to figure out is if there's some way for it to play nicer with Ableton's built in synths. For example, if I want to hook the Cirklon up to a virus, I immediately have hundreds of midi cc controllable parameters to control. Have you found a way to control more than just midi notes to, say, Operator, without using per set midi mappings?
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Post by nepsis » Tue Nov 10, 2015 4:35 pm

I feel like the best way will either involve a custom midi remote script, or some custom variation of the 'Max Api CtrlMIDIcc' max4live patch that maps a set number of cc's to operator params, and then make that an instrument mapping. I think the former would take forever to implement, and I feel like you'd have serious latency issues with the latter. Anybody have any thoughts on this?
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Post by spacessound » Thu Nov 12, 2015 5:28 am

Abelton or logic - depending on the track - then sync-gen - to drum machines and Trigger Riot. Before i got the TR i used a flame drove the modular with a Flame Clockwork sync'd from the sync-gen.

Occasionally I just free form record but I usually regret it later if I want to go further with the recording

The Sync-gen just works. Pretty sure the SND ACME is also great but that is another magnitude of cost

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Post by nepsis » Fri Nov 20, 2015 5:01 pm

Noha wrote:I'm also using Ableton and a Cirklon. It's a great combo, the best in my mind.
Cirklon is connected directly to all of the Midi synths so it can be used without a computer, but when Ableton is going I use an ESX-8MD to sync the Cirklon via Silent Way for repeatable recording. Also fun with this is I have softsynths set up as channels in Ableton that listen to Cirklon's USB outputs, so I can use FM8, Razor, Aalto etc. right alongside the modular CV and hardware MIDI outs.
Noha, do you have to go back and line things up afterwords? For example, if I had USAMO -> Cirklon -> Synths -> Drum machine -> Firewire interface at 128 samples, but then also played back raw drums from Ableton, the incoming drums would be 128 or 256 samples behind the ableton drums, correct? (because the usamo makes the cirklon sample accurate, but then the output from the drum machines has to go through processing and out of the DAW...) (This is assuming you are routing your hardware BACK into the DAW.)
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Post by goldplate » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:18 am

Here you can find a post about sync issues and a workaround in using an external hardware sequencer and Ableton Live to multitrack record and monitor.
Last edited by goldplate on Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Panason » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:25 am

If mixing/recording in Live I don't think slaving Live's MIDI clock to external is a good idea. There is too much jitter in my experience.

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Post by Panason » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:46 am

I spent days over the issue of sync and looking at the USAMO, and in the end got a headache and did nothing about it.

The problem is that I send a fair amount of MIDI CC data from Live to my synths and I am not at all convinced that the USAMO will accurately translate all of that to an audio signal and then back to MIDI. Seems like a tall order.

Then there is stuff like this:
There is a known bug with Ableton Live where the USAMO won't be able to transmit the start message to the sequencer anymore. This comes when your project becomes of a certain size that the slaved sequencer will start like only 1/8 times, what is veeeery annoying.
Maybe the SyncGen?
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.
Maybe I could disable Live's clock / transport output and use a MIDI Merge box to merge the MIDI clock from the SyncGen with the rest of the MIDI data coming from Live? Would this be worth doing?

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Re: Hardware sequencer + DAW. Your workflow?

Post by WaveRider » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:04 am

boboter wrote: Those were synced via innerclock synclock.

I use the innerclock syncgen module to sync my SE engine sequencer. I would have liked a cirklon but the engine covers my needs also well.

I never had such a good system overall. :)

engine is tight and innerclock sync is incredible, so with both you are in business :)

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Post by Carrousel » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:49 am

Panason wrote:If mixing/recording in Live I don't think slaving Live's MIDI clock to external is a good idea. There is too much jitter in my experience.
Hmmm....this statement has me puzzling over my own set up.

I use a Cirklon as master clock and complete sequencer. All synths are connected direct to the cirklon via midi. Ableton is synced to the cirklon via USB (cirklon master, ableton slave).

I hit play on the cirklon, hit record on ableton and I can record the audio of all the machines I'm sequencing. From my experience doing this I get decent alignment between the beats and ableton's grid. If I zoom as far in as possible I can see a few 'millimetres' of jitter in terms of where the beats land on the screen, but it all sounds tight to the ear.

Are you suggesting I might get better (read tighter) results if I use ableton as master clock and have cirklon as slave? Then have all synth connected to cirklon as normal?

Surely the level of jitter from ableton depends on the quality of the master clock? I have cirklon set as master because I have read that it's got one of the tightest hardware clocks around; I assumed slaving ableton to this would be tighter than vice versa.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated!
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Post by Panason » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:28 pm

I think the problem is with the MIDI side of things in Live. If Live is being used for MIDI sequencing as well as audio duties, this is where one can have timing problems with external clock.
I have heard this from other people too.
I don't have a Cirklon. I use Live+ Push for MIDI sequencing and run some other gear that have their own sequencers /arps synced to Live. Some other synths are receiving MIDI notes, clock (for their LFOs) and CCs from Live.

When I tried to sync Live to the Analog Rytm I got too much MIDI jitter... but, the Rytm's MIDI clock output is nowhere near as stable as the Cirklon's, (around 1% jitter for the Rytm's compared to 0.1% for the Cirklon's if I remember right), so it's a different situation.

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Post by Panason » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:59 pm

Raven_Martin wrote: Hmmm....this statement has me puzzling over my own set up.
Just checked out some of your tunes... sounds pretty tight to me... I did notice some glitching on the track called "Masine"...

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Post by rean1mator » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:50 pm

Regarding Rytm and syncing over usb - I had a lot of issues after upgrading the rytm OS to latest version. Seems like a lot of people did based on Elektronauts forum. Elektron's response to one user who opened a support ticket was to downgrade to an older OS version. For MK1 I doubt they will be fixing this issue since MK2 is out. I had to resort to using the Midi Input on the Rytm instead of USB for syncing.

Panason wrote:I think the problem is with the MIDI side of things in Live. If Live is being used for MIDI sequencing as well as audio duties, this is where one can have timing problems with external clock.
I have heard this from other people too.
I don't have a Cirklon. I use Live+ Push for MIDI sequencing and run some other gear that have their own sequencers /arps synced to Live. Some other synths are receiving MIDI notes, clock (for their LFOs) and CCs from Live.

When I tried to sync Live to the Analog Rytm I got too much MIDI jitter... but, the Rytm's MIDI clock output is nowhere near as stable as the Cirklon's, (around 1% jitter for the Rytm's compared to 0.1% for the Cirklon's if I remember right), so it's a different situation.

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Post by Carrousel » Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:02 pm

Panason wrote:
Raven_Martin wrote: Hmmm....this statement has me puzzling over my own set up.
Just checked out some of your tunes... sounds pretty tight to me... I did notice some glitching on the track called "Masine"...
Ooh, what sort of glitch and when in the track? Will investigate that...
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Post by cwhiley » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:32 pm

Can I please butt in? I'm unfamiliar with all these products you guys are talking about . So from the very beginning of this conversation I've been pretty much out of my element.

Except I'm now personally beginning to understand the issues with syncing a DAW to hardware synths.

I know that when the DAW is the master and you are using it to trigger hardware you can put in negative offsets to compensate for the difference between audio interface latency and the smaller MIDI latency.

However, what about the other way round? When you are using an external sequencer or groove box to sequence h/w and a DAW the DAW still has audio latency so what to do? If you don't have latency offsets in the groove box/sequencer (most don't as far as I know) is there a way around this?

I must mention that I am JUST NOW (for a whole 2 months) getting into hardware and while I have a really nice full featured DAW my intentions are to go pure hardware. However, it would be nice to use my DAW as a big ol' soft synthesizer in the studio but I don't want it to be master and I sure don't want to do all my arrangement on it. I want to perfect my workflow and arrangement on the groove box (Synthstrom Deluge - just shipped!). So I realize you guys are way ahead of me and I'm probably thinking about all this all wrong so keep it mind before you all chastise me for saying dumb stuff.

THANKS!

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Post by goldplate » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:08 am

goldplate wrote:Here you can find a post about sync issues and a workaround in using an external hardware sequencer and Ableton Live to multitrack record and monitor.

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Post by cwhiley » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:31 am

goldplate wrote:
goldplate wrote:Here you can find a post about sync issues and a workaround in using an external hardware sequencer and Ableton Live to multitrack record and monitor.
But that's not what I'm bringing up.

I wish somehow, you could sequence from a groove box or external sequencer to hardware instruments and software instruments in sync and have the groove box or sequencer as master.

I just want the DAW vsti instruments to be just like a hardware instrument or be able to compensate for it in the way I described.

If it would work this way I could boot up the box with an Ableton autostart command and some sort of project batch file open command and run it in a rack w/o even attaching a monitor. It would just work.

Apparently in 2018, we ain't there yet. Or I am uninformed. Highly likely.

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Post by Carrousel » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:48 am

Pretty sure this is what everyone here does all the time. It's super simple. Slave ableton to the deluge, hit play and get a simple beat playing. Then by altering the midi delay settings in ableton's preference window you will be able to get the beat lined up with ableton's metronome (and thus grid). Then if you load a VST on ableton and try sequencing it, it should be in time. The cirklon has an advanced feature where it can delay the midi output on its hardware ports, so that softsynths have time to process their sound and sounds line up between VSTs and hardware; but i don't know how necessary this is because I don't tend to use VSTs
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Post by Koekepan » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:51 am

cwhiley wrote:
goldplate wrote:
goldplate wrote:Here you can find a post about sync issues and a workaround in using an external hardware sequencer and Ableton Live to multitrack record and monitor.
But that's not what I'm bringing up.

I wish somehow, you could sequence from a groove box or external sequencer to hardware instruments and software instruments in sync and have the groove box or sequencer as master.

I just want the DAW vsti instruments to be just like a hardware instrument or be able to compensate for it in the way I described.

If it would work this way I could boot up the box with an Ableton autostart command and some sort of project batch file open command and run it in a rack w/o even attaching a monitor. It would just work.

Apparently in 2018, we ain't there yet. Or I am uninformed. Highly likely.

You can do something very much like that with sunvox.

I tested: Social Entropy Engine + sunvox 1.9.3. Assign different MIDI channels to sunvox modules, and it plays beautifully. The Engine also happens to have good MIDI over USB, so no MIDI interface needed even on your computer.

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