Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
AKROC
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Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by AKROC » Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:55 am

I want to use Ableton as a master midi sequencer with all of my outboard gear, Which is easy enough to do HOWEVER, Everything doesn't sound 'tight' espesically noticable with drum machines. Everything is slightly off. I've tried compensating with track delay, etc. But it seems to 'drift'. could it be the midi on my audio interface? (Presonus FP10) or just an on going issue with abelton? what gives?
Also note all my audio runs into an outboard mixer and is monitored thru it to, so its definetly an issue with the midi.
Thnks!

Macbook Pro
Presonus FP10
ENSONIQ ASR-10
ROLAND JUNO 106
YAMAHA DX7
SEQUENTIAL CIRCUITS DRUMTRAKS

102455
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by 102455 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 9:41 am

How much MIDI info are you transmitting?

What MIDI channels are you using?

Are you using lots of simultaneous notes (i.e. block chords)?

MIDI is a serial interface. It sends stuff one after the other in a single line (queue), so if
you have lots of MIDI info going down the wire, something has to go first - and something last.

paulmaddox
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by paulmaddox » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:52 am

Unfortunately, this seems to be an issue with pretty much all modern computers and Midi Sync.

I've been looking into solutions myself and the most promising seems to be Innerclock's products. Don't have one yet myself, but the videos on their website certainly look tempting!

http://www.innerclocksystems.com/

fragmentated
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by fragmentated » Thu Sep 15, 2011 3:33 pm

Since your Presonus only has one set of midi in/outs I am guessing you are daisy chaining all 4 of those midi devices off each other. With that many devices you may want to try and track down a midi patchbay. I've always had better luck using patchbays than chaining midi devices. As pointed out midi is serial so it's traveling through all the devices in the chain to get to the last one message at a time. You are bound to have some delays and timing issues.

AKROC
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by AKROC » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:59 pm

102455 wrote:How much MIDI info are you transmitting?

What MIDI channels are you using?

Are you using lots of simultaneous notes (i.e. block chords)?

MIDI is a serial interface. It sends stuff one after the other in a single line (queue), so if
you have lots of MIDI info going down the wire, something has to go first - and something last.
Lots...Chords, Arps, etc. Every piece of gear is on its own channel. EG. ASR-10 has 1-8 Juno on 9 DX7 on 10 Drumtraks on 15.

AKROC
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by AKROC » Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:01 pm

paulmaddox wrote:Unfortunately, this seems to be an issue with pretty much all modern computers and Midi Sync.

I've been looking into solutions myself and the most promising seems to be Innerclock's products. Don't have one yet myself, but the videos on their website certainly look tempting!

http://www.innerclocksystems.com/
HUH, Yeah maybe

AKROC
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by AKROC » Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:04 pm

fragmentated wrote:Since your Presonus only has one set of midi in/outs I am guessing you are daisy chaining all 4 of those midi devices off each other. With that many devices you may want to try and track down a midi patchbay. I've always had better luck using patchbays than chaining midi devices. As pointed out midi is serial so it's traveling through all the devices in the chain to get to the last one message at a time. You are bound to have some delays and timing issues.
YES, this might be whats up, makes sense. So basically find something that has 1 midi in and 4 (or more) Midi outs.
Got any recomendations?

trevox
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by trevox » Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:14 am

AKROC wrote:
fragmentated wrote:Since your Presonus only has one set of midi in/outs I am guessing you are daisy chaining all 4 of those midi devices off each other. With that many devices you may want to try and track down a midi patchbay. I've always had better luck using patchbays than chaining midi devices. As pointed out midi is serial so it's traveling through all the devices in the chain to get to the last one message at a time. You are bound to have some delays and timing issues.
YES, this might be whats up, makes sense. So basically find something that has 1 midi in and 4 (or more) Midi outs.
Got any recomendations?
I tend to give each pice of gear it's own midi port where I can. All in all, I have 6 midi ports in all and use all of them!

The ESI M4U give you 4 midi ins/outs. I have had mine for years and it has never put a foot wrong! I think there's a newer version of it now and I reckon it costs around $100 - here's a link:
http://www.esi-audio.com/products/m4uxl/

The other one I would suggest is the M-Audio Midisport 4x4, but it is more expensive (around $200).
http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/MIDISPORT4x4.html

There are versions of both with less midi ports, but you're better off with more by the sounds of things while only hogging one USB port!

Hope that helps.

AKROC
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by AKROC » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:04 am

trevox wrote:
AKROC wrote:
fragmentated wrote:Since your Presonus only has one set of midi in/outs I am guessing you are daisy chaining all 4 of those midi devices off each other. With that many devices you may want to try and track down a midi patchbay. I've always had better luck using patchbays than chaining midi devices. As pointed out midi is serial so it's traveling through all the devices in the chain to get to the last one message at a time. You are bound to have some delays and timing issues.
YES, this might be whats up, makes sense. So basically find something that has 1 midi in and 4 (or more) Midi outs.
Got any recomendations?
I tend to give each pice of gear it's own midi port where I can. All in all, I have 6 midi ports in all and use all of them!

The ESI M4U give you 4 midi ins/outs. I have had mine for years and it has never put a foot wrong! I think there's a newer version of it now and I reckon it costs around $100 - here's a link:
http://www.esi-audio.com/products/m4uxl/

The other one I would suggest is the M-Audio Midisport 4x4, but it is more expensive (around $200).
http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/MIDISPORT4x4.html

There are versions of both with less midi ports, but you're better off with more by the sounds of things while only hogging one USB port!

Hope that helps.
Most Def man! THANKS! One last question...Any suggestions for something with 8 ports? So I can expand. Thanks again dude! :D

Synthbuilder
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by Synthbuilder » Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:01 am

More ports aren't always the solution although they can help. Back in the old days I would run my whole studio from one Atari and everything was about as tight as midi could get - not as good as CV and gate but good enough and a lot easier. But the Atari and most other hardware midi sequencers produce midi that is so much tighter than today's computers. Driving midi is not a priority for most modern PCs - they'd rather update Adobe Air rather than get your midi out on time. Although Macs seem to fare better than PCs for some reason.

Make sure you use the right driver for your midi interface within Live. If you are on PC you'll get a choice of one of two drivers in Live's preferences section. Choose the best one for your interface. I'm still using the MME one.

Putting older synths one after another does not cause delays as such. It causes data skew which can corrupt data but not actually slow it down appreciably. Corrupted midi data normally takes the form of dropped notes or hanging notes particularly after a bunch of CCs has been sent. Timing errors generally don't occur this way. However, some synths from the late 90s onwards sometimes use a thing called soft through - you know it has this since the midi through port can also be an optional midi out. This can delay midi data but again it's not normally audible.

Drum machines should always be driven on lower channel numbers. Don't run your drum tracks on channel 16 unless they have their own port.

Personally I've given up using midi for controlling drums. I tend to either sample the machine's own sequenced output for a couple of loops and then loop it in Live. Or, sample each drum hit and then use that in Impulse or drum racks.

What we need is proper time stamping and pre-buffering of midi outputs. Steinberg tried it with their LTB but it never caught on.

Tony

trevox
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by trevox » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:46 am

Synthbuilder wrote:More ports aren't always the solution although they can help. Back in the old days I would run my whole studio from one Atari and everything was about as tight as midi could get - not as good as CV and gate but good enough and a lot easier. But the Atari and most other hardware midi sequencers produce midi that is so much tighter than today's computers. Driving midi is not a priority for most modern PCs - they'd rather update Adobe Air rather than get your midi out on time. Although Macs seem to fare better than PCs for some reason.

Make sure you use the right driver for your midi interface within Live. If you are on PC you'll get a choice of one of two drivers in Live's preferences section. Choose the best one for your interface. I'm still using the MME one.

Putting older synths one after another does not cause delays as such. It causes data skew which can corrupt data but not actually slow it down appreciably. Corrupted midi data normally takes the form of dropped notes or hanging notes particularly after a bunch of CCs has been sent. Timing errors generally don't occur this way. However, some synths from the late 90s onwards sometimes use a thing called soft through - you know it has this since the midi through port can also be an optional midi out. This can delay midi data but again it's not normally audible.

Drum machines should always be driven on lower channel numbers. Don't run your drum tracks on channel 16 unless they have their own port.

Personally I've given up using midi for controlling drums. I tend to either sample the machine's own sequenced output for a couple of loops and then loop it in Live. Or, sample each drum hit and then use that in Impulse or drum racks.

What we need is proper time stamping and pre-buffering of midi outputs. Steinberg tried it with their LTB but it never caught on.

Tony
Interesting. I can honestly say I have never had midi timing issues in almost 20 years. I guess I have just been lucky with my choice of computer/equipment!

trevox
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by trevox » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:50 am

AKROC wrote:Most Def man! THANKS! One last question...Any suggestions for something with 8 ports? So I can expand. Thanks again dude! :D
I think there is an ESI M8U and I know the MOTU Express is 8x8. Reckon both of those would be pretty good.

grimleyj
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by grimleyj » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:41 pm

trevox wrote:
Synthbuilder wrote:More ports aren't always the solution although they can help. Back in the old days I would run my whole studio from one Atari and everything was about as tight as midi could get - not as good as CV and gate but good enough and a lot easier. But the Atari and most other hardware midi sequencers produce midi that is so much tighter than today's computers. Driving midi is not a priority for most modern PCs - they'd rather update Adobe Air rather than get your midi out on time. Although Macs seem to fare better than PCs for some reason.

Make sure you use the right driver for your midi interface within Live. If you are on PC you'll get a choice of one of two drivers in Live's preferences section. Choose the best one for your interface. I'm still using the MME one.

Putting older synths one after another does not cause delays as such. It causes data skew which can corrupt data but not actually slow it down appreciably. Corrupted midi data normally takes the form of dropped notes or hanging notes particularly after a bunch of CCs has been sent. Timing errors generally don't occur this way. However, some synths from the late 90s onwards sometimes use a thing called soft through - you know it has this since the midi through port can also be an optional midi out. This can delay midi data but again it's not normally audible.

Drum machines should always be driven on lower channel numbers. Don't run your drum tracks on channel 16 unless they have their own port.

Personally I've given up using midi for controlling drums. I tend to either sample the machine's own sequenced output for a couple of loops and then loop it in Live. Or, sample each drum hit and then use that in Impulse or drum racks.

What we need is proper time stamping and pre-buffering of midi outputs. Steinberg tried it with their LTB but it never caught on.

Tony
Interesting. I can honestly say I have never had midi timing issues in almost 20 years. I guess I have just been lucky with my choice of computer/equipment!
Lucky indeed! In almost 20 years I have never had a satisfactory experience with midi sync and external gear. That includes dozens of PC setups running Cubase, Ableton, Cakewalk and others with various midi interfaces including the Steinberg Midex 8 LTB and many others. None of them ever worked. Although I must admit to being very picky about this ... I want my sync to be sample accurate ... any kind of drift or offset just drives me absolutely crazy and kills the creative buzz for me. I'm on a Mac now using both Live and Logic with an emagic AMT 8. Still sucks! I too just sample a few loops of the external gear and then just line it up in Live.
I have been looking at that InnerClock system though as I would love to have my x0xb0x synced up to Live for playing "live".

AKROC
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by AKROC » Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:22 am

Good looking out Tony, hmmm well this news is rather disappointing. There has to be some solution to this. I know the band soulwax does their live shows with tons of external midi and ableton. I have to just play around and see if I can find something that works. Thanks for all the info guys!

trevox
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Re: Anyone syncing outboard midi gear with ableton? need help!!!

Post by trevox » Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:46 pm

grimleyj wrote:
trevox wrote:
Synthbuilder wrote:More ports aren't always the solution although they can help. Back in the old days I would run my whole studio from one Atari and everything was about as tight as midi could get - not as good as CV and gate but good enough and a lot easier. But the Atari and most other hardware midi sequencers produce midi that is so much tighter than today's computers. Driving midi is not a priority for most modern PCs - they'd rather update Adobe Air rather than get your midi out on time. Although Macs seem to fare better than PCs for some reason.

Make sure you use the right driver for your midi interface within Live. If you are on PC you'll get a choice of one of two drivers in Live's preferences section. Choose the best one for your interface. I'm still using the MME one.

Putting older synths one after another does not cause delays as such. It causes data skew which can corrupt data but not actually slow it down appreciably. Corrupted midi data normally takes the form of dropped notes or hanging notes particularly after a bunch of CCs has been sent. Timing errors generally don't occur this way. However, some synths from the late 90s onwards sometimes use a thing called soft through - you know it has this since the midi through port can also be an optional midi out. This can delay midi data but again it's not normally audible.

Drum machines should always be driven on lower channel numbers. Don't run your drum tracks on channel 16 unless they have their own port.

Personally I've given up using midi for controlling drums. I tend to either sample the machine's own sequenced output for a couple of loops and then loop it in Live. Or, sample each drum hit and then use that in Impulse or drum racks.

What we need is proper time stamping and pre-buffering of midi outputs. Steinberg tried it with their LTB but it never caught on.

Tony
Interesting. I can honestly say I have never had midi timing issues in almost 20 years. I guess I have just been lucky with my choice of computer/equipment!
Lucky indeed! In almost 20 years I have never had a satisfactory experience with midi sync and external gear. That includes dozens of PC setups running Cubase, Ableton, Cakewalk and others with various midi interfaces including the Steinberg Midex 8 LTB and many others. None of them ever worked. Although I must admit to being very picky about this ... I want my sync to be sample accurate ... any kind of drift or offset just drives me absolutely crazy and kills the creative buzz for me. I'm on a Mac now using both Live and Logic with an emagic AMT 8. Still sucks! I too just sample a few loops of the external gear and then just line it up in Live.
I have been looking at that InnerClock system though as I would love to have my x0xb0x synced up to Live for playing "live".
Midi is not sample accurate and never will be! I just don't understand how people's issues can be so unworkable when so much great music (that is in time) has been written using midi? Are you referring to latency or inconsistency? Consistency is the important thing as latency can be overcome.

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