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Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:20 am
by SvenH
I have just tried my first external synth with Live (Novation Peak). It was very easy to connect using the "External Instrument" device - very userfriendly!

One big problem though - it seems as not all MIDI messages from the pitch bend and mod wheel parameters are getting through to my synth since the action from those controls get arbitrarily "quantized" or stepped. There is no smooth action. It is as if Live does not have time to send all the MIDI messages when turning the wheels. The behavior is the same regardless of whether I try to control the synth live from a MIDI controller (routed via my computer and Live) or from a recorded clip in Live.

This problem seems to be a Live issue (rather than a problem with the synth or the sound card or buffer settings etc) since everything works without any flaws with the same setup/settings when using Reason.

As additional info, in Live, mod wheel and pitch bend works perfectly when used with VST synths, so it is only an issue with my external synth.

Anybody else with this problem?

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:35 am
by Stromkraft
SvenH wrote:I have just tried my first external synth with Live (Novation Peak). It was very easy to connect using the "External Instrument" device - very userfriendly!

One big problem though - it seems as not all MIDI messages from the pitch bend and mod wheel parameters are getting through to my synth since the action from those controls get arbitrarily "quantized" or stepped. There is no smooth action. It is as if Live does not have time to send all the MIDI messages when turning the wheels. The behavior is the same regardless of whether I try to control the synth live from a MIDI controller (routed via my computer and Live) or from a recorded clip in Live.

This problem seems to be a Live issue (rather than a problem with the synth or the sound card or buffer settings etc) since everything works without any flaws with the same setup/settings when using Reason.

As additional info, in Live, mod wheel and pitch bend works perfectly when used with VST synths, so it is only an issue with my external synth.
Have you tried modifying the "ThinningAggressiveness" parameter setting in Options.txt? This may not be related as it's working in other instances, but it's a starting point.

What happens if you paint a curve (holding down the option key)? Does it still sound stepped?

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:20 pm
by SvenH
Stromkraft wrote:
SvenH wrote:I have just tried my first external synth with Live (Novation Peak). It was very easy to connect using the "External Instrument" device - very userfriendly!

One big problem though - it seems as not all MIDI messages from the pitch bend and mod wheel parameters are getting through to my synth since the action from those controls get arbitrarily "quantized" or stepped. There is no smooth action. It is as if Live does not have time to send all the MIDI messages when turning the wheels. The behavior is the same regardless of whether I try to control the synth live from a MIDI controller (routed via my computer and Live) or from a recorded clip in Live.

This problem seems to be a Live issue (rather than a problem with the synth or the sound card or buffer settings etc) since everything works without any flaws with the same setup/settings when using Reason.

As additional info, in Live, mod wheel and pitch bend works perfectly when used with VST synths, so it is only an issue with my external synth.
Have you tried modifying the "ThinningAggressiveness" parameter setting in Options.txt? This may not be related as it's working in other instances, but it's a starting point.

What happens if you paint a curve (holding down the option key)? Does it still sound stepped?
Changing ThinningAggressiveness does not help.

However, painting a curve helps. When playing clips with midi, it seems like only the nodes change the value for the synth. If there is a slowly rising line between two distant nodes, nothing happens until the node is reached.

So painting kinda works (though it is less convient than being able to draw long line slopes) for playing clips. But it does not help when trying to record live...

Thanks for your help.
Sven

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:47 pm
by Stromkraft
SvenH wrote:
However, painting a curve helps. When playing clips with midi, it seems like only the nodes change the value for the synth. If there is a slowly rising line between two distant nodes, nothing happens until the node is reached.
Hmm, my only advice then is to record the CC data in both those other DAWs and in Live and compare these. The data sent out can't be the same is my assumption. I'm not sure why this would be.

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:31 am
by SvenH
Stromkraft wrote:
SvenH wrote:
However, painting a curve helps. When playing clips with midi, it seems like only the nodes change the value for the synth. If there is a slowly rising line between two distant nodes, nothing happens until the node is reached.
Hmm, my only advice then is to record the CC data in both those other DAWs and in Live and compare these. The data sent out can't be the same is my assumption. I'm not sure why this would be.
Thanks again for your help. Do you, or anybody else watching this thread for that matter, have any external synth to test this behavior? I guess this is some kind of bug in *my* setup? I guess this can not be the default standard behavior in Live? If so, there must have been a lot of other users complaining? :? :?:

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:57 am
by lowshelf
SvenH wrote:works perfectly when used with VST synths, so it is only an issue with my external synth.
Turn off the MIDI input (in Live) from the synth and retest, in case it's a MIDI feedback loop.

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:53 pm
by SvenH
lowshelf wrote:
SvenH wrote:works perfectly when used with VST synths, so it is only an issue with my external synth.
Turn off the MIDI input (in Live) from the synth and retest, in case it's a MIDI feedback loop.
Thanks for the tip, I tried it but that was not the case. However, by accident, I found the reason for my problem.

The problem is Live CPU performance. If I set Buffer Size to 512 Samples, the Mod wheel does not behave stepped anymore. But then, off course, I have too much latency to be able to play well in real time. :(

Thanks,
Sven

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:21 pm
by Stromkraft
SvenH wrote: The problem is Live CPU performance. If I set Buffer Size to 512 Samples, the Mod wheel does not behave stepped anymore. But then, off course, I have too much latency to be able to play well in real time. :(
Hum. I wonder why I have never encountered this with other synths. is it high resolution mod wheel data or something like that?

I find this unacceptable though. Have you reported to Support? As I see it it's a bug.

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:47 pm
by SvenH
I have been in contact with Novation support that tried to help in various ways and I have done some more testing on my own. Today I submitted a bug report to Ableton. I quote it here below to maybe help someone else with this problem:

===

Dear, Ableton staff,

there is a serious problem that prevents me from using my external hardware synth with Ableton Live - the response to pitchbend and modwheel is too sluggish to be usable!

---

Processor: i7-6700K 4.00 GHz
RAM: 32 GB
OS: Windows 10 Home, 64-bit

DAW: Ableton Live 9.7.3

Soundcard: Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 2nd gen
Synth: Novation Peak

(Midi controller Push 2 and Nektar Panorama P4)

---

Description: it seems as not all MIDI messages from the pitch bend and mod wheel parameters are getting through to my synth since the action from those controls get arbitrarily "quantized" or stepped. There is no smooth action. It is as if Live does not have time to send all the MIDI messages when turning the wheels.

* This problem seems to be a Live issue (rather than a problem with the computer, synth, or sound card) since everything works without any flaws with the same setup when using Propellerheads Reason.

* Mod wheel and pitch bend work perfectly when used with VST synths so it is only an issue with my external synth.

* There is no difference whether I try to control the synth live from MIDI controllers (Push 2 and Nektar Panorama P4 routed via my computer and Live) or from recorded clips in Live.

* There is no difference whether I use the Live device "External Instrument" or use the "MIDI track and Audio track approach" (i.e. setup a MIDI track that routes MIDI to the synth and use another track, an Audio track, to receive the audio from the synth).

* There is no difference whether the MIDI is routed to the synth via a USB cable directly from my computer or via MIDI cables from my external sound card.

* I have tried various values of the Live parameter ThinningAggressivenes (0.0, 0.1, 0.45) without any difference.

* If I raise the buffer size to 512 samples in Live, the modwheel and pitchbend response is much better, but then of course the playability gets bad because of high latency. (The smallest buffer size I can set in Reason is 64 samples and the pitch bend and mod wheel response is still even better than Live at 512 samples.)

* It seems as if the problem is reduced if two different sources in Live send the same data almost simultaneously, e.g. if I use one MIDI track that sends MIDI data simultaneously as one track with an External Instrument and they both play the same clip. Unfortunately, this is not a great workaround. I get better response on the mod wheel, but then I trigger double the amount of voices...


I would be very grateful if you could help me fix this problem!
Sven

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:08 pm
by skqurl
SvenH...did you ever get a solution from Ableton or Novation? Having very similar problems with the Ableton/Peak convo. CC messages are quantized as you note and makes it basically impossible to remote control via ableton.

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:51 pm
by Stromkraft
SvenH, I just noticed you're talking about the "sound card" but not about the MIDI interface? Why is this left out?

Also, have you looked on what comes in before Live with something like MIDIMonitor? That app is Mac only, but there are others elsewhere for Windows, like for instance MIDI Ox.

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:18 am
by SvenH
No solution so far..

I submitted a bug report to Ableton and they have confirmed that this is a bug. However, they also told me (December 11, 2017) that there were only two users (including me) that had contacted them about this issue, i.e. fixing this bug is not high priority. :(

I still got the Peak but I have not used it for several months because of this issue. I will probably sell it in the near future... :(

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:21 am
by Stromkraft
SvenH wrote:No solution so far..

I submitted a bug report to Ableton and they have confirmed that this is a bug. However, they also told me (December 11, 2017) that there were only two users (including me) that had contacted them about this issue, i.e. fixing this bug is not high priority. :(

I still got the Peak but I have not used it for several months because of this issue. I will probably sell it in the near future... :(
It would be very interesting if you could verify, maybe you have already, that the "stepping" takes place inside Live by investigating the MIDI stream before Live and after. Even if Ableton have verified the bug this could allow me and others with external MIDI gear to compare working streams with non-working. Maybe Ableton have given you more specific info on this, that they got from their tests? If this is something you're allowed to share, please do.

There are plenty of small intermittent MIDI annoyances with Live that I never seem to have to solve more than one time. As it's interplay it's not always straightforward to determine where exactly the problem originates. I get that your issue is not intermittent, but I haven't encountered this one yet, but I assume I will at some point.

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 11:10 am
by SvenH
Stromkraft wrote:
SvenH wrote:No solution so far..

I submitted a bug report to Ableton and they have confirmed that this is a bug. However, they also told me (December 11, 2017) that there were only two users (including me) that had contacted them about this issue, i.e. fixing this bug is not high priority. :(

I still got the Peak but I have not used it for several months because of this issue. I will probably sell it in the near future... :(
It would be very interesting if you could verify, maybe you have already, that the "stepping" takes place inside Live by investigating the MIDI stream before Live and after. Even if Ableton have verified the bug this could allow me and others with external MIDI gear to compare working streams with non-working. Maybe Ableton have given you more specific info on this, that they got from their tests? If this is something you're allowed to share, please do.

There are plenty of small intermittent MIDI annoyances with Live that I never seem to have to solve more than one time. As it's interplay it's not always straightforward to determine where exactly the problem originates. I get that your issue is not intermittent, but I haven't encountered this one yet, but I assume I will at some point.
I guess the stepping takes place inside Live - using Peak in the exact same configuration, with the same MIDI keyboard leads to no problem when routing via Propellerheads Reason instead of Live.

Re: Mod wheel "quantized" with external synth

Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:48 am
by SvenH
SvenH wrote:No solution so far..

I submitted a bug report to Ableton and they have confirmed that this is a bug. However, they also told me (December 11, 2017) that there were only two users (including me) that had contacted them about this issue, i.e. fixing this bug is not high priority. :(

I still got the Peak but I have not used it for several months because of this issue. I will probably sell it in the near future... :(
But of course, to EVERYONE experiencing this problem, PLEASE REPORT THE BUG so that Ableton knows and ups the priority of fixing it!