Sync to EXT + Complex Warp mode = grotty sound

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jasefos
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Sync to EXT + Complex Warp mode = grotty sound

Post by jasefos » Tue Sep 20, 2005 4:49 pm

Hi Magnificent Ableton Team,


Something I have noticed.

I LOVE the improvements offered by Complex Warp mode however I've noticed a signficant difference in sound quality when Live is clocked internal compared with if it is slaved to EXT MIDI clock.

Live's Complex Warp mode sounds horrible and warbly when it is slaved via MIDI Clock to external MIDI sources.

Naturally I understand if the clock source Live is slaved to is poor at counting time itself (e.g. Alesis SR16 !!!) however I'm using an Electribe ER1mk2 as my clock source which is generally rock solid.

I've also tried slaving Live to a Roland R8 (which is reknowned for its internal clock source) and still observe noticeable bad sound quality for Complex warp mode.

When I A/B compare Live Slaved to MIDI Clock compared to its own internal clock (set to the same tempo as the external hardware module) this is immediately obvious.

Is this a technical limitation or something which can be resolved ?

Would I be correct in assuming there needs to be some sort of adaptive Clock smoothing when Live is slaving to external MIDI Clock ?

Naturally I understand the workaround - don't slave to external MIDI clock however my Live performance method (multiple sequencer devices slaved to a single hardware clock source) demands Live performs well when MIDI clocked to external hardware. In fact this is the primary reason I use Live in preference to Nuendo 3 for live performance work - Nuendo 3 doesn't allow itself to be clocked to anything but MTC.

cheers !
Last edited by jasefos on Fri Oct 28, 2005 2:20 am, edited 3 times in total.
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kineticUk
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Post by kineticUk » Tue Sep 20, 2005 11:08 pm

I noticed this when I sync to My Korg ES1.
I just use the other warp mode settings though.
I found that the audio recordings that I do while synced sound different (ie Wobbly not right) to the recordings done using internal time.
Its a bit of a problem and I have been having to record with sync off to get decent recordings.
Hope if this is a bug ableton will be able to fix it, cause the clock seems tighter when I use some hardware for sync and I would like to continue to use it if this problem can be fixed.
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jasefos
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Post by jasefos » Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:08 am

kineticUk wrote:I noticed this when I sync to My Korg ES1.
I just use the other warp mode settings though.
I found that the audio recordings that I do while synced sound different (ie Wobbly not right) to the recordings done using internal time.
Its a bit of a problem and I have been having to record with sync off to get decent recordings.
Hope if this is a bug ableton will be able to fix it, cause the clock seems tighter when I use some hardware for sync and I would like to continue to use it if this problem can be fixed.
Hi Kinetic,


Yes what you've observed is also the case on my system. This is no slouch of a DAW either.

I must say I have noticed a slight difference in sound quality when Repitch mode is used.

Also I find tracks which I have in a Frozen state sound poor when driven by external MIDI Clock.

Would I be correct in assuming, by default, tracks in a Frozen state are always played in Complex mode? If so it would make sense that I'm noticing the same poor sound quality.

Poor sound quality .... a better explanation?
Ropey sound. It sounds like ripples have been imposed over the audio and it sounds noticeable warbly. It is not the expected characteristic sound of strectching artefacts (or stretching audio too far from it's original tempo). Tracks with significant low frequency content are worst effected. Complex mode is worst effected.

I'm not a programming expert however I get the feeling when Live is slaved to MIDI Clock it is being to fast to react to slight clock changes. Of course MIDI Clock is anything but a perfect syncronisation method however I feel that if some sort of smoothing was done to the way how Live follows incoming MIDI clock transitions. Perhaps slowing down Live's reaction to minute alterations in clock would lessen the problem. Perhaps a kind of tempo averaging is required where MIDI clock is sampled over a period of time - maybe this could be related to the size of the ASIO buffer.

Clock is being received from a Steinberg USB2MIDI (a M-Audio MIDI sport2x2 in a different chassis) with latest available M-Audio drivers. Initially I tried using my Yamaha 01X's inbuilt MIDI ports for receiving sync however, for some bizarre reason, Live doesn't see any MIDI clock coming from these mLan MIDI ports at all (!! most likely a Yamaha problem !!).

The fact Live 5 is one of the few DAW applications which allow itself to be slaved to incoming MIDI Clock (instead of only MIDI Time Code which doesn't pass on tempo information - only SMPTE timecode) is one of the many highly desirable aspects of the application.

When audio was introduced to Cubase in VST days and slaving to MIDI Clock was no longer possible, Cubase become "broken" as a live performance tool for me. There will never be a day when I trust a piece of software running on a computer to be the Master MIDI clock in live performance scenarios (Cubase SX3 rocks in the studio for me still however!).

Incidentally the quality of Live's MIDI Clock output is very irregular. I've tried slaving Electribe EMX1, ESx1 and ER1mk2 to Live's MIDI Clock output only to find the clock it generates is extremely unstable and irregular.

So Live as MIDI Clock master is not an option.
Live as MIDI Clock slave sounds has a noticeable effect on audio quality.


What options are there left?

*** "manually" beat match Live to other sequencer sources ?
(definitely not a realistic option - 123bpm on an Electribe for example is more like 123.01bpm in reality).

*** Don't use any stretched audio clips for live performances and stick purely with VSTis and MIDI clips?


I'd really like to see this refinement taken care of sometime in the not too distant future ..... summer (sothern hemisphere!) is coming !
JaseFOS

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husker
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Post by husker » Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:36 am

jasefos wrote: Incidentally the quality of Live's MIDI Clock output is very irregular. I've tried slaving Electribe EMX1, ESx1 and ER1mk2 to Live's MIDI Clock output only to find the clock it generates is extremely unstable and irregular.

So Live as MIDI Clock master is not an option.
Live as MIDI Clock slave sounds has a noticeable effect on audio quality.
I've got quite a similar setup, and find the clock generated by Live as clock master is fine. 100% stable for me...how would you describe your clock instability? My ears and the waveform of the audio recorded says it's all in sync. Are you using the latest beta, this was tightened up a lot a couple of betas ago...

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Post by jasefos » Wed Sep 21, 2005 1:43 am

husker wrote:
jasefos wrote: Incidentally the quality of Live's MIDI Clock output is very irregular. I've tried slaving Electribe EMX1, ESx1 and ER1mk2 to Live's MIDI Clock output only to find the clock it generates is extremely unstable and irregular.

So Live as MIDI Clock master is not an option.
Live as MIDI Clock slave sounds has a noticeable effect on audio quality.
I've got quite a similar setup, and find the clock generated by Live as clock master is fine. 100% stable for me...how would you describe your clock instability? My ears and the waveform of the audio recorded says it's all in sync. Are you using the latest beta, this was tightened up a lot a couple of betas ago...
When I tested MIDI Clock output with Electribes slaved it was with the final of 5.0.1 (I've since learned of the new betas however haven't tried slaving external devices to Live with the current beta - I'll try that out tonight in the studio). For sake of accuracy I should mention I was using the mLan 01X MIDI port to output sync which may not have been 100% ideal. I'll attempt again with the latest 5.0.2 beta and the MidiSport2x2 and see if it makes a difference.

I'd describe the "sound" of the tribes syncing to Live as sloppy ... with Live playing nothing but it's click I could feel the Tribes rushing and lagging irregularly within the time span of a bar. I had a basic 4 x 4 kick drum pattern running on each of the tribes with no swing applied.


Cheers !
JaseFOS

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husker
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Post by husker » Wed Sep 21, 2005 1:54 am

You should try the new "Pattern'' mode for midi-clock then (introduced B5 I think)...the Electribes like that very much. My EA-1 also likes "Song" mode when it is in Song mode, and syncs via Song Position Pointer perfectly (not the ER-1 alas). Cheers.

kineticUk
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Post by kineticUk » Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:26 am

I heard about the new sync modes in the betas but have not yet tryed them (I wonder if this related or is a fix of the problem).
I think it is the slight difference in timing between internal and ext sync that causes this problem. Say I record something from midi to audio while synced Externally and play it back when not synced externally I notice the wobbly sound.
Maybe becuase of the different clock, the warp markers are getting slightly offset or something along those lines.
At the moment I am just having to do everything without slaving to my ext gear.
It does seem to me to be a bug though.
Hopefully ableton can check this out.
Last edited by kineticUk on Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jasefos
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Post by jasefos » Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:32 am

husker wrote:You should try the new "Pattern'' mode for midi-clock then (introduced B5 I think)...the Electribes like that very much. My EA-1 also likes "Song" mode when it is in Song mode, and syncs via Song Position Pointer perfectly (not the ER-1 alas). Cheers.
Excellent - good to see the Pattern and Song preferences for MIDI Clock ...
I can think of many occassions in other sequencer packages I've used where this flexibility would have been very welcome but was lacking.

Just as a test I'll try these things out tonight (5.0.2B6 + Midisport2X2 + slaving), Many thanks for your input on this thread ...

Naturally I still don't want to end up having Live as master clock for my setup. The primary reason I retired Sonic Foundry Acid from my setup many years ago is it promised slaving stretched audio to external clocks was it failed to do so in a reliable fashion ...

When Live came along my prayers were answered !!!
[SESSION view is king for live improvisation!]


In my scenario, the reasons why Live 5 needs to slave to MIDI Clock is so vitally important :

1. if the computer crashes during a performance I will not have the dreaded 2 minutes of silence since the tribe's will already be in sync

2. Rather than use one massive Session view set in Live to encompass a whole performance I can leave my live jamming skeletons as individual projects and close and open Sessions with the Electribes and other machinary taking "over". Pressing Sync Reset on ER1mk2 (i.e press Shift and Play together) makes live join in the sync and start playing.

3. Syncing software to software I've found never is quite as good as software chasing hardware clocks. Syncing to an R8 drum machine for instance made a massive difference to the feel of Cubase 2.8 (MIDI only version) back many years ago when I was using 2 x Cubase/Gigasampler computeers locked together as my primary sequencer for performances.

4. I can have Reason 3 running on an additional computer synced up (actually one of the many things Reason does well is slave to external MIDI clock - it is extremely tight and consistent)


Cheers
JaseFOS

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kineticUk
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Post by kineticUk » Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:40 am

I just think that ext hardware clock is that little bit tighter as well.
Hope they look at this soon
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jasefos
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Post by jasefos » Wed Sep 21, 2005 3:03 am

kineticUk wrote:I just think that ext hardware clock is that little bit tighter as well.
Hope they look at this soon

I'm glad you agree !


Actually I did a test about a year ago syncing Reason 2.5 on Windows with my colleague running Reason 2.5 on a MacOSX Powerbook with both system chasing sync from an Electribe ER1mk2. We opened the SAME project and set audio buffer sizes and sample rates identically.

Hit play on Electribe ...

The identical Reason projects played so tightly in sync they were "phasing" off each other (sync doesn't get much tighter than that!).

I'm Hoping eventually Ableton slaved to MIDI clock gets as tight as this!



Cheers !
JaseFOS

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husker
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Post by husker » Fri Sep 23, 2005 9:40 pm

hey jasefos, check out the new beta7 release....this *may* be fixed :-)

(these abe dudes are awesome)

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Post by Alex » Fri Sep 23, 2005 9:50 pm

Hi folks,

just a few words on these issues:

1) We make a change in the latest beta (5.0.2b7) which should reduce the artifacts of "RePitch" and "Complex" warp modes when Live runs as MIDI clock slave.

2) In general the requirements on how Live should "follow" a MIDI clock depends on how you want to use it. If you have a static tempo meaning you do not want to change the tempo of the MIDI clock master, you want to have the tempo recognition within Live as fixed as possible.
If you want to change the tempo of the MIDI clock master the slave (Live) should follow you need much less "sluggishness".
Maybe we will have a switch, knob or something similar to let the user make this preferred behavior.

regards,
Alex
Last edited by Alex on Sun Sep 25, 2005 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Machinate » Fri Sep 23, 2005 10:11 pm

Alex, I think this knob would make everything a lot easier!!! And if it was midi-assignable (*always* make *everything* assignable ;) )

That way, when you're syncing and doing tempo-changes, you could "tighten up" the sync, and when you're settling in for a long groove you could smooth things out for extra stability, something everybody wants, i guess!

I would love to see this feature!
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kineticUk
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Post by kineticUk » Sat Sep 24, 2005 10:28 pm

Alex that idea sounds great.
It would mean I could set it to stay as tight as possible using ext clock as my reference.My song tempo is usually fixed, so this would be great as it would give me the option to tailor live for this kind of use.

I cannot wait to see this implemented
Nice one
:D
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jasefos
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Post by jasefos » Mon Sep 26, 2005 2:30 am

Alex wrote:Hi folks,

just a few words on these issues:

1) We make a change in the latest beta (5.0.2b7) which should reduce the artifacts of "RePitch" and "Complex" warp modes when Live runs as MIDI clock slave.

2) In general the requirements on how Live should "follow" a MIDI clock depends on how you want to use it. If you have a static tempo meaning you do not want to change the tempo of the MIDI clock master, you want to have the tempo recognition within Live as fixed as possible.
If you want to change the tempo of the MIDI clock master the slave (Live) should follow you need much less "sluggishness".
Maybe we will have a switch, knob or something similar to let the user make this preferred behavior.

regards,
Alex

Hi Alex,

i just wanted to post my appreciation for addressing this behaviour. I'm happy to report the tempo averaging in 5.02b7 has vastly improved this situation. I for one am a happy camper !!!

VSTi' MIDI tracks in Frozen state now also sound better when slaved (which Warp mode is used for playback of rendered Freezes?).

Many thanks to yourself and the team for responding to this issue raised !!!!
EXCELLENT !! EXCELLENT !! EXCELLENT !! EXCELLENT !!
JaseFOS

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