Live sync - how do you guys sync?


#21

theoretically you can’t solve this over a class compliant USB MIDI interface

but lets take one step back

Id like to change this statement slightly…
modern OS’s do not put MIDI at low priority, they put USB serial traffic as ‘low priority’, which happens to include midi.
the reason is ,this is what we usually want… imagine write a file to a USB drive, we don’t care about it being written in bursts, we dont want out computer locking up whilst that file is written - so, arguably USB midi chose the wrong protocol (see below)

“Ah, but what about USB soundcards” , I hear you cry, very true these are sample accurate , and have to be - they work because they use USB isosynchronous protocol. in this protocol you don’t push bits of data at it, you have a time based delivery protocol.
(this is how things like E-RM all work, they basically use this isosynchronous protocol, which by the way can be used for anything not just sound)

why not use isosynchronous for standard USB Midi? well because its low volume data, and its also a more complex protocol, so they chose not to use it, to make it easy for manufactures to adopt - so now we are stuck with the standard :wink:

“But my computer works fine with USB midi”… yup thats why I said “theoretically”
in theory you need a real time OS to do audio properly, but desktops today have so much spare processing power, that if we configure them correctly (and don’t overload them) , we have no issues with them doing audio.

the same is partly true of USB midi , if you make sure your computer is setup to have plenty of IO and CPU capacity, and you don’t overload it… then it will work fine too, the issue is… you only need one rogue process or one rogue device, and suddenly your perfect sync can be go. (note: unlike audio, you have to be careful with all IO, and not use CPU)

this is why people have different experiences, even those that have powerful setups, can still can get issues , whilst others with more modest system have no issue… you are only as good as your weakest link.

of course then there is ‘expectation’, this can be a bit like ‘pixel peeking’ in digital photography, the more you look for the perfect timing, the more elusive it becomes… whilst someone else sitting back, more relaxed about it, will be happy with a bit of jitter/drift (after all real musicians drift/jitter too :wink: )

last note, bare in mind , midi is serial… so if you send thousands of messages , you can delay a clock signal! (even over din/without a computer)

I did go through a phase of really getting wound up , trying to perfect sync… and reduce latency, but these days I try to just get something I’m ‘happy with’, and spend time playing rather than zooming in on audio timelines trying to get things to align to the grid.
sometimes I succeed, and I freely admit at other times I dont and fall back into worrying about micro timing :wink:


#22

Hello people,
I have spent a lot of time researching this issue and looking at things like the USAMO…

What I’m trying to figure out is: I want to be able to send MIDI data from Ableton and the clock from USAMO (or similar) to the same machine… If I use a MIDI Merge box, will this be acceptable or will it compromise the clock accuracy to the point where it’s not any better than Ableton’s clock output??

I don’t want to use the USAMO to send anything other than MIDI clock as I don’t think it will be able to cope well with multiple MIDI CC messages…


#23

Not to worry David.I am a bit odd .I m not the most technical but i do kinda know what i am talking about .I hide my lack spec’s with (metaphores?) real life examples.
nontheless .no offence taken. iguess ya didn’t see my humor in my responses.
no worries we all different which would boring as fuck if wer’nt.


#24

Panason
Hello people,
I have spent a lot of time researching this issue and looking at things like the USAMO…
What I’m trying to figure out is: I want to be able to send MIDI data from Ableton and the clock from USAMO (or similar) to the same machine… If I use a MIDI Merge box, will this be acceptable or will it compromise the clock accuracy to the point where it’s not any better than Ableton’s clock output??
I don’t want to use the USAMO to send anything other than MIDI clock as I don’t think it will be able to cope well with multiple MIDI CC messages…

I will have the USAMO soon together with a passive MidiMerger for same reasons - want to be able to send midi notes with my midi Keyboard at the same time syncing the Pyramid to Ableton. Will give you an update as soon as everything is at my place and I worked with this setup.


#25

@all people contributing stuff here - Thank you very much guys! This helped me sorting out some reasons and solutions for the actual problem. Great Community!


#26

Thanks. The more I think about it the more I tend to believe that the USAMO and all similar devices are only worth it if the DAW is not doing any MIDI note sequencing. Any MIDI notes coming from the DAW will still be subject to the DAW’s MIDI clock jitter.

The USAMO and similar are only really needed for syncing hardware sequencers and drum machines to a DAW with the best possible sync. If the DAW is being used to send notes to other MIDI gear at the same time there is no real advantage in using these devices… and they may even make things worse as the hardware sequencer will be running under a different clock than the MIDI coming from the DAW.

So they’re only really worth it if the DAW is only doing audio/sampling duties and the MIDI sequencing is being handled entirely by the hardware.

That’s what I think, anyway…


#27

@Panason that’s mainly how I work - ableton for Sample action and all other midi notes are handled by pyramid. That’s why I ordered the expert sleepers device and will write something after first experience with that. BTW the midi keyboard is just there for recording notes on pyramid.


#28

kind of, external midi notes (actually everything) will also be subject to ‘usb jitter’ (not clock jitter), so useful only if the midi notes and sound generation are on the same device.

(that said, if you are slaving Ableton to an external master clock you can get ‘double jitter’, i.e. midi clock jitter + midi note jitter, so it will help ‘a bit’)

so basically, the intention would be…
use your accurate clock to clock, Ableton and your external synths, then use Pyramid to sequence your external synths, and Ableton sequence ‘in the the box’ synths.

one area not discussed here, but possible could help in the future is Ableton Link.
Ableton Link is interesting, because its much more resilient … (due to the way it encompasses ‘position’).
currently this only help between computers (including phones etc), but in the future, potentially we could see hardware implementations… doing a similar job to E-RM, but without the requirement to eat an audio channel. (which is my issue, i don’t have one to spare :wink: )


#29

Maybe i have to explain further how I work. I record midi stuff into pyramid using an external keyboard - no daw involved there. Then I play around with pyramid itself. After that pyramid is the only instance sending midi to anything. Pyramid is not sending midi notes to ableton. If so, I record notes in Ableton and use them in the box later. To finish stuff I use samplers in Ableton which just get midi notes from ableton itself. I just want ableton and pyramid to sync properly - midi sync is the only connection between daw and pyramid - established for now via USB until I get USAMO. Link is great for ios devices or syncing ableton with another computer (running ableton Traktor maschine or similar). A friend of mine created a link eurorack Module - also great for sync. I think one day somebody will create an external master clock that speaks link as well. Link has solved many sync issues for many people already but for now I close but still not satisfied with clock drifts here and there.


#30

UPDATE. Hey guys, I just got the USAMO and suddenly my sync is stable and still running tight after 3 hours of playback. Thank you all for giving your thoughts and information to this topic. Happiness!


#31

link is a great feature and a friend of mine developed an eurorack module that implements link into your rack. so It’s just a matter of time until there is a standalone “translation” for link. With link, most of digital sync problems ableton had before were solved in a great way.


#32

Good to hear. Does the Pyramid synced with USAMO always start when you press play in the DAW?


#33

Yes. Works perfect! Thanks