Pyramid and MTC (Midi Time Code) support

Hello everyone!

As I understood reading the forum, Pyramid doesn’t support MTC, I would like to sync Pyramid with the DAW (Studio One 5) via MTC to get a synchronised absolut song position workflow, as slave or master.

Does anybody know if there is any plan to implement this functionality in the near future?
And most important, does anybody know a workaround to overcome this problem and be able to sync Studio One (or just any DAW) with Pyramid in the same way as it would be with MTC?

I purchased the Arturia Beatstep Pro, I really love this kind of workflow and the Beatstep itself as a sequencer but without supporting MTC is for me unusable so I will return it, the Pyramid is of course on a much higher level but without supporting MTC is for me unusable too.

I would appreciate any suggestions or comments, as also any suggestion to any other Sequencer which offers at least what Beatstep Pro offers, except Cirklon as it is very expensive and not available in short time.

Thanks a lot in advance!

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nobody knows…as Squarp do not post about plans on future features…

you can ask via Squarp’s contact form

unfortunately, few support MTC… as you’ve seen simple midi clock is much more common.
Im not quite sure why, I think perhaps midi clock is more suited to clocking hardware, and MTC to daws.

I cannot think of an alternative… the only other comprehensive seq I can think of is MIDIbox SEQ V4, but a quick glance of that, does not reveal MTC support either.

Well, at it’s core, MIDI clock is a metronome, and MTC is a stopwatch, or more accurately, a timeline. A synth is not interested in elapsed time, only about the beat. While a DAW may know about beat too, it doesn’t have to. What it really only cares about is the elapsed time since project beginning for precise location - a concept a synth will not have at all.

The only form Pyramid could meaningfully support MTC is emitting it on Sequence Play project mode, as that’s the only place where it behaves linearly. I once submitted such an RFE even, but I’m certainly not holding my breath. The MTC is not an entirely trivial protocol from either implementation or resource consumption perspective.

Unfortunately I can’t ask Squarp via contact form as I don’t own any Squarp product, you have to have a serial number and firmware version.

I ended up searching internet since 2 days for all available hardware sequencers, every time I found one which could fit my needs I downloaded its manual and checked if it supports MTC, for my surprising you are right, only very few support it.
If you are using only a hardware sequencer, especial a good one like Pyramid then MTC is mostly not relevant but it exist great Synthesizers with very good integrated sequencers with even a song mode like Elektron, in such a case you could wish MTC support too.
But if somebody wants both worlds, to have the benefits of a DAW’s sequencer and of a hardware sequencer then is MTC or MMC a must, both sequencers must be sync to song position, a SMPTE like synchronisation, I suppose any DAW supports them, why do hardware sequencers not? take Pyramid as an example, it has almost thousands of functions, is it so difficult to implement it too? It’s a function with a big effect.

Anyway, I found out that Keystep Pro supports MMC, I have to figure out if MMC does the job as I still don’t know what exactly it sends and of course I have to find out if Keystep Pro fits my needs.

I don’t know how difficult is to implement the MTC protocol but it is really a pity to see that hardware sequencers (especially the good one) forget that there are people who are composing via playing, they don’t need all these functions which make possible to make a song without to even touch a keyboard, I don’t want to open a discussion concerning really composing instead to program a song, just to emphasize that there are people out there who need this MTC or any similar protocol because they need this intuitiv workflow a hardware sequencer offers, they have rights too:) :upside_down_face:

Maybe Akai MPC is something for you.

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I know that the entire MPC series supports MTC, this is the good thing, the bad thing is that they have touch displays something that probably I won’t like at all, for me synthesisers, controllers and in general music gear must have knobs, sliders, encoders etc, what you get from a professional DAW is amazing, you just have an entire studio with very little money but hardware synthesiser, drum machines and some other kind of instruments are irreplaceable, this is why I want a hardware sequencer too.

I think that Akai MPC are not the kind of machines that will fit my way of how I compose but this is just only a first impression I got, I have never read any test or watched a review so I will spend a little time to learn about the MPC One, you never know:) and in additional I have to consider any solution as I see there is a big shortcoming in this area and my options are very limited, I don’t want to spend almost 2000$ for a Cirklon and in additional to have one year delivery time.

Thanks for the advice! :slightly_smiling_face:

And to tell you the truth, I really like the Pyramid, I think I would be happy if I could have it but it seems that for the moment it stays a dream. :roll_eyes:

I think SPP would be easier to support in Pyramid than MTC and offer the same kind of workflow enhancement.

MTC carries an absolute timestamp, which is not easy to map to the sequence position because it is tempo-dependent, and the tempo is not always known ahead of time.

SPP carries musical time on every sixth clock message. Since Pyramid is based on musical time, it should be possible to map the incoming position into the sequence and start/jump there.

I’ve tried to use MTC with an mpc and it never quite works out. Even with no tempo change the machines often don’t sync or start on the beat correctly. Add in a count in for recording and it just didn’t work not to mention wasting hours trying to fix.

I read a test from MPC One, it is definitely not a machine for me, it is really good and has a very rich feature list but this is more for DJ, it’s a groove box, a sampler and a PC like machine.

with what did you wanted to sync the MPC? with a DAW?
maybe is not the MPC the problem but the other gear you wanted to sync.

Note that while Pyramid doesn’t support MTC or SPP, it does support automated sync-record from exactly one position: the beginning of the song. It’s of course not the same as being able to jump around to arbitrary positions etc, but it goes a long way nevertheless.

My entire workflow is built around that:

  1. doodle around on the Pyramid creating bits and pieces of the song
  2. finalize song structure
  3. sync-record current version to audio
  4. record (some) “real” instruments on top/in place, using only recorded audio as backing tracks
  5. add details, further tracks etc on Pyramid as needed
  6. repeat from 3. as many times as needed

As long as the overall structure remains the same, you can change anything at all on the Pyramid programmed parts at any point in the process, record a bit of other audio here, tweak the programming there, add more audio etc. Since re-recording the whole song is a somewhat slow process, you’ll want to cluster changes rather than re-record after every minor tweak.

It might seem a bit primitive and cumbersome on the outset but it’s a very powerful thing nevertheless. As MIDI clock is not suited for working with an audio recording, you’ll want a recorder (whether hardware or software) that can send MIDI clock, which you can slave the Pyramid to.

Yeah, this is basically how I work as well. The issue with this workflow is that it breaks when you want to change the song structure, and it’s also a bit cumbersome when you listen back and then want to fix an issue in, say, the seventh part of the song. I’d imagine that if Pyramid supported SPP, I could just move to the beginning of that part in DAW timeline and start playing, and Pyramid would jump to the right place in the sequence.

Doesn’t every sync recording setup break if you change the song structure?

As for SSP, the difficulty for Pyramid is that the player position is nothing like a simple linear pointer it can just jump to, it’s a complicated evolving scenario that need to be essentially replayed from the song start to get all the tracks in possibly different time signatures into their correct position. Not impossible, but far from simple. Which is probably why it doesn’t support it. And even then, any long notes that might be playing at that point would be incorrectly played - either missed, or played from the start at wrong time.

I think it’d be fine to make SPP affect the sequence chain only, i.e. if it would get position ‘bar 33, 2nd quarter note’ it would jump to that position in the seq chain. This works because the chain is composed of sequences and their lengths in bars/beats. I wouldn’t expect it to compute free-running track positions correctly, and it’s also no problem: if you perform live with seq mode, jumping to a different sequence doesn’t recompute all track positions either, it just restarts oneshot/relatch tracks.

So with SPP, what it should do is: find the active sequence based on the chain, then reset all tracks to position zero and apply the remaining offset to the player position. How hard it is to implement this last bit depends on the player architecture that Squarp is using. If they use a system where every track has a ‘start tick’ value and computes the actual player position based on a global ‘tick counter’, this is easy to implement. If they have some other system in place where all tracks have independent position counters, it’s more complicated and it might not be possible to implement SPP.

The Octatrack song mode supports SPP exactly in this way, i.e. when receiving the position it jumps to the part of the arrangement corresponding to that, and then applies the pattern offset. This only works when the song doesn’t contain LOOP/JUMP constructs which is totally reasonable as well. Nobody expects it to do magic.

the issue is SEQ on the pyramid is not really like a traditional timeline , because of the way track run modes work…

track 1 pad track , 4 bars , say new chord each bar
track 2 bass line , 2 bar

SEQ 1 T1 - active, T2 , mute
SEQ 2 T1 - active, T2 , active

S1 (1 bar !) → S2 (4 bar)

if we have the normal run mode i.e. not restart
b1 = T1 b1
b2 = T1 b2 (!) , T2 b1
b3 = T1 b3 , T2 b2
b4 = T1 b4 , T2 b1
b5 = T1 b1 , T2 b2

and this is a simple case, lets not even consider full polyrythms/meters, or what happens when we LOOP this sequence.

basically for SPP to work, it would have to calculate this all up front before it could play.
because the Pyramid does not store this stuff as a linear timeline.

I disagree, if this was implemented and became a feature - many users would complain, if it was a half-baked solution that didnt cover their needs.

the issue is the Pyramid is not a simple linear step sequencer…one of its key selling points is it support for polyrhythms and polymeters - this is not something ‘tacked on’, this is at the heart of its design.

I respect that for some this is not the thing they are interested in, but it is at the heart of what the Pyramid is and how its designed - everything has to take into account the way tracks run pretty independently.

the topic of how users use with the pyramid in conjuction with a daw is an interesting one.
might make an interesting separate topic (maybe is one already?)

I think my approach is similar to others, I use the pyramid as its own thing - a hands-on inteface to get patterns down, and I then just record the audio.
(sometimes Ive routed the midi via the daw and recorded the midi, but usually I just find it easier to work with audio)


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