Sequencer Recommendations pls...

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TR
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Sequencer Recommendations pls...

Post by TR » Wed May 23, 2007 1:04 pm

Hi - this is my first post on here after browsing for a while and I apologise if this isn't the correct place, but I really need some help / suggestions!

I'll keep this really brief but I need to get a new sequencing solution. I currently use my TR909 as master clock, and have all my hardware synced in to it and everything works perfectly. The computer (pc) is also synced in too, and Ableton Live gets the clock signal and then outputs normal midi data to some hardware synths (ie anything that the 909 can't do in midi mode). The problem lies with a bug in Live - it can't follow MIDI song position pointers properly, making linear sequencing and editing an absolute nightmare.

So I'd be really grateful for recommendations of sequencers old or new, hardware (preferred) or computer based (atari st?) that are: fairly ease to use but powerful and are happy and solid outputting linear sequence data to synchs whilst acting as a midi clock slave. It's not too much too expect, is it?

Thanks for any and all help! :D

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Re: Sequencer Recommendations pls...

Post by Altitude » Wed May 23, 2007 1:31 pm

TR wrote:
So I'd be really grateful for recommendations of sequencers old or new, hardware (preferred) or computer based (atari st?) that are: fairly ease to use but powerful and are happy and solid outputting linear sequence data to synchs whilst acting as a midi clock slave. It's not too much too expect, is it?
Actually it is. What you are asking for probably does not exist since the master almost always outputs position data as well as clock.

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Post by TR » Wed May 23, 2007 1:56 pm

Thanks for your reply, and I can see your point but you can get them - Live, for instance, does do it but unfortunately has a bug and does it horribly. Cubase VST can act as sync slave whilst outputting midi to other synths and following song position, but again it's pretty ropey.

So ideally I'm wanting a hardware box that can perform a similar task - what I'll lose in terms of ease of use (ie huge monitor) will hopefully be countered by a gain in stability. I'm considering an Atari ST as the midi timing is supposed to be solid, but can't quite seem to get confirmation the various bits of sequecning software will lock to da clock.

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Post by meatballfulton » Wed May 23, 2007 4:13 pm

TR wrote:I'm considering an Atari ST as the midi timing is supposed to be solid, but can't quite seem to get confirmation the various bits of sequecning software will lock to da clock.
I used Master Tracks Pro for many years on a 1040ST and it followed SPP (generated from a JL Cooper PPS-1 tape synch box) perfectly.

The trick is maintaining the Atari...mine finally gave up the ghost about 2 years ago :(
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Post by Soundwave » Wed May 23, 2007 5:24 pm

TR wrote:Thanks for your reply, and I can see your point but you can get them - Live, for instance, does do it but unfortunately has a bug and does it horribly. Cubase VST can act as sync slave whilst outputting midi to other synths and following song position, but again it's pretty ropey.

So ideally I'm wanting a hardware box that can perform a similar task - what I'll lose in terms of ease of use (ie huge monitor) will hopefully be countered by a gain in stability. I'm considering an Atari ST as the midi timing is supposed to be solid, but can't quite seem to get confirmation the various bits of sequecning software will lock to da clock.
Sonar is better than Cubase for timing so I've read tho I still get a 10ms lag when recording external MIDI sequncers/groovboxes (Sonar as master clock) and 24ms lag when recoding audio synced to MIDI clock and from what I've discoverd this is as good as it gets with XP. You can compensate with adding a slight delay to internal softsynths with recording exteral synths/drum machines then trimming/quantise the recorded audio/MIDI and after all little faffing the actual playback timing isn't too bad with Sonar.
Mac's have MIDI integrated as part of the OS but for the best timing this side of a Syclavier the good ole ST with Notator is king which is the reason mine 4mb STE is staying in the attic.

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Post by Altitude » Wed May 23, 2007 5:55 pm

Mac's have MIDI integrated as part of the OS but for the best timing this side of a Syclavier the good ole ST with Notator is king which is the reason mine 4mb STE is staying in the attic.
Bollocks. Its not any different that windows and suffers from the exact same problems for the exact same reasons. Macs and PC's run on the same hardware and this is 100% a hardware issue.

The reason nothing is going to work well with a modern machine is that current USB midi interfaces have to go through layers of hardware abstraction and drivers in both directions to relay the data which will introduce a large amount of latency and make any external sync useless. The ST would probably be your best bet since it is much less complicated machine and midi is integrated into the hardware. A hardware device would probably also work very well (MC-50, Q-80 etc)

I always use an internal sync and slave all my sequencers to the computer. Using decent midi interfaces that are made for your software (AMT-8 for Logic, Timepiece for DP, Midex for Cubase etc) and that use some form of timestamping greatly improves the situation. I run 2 8x8 interfaces with a dozen devices connected to them (4 of which are clocked slaves) and have very good results having Cubase run as a master (it no longer supports being a slave). I used to run an maudio 4x4 and it drove me crazy since the timing was horrible and I really could not push a lot data through it before it would start to go off.

Hopefully when software manufactures start using Vista's realtime priority operation mode some of these problems will go away but until then if you want solid midi timing, don't expect a modern computer to deliver without a fight

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Post by Soundwave » Wed May 23, 2007 6:18 pm

Altitude wrote:
Mac's have MIDI integrated as part of the OS but for the best timing this side of a Syclavier the good ole ST with Notator is king which is the reason mine 4mb STE is staying in the attic.
Bollocks. Its not any different that windows and suffers from the exact same problems for the exact same reasons. Macs and PC's run on the same hardware and this is 100% a hardware issue.

The reason nothing is going to work well with a modern machine is that current USB midi interfaces have to go through layers of hardware abstraction and drivers in both directions to relay the data which will introduce a large amount of latency and make any external sync useless. The ST would probably be your best bet since it is much less complicated machine and midi is integrated into the hardware. A hardware device would probably also work very well (MC-50, Q-80 etc)

I always use an internal sync and slave all my sequencers to the computer. Using decent midi interfaces that are made for your software (AMT-8 for Logic, Timepiece for DP, Midex for Cubase etc) and that use some form of timestamping greatly improves the situation. I run 2 8x8 interfaces with a dozen devices connected to them (4 of which are clocked slaves) and have very good results having Cubase run as a master (it no longer supports being a slave). I used to run an maudio 4x4 and it drove me crazy since the timing was horrible and I really could not push a lot data through it before it would start to go off.

Hopefully when software manufactures start using Vista's realtime priority operation mode some of these problems will go away but until then if you want solid midi timing, don't expect a modern computer to deliver without a fight
MIDI in general can get sloppy with tons of data down the same cable, this is the nature of the beast (hence mulitple MIDI interfaces) but I think this really ain't a hardware issue although your point of dedicated PC hardware is an interesting one.

http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showf ... Post450366

A lot of folk who work with fast tempo music like drum n' bass swear by the ST and for a good reason.

http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showf ... t=1#439805

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Post by Altitude » Wed May 23, 2007 7:13 pm

A lot of folk who work with fast tempo music like drum n' bass swear by the ST and for a good reason.
lol, I dont think 150 - 180 bpm is fast by midi standards, a midi clock message takes 320 um (that micro seconds, one millionth of a second) and there are 24 of those for a quarter note you can do the math and i know all about the ST and it's timing (notice my sig per chance?) and why its good.

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Post by nathanscribe » Wed May 23, 2007 10:25 pm

Altitude wrote:Its not any different that windows and suffers from the exact same problems for the exact same reasons. Macs and PC's run on the same hardware and this is 100% a hardware issue.
Only the newer macs run intel chips - is that what you meant? Or do the older powerpc chips class as the same hardware?

I only ever had timing issues on my XP PC, never on a G4 mac, and both were running the same software and interfaces. I've replaced the PC now, with a new iMac, and the problem has flown away. That's not an anti-PC comment, as plenty of PC users don't experience these difficulties.

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Post by Altitude » Wed May 23, 2007 11:10 pm

nathanscribe wrote:
Altitude wrote:Its not any different that windows and suffers from the exact same problems for the exact same reasons. Macs and PC's run on the same hardware and this is 100% a hardware issue.
Only the newer macs run intel chips - is that what you meant? Or do the older powerpc chips class as the same hardware?

I only ever had timing issues on my XP PC, never on a G4 mac, and both were running the same software and interfaces. I've replaced the PC now, with a new iMac, and the problem has flown away. That's not an anti-PC comment, as plenty of PC users don't experience these difficulties.
Yes, I was referring to modern macs but it is a systemic problem and you will see it everywhere if you push it hard enough. I have been working with midi for going on 10 years and have only had bad problems with certain USB interfaces. Parallel interfaces like my old MOTU faired fairly well under 95 but it seems the further we go the more problematic solid midi timing gets with OS's getting fatter and fatter.

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Post by Zamise » Thu May 24, 2007 5:12 am

Take the tr909 off master and slave it, use its thru to go out to the other synth???? I don't see why you have to use a computer all either, plenty of hardware sequencers out there with solid timeing. Yamaha QY series, older Akai MPCs might be good cheap starts. I'm sure theres more too. My fav the RS7000 has one midi in and two outs with assignable midi channels to tracks, might work great for all that strangeness if you have to have the tr909 as a master and a couple difrent synths hanging off from it via midi. tho I've never tried more than one synth, but I've not heard any complaints from other users about such midi issues. 16 tracks which is all midi will handle anyway I think and it also does frame lag (?)and MTC timing (?) or whatever that other timeing method is, not sure if I know what I'm talking about now, most other hardware units should have it too though, worth checking out I say, and it is strange that computers are 1000s upon 1000s of times faster than when I started out, yet it seems midi has gotten 1000x shittier. Personally I think they need dedicated machines, no other junk running, can't do that anymore, something else is always affecting the processors speeds. OS's have got to fat like Altitude says. I can't shut down enough junk to run stuff as smooth as I did when I had win 3.11, too much junk 50+ progs running in background on brand new computer and lucky to be able to knock it down to under 15 and still have your computer turned on.
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Post by TR » Thu May 24, 2007 12:37 pm

Thanks all for your points, there are some interesting ones there. Unfortunately I can't run the tr909 as a slave as it makes a really bad sync slave with the eprom version i've got (v1), updating it is a nightmare but it makes a solid master.

Some research has turned up the akai mpc 2000xl which seems to be able to work as a midi sequencer whilst slaving to clock (it's in the manual at least) but it's hard to know if this works well so if anyone reading this has experience please post up! Also, it looks as though the mpc would be great for drum stuff, but then obviously so is the 909 and I'm wondering how the mpc handles making up polyphonic midi sequences?

Other options as mentioned are the rs7000 and a good old ST. On paper the mpc is favourite as it has two midi ins and two outs, making 32 channels of sequencing goodness

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Post by Altitude » Thu May 24, 2007 12:55 pm

Why don't you just use the sounds from the 909 via midi? You can record your patterns via the midi out and then just play them back via sequencer of choice

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Post by Soundwave » Thu May 24, 2007 4:29 pm

Altitude wrote:
A lot of folk who work with fast tempo music like drum n' bass swear by the ST and for a good reason.
lol, I dont think 150 - 180 bpm is fast by midi standards, a midi clock message takes 320 um (that micro seconds, one millionth of a second) and there are 24 of those for a quarter note you can do the math and i know all about the ST and it's timing (notice my sig per chance?) and why its good.
I meant the timing accuracy as drum n' bass has to be very tight and an ST is still very good for this.

You don’t get MIDI latency on an ST at all and as I’ve established with the help of SOS’s Mr Walker the problems with lag/latency that I’ve encountered with just a simple MIDI clock signal is totally down to XP and nothing else.

I can see now why a lot of pro electronic musicans use Mac's or ST's. :?

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Post by Altitude » Thu May 24, 2007 5:43 pm

Soundwave wrote:
Altitude wrote:
A lot of folk who work with fast tempo music like drum n' bass swear by the ST and for a good reason.
lol, I dont think 150 - 180 bpm is fast by midi standards, a midi clock message takes 320 um (that micro seconds, one millionth of a second) and there are 24 of those for a quarter note you can do the math and i know all about the ST and it's timing (notice my sig per chance?) and why its good.
I meant the timing accuracy as drum n' bass has to be very tight and an ST is still very good for this.

You don’t get MIDI latency on an ST at all and as I’ve established with the help of SOS’s Mr Walker the problems with lag/latency that I’ve encountered with just a simple MIDI clock signal is totally down to XP and nothing else.

I can see now why a lot of pro electronic musicans use Mac's or ST's. :?
Respectfully, your conclusions are plain wrong. Just because your setup has problems does not mean there is a systemic issue with XP. I have 12 yrs experience with large midi rigs and rarely if ever do I see the issues you describe with windows machines that are set up properly. Your also using a very low end soundcard, a computer system clock, and a questionable setup (I would never merge a clock signal).

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