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Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:29 pm
by tomorrowstops
I've never messed with simple midi sequencers before, but am very attracted to the concept of layering multiple patterns out to several synths in a quick and efficient (read: no computer) way. Once I've got some sequencing bliss going, I'd of course be still tracking the audio into my normal computer based rig. Obviously I know I can do both functions all in one pass on the computer, but I really enjoy the ability to work out ideas without it.

The MMT-8 seems to be the classic device for this situation. I keep reading about memory dropouts, but again, for the most part, my plan of attack is less about saving these patterns and more about capturing audio with my normal recording rig.

Then theres the MPC-500. Seems at least it can perform the same tasks just as quickly, PLUS its got a way to playback samples thus ultimately acting as yet another sound device. I have been thinking about adding a rhythm machine to my rig....

The MMT-8 can be had for less $$, but in the grand scheme, the MPC500 is super reasonably priced as well. I'll also entertain other devices as well.

My other question is regards to midi signal path. Trying to get a sense of the actual workflow. Here's the setup:

Polysix Midi OUT > MMT8/MPC500 IN

MMT8/MPC500 OUT > Kenton Thru 5 IN

Kenton Thru 5 OUT #1 > Polysix IN
Kenton Thru 5 OUT #2 > Kenton Pro Solo MKII #1 > Moog Source
Kenton Thru 5 OUT #3 > Kenton Pro Solo MKII #2 > Arp Solus

Am I going to have trouble using the Polysix as both master input keyboard and a receive device?

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:07 pm
by pflosi
You'll probably want some midi clock sync (probably from the DAW?) as well, or do you intend to do one-take live recordings to a master stereo track only? As soon as you start to multitrack, syncing with the DAW is very useful (if you can get a stable clock somehow of course, which is a whole other issue).

You should not have problem using a keyboard (your P6 that's probably been midified?) as midi master keyboard as well as a "sound device". Just set up different midi channels for the different synths; set the MMT/MPC to receive on all channels (respectively the one your midi keyboard is set to); then change outgoing midi channels on the MMT/MPC per track, so that you can have different midi tracks to the different synths at the same time. You actually could even daisy-chain all the synths that way (if they have thrus available) and ditch the Kenton.

I recently abandonned DAW-based midi sequencing too and like it a lot, I still multitrack to the DAW though. I use a Zyklus MPS1 but you probably won't find one. If I didn't have that I'd use a modern MPC (have a 1000), more reliable than the MMT (flakey buttons!). Or try to score a Cirklon which would be the bee's knees for this, but $$$.

Hope that helps, cheers!

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 4:51 pm
by tomorrowstops
I probably won't be multitracking sequences. It'll be one live pass with all three synths running sequences. It won't have to be a master stereo track, it'll be three separate audio tracks from my interface to DAW. If I want to add more passages on top, I'll play them by hand straight into the DAW. I could figure out a way to cue myself if need be. I'd like to try and avoid quantizing all together, but we'll see. I need to sit down with the setup and see where it leads me.

The Cirklon looks nice, but can you actually play-in sequences? Or is it just programming? The key to this whole thing is the ability to just play-in events, loop 'em, and playback while tweaking knobs.

The MPC stuff looks like its a bit slower with all the menu diving. But like I said, I'm eventually looking for a proper off-computer-user-created-sample-playback-machine. Just to clarify, I want use the computer to create the samples, but then be able to load them into a machine that I can play without the computer involved. Except for capturing audio performance.

I like the size and price point of the MPC500, but I also like the archaicness and even cheaper price point of the MMT-8. Christ, I'll probably end up with both.

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:08 pm
by pflosi
Yeah for what the MMTs go you cannot go wrong, just get one and see how you like it. Kinda the same with MPC500s really... For the former, just make sure that the buttons work more or less reliably.

Cool, yeah in that case you wouldn't necessarily need a master clock from the DAW. Saves you a lot of trouble really, unless of course you'd realize that you still want to sequence on top after the first take... That would be a real headache.

Re: Cirklon, it can do everything. I mean it. Obviously, realtime recording (of midi) is thus included. Colin Fraser is a genius.

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:09 pm
by tomorrowstops
Yeah, I flirted with putting a preorder in for a Cirklon when they were making the first run, but could stomach the $2000 (or whatever it was) for a sequencer at the time...

I think I'm going to start with the MMT because they're just so damn cheap. And it seems even more brain dead than the MPC.

Just gotta find one for the right price now....

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:33 am
by pflosi
Good luck and let us know how it works out!

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:36 pm
by tomorrowstops
So the urges for a drum machine have come up again. I prefer sample based machines, and have used a Linndrum and 707 extensively. Unfortunately I sold those long ago and have nothing at the moment. I do have Arturia's Spark 2 software which has pretty great sounding samples of just about every drum machine you could imagine. The ability to mix and match, yada. I've been messing with it all morning.

I just hate that its stuck on the computer. I also don't have a drum controller. It also doesn't have a signature 'groove' that the hardware boxes I've played with had.

Hardware wise, I started looking at 707's again and one that I never had and always wanted, the Oberheim DX. But being as picky as I am, I'm wondering if I'm now somewhat spoiled by all the sample options in Spark 2. I can only really afford (and want) only 1 box.

This of course relates to the original topic, as adding a software drum machine into the mix changes what the master sequencer is. Its now the computer. I can obviously still use an MMT-8 for the synths and drive it with the computer. It would be interesting to hear what the timing is like for everything in the end. I'm worried because the whole thing is back to hinging on the computers ability to process and direct the operation, instead of just capturing audio.

Either way the MMT-8 still gets bought.

It's just the matter of hardware drum box or a Sparkle controller for Spark 2.

Sorry, just talking out loud here.

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 5:39 pm
by tomorrowstops
If going hardware - how do you think the analog clock out on the MMT-8 would be driving the DX, as opposed to midi driving the 707?

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:49 pm
by pflosi
Hm, I don't really remember the MMT8 clock to be very unstable, so it should both be fine. Unless you use a computer as a master clock, then things get complicated if you're really concerned about very tight sync. I personally use an Innerclock Sync Gen Pro 2, I love it but it's not cheap (totally worth it for me though).

Without computer, it's easy to get a stable clock as you can just use something as master clock that is nice and stable. MPCs for example. Or you can also just try the MMT8, as said I think it's fine IIRC (been some time and never had it myself). Otherwise just buy a MidiPal or other standalone midi clock source. The MidiPal is handy for some many things, everyone needs one anyways.

I never played a DX TBH, but doesn't it require 48 ppqn sync...? Quite a hassle with the Linndrum as well...

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:31 pm
by ninja6485
pflosi wrote:Unless you use a computer as a master clock, then things get complicated if you're really concerned about very tight sync.
I can never get a computer synced with my external gear either as master or slave to work the way a desecrate piece of hardware works. It woks fine for a short period of time, but it's just not reliable. You pretty much have to stay in one realm or the other unless you're using the computer as a glorified tape recorder. It's like mr. miagi's advice to daniel son: go to one side of the road, ok. Other side, ok. In the middle: splat!

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:33 pm
by pflosi
Not with the Sync Gen :mrgreen:

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:07 pm
by tomorrowstops
Ohhhh Mr. Miagi is a wise man....

Me thinks an MPC sampler loaded with my favorite drum machine samples might be the safest bet.

So - MMT8 = the master sequencer sending sequence info to all three synths (input'd by Polysix) and midi clock to MPC. If the MMT8 doesn't get along with me for some reason, the MPC can pull double duty.

Computer will just act as the tape deck.

Then the question becomes: MPC500? or whatever alternative favorites you guys suggest.

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:27 pm
by ninja6485
Are you sure the mmt8 won't be redundant if you buy an mpc? I'm the last person to suggest that someone NOT buy a midi sequencer given my preferences, so maybe someone with experience with mpcs can weigh in? I know a lot of people go for the mpc 1000 just to use as a sequencer, and regaurd the sampling as a bonus! (Not exactly cost effective if you ask me however ;) )

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:51 pm
by tomorrowstops
Oh, the MMT would certainly be redundant. The MPC can do all that stuff. Buuuuut the workflow is a bit cumbersome from what I can tell. The MMT seems super quick in comparison. MPC in this case would be setup just for drum duties.

It doesn't need to be an MPC. It just seemed like the generic 'load-my-own-samples-and-sequence' hardware device out there.

I started a thread in sampler land inquiring about alternatives...

Re: Alesis MMT-8 vs MPC500

Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:38 am
by pflosi
You can easily combine it in some way, then. Use the MMT to send midi into the MPC where you record it, or figure out something like that. That way you can also easily sequence transpositions on the fly and so on, two parallel midi sequencers feeding each other can be very powerful. I think I'd go for the MPC as master clock in such a situation.

MPC1000 and 500 are very similar, the former has more individual outs and more pads, latter is smaller and can run on batteries. If you go for a 1000 make sure you get a black and not a blue version.