Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

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Zmeinogorsk
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Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

Post by Zmeinogorsk » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:37 pm

I know there's a ton of threads out there on the web about MIDI jitter, and how USB struggles with it, but I've found no clear way to improve the situation and am getting to the point where the jitter in my setup is causing frustration.

I'll program a 16th note hi-hat pattern via the TR-707 and it will sound almost drunken, lagging behind the beat enough that it is clearly noticeable.

My setup: Windows 7 PC; Motu Midi Express 128 connected via USB; Reaper; and a ton of outboard gear.

The jitter seems worse on my TR-707, but really, any drum machine where I program 16th notes is really noticeable (midi'ed DMX, RX7, Acidlab Drumatix). Some times getting a kick to line up properly will require snipping the audio file and lining it up with the grid in Reaper.

Any ideas to reduce some of the jitter I'm experiencing?

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meatballfulton
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Re: Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

Post by meatballfulton » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:49 pm

Ways to reduce jitter:

1. More MIDI ports! The fewer devices on a given port, the less jitter. You've got plenty of ports on your interface, are you using them all? What other devices are on the same port as your 707?

2. Sample accurate MIDI:

Expert Sleepers USAMO

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Zmeinogorsk
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Re: Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

Post by Zmeinogorsk » Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:00 pm

meatballfulton wrote:Ways to reduce jitter:

1. More MIDI ports! The fewer devices on a given port, the less jitter. You've got plenty of ports on your interface, are you using them all? What other devices are on the same port as your 707?

2. Sample accurate MIDI:

Expert Sleepers USAMO
Presently, each piece of gear has its own MIDI out port. I've stopped using MIDI thru for the time being in the hopes of tightening things up.

Oh - I've seen the Expert Sleepers piece show up before. Any idea how to incorporate it into my setup? I'd probably have to ditch the MOTU timepiece, yea?

Rasputin
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Re: Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

Post by Rasputin » Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:24 pm

Three options, ranked in assumed desirability:

1) PCI/PCIe
2) Atari ST
3) VSTi

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Re: Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

Post by blueknob » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:20 am

Just a thought. Have you optimized your computer for music? I know with XP we have a setting under My Computer, System Properties, Performance Options, Visual Effects a button for "Adjust for best performance" - it takes away CPU effort for nice graphics and makes them available for programs/apps like your DAW. There might be something similar for your system, worth a look and it's free.

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Re: Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:39 pm

Zmeinogorsk wrote:
meatballfulton wrote:I've seen the Expert Sleepers piece show up before. Any idea how to incorporate it into my setup? I'd probably have to ditch the MOTU timepiece, yea?
The box connects to your audio interface and outputs one MIDI port, you connect the 707 to that instead of the MOTU. You use the ES plugin inside your DAW to encode the MIDI into audio to send to the box. Nothing else in your setup changes. There are restrictions on what audio interfaces will work properly, see the compatibility page on the website. You can use audio offsets in the DAW to fine tune the timing latency, but any jitter in the target device itself will still exist and I assume really heavy data loads (sysex, lots of controllers, multiple channels in use, etc.) are still problematic. If it's just clock you need to send, it should be rock solid.

You can find plenty of information at the Expert Sleepers website, all over various forums...especially those devoted to modulars since ES offered the technology in modules before coming out with a standalone box...and YouTube videos as well.

I'd try to find a dealer that takes returns and then run it through the wringer as soon as it arrives.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

Zmeinogorsk
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Re: Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

Post by Zmeinogorsk » Fri Aug 24, 2018 3:05 pm

blueknob wrote:Just a thought. Have you optimized your computer for music? I know with XP we have a setting under My Computer, System Properties, Performance Options, Visual Effects a button for "Adjust for best performance" - it takes away CPU effort for nice graphics and makes them available for programs/apps like your DAW. There might be something similar for your system, worth a look and it's free.
Good call, will start with this!

Zmeinogorsk
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Re: Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

Post by Zmeinogorsk » Fri Aug 24, 2018 3:07 pm

meatballfulton wrote:
Zmeinogorsk wrote:
meatballfulton wrote:I've seen the Expert Sleepers piece show up before. Any idea how to incorporate it into my setup? I'd probably have to ditch the MOTU timepiece, yea?
The box connects to your audio interface and outputs one MIDI port, you connect the 707 to that instead of the MOTU. You use the ES plugin inside your DAW to encode the MIDI into audio to send to the box. Nothing else in your setup changes. There are restrictions on what audio interfaces will work properly, see the compatibility page on the website. You can use audio offsets in the DAW to fine tune the timing latency, but any jitter in the target device itself will still exist and I assume really heavy data loads (sysex, lots of controllers, multiple channels in use, etc.) are still problematic. If it's just clock you need to send, it should be rock solid.

You can find plenty of information at the Expert Sleepers website, all over various forums...especially those devoted to modulars since ES offered the technology in modules before coming out with a standalone box...and YouTube videos as well.

I'd try to find a dealer that takes returns and then run it through the wringer as soon as it arrives.
Great advice, thanks. Will attempt some of the free options first and then go for this if I can't improve it.

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Re: Need help decreasing MIDI jitter in my setup!

Post by coldwar » Sat Aug 25, 2018 4:11 pm

There is some great advice from some very knowledgeable folks here, so you should come out fine with the ES box :) Please let us know what works.

I am just going to throw in my two cents/csb here with my similar experiences with midi gear and usb. Most folks went and bought the usb to midi $5 saturday night special dongle on amazon and have problems because it is a $5 dongle from amazon. You have a way better master clock in that motu timepiece so most of the problems should have been squashed there. I can only agree with the others that the ES box will probably help.

There are a couple of in between options that may help in Win 7 esp 64bit. Honestly I have an XP craptop and my vintage P3 733 coppermine (it was fat boss back then lol) with an AWE64 gold pci and joystick port connectors for 99% of my computed midi life right now and neither have particular problems with midi jitter. It may be fun/easy/cheap to just throw together a vintage unit for fun and easy file transfers (particularly sysex dumps and system rewrites). I personally go this route due to the array of gear repairs I encounter but you probably have a pretty tight and nice rig setup and may not want the clutter of another machine in the studio.

MidiOX can tame some of the jitter and msb/lsb goofiness as a software pass thru. It really shines for sysex in Win7 and usually helps more than hurts for mission specific tasks but ymmv. You can filter extraneous data out tho and less data less problems imho.

Another option is similar to the ES but it is what I would call clock shaping. Some gear in your rig will probably lock onto midi clock better than others. Using that as a go between where it takes in midi, processes it somehow, and spits it back out can help. You will of course have to look at your oem midi chart to see what even is passed or responded to in terms of commands etc but all should pass clock with no issue. I have used a couple of old akai midi delay/arpeggiator rack units in that sense before. I just don't engage the reverb very much etc. I also had an old Yamaha PSR trainer keyboard that was just a hoss of a sync box for whatever reason lol. It was my early solution to the usb dongle problem. I would venture to guess you could easily whip up something on the Arduino as well to fix midi packets as well. Maybe I will have to look into that myself haha but someone on Tindie has probably beat me to it.

I would still say the motu should be doing a great job for generating clock but am not personally knowledgeable of that unit itself nor the ES so can't really do anything but say thanks for the ES suggestion as well and scratch my head about other possible weak links in the midi rig somehow. I guess you could always check your cables and make sure one of them isn't somehow shorted.
Good luck and let us know what you find :)

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