Darn MIDI timing on PCs!

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Razmo
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Re: Darn MIDI timing on PCs!

Post by Razmo »

Pex `Mahoney` Tufvesson wrote:My synchronization trick in 1994 using Cubase on a laptop mac (PowerBook 100 if I remember correctly - black&white screen, 6MB RAM, 68k based processor - loved it!) was to make sure that the "important" midi events always came "first" on the beat. All pitch-bends, chords, etc which didn't require as good timing as the rest of the stuff I put just a single step later. Also, edit your pitch bends and MIDI control messages to make sure that you don't overload the MIDI-queue with almost identical messages. And, don't quantize everything so that it occurs on exactly the same time - then you'll actually randomize the order of when the MIDI notes are sent, as they are competing to "rush to the exits" all at the same time, never knowing who comes first. And, if you have to "change program" or "sound" with a MIDI message, then please give your poor synth some extra time to fetch the new data - send that program change well before it's needed - a couple of steps ahead, please.

This made the editing environment (all instruments hooked up, playing at the same time) ok when it came to timing. And then, in the studio - (16 track analogue master tape) - record a proper timecode onto the tape and then make sure that EVERYTHING is muted that shouldn't go onto the tape. This way, the sequencer's MIDI queue will only have to transmit the control messages that plays right now - making timing as good as possible. Then, record one instrument at a time to the analogue tape. Voila! As good as it gets - 15 years ago.

Nowadays, nothing beats Romeo Knight's advice. Dump everything to a 24-bit wav file in your DAW and mute the original soft-synth or external synth. And go ahead and waste your life on nudging wav-files a sample to the left or right. Not very funny, but the results are definitely rock solid timing. :cheers:

Good luck, Razmo!
Yeah I know of this "MIDI Event Table" editing techniques... they can be used to great efect on the QY700 as well, exept it makes sure these optimisations are performed automatically... it even has the ability to sort Notes falling on the exact same time from lowest note to the highest, which is good for percussion MIDI channels.

But anyway, even these techniques will not remove jitter from USB MIDI interfaces. Even playing a single drumsound only, in rappid succession is clearly audible with "studderings", and I cannot accept it... it's completely gone using the QY700... it just sound so more "machine like" this way... which is what I like.

And about the recording of every track... this has been thought about, but for some reason, I can hear a difference in digital mixing and pure analog mixing... and I prefer the analog sound to the digital, so this is not an option either.
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
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Doddsy
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Re: Darn MIDI timing on PCs!

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The Rm1x by Yamaha is a cheap and powerful alternative. Its what I use to seq my tracks. Vince Clarke also complained of Midi timing and has reverted to not using it whether he does these days I don't know. Of course we can also throw midi out of the equation and get back to using our own midi timing in our minds like musicians did before 1982.

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Re: Darn MIDI timing on PCs!

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Doddsy wrote:Vince Clarke also complained of Midi timing and has reverted to not using it whether he does these days I don't know. Of course we can also throw midi out of the equation and get back to using our own midi timing in our minds like musicians did before 1982.
True. He used CV/Gate and all analogue gear from 1990 and for a good few years to follow. I understand he uses a Mac and soft synths now...

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Re: Darn MIDI timing on PCs!

Post by DHS »

Razmo wrote: Yeah! the sound of the JD-800 IS sweet indeed! ... and those knobs are a marvel to look at and, not the least tweak :P
I'll get one too one day.... i had for some years a jd800 and loved it for it's sound and look.
You can clearly spot it in my Clystron remix (the lush analog-trumpet solo sound).

As far midi timings problems, sincerely, it's years i don't have any. :-/
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Razmo
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Re: Darn MIDI timing on PCs!

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Doddsy wrote:The Rm1x by Yamaha is a cheap and powerful alternative. Its what I use to seq my tracks. Vince Clarke also complained of Midi timing and has reverted to not using it whether he does these days I don't know. Of course we can also throw midi out of the equation and get back to using our own midi timing in our minds like musicians did before 1982.
Yes, I've been looking at the RM1X as well... and actually also the RS7000...but one of the biggest problems with these hardware sequencers is, that they simply do not have enough MIDI outputs... the largest I can find are the AKAI MPC2500 and MPC5000, and they have only 4 MIDI outputs.

I've had to cancel using the QY700 and sell it simply bevause I cannot live with only 2 MIDI outputs...

I've returned to SONAR again, but have decided to purchase the EDIROL MIDI interfaces that utilise special drivers that optimise MIDI jitter to be as small as possible ... according to some tech-nerd on the web, this is the best you can get using USB MIDI interfaces that do not use timestamping functionality like the Emagic AMT8 or Steinberg MIDEX.

It will never be as accurate as a real hardware sequencer, but the problem is solved (in my case), by purchasing a drummachine that has a build in Pattern player, and can trigger patterns with a single MIDI note-on message... this way the patterns of percussion will be rock solid.

Usualy the timing is not that critical on pads and lead sound... it's mainly percussion, arpeggios and tight basslines that need this amount of accuracy... and several external synths have build in pattern sequencers.

By the way, I read that EDIROL which is a subsidiary of Roland, has been working intensely with Microsoft in developing these special USB MIDI drivers for their interfaces and controller keyboards... and they circumvent the normal chunky USB ports so that MIDI data is send when it should, and is not being "packed up" in packages and sent out in bursts, thus minimizing jitter...

So if anyone is looking for a stable USB MIDI interface, have a look at the Edirol ones (they have lately been manufactured under SONAR brand, specificly with the "Cakewalk" logo on them, as Roland is now the owner of Cakewalk and the SONAR brand, and EDIROL as well).
Last edited by Razmo on 21/04/2009 - 9:31, edited 1 time in total.
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
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Razmo
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Re: Darn MIDI timing on PCs!

Post by Razmo »

DHS wrote:
Razmo wrote: Yeah! the sound of the JD-800 IS sweet indeed! ... and those knobs are a marvel to look at and, not the least tweak :P
I'll get one too one day.... i had for some years a jd800 and loved it for it's sound and look.
You can clearly spot it in my Clystron remix (the lush analog-trumpet solo sound).

As far midi timings problems, sincerely, it's years i don't have any. :-/
I actually got the rack version... the JD-990, and not the lovely jd-800... it takes too much space he he! :lol: ... but the sound is incredible... it's digital of course, but even then, each note you hit sound "a bit different"... just like analog gear... and the digital filters are good... really nice for squelchy acid basslines as well.

This is what convinced me to get one: http://www.deepsonic.ch/deep/audio/jd303_2.mp3 (and listening to this, it is not really obvious that it's actually a ROMpler!)

Also these pure JD-800/jd-990 demo's are magnificent:

http://jdcontest.awakeaudio.com/upload/lewey/lewey.mp3
http://jdcontest.awakeaudio.com/upload/ ... THERIA.mp3
http://jdcontest.awakeaudio.com/upload/ ... ERIA-2.mp3

Quite amazing for a 1993 ROMpler... even the delay FX can have the delays synced to MIDI clock... a feature not seen in machines from that time really... most of it's synthesis is more based on an actual synthesizer, the only difference being that it use samples as oscillators... most samples are short cycles from various old analog vintage synths (with the Vintage Synth board installed of course, and this goes only for the jd-990 which has many more features than the keyboard jd-800 version).

As for the MIDI timing... no in most cases I do not have problems even with my old Emagic AMT8 interfaces... but with really fast baslines, or very fast drumrolls, I can hear hte MIDI jitter making the sounds "stumble"... I hope this will go away with the new EDIROL interfaces using their special FTP protocol and hardware.
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
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