The Machinedrum as Master Tempo Experiment (with Live and the Octatrack)

For the Machinedrum Swing settings to work in all their subtlety, the Machinedrum needs to be Master Clock Tempo.

I have found this a fascinating journey to explore.

I use a Midi Y lead (one male to two female) on the Midi Out port that i purchased for $5 from ebay. This doubles the transport and clock signal from the Machinedrum Midi Out; I connect two leads: one to the Octatrack Midi In, and the other to the soundcard Midi In.

The Octatrack is set to external for Transport and Clock, as is Ableton Live, which i use for Zebra synth and the occasional vocals.

Does this work? Yes.

Sometimes the OT will capture a clip with a slightly incorrect time setting, say 123.95bpm or 124.04bpm, when the tempo from the Machinedrum is actually 124bpm. If this happens, it is easy to fix by recapturing the clip so the Attributes setting properly reads 124bpm.

Ableton takes about 8 bars or so to get properly and comfortably synced after pressing play.

But anyway it all seems to work.

If I record a bass synth line to the OT from Ableton while both are synced, i am not sure if some slight fluctuations are affecting the quality of the recording or what. But i find that if i set the Timestretch to Off for a captured bass synth line, it sounds better on playback. Most everything else is flawless.

I have Ableton’s Midi In port for the Machinedrum set to Sync on, and Remote on.

By having Remote set to on, I am then able to adjust the Midi Clock Sync Delay of Ableton and Ableton will respond to this. If Remote is set to on, this does not have effect. I set it to about minus 22.5 millseconds. The buffer size is 256 samples (to avoid clicking in the Zebra synths), and Driver Error compensation is 6 milliseconds. It is a 2011 13 inch Macbook Pro.

Just sharing this information in case anyone else is wondering if it is cool to run the Machinedrum as Master Tempo and Transport to access the full range of Swing settings on the Machinedrum.

I also usually set the Octatrack’s Proj-Control-Input “Delay Compensate” to be on (although when i just checked it was off, as i had recently changed project and forgot to make this setting lol).