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ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

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ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby Amos » Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:30 pm

Hi all, I need to ask a question of the Moog brain trust (meaning all you smart users out there). :)

Using the sequencer or arpeggiator in conjunction with a DAW is a bit complicated.

There are a number of use cases... do you want to play on the physical Sub 37 keys to trigger the arp or sequencer, or do you want to trigger the sequencer in response to MIDI from your DAW or from a different controller?

Do you want to record the MIDI output of the sequencer and play it back? In that case, on playback you would want the sequencer to be OFF, or at least you'd want the Sub 37 to only play the actual MIDI notes you are sending it (since it's already a recording of the sequence).

Or, do you want to record as MIDI only the notes that control the sequencer... in which case the sequencer must listen to incoming MIDI for control... and do you only want the synth to play the sequence internally, or do you also want it to output MIDI notes?

In the last case (sequencer is controlled by external MIDI, and sequencer is outputting MIDI notes), you have to be careful not to loop or "echo" MIDI coming out of the Sub37 back to its own MIDI input... which is something that tends to happen by default any time you are recording! (this is why Local Off exists).

So in short, there are a lot of different things you could be trying to do, when it comes to working with the sequencer and MIDI and your DAW software.

So my question is, are you actually doing any of these things? If so, how do you do it? Do you run into any problems that need to be fixed?
Help me out, please. :)

What I am thinking I need to add is two parameters:

"sequencer control" [local, MIDI, both] - is the sequencer "listening to" the local keyboard, incoming MIDI notes, or both, for control purposes.

"sequencer output" [local, MIDI, both] - when the sequencer is running, is it playing the actual synth, or just outputting MIDI notes, or both?

However this still does not cover all the cases exactly... for it may be the case that you want the sequencer to output MIDI notes in response to local keys, but not to output MIDI notes in response to MIDI notes. This is because of the MIDI-loop on recording situation... if the Sub 37 MIDI output is being sent back to its own MIDI input, and if the arp is generating MIDI output in response to MIDI input... then you have a feedback loop and it's going to be horrible and wrong.

The main thing I want to avoid is for people who don't know what they are doing to get into trouble. Folks who have never had a hardware synth before are going to get a sub37, plug it into Live and hit Record on a MIDI channel, and they will have a MIDI loop and not know it. Happens every day. The problem is that a strictly correct MIDI implementation lets you do this and gives bad results (because really, you should never loop MIDI output back to input while local control is turned on, it's an invalid configuration. But it's the default thing that everyone does.)

So again, do you have personal hands-on experience with using the Sub 37 sequencer in conjunction with Live or Logic or Cubase or any other DAW?
Your feedback on how it works and what if any changes are needed, would be very helpful. Thanks!

Amos
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby Sihaz » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:12 pm

As always Amos, your suggestion sounds flexible and sensible. Being able to record the sequencer output as midi is something I'd love to do, but I can see the ability to switch it off being useful too...
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby ChiLam » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:32 pm

Boy, that was a tough read at this hour! I don't think i'll be able to entirely follow the implications of each possible configuration until the morning :wink:

One thing for sure though is that the sequencer is a very important part of the 37 and I will be looking to use it alot with my setup. Cubase is my DAW so I will experiment with recording some sequences and let you know how it goes.

I really, really hope that flexibility is not sacrificed here for simplicity. A midi feedback loop is not fun and could cause some confusion - but as a solveable problem, not the end of the world. I would much rather have the ability to send midi freely to all possible destinations than be limited.

I would love to have the possibilty of first creating a sequence using the 37'keys or external midi. Then disabling the sequencer from responding to the local keys so that the midi could be sent out to trigger another instrument whilst simultaneously being able to play the 37 using the local keys or external midi.

Even better would be to dedicate a midi channel to the control of the sequencer only so that it was still possible to "play" the sequencer by incoming midi but send the sequencers midi out on another channel whilst retaining the ability to play the 37 as normal from its own keys!

The dream would be to have the sequencer be multi-track, multi channel capable - store and send up to 16 individual sequences on their own midi channel at the same time! :D

If I have the opportunity tomorrow I will run some experiments and see how it performs with Cubase in some different configs.

Great to be able to give some input towards the develpoment of these things, thanks Amos :D
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby mrberger » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:43 pm

Amos wrote:The main thing I want to avoid is for people who don't know what they are doing to get into trouble. Folks who have never had a hardware synth before are going to get a sub37, plug it into Live and hit Record on a MIDI channel, and they will have a MIDI loop and not know it. Happens every day.


Amos,
that pretty much sums up my experience in Live 9.
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby Poptones » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:56 pm

I will try to give short answers point by point:

Amos wrote:do you want to play on the physical Sub 37 keys to trigger the arp or sequencer, or do you want to trigger the sequencer in response to MIDI from your DAW or from a different controller?


Both.

Amos wrote:Do you want to record the MIDI output of the sequencer and play it back? In that case, on playback you would want the sequencer to be OFF, or at least you'd want the Sub 37 to only play the actual MIDI notes you are sending it (since it's already a recording of the sequence).


Being able to record the MIDI output of the sequencer is essential. Let's say you start working on a piece and decide to return to it a few days or even weeks later. In between you might have forgotten about the notes of the particular sequence you've recorded, which can be easily displayed in a DAW (not so easy on the Sub 37 itself). It's also a nice option to have for modifying a sequence in a post live recording situation.

One additional question: When you're talking about the MIDI output of the sequencer does that include the data of those parameters that are automated/modulated by the sequencer?

Amos wrote:Or, do you want to record as MIDI only the notes that control the sequencer... in which case the sequencer must listen to incoming MIDI for control


If you mean by "notes that control the sequencer" the notes that trigger a sequence, but not the notes a particular sequence is made of, this would be the easiest option for transposing sequences from within the DAW. Recording as MIDI only the notes that control the sequencer for potential transposing purposes would be especially useful in conjunction with the rotation feature that may cause notes to be changed from within the Sub 37 (esp. if ‘middle C' is not activated as a sort of relative mode).

Amos wrote:What I am thinking I need to add is two parameters:

"sequencer control" [local, MIDI, both] - is the sequencer "listening to" the local keyboard, incoming MIDI notes, or both, for control purposes.

"sequencer output" [local, MIDI, both] - when the sequencer is running, is it playing the actual synth, or just outputting MIDI notes, or both?

However this still does not cover all the cases exactly... for it may be the case that you want the sequencer to output MIDI notes in response to local keys, but not to output MIDI notes in response to MIDI notes.


So, if I get it right, the case you desribed in the end could only be solved if switching sequencer control to local and sequencer output to MIDI would not cause a MIDI loop, which in turn is typically generated when local control is enabled.

One more question: How would the suggested options - "sequencer control" and "sequencer output" - relate to the general MIDI settings of the Sub 37?

Amos wrote:So again, do you have personal hands-on experience with using the Sub 37 sequencer in conjunction with Live or Logic or Cubase or any other DAW?


I use the Sub 37 in conjunction with Live. I haven't done any excessive experiments with the Sub 37's sequencer in conjunction with Live yet, but I could focus on doing so the coming weekend.
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby Bald Eagle » Thu Mar 05, 2015 10:12 am

More often than not I record the output of a sequencer into a DAW. The trigger could be from the local keyboard or from an external controller, either way I want the sequencer output recorded. I can modify the output in the DAW if desired and play back the actual notes into any synth I want.

Other times I want to record the MIDI triggers. Again, I can modify this in the DAW and play it back having the sequencer running with the recorded triggers. This output could also be sent back to the DAW for recording or sent to another synth.

It would also be nice to have the ability to record both triggers and generated data each on its own MIDI channel.

So would the proposed new parameters do this for me? For my first scenerio to simply record the generated sequence I would say yes. For my second scenerio of playing back triggers I guess setting Sequencer Control to MIDI or both would be good for playback, but what setting would be used to output the triggers?

I'm not clear how the Sequencer Output parameter interacts with everything else. As I said it would be nice to specify what is output (triggers, generated notes, both) and what channel each is sent to. Maybe different parameters like (Play Local, Output Control, Output Notes, Output Both, All). Also maybe add a MIDI parameter for Sequencer Out Channel (1-16, All) to specify where generated notes are sent to allow control and notes to be sent to different channels.

Im not sure how any of this helps with the MIDI loop problem. I use Sonar and it sends Local Control Off when it starts and Local Control On when it shuts down so I have to go out of my way to create a MIDI loop. I can't think of a good way to prevent it short of analyzing the midi streams in real time and flashing some warning on the screen when a potential loop is detected.
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby Amos » Thu Mar 05, 2015 11:59 am

ChiLam wrote:Boy, that was a tough read at this hour!


Ha, it was tough to write! I probably could have laid out everything a bit more simply, but it's kind of a hard question.
I really appreciate everyone's thoughtful answers... thanks for taking the time, it really helps.


Bald Eagle wrote:For my second scenerio of playing back triggers I guess setting Sequencer Control to MIDI or both would be good for playback, but what setting would be used to output the triggers?


In the proposed scheme you would set the sequencer output mode to "local" (i.e. not MIDI)... if the sequencer is not putting out MIDI, then the Sub37's MIDI output would be the regular MIDI notes corresponding to the keys you play... which in this context is the triggers for the sequencer that you are talking about.

In the v1.0.7 firmware, this is handled by the Global setting SEQ OPTIONS -> MIDI OUTPUT. The options are SEQ or KEYS. The main thing this does is to control whether the MIDI output is sequence/arp notes, or the actual keys played on the keyboard, when the arp is running.

However it has another function as well... when local control is off, the sequencer is triggered only by incoming MIDI notes, or only by the local keyboard, depending on this setting.

So if Local Control is OFF, and SEQ OPTIONS->MIDI OUTPUT is set to SEQ, then the sequencer is only triggered by the local keyboard and not by incoming MIDI notes. If Local Control is OFF and SEQ OPTIONS->MIDI OUTPUT is set to KEYS, then the sequencer is only triggered by incoming MIDI and not by the local keyboard.

That is a little confusing to be sure, especially since the last function I described (controlling whether the sequencer is listening to MIDI or local keys) is not documented anywhere other than in this very post. :) It's not obvious that changing a MIDI OUTPUT mode would necessarily determine how the sequencer responds to MIDI INPUT.

It also does not allow for the sequencer to be triggered by MIDI notes while outputting sequenced MIDI notes, unless Local Control is on.

So this is the situation that I am trying to improve... and I'd like to do it without requiring the user to understand and tweak too many different settings.

The simplest way would be to have NO settings, and a sequencer that just works in one certain way and that's all you get. But that's never been my style :)
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby ChiLam » Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:14 pm

Any chance of a diagram/flow chart to show the current alternative modes as they stand? :D
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby mmarsh100 » Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:36 pm

I generally use my DAW as a glorified tape deck. I play everything, usually except drums/percussion that get recorded with pads and then looped. Synths, bass, guitar, vocals are all played and then maybe aligned a little if my rhythm is off.

Sometimes I generate a sequence from the DAW and send it to a hardware synth, the audio output of which gets recorded to the DAW. Or sometimes when I like a sequence I did on the synth, I kick that off either locked to the DAW clock or by hand and record the audio to the DAW. I then align it.

Not everybody's workflow, but given my history of recording one that I am comfortable with :)

Soooo....

There are a number of use cases... do you want to play on the physical Sub 37 keys to trigger the arp or sequencer, or do you want to trigger the sequencer in response to MIDI from your DAW or from a different controller?


The first case usually.

Do you want to record the MIDI output of the sequencer and play it back? In that case, on playback you would want the sequencer to be OFF, or at least you'd want the Sub 37 to only play the actual MIDI notes you are sending it (since it's already a recording of the sequence).


All of the above notwithstanding, I do sometimes record MIDI from the synth, particularly if I want to capture a performance but I am not happy with a sound.

In the last case (sequencer is controlled by external MIDI, and sequencer is outputting MIDI notes), you have to be careful not to loop or "echo" MIDI coming out of the Sub37 back to its own MIDI input... which is something that tends to happen by default any time you are recording! (this is why Local Off exists).


Yes, in this case (rare for me) I do use Local Off.

Hope this helps!

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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby klay » Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:45 pm

Outputting midi notes from the seq to a daw is important and to trigger it from the daw, I haven't had the time to try it yet. Well this post doesn't help you, If something come up i will make another post.

I haven't used hardware for many years and connected the sub37 to sequence the new arp odyssey and used the latest beta firmware, and it worked fine though i couldn't record the midinotes in cubase 7.5, well i was tired so i will have to try again. It can be a bit frustrating to use hw synths with a daw, you want to be as creative as possible, and that the midi clock is tight

I want as much functions as possible even if it will be more meny diving. As long as the manual is clear, or you can make a video of possible scenarios it would be very helpful.

Cheers
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby papawise » Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:25 am

I was looking for this info in internet and found this old thread.

Are you serious that you can't trigger the ARP/Sequencer with MIDI from the DAW? it was an obvious function for me... I hope to be wrong.
Can anyone confirm this? thank you.
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Re: ATTN: experienced DAW and MIDI users! Sub37 sequencer

Postby Manachi » Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:09 am

Amos - this is a fantastic post and I found this because I had the exact same questions :)

Amos wrote:In the v1.0.7 firmware, this is handled by the Global setting SEQ OPTIONS -> MIDI OUTPUT. The options are SEQ or KEYS. The main thing this does is to control whether the MIDI output is sequence/arp notes, or the actual keys played on the keyboard, when the arp is running.


Thank you for this gold information - I don't think I ever would have found this, but it's exactly what I was after!

Personally I don't understand the value of recording the individual notes of an arpegiator in the DAW itself, it takes away from the characteristics of the sub37 sequencer/arp itself and defeats the purpose. So in my case for the time being, I'll be setting that MIDI OUTPUT option to 'KEYS'.

For many years I was focusing on my Virus TI and it's VST total integration so I've been a little spoilt and also cheating when it comes to proper outboard gear - I'm very rusty and having to relearn the routing etc.

I'm still investigating the various options/ways of handling using the sub37 as my primary 'controller' for both itself, and for my other hardware, without getting any midi loops - it is proving to be a challenge in itself! If the Cubase channel has the sub37 as both the input and the output, then on playback the midi loop issue seems to occur. so I guess it means making sure to turn off the midi input before playback every time. It seems it might just be simpler to use a completely separate device as the controller. I might have to dust off my old plastic crappy Novation X-Station which I was trying to retire and promote it back to main midi controller :)
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