Synchronizing a Sequencer and an Audio Recorder - dummies

Synchronizing a Sequencer and an Audio Recorder

By Jeff Strong

If your system does the sequencing inside the computer and your audio tracks are recorded on either a stand-alone recorder or an SIAB (studio-in-a-box) system, like the Tascam 2488, you need to synchronize them. In this case, your devices use timing data rather than communicating/responding with the help of performance data.

Both your sequencer and your recorder need to recognize the same timing data, which you ensure by determining which device is the master and which one is the slave.

This process also works if you’re connecting a synthesizer to a drum machine. Select the sequencer as the master device and the drum machine as the slave.

You can choose either device to be the master. In this example, your system with the SIAB system is the master and the sequencer as the slave, as shown in the illustration. You may be able to set up your system the other way around (particularly if you have a stand-alone recorder connected to a sequencer), but this way allows you to use the faders and transport functions (play, record, stop, and so on) in your SIAB system.

A system with a separate sequencer and audio recorder is set up this way.
A system with a separate sequencer and audio recorder is set up this way.

After you’ve chosen which device is the master and which is the slave, you can start synchronizing your systems. These steps help you get going:

  1. Choose Internal Synch in your master device’s Synchronization dialog box.

    Each device has a different procedure for this, so read your device’s manual to find out how to choose the synchronization mode. In a Tascam 2488, press SYNC/MIDI. A dialog box appears. Choose Source→Internal. Click the YES/ENTER button to accept this setting and return to the main menu.

  2. Choose External Synch in your slave device.

    This can be a dialog box within the MIDI synchronization menu. For example, in Cubase, choose Options→Synchronization from the main menu on the top of your screen. The external or internal synch choice is in the upper-left corner of the dialog box.

  3. Choose either MIDI Time Code (MTC) or MIDI Clock for the timing method.

    In Cubase, for example, this option appears directly below the external or internal synch option.

    You ultimately want to choose the timing method that you prefer and the one that works best for your gear.

  4. If you chose the MTC mode, you need to choose a frame rate to go with it.

    For this example, set your frame rate at 24 fps (frames per second). You should be synchronized at this point.

  5. If you chose MIDI Clock in Step 3, you need to choose between tempo map and synch track.

  6. Press the Play key in your master device to see whether your slave device responds.

    If it does, you’re set to go; if it doesn’t play, double-check your settings. Your timing settings probably aren’t exactly the same.