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Slaving an ADAT to a hardware sequencer

Last week’s Tech Tip on synchronizing hardware sequencers to ADAT machines (inSync 3/30/00) prompted an interesting follow up question.

“I want the hardware sequencer to be the master. How do you slave the ADAT (or any MDM) to a hardware sequencer?”

Conceptually speaking you just need a device that can convert MIDI Song Pointer and MIDI Clock data into ADAT sync and transport commands that can be sent up its 9-pin sync cable. Unfortunately that word “just” makes it sound easier than it is. I don’t know of a device that does this. Until and unless you have a hardware sequencer that can transmit MMC commands (or at least MTC) you are probably out of luck slaving an MDM to your hardware sequencer. I say “probably” because there may be some obscure solution out there, and some astute inSync reader is likely to tell us what it is within a week. I will follow up if that happens (no guessing please, only write us if you’re sure).

I also question the real benefit or need of doing this anyway. I can see that you might want to move around in your sequencer and have the MDM follow, but it will never know where you are in the sequence until you start playback. The amount of time it will take the machine to locate to your sequence and get synchronized is going to be too long to generally be useful. A better solution would be to get some type of master controller (a BRC is great with ADATs, but there are other solutions) that can control the sequencer and the MDM’s simultaneously. Any that will work will have to give you access to bars and beats just like you’re used to in the sequencer. Every time you locate to a different spot in the material the tape machines are already searching for it by the time you press “play.” In many cases they can hold the playback of the sequence until the MDM is at the proper point and playing, which makes the whole experience much more enjoyable and efficient.

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