Is it possible to send a stable MIDI clock to the DAW?

What the title says. :slight_smile: If I have 121 bpm on the Play, I see the clock on my DAW (Bitwig) wiggling between 121 and 120.9. I’ve noticed the same behavior with other gear, and I don’t think this is exclusive the the Play.

Maybe related and maybe including other factors as well, If I record incoming MIDI notes from the Play, they will sit in slightly different times on the DAW’s grid.

Is this something that can be fixed with software improvements on the Play, or are these problems caused by something intrinsic to the MIDI protocol and/or hardware physics? (I assume the DAW has nothing to do with this but please correct me if this is wrong.)

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Hey @icaria36 :wave: don’t worry about it. This is normal MIDI behaviour.

MIDI Clock is never actually stable, that’s why you see this “jitter”. This tiny bit of fluctuation is perfectly normal though.

MIDI sends a metric-ton of messages at any given moment. One of those messages sent, is the clock message (Decimal value: 248, Hex value: 0xF8). This message does not contain a defined BPM/Tempo information though.

The tempo calculation always happens on the receiving device, based on an average across multiple clock messages. So it’s a question of how the device calculates the tempo.

  • The bigger the interval until you calculate the BPM, the more stable it’ll appear.
  • The faster you make the calculation the more jittery it will seem.

So that’s why you end up seeing slightly off-tempo BPM’s sometimes. This however doesn’t mean you actually have an unstable tempo. This is also the reason why a lot of devices allow for clock-sync offsets, so you can compensate manually for any sync issues that you might encounter.

If you are interested in going down the rabbit hole, here’s some links:

With this information, it should be fairly easy to see how mixing a DAW, USB MIDI and DIN MIDI can lead to sync issues. Which is exactly why syncing multiple devices can be such a pain :laughing:.

Personally i’ve always had the best results by making the Play or the Tracker the Master of my entire Chain / Ecosystem (including the DAW). Even if the tempo appears jiggly :wink:.


Using Play to sync and trigger Boss RC505mk2.

So, I’ve noticed that if I have the Play set as the master and record a loop on the 505(which does it’s own weird quantizing thing anyway), the sound of the loop goes jittery as it tries to keep up with the clock coming from the Play.
If I set my ancient QY100 as the master, the looper has no problems following it.

I was reading your comment @icaria36 and wondered if the QY sends “simpler” clock or something like that?
Less extraneous information as it’s a much more basic machine?

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This is unfortunately known behavior of the tabletop Boss loopers (probably the pedal versions too). They do not like being clock slaved for the most part. This is because their time stretch algorithm is basically 20 years old and they have not put any energy into updating it! I use my RC-202 as my master clock in my fairly large rig because of this. I distribute clock via Conductive Labs MRCC.

Interestingly if you send clock from one Boss looper to another, it works fine. I had two RC-202s for awhile and sync just worked! I think it’s very interesting and worth noting that it works with your QY100.

There may be some MIDI event sniffing that could reveal what exactly it’s doing that works so nicely. Also this means that likely there are other “master clock compatible” devices hiding somewhere out there for the Boss loopers.