Midi data overload issues with hardware.


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I am running Ableton 10.1.30 on a 2019 MacBook Pro. As I have some external hardware, I am running this through an MX-1, and using this MX-1 as the audio interface via USB to my MacBook and Ableton Live. I am also using a Midiface 16x16 as the midi interface, with each instrument given it’s own midi port.

I am having some serious timing and playback issues with my external hardware, that I cannot put my finger on a solution for.

To test the midi timing, I am using a Roland System 8 and a Roland TR-8S through the MX-1. The System 8 is going into Port 3 of the midi interface, and is set to midi channel 3. The TR-8S is going into Port 10 of the midi interface, and is set to midi channel 10.

To set up the System 8, I am doing the following:
Create a midi track
Set MIDI From to MIDIFACE Ch 3
Set MIDI channel to 3

At this point, if I play notes on the System 8 it registers them in Ableton as Midi In data, but there is no audio, so I then:
Load an external Instrument onto the MIDI track
Select the Midi To feed as Midiface Port 3, but set the midi channel as No Output (see further down for the reason behind this)
Set the Audio From as 13/14 (make sure MX-1 is selected as Ableton audio input source)
Record Arm the Midi track
Set a clip recording and play some notes in from the System 8 - this will record Midi data into the clip as you would expect
Disarm the Track Record button immediately, or you will get a massive amount of midi and audio overload that only stops if you disarm the Track Record button

To get the Midi data to play back I then:
Go to the External Instrument
Set the MIDI To to Midiface Port 3
Set the Midi Channel to 3
This then gives correct midi playback

To then record Midi data into another clip:
I go to the External Instrument and set the Midi Channel to No Output - if you don’t, this will again create the midi and audio overload
Record Arm the Midi track
Press record on a clip and record a pattern
Disarm the Track Record button
Go to the External Instrument and set the Midi Channel to 3 so I can listen to the midi data in the clip playing back.

This overload of incoming Midi date also occurs when not recording into a clip while the Midi track is armed to record but not recording, and again, only stops when you disarm the record button on the Midi track or change the midi channel

If you then play back a recorded clip with the track record button disarmed, it will play back perfectly

The thing I don’t understand is why, when the track record button is armed, and the correct midi channel is selected on the external instrument, that there is a mass of audio and midi overload - I can provide a video clip to show you this happening in real time, if needed.

I then repeated the procedure to record patterns programmed into my TR-8S

One of the key things I noticed, was that, to have the audio from the MX-1 play in time with the Ableton metronome, I had to go in to Midi Preferences, and set the Output: MX-1 Midi Clock Sync Delay to -85ms so that the audio would play back in time, although each time I restart the song it changes - at first it was -180ms, then it went down to -90ms, and now it is -85ms, which is a pain in the arse to keep having to adjust. Likewise, to get the audio to playback through the External Instrument in time, I have to adjust Hardware Latency value in the External Instrument to 40ms, although again this jumps around from 25-90ms as and when it wants, which is a real pain, as it means constantly adjusting the timing of everything, which really slows my creative process down.

Another issue I am having is that when I record the midi data into a clip, it does not record in time - I find that is almost 5/16ths of a beat late, when recorded in at 120bpm. This then means having to go back into the clip and quantise everything, which again slows the whole creative process down.

Finally, every time I create a new empty midi track, it somehow affects the hardware latency of each external instrument, making me have to go back into them and adjust the hardware latency of each external instrument again.

So, in summary, my key issues are:
An overloading of audio and midi data when I record a midi clip from an external instrument if the midi channel in the Midi To Channel box is set correctly
The midi data being recorded from an external instrument being almost 5/16ths of a beat out of time, and having to be manually adjusted to get it to play back in time.
The fact that the Midi Clock Sync Delay in the MX-1 Output Midi Port in Midi Preferences changing all the time
The fact that the hardware latency of each external instrument keeps changing all the time.

Can anybody help me with this? Surely Ableton Live must work better than this with external hardware - I have watched loads of people playing live with hybrid systems of hardware and Ableton Live (Saytek, for example), and they don’t have these problems.

I also tried the same thing in Logic Pro X. I created an external instrument, set the midi and audio channels correctly, and then tried to input midi data, but again it just fired a massive amount of midi data into Logic - this can be seen in this video that I uploaded to YouTube -
I wonder, in Ableton at least, when you are armed, you are sending MIDI data. The overload must be coming from your hardware almost seems like you are getting some kind of loop back.

On the delay, I think this will be impossible to remove. I think you will have to record the MIDI, then arm an analog track, send the MIDI to external, when the sound is recorded, then line it back up to the session. It is rather easy in Ableton and I would suspect it only takes a couple of second to bring it in sync.
You certain you're not sending the incoming MIDI data back to the device and it is also set to pass incoming MIDI out merged with the live playing? when you get this half-wrong, one MIDI note can sound twice - you play dah - and the device actually sounds da-dah, but if the MIDI pass through is at both ends you get into a feedback loop and soon reach the maximum number of simultaneous voices? This sounds the thing that could be happening. MIDI data is surpsingly sparse normally, but in Cubase that I use, it's easy to send it out again. Some devices then have the merge function turned on, and out again it goes.
Would using quantization help? Like, set it to 1/16 on a grid. And see if it helps.
When I used to use midi in a live dance act, I found quantizing made things worse as all the notes arrive at exactly the same time, where if there is human feel in the midi there is a slight delay between different notes on the same music measure.

He never came back - He posted the same thing on loads of forums including the Ableton one, so probably forgot where he asked the question.
I also really liked programing midi with human feel anyway by placing some error into the timing, I'm not doing so much nowadays however I did program drums with midi for an album last year and all the local drummers thought a real drummer played on the album.

For anything attempting to be live, quantisation is the spawn of the devil, because it’s simply not human. Real music pushes and pulls all the time sometimes amazingly forward or back from the beat. It’s also fun watching on screen real pianists. They rarely play chords with notes that align vertically. They usually lead from the low note with the highest note last. Swap this around and it’s a totally different sound. In some sheet music this is even shown in the score because it’s important. That quantise button works on my 16th note hihats because my timing is rubbish, but kick and snare really don’t want tinkering with if a decent drummer played them. If a rubbish drummer played them then some work may well be needed. Which is which is a musical decision.