Midi sync MPC Renaissance in standalone mode to Ableton Live 8


I've succesfully managed to midi sync my MPC Ren to Ableton live 8 in order to multitrack all external devices and Renaissance outputs, capture the Ren's vintage mode sound and to be able to easily edit the audio on grid after recording. Could not find any detailed info about this topic, so decided to post my findings and settings myself.

Gear used:
2.2 quad i7 MacBook Pro, 8GB Ram
Ableton Live 8
MPC Renaissance V1.4
Mackie Onyx 1640i
External Midi instruments

The trick is to connect the Ren and DAW through a virtual midi bus (like a virtual midi cable). For Mac, there is the Audio Midi Setup Utility built inside OSX to achieve this. Not sure how Windows handles this. I managed to achieve the same results using a physical midi cable (and similar settings) and connect it from a midi out to input on the Ren itself, in case the virtual path does not work.

I originally wanted to have the Ren acting as master and I tried this first. Unfortunately, when the Ren is sending midiclock to Live as slave, the quality of recorded audio in Live wasn't what I hoped for. Somehow Live's constantly adjusting to the incoming midi sync signal and those tiny speed fluctuations result in a bad recording. When using Live as master, I found this giving the best result and recorded audio quality I'm after. All Renaissance functionality is still there while tracking in sync.

There a some things to be aware of:
1. Use the DAW's transport controls when tracking.
2. if you're midi syncing external devices (i.e. drum machine) by the Ren in standalone mode, you need to disable sync out from the Ren and sync them from Live while recording.
3. I found that operating some of Ren's knobs when in slave mode (like pushing the track mute button) can sometimes result in a slight shift of midi data, probably due to too much data needing being processed at once. Haven't used the Q-Links much when recording.
4. I had to set the same sample rate and bit dept on both the Ren and DAW in audio preferences, to avoid audio issues.

Here's what I did:

Open Audio Midi Setup Utility from your Utility folder in Applications. From the menu choose window and open Midi Window. You'll see the IAC Driver icon.

Double-click the IAC Driver Icon to open the IAC Driver Property window. Probably you'll see "Bus 1" allready there in the Ports list. You just need to check the box "Device is online" and your virtual midi bus is working.

Setting up Live: Restart Live, open Live preferences from the menu and choose
Midi preferences. You'll see the "IAC Driver (Bus 1)" available from the Midi Ports list. Enable sync out by pressing the sync button of "Output: IAC Driver (Bus 1)". Live is now setup to send midi sync to Bus 1. If you'd like to midi sync external gear (originally synced by the Ren) while recording, enable sync in the same way on all output ports to which your external devices are connected.

Setting up the Renaissance: Save your project, restart Ren software and open preferences from the menu. Click the midi tab and enable the "IAC Driver bus 1" by checking the box in Active Midi inputs. Now the "Bus 1" virtual midi cable is connected to the input of your Ren. The Midi out ports can be left as the are, so the Ren can send midi data in slave mode.

To set up sync, click the sync tab from the same preferences window. Set "Receive" to "Midi Clock" from the dropdown menu. And finally set "send" to "off" to avoid any unwanted syncing issues. If you'd like to sync external gear from the Ren again when in stand alone mode, don't forget to set this back to "midi clock".

That's it. Hopefully this will be helpful. Happy tracking!
and greets from Den Haag, Holland.
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