The Innerclock Sync-Lock is a small box that provides a solution. Getting rock solid midi clock & din sync from your DAW.
The problem is that PCs and MACs have notoriously shakey midi timing. If you’ve never noticed this, you probably don’t need a Sync Lock, but if you’ve ever been frustrated by the midi clock coming out of your DAW then read on.
I’ve owned an MPC2500 for a few years now. I love it dearly, but I’ve always thought of it as very separate to my DAW. There was never any reliable way to sync the two, despite the MPC being able to send and receive both midi clock and midi timecode. The problem is that midi really isn’t that stable on Macs and PCs. There are apparently many reason for this which i won’t go into here, but Innerclock’s page on the subject is very interesting.
The solution is remarkably simple. The Sync-Lock is a box which has two audio inputs (connected to two outputs on your soundcard), a midi output, a din sync output and a 1/4 jack output. The two audio inputs accept audio pulses, which are generated either with a simple WAV file or with a specially written plugin that comes with the Sync-Lock. One is for clock pulses and one for start/stop commands. The box then converts these (in less than 30 micoseconds according to Innerclock) to midi clock, din sync and pulse signals (for analog sequencers etc). The result is a clock output which is sample accurate (or as near as damn it) to your DAW’s audio output.
The results? Well, I’m only judging by my ears. To do a full scientific comparison between Sync-Lock’d and non Sync-Lock’d clocks would be tedious. I can tell you that the first time I had a proper jam with my MPC, Evolver and Future Retro Orb all synced to Ableton Live via the Sync-Lock, a huge smile appeared on my face, and didn’t leave for a long while. The Sync-Lock works. It just sits there and works. You can really ‘feel’ the difference in a tightly locked groove. I find that even at really low tempos, where timing errors really becomes apparent in any system with a poor clock, the Sync-Lock remains absolutely solid and resulting groove just feels ‘right’. Like it should.
If you are a gearhead, into sequencers, drum machines, Roland TR-XXXs etc, but love your DAW too, and are frustrated at getting them all to play nicely together. The Sync-Lock could well be the answer. It’s not glamorous, but it solves a problem and it solves it in fine style.
Finally, I’d like to say thanks to David from Innerclock who, when I initially had problems setting up the Sync-Lock, called me on the phone several times (from Australia to the UK!) in order to get me up and running. Top notch support.
I’m really happy with this purchase and I would miss it dearly if I had to do without it. Can’t say any more that that really.