"Live" recording: Best settings for best MIDI timing

Hi - I am going to record my son’s piano playing into Cubase 6.05 next weekend, audio and MIDI simultaneously from a Yamaha Motif. I’m doing the MIDI so that if there is something like an error ghost note, or a not too complicated “flub”, I can make an easy edit. After those edits, I think I’d just render to audio, and distribute CDs or post on soundcloud or something for family and friends.

Finally, as background, I know I don’t have horrible MIDI timing recording problems of the worst sort described in various threads on the forum. If I do have MIDI timing recording problems, they aren’t so bad that I have noticed them. The intended audience of these recordings won’t be any better than I am at detecting potential problems of that nature.

I think I have basically two questions I’d be grateful for any advice on:

  1. Assuming the piano pieces are played pretty well, but could benefit from some minor MIDI editing as described above - would people recommend setting the Audio Priority to “Low” in the Preference dialogue? Does that setting then put “MIDI Priority” to high? (I’m not at my DAW currently, so I can’t describe its exact location in Preferences).

  2. Do all the forum threads about problems with MIDI recording timing describe only problems getting MIDI recorded properly? In other words … once the MIDI is recorded, can I assume “what I see/hear is what I get” with regard to accurate rendering to Audio? If not, what might be recommended at that stage?

Are there any other tweaks that might be recommended to muscle up the best possible MIDI timing? Just to emphasize, I’ve already gone through all the “Use System Timestamp”, emulated ports, etc. - just looking for any final changes I might be able to make.

[Edit: I should mention - I might just get one take per song … he’s not exactly enamored with this project … parental mandate this! So, in essence, it’s like recording a “live” show.]

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

Don’t worry so much. If the midi timing is off against the audio just try the Priority the other way. You are doing more than one take?!
Most of the timimg problems are VST specific and should not be noticed normally.

Just don’t be overambitious with FX with that pretty low spec computer. Low spec for these days and especially Cubase 6, though XP might get better results if your needs are simple.
If you get any problems that’s where they’ll likely be. Lack of ram most likely.

Thank you for your answer, Conman. Actually - yes, it might just be one take for each song! He’s not all that anxious to do the recording … parental mandate, this! So, with your understanding of the “Priority” Preference, which setting would you choose for the 1st, and possibly only, take?

No anticipation of using much FX, so there shouldn’t be much of a problem in that regard. I’ll be using C6 for this just like I do for all my other projects - simple audio and MIDI in, a few FX here and there with bounce downs in-between - no problem.

So, to refine my question - if there were just going to be one take per song … :slight_smile:

And are there other settings that haven’t been mentioned in this thread I could tweak as well for the task at hand?

Thanks -

Why not let him record direct to a VSTi (the Halion SE has a great Yamaha piano patch already) and don’t even worry about recording audio until your son’s performance is where you want it. I don’t see the benefit of simultaneous recording unless you’re fine with having to re-record the audio portion after any editing you do. The Halion Yamaha S700 patch sounds great too…much better than older Motif stock piano sounds in my opinion.

Hi SuStudio -

First, thanks for the heads up on that Yamaha S700 patch - I will definitely check it out!

The audio recording … no real need to have it, I know, since I’m virtually certain I’ll be making a few MIDI tweaks. I just figured it would be “nice to have”, of sentimental value, and since there is no disadvantage to recording it live with the MIDI, I might as well do so. It might be something locked away in a vault so nobody but me knows how many MIDI tweaks (erasing ghost notes, etc.) were made to get the final product!

Back to the intial questions - “Audio Priority” setting - best set to low for MIDI recordings? Other settings? Once it’s in a MIDI format, can ignore any “MIDI timing” threads since they don’t apply to rendering to audio?

Thanks -

I’d leave the audio priority to normal unless you’re working with many audio and MIDI tracks and are experiencing issues with the audio playback. Other settings? I’d make sure that you have at least 120 ticks set for your MIDI resolution which determines how much precision you have over moving around the MIDI info. 120 is the default and might be just fine for your needs…if you are finding that you can’t move notes around exactly where they should be with the snap function off, a higher resolution will help here.

Now, even though you record direct to a VSTi you’re still able to get an audio recording out of this…it’s not an either/or situation with VSTi’s. When you’re done tweaking the MIDI data, simply export the information to an audio file and you’ve now got both types…you can even have it imported to the project window alongside the MIDI data.

I haven’t got better than that. Hit play.

Hi again, Alexis. Excuse me, but if you are recording solo piano why are you worrying about timing and sync? They won’t come into it. I do a lot a recording of my own playing (for my own archive) and it’s nice not to have to worry about it (for a change).

I agree with an earlier post that you don’t even need to record audio. Do that later, when you’re happy with the take, to whatever plugin you fancy - or through whatever hardware. It doesn’t matter if the midi recorded lags behind the playing, as long as it’s in time with itself.

My procedure for doing this is:

  • Create a MIDI track and set it to Linear Time Base (i.e. the button on the track shows the grey clock, not the yellow note).
  • Make sure the input is set to the piano you’re recording from (or All Inputs, as I do).
  • Set output to Not Connected (monitor the piano from its own speakers) or you’ll get an echo.
  • Arm the track and record as normal.

That’s all you need, just raw MIDI, but its worth setting up the MIDI Retro-Respective Record (RR) buffer, which may save your day (skip the next bit if you already know it):

  • Go to Prefs-Record-MIDI, tick the RR option and set the size of the buffer. Mine is 10,000 events.
  • It’s in the menus but go to Key Commands and set up a keypress for it.

With this set, as long as you have the track armed you can play away and hit the RR key you set up at any time to create an event containing the last x number of events. It’s brilliant!

So, seeing as the little maestro is somewhat reluctant, I suggest:

  • Check this out for yourself when he’s not around.
  • On the day, set it up as above.
  • Don’t tell him.
  • Get him to play and perhaps he won’t suss what you’re up to…

:sunglasses: - and back to the footie…

That’s exactly what I was thinking. Without actual hiccups during recording (quite unlikely) there’s nothing to sync against - unless you’re also forcing the little maestro to play against a click… :sunglasses:

That’s a cool feature I didn’t know about. Thanks!

No, no, no forced playing to a click! I draw the line at duck tape. :astonished: But in all seriousness, the “timing and sync” was referring to the many threads on the forum, such as by funkydrummer and others, pointing out that sometimes the MIDI timing is all over the place when comparing what is played to what is recorded.

And hi to you too, Crotchety! Thanks for those tips, especially the changing over to linear time base - that’s worth its weight in gold alone!

No prob, I like the opportunity to remind myself of these things from time to time and I think it’s great you’re trying to record your lad and he doesn’t want to… :laughing: How old is he?

I seem to remember that Linear Time Base (LTB) was important when editing - it stopped notes re-aligning themselves, or something like that.

The RR trick also works with cycling in Lanes. And if you are using Lanes, muting all the takes puts you in one-click solo territory, as with audio, in case you want to comp.

Finally, should you ever find yourself doing this yourself (I have a template ready-to-go to capture these moments) and coming up with something you want to elaborate on, you can warp a tempo map behind it and build a whole track. In theory, you can reset the whole feel of the thing, once you’ve got the map built. Loads of possibilities…

Hope it goes well,