MIDI (Beat) Clock offset feature, please Steinberg

Will a future Cubase version have the ability to change the offset for the sent MIDI clock? I tried searching but could not find anything on the topic.
External, synced gear is a bit sluggish by design; as one example, my Roland R8 mkII drum machine locks in with a delay of ca. 10 ms @ 128 BPM. Nudging the the audio after the recording is possible, but there is no solution for live playing. It would be great if Cubase as the master could send the sync signal a bit ahead of time. There are hardware solutions (E-RM) but they’re a bit of a functional overkill for a functionality that should be easy to implement in a sequencer.
Thanks for helping!

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The only work-arounds I know of is either use a 3rd party MIDI Beat Clock generator, or create your own clock on a MIDI track (that you can offset using the Delay in the track inspector).

I think it’s not possible to create a MIDI clock track in Cubase, as it’s a channel-independent one-byte message. If it was Sysex it would probably be possible. This was discussed here: Sending External Synth System Message for Cubase

@Alessio Thank you for the link, it was informative.
Some 20 years ago I was in the same boat—trying to sync a number of old hardware devices to Cubase but experiencing a lag in the synced machines. Unfortunately I do not remember many details but I do remember creating a MIDI track and adding events to create a sync signal I could manipulate with the Delay parameter. I think In this case the homemade sync signal was sent to a Kensington device that translated the MIDI Clock to DIN Sync.
After reading the thread linked above, I’m thinking that maybe the MIDI to DIN sync device in my case wasn’t very particular in what the actual messages was. I don’t know how else we could have made it work. It’s all history now, anyway!
Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.


No worries, thanks for answering! I guess our kind of musicians with old MIDI sync hardware are a dying breed and therefore not much effort is put into serving these needs anymore. Just weird that it wasn’t a thing back in the days either (at least I can’t remember my Atari ST Cubase having a MIDI clock time shift function).

I guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and get the E-RM Multiclock USB. Just a pity having to spend as much as for Cubase Pro just because of one missing function.

Does your interface have a clock output? You could try setting your interface as the master, slave your synth after connecting the clock signal to it, and use external sync in Cubase. That should work unless Extrrnal Sync in Cubase only syncs audio sample rate and not MIDI, and I’m uncertain of that issue.

Are you thinking of Word Clock In/Out?
I believe OP is looking for MIDI Beat Clock. It just uses a regular MIDI interface. Unfortunately Cubase cannot sync to MIDI Beat Clock and never could. (It can sync to MIDI Timecode though.)

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Correct, I’d need Cubase as the master to send out MIDI (Beat) Clock, which it does, and to anticipate/delay the code, which it doesn’t. Cubase has offsets for MIDI & audio tracks, but not for MIDI Clock.

MIDI clock provides no position or time information, it’s like blackburst for video or sample rate for audio. It is just a tact signal.
An introduced offset would lead to a real mess… nothing would be in sync anymore. You can’t use a fixed value offset to expect the same results on all tempo settings. MIDI beat clock is tempo based.
Different tempo, different resulting clock signal.

I think the solution could be to add a bit of silence before the track starts. That should give the drum machine the time to lock to the sync.
If the playback is always delayed by a fixed amount, it has nothing to do with the MIDI clock itself.

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Thank you Steffen for your reply!
Correct, it’s a beat/tact signal, nothing more. The drum machine locks in fine but stays at a constant ~10 ms delay. It’s not a Cubase issue with MIDI Clock - the reason is that machines working as MIDI slaves always have some inherent small lag, some more and some less. It was the same thing back in the days when syncing them from tape.
I was hoping there would be a way in the future to dial in an appropriate time compensation so that live playing would become possible.
A hardware solution exists, the E-RM Multiclock USB I mentioned, but it’s over 500 EUR for a (in my case) one-trick pony.
But I know that code-wise it might be tricky to pull off if MIDI Clock is somehow hard-wired in Cubase and cannot be modified easily. I guess if it was easy to do we would have had it already back then on the Atari ST.

As far as I understand the problem, it is not related to MIDI clock. If you delay the clock, the issue will persist, I guess. The lag introduced to the notes would be the same no matter how you do the sync.
You need to delay all other instruments to get in sync. There is no negative delay possible in live performances.
If you find a way to do that, you will win the Nobel Prize for physics and peace at the same time. :wink:
Could it be that the MSPP values are off?

Why not just use Track Delay? Put those MIDI tracks that run external gear, forward in time.

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@Steffen: I meant anticipating the MIDI clock (negative offset) i.e. sending it out early, not delaying it. So that the external slave gets the MIDI Clock beat message a bit early. The same way how a MIDI or Audio track can have a negative offset (be sent early) in Cubase.
Of course not back in time, that is impossible as you said, but you start playback one measure early so that at the end of the count-in measure the MIDI clock begins running with a negative offset.
The E-RM does exactly that - it receives a regular trigger signal from a DAW audio track and can be given a negative offset. After the count-in/sorting itself out it will begin sending MIDI clock before the actual beat. E-RM won the Nobel prize, it seems. :slight_smile:

@kapzz: MIDI clock does not have its own MIDI track, it’s a Cubase project synchronization setting. So there are no delay settings for it. That is exactly what I was asking for/wondering about.

I’m talking about Track Delay… Really they should have called it Track Offset because it can go - or +.

Just put the MIDI track that is outputting MIDI to the external synth forward 10ms.

This is not a clock issue, it is an issue of the MIDI 1.0 standard… 5ms-10ms of delay + jitter.

Audio Track Inspector (steinberg.help)

Your best bet for live playing, is to keep your MIDI gear hardwired with a patchbay, though I believe a MIDI patchbay will introduce some latency as well I think it will be less than computer in-DAW-out.

Maybe I’m not expressing myselft clearly… in a Cubase project, I have (1) Audio tracks with vocals and guitar, (2) MIDI tracks that control external gear and/or VSTis, and (3) external MIDI gear that has its own sequences and is time-locked to Cubase.

The issue is not with MIDI tracks (2), they play just fine and the inherent MIDI latency with my gear is so minimal I can disregard it; and if needed I can indeed compensate with the track offset/delay settings.

My issue is with synced MIDI gear (3) like drum machines. They only receive Cubase’s MIDI clock signals set up in the project, not actual MIDI notes from any tracks. MIDI-synced gear tends to be slightly behind the beat, not because of the MIDI standard limitations but because of the gear’s processing time to sync their internal sequencers. And this is the one that would benefit from an offset setting in Cubase (which does not exist).

Yes more clear now, maybe it’s the inverse of my suggestion that would work but would be annoying without the Project Logical Editor being able to target all tracks that aren’t the drum tracks. I do have a project logical editor preset that nudges events on tracks by 10ms so I only have to press a key.

Just a curious thought, could Cubase sync to your drum machines rather than drum machines sync to Cubase?

No. Cubase can’t sync to MIDI Beat Clock.

Like mlindeb posted, Cubase can’t sync to MIDI Clock.
Yes, exactly, the only thing that could work is delaying all tracks in Cubase by the amount needed so that the tracks are just as late as the drum machine i.e. everything is in sync. But not really practical having to delay all tracks.
But yeah, I was curious to see whether Steinberg was considering such a feature. Seems I will have to shell out those 500+ EUR for the E-RM then.

@Alessio How many sequencers are synced via the same MIDI interface? Is there a difference in lag if you only have one sequencer connected to a single interface? If you have more than one MIDI interface, have you tried if there is a difference in lag between them?

@Jochen_Trappe What is Steinberg recommending in a case like this?