Synch Issue from Fostex Recordr/Mixer into Cakewalk via Midi

Use this forum to discuss Midi Issues as they relate to Cakewalk.
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 7:41 pm

Post by GarageBandMan » Thu Jun 21, 2007 8:08 pm

Hello all.
Relatively Newb at recording, but been playing music my whole life.
I'm sure this is a simple problem for the experts.

I have a Fostex VM200 Mixer and a Fostex FD-8 recorder, a high powered PC and a SoundBlaster Extigy soundcard. I felt limited by the 8 tracks on the Fostex so I wanted to be able to 'upload' each separate track into Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 for total freedom in mix-down and effects.

What is the best way to do this with the equipment I have (without buying an ADAT PC card)?

With the Sound Blaster Extigy, I can record just fine into Cakewalk one track at a time using optical SPDIF, but obviously there is a timing issue for recording subsequent tracks from the recorder.

I connected MIDI cables in & out from the Mixer to the Extigy, to sync up the system, set CW as the slave and was able to control CW via the play/stop on the digital recorder, but a STRANGE thing happened...

Check this out:
The first 3 seconds of the recorded track sounds perfect, and then, suddenly it goes into DOUBLE TIME like Alvin and the Chipmunks!
I notice the "NOW" slider jumps to the halfway mark at the moment it speeds up, but it is stuck and won't move! ??
I CANNOT get the track to play back at a normal speed for the rest of the song.
I've tried all the different options (Midi ports, frame rates, Mixer settings, etc.) to no avail.

Does anyone have an idea how to fix this?

Thanks in advance,

Posts: 46
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2004 12:19 am

Post by HDB » Sun Jun 24, 2007 11:10 am

Yup, you can't get two digital audio devices to behave properly using just MIDI sync. I know for a fact that once any audio track is recorded into Cakewalk, then Cakewalk needs to be Master. I suspect you may have the same problem with the Fostex.

It's because they are both using their own clocks as a timing reference. In your case, you are setting Fostex as Master, and slaving Cakewalk by probably MIDI Sync. I doubt you are using SMPTE/MTC since that is normally used for a tape that is striped with a SMPTE reference signal.

MIDI files follow along nicely to MIDI sync, since all they are is information telling a soundcard/module what to play how, when, etc.

Audio files, on the other hand, don't behave very well following MIDI sync. Yes, the transport controls work, but since the Fostex is using its clock, and Cakewalk is using the computer clock, the two will clash at some point.
The only way you could do that is to dump them all out at once from the Fostex to Cakewalk. You could leave Cakewalk in Internal Sync for the initial dump.

In these cases, the syncing is more for triggering MIDI devices than actual audio sync. To get two different digital audio devices to sync properly, you need to have "sample-acccurate Word Clock" connected so that both devices are following the same clock pulses. That may call for another external device to to this. And, it also depends on the hardware connected being able to use it. In some cases you may be able to get away with having only one device capable, and using the Word Clock device's MIDI-to-Clock translation FROM a device that doesn't use it as the Master timing source, and controlling the device that does allow it.

I don't think anything you've listed has the ability to do that.

Anyway, it confuses the slave device when trying to sync up audio, if you don't have the same clock.

"WHY do they claim MIDI sync capabilities in their products then?"Because, as I've said, MIDI follows along nicely as slave. Audio doesn't.

You may even just try reversing the roles and trying Cakewalk as Master, and Fostex as Slave, but I suspect you'll have similar problems.

Do some research on "Sync", "Word Clock", " MIDI sync", "SMPTE", etc., and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Disappointing, I know. Welcome to the world of digital recording. :shock:


Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 7:41 pm

Post by GarageBandMan » Mon Jun 25, 2007 4:59 pm

HDB, thanks a million. That is some very valuable info. Looks like I was barking up the wrong tree with the Midi Sync. Upon further research I see that I will have to spend an extra few $$ to get the hardware you mentioned that will sync up my mixer (using wordclock) to Cakewalk.
Apparently this
does just that (and more).
I'll have to save up for that one.
I noticed it has a "Panic" button on the front. No idea what that could be for, but I will probably need it.
Again, thanks for your time and valuable info.

Posts: 46
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2004 12:19 am

Post by HDB » Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:44 am

That's a nice unit, but tread carefully and do a lot of research before you plop down $500.

That should generate a fairly stable Word Clock. You say you have a Word Clock-enabled mixer controlling Sonar? That could work.

Does the Fostex have Word Clock or some other syncing ability that will follow along properly to that device? If not, then you may be in the same boat as before.

Check your manuals carefully. Perhaps take the manuals of your mixer, computer interface, to a music store and ask them to confirm that all that can be controlled by the MOTU.

There MAY be a possibility that if the Fostex can't take advantage of a Word Clock connection that it could be Master, and the MOTU MAY translate it from a MIDI, or possibly even a different scheme of clock to Word Clock for Sonar to follow, but I'm not sure if it IS possible, or how stable it would be.

If the Fostex has Word Clock in, and your computer has Word Clock in to control Sonar, you should be OK using the MOTU as the generator, I believe, but double-check that also. These things can get confusing.

It may be that instead of buying that, a different stand-alone recorder that WILL sync properly may be a better use of your dollars.

Very important to check all that.

Good luck,


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