Random Production Thoughts



ok so if I want a very simple setup for a few pieces of hardware, such as korg volca line synths and an OP-Z etc, is it a feasible solution to first get a couple sync cables so that the synths are synced and then connect them to a mixer such as this one https://www.verkkokauppa.com/fi/product/22552/fvcsv/Mackie-Mix5-5-kanavainen-kompaktimikseri

which in turn is connected to a computer running ableton. would I get all of the synths on separate tracks for mixing and post processing?

  1. yeah
  2. no, you’d only get the L/R mix from the output


how to get separate tracks

how do people usually do these things if they don’t wanna shell out thousands and get an entire room chock full of gear


if you want synths separately youd need interface with a lot of ins or synths that can do audio over usb. you could solo the channels and record one at a time, but thats a pain in the ass and stacking stems will also stack the noise floor

thats the problem lol, or you just make peace with giving up a certain level of control


to reiterate, the goal is to have fun and jam around making tunes on the fly and just recording that… am I expecting too much if I want the ability to mix in peace afterwards? sort of post production. so it isn’t possible to have all the instrument synced but so that they all have their separate tracks when recording. never thought it was this hard lol hats off to the hardware fam


probably shouldnt be piping in cus i know fuck all about hardware but what do you mean by synced? I could be wrong but unless you want some kinda pattern sequencer do you need to sync it in any way? Cant you just get an interface that lets you send out MIDI and get audio in through USB?


what I mean with syncing is most modern hardware synths have the ability to send a clicktrack, which goes to the rest of the synths via a 3.5 mm plug. in that sense the rest of the synths in that chain are “slaves” to the first one in the chain which is used to determine the bpm, and thus they are in sync


The only reason a piece of hardware needs the tempo is if its some kinda looped pattern like a drum machine sequencer or 303 sequencer etc.

I’m familiar with this master & slave stuff but I don’t see why you have to involve MTC or midi clock syncing unless theres some kinda playhead position that needs to be taken into account on all devices. So yeah you would need to sync it if you want to use a device’s internal sequencer, because that needs a tempo. A synth doesn’t need a tempo just to generate a sound, it can just do it as it receives note data from either its own keyboard or a MIDI port.

So why can’t you just get an interface that lets you send out different MIDI channels and receive different audio channels? Seems like a pretty good workflow with still pretty minimal computer clicking


Im not very experienced in using hardware but at least with the little teenage engineering synths I’ve been playing with (apparently also applies to when people use multiple korg volca synths) it has been elemental to have them in sync, otherwise it’s too hard to stay in tempo. probably this applies to almost any synth because when you watch people’s setups on youtube videos per say they have all their synths connected to each other with 3,5mm plugs. I don’t exactly follow what you’re saying apart from that, but that’s prolly because I’m not familiar with the topic

I can’t really answer your question either because I’m still in the process of figuring out what exactly I need


OK like i said, 0 actual experience and if everyone uses a sync setup then fair.

My point is, you don’t have to “stay in tempo” per se if the synth has no tempo-based functionality. Again, a 303 or smth obviously would have to be in synch because that machine works by programming a pattern that needs to loop at the same tempo as the rest of the studio.

BUT, and someone correct me if im wrong here, you could also just send midi note data to them and that alone wouldn’t require a sync. Its like youre pulling strings and playing 7 pianos at once theyre just electronic and use MIDI instead of strings to get them to play notes. Unless I’m wrong but I don’t see how lol.


Neither of you is wrong and all questions have been answered. Clocking gear over audio pulse
with 3.5mm is weird though, 90% of synths and samplers will eat clock via midi. Like good analogue gear won’t have any 3.5mm ports despite maybe a headphone out.
You can definitely slave about 3 or 4 devices to one acting as the master.

Like Phigure said, you can’t do multitrack recording without an interface with multiple inputs.


This mixer also acts a usb interface per channel, pretty decent mixer as well

im personally using a motu 828es as my interface


decent amount of inputs/outputs + midi in/out

the cheapest way to do it would prob use a cheap interface and record stuff to the computer and then mix/arrange in DAW.


Those are actually pretty decent mixers. I have a Signature 10 but not the MTK model which was a few hundred dollars more. It only has a stereo USB connection but I bought it for my Techno table where I was looking to get away from using a computer. I may consider an upgrade when the time is right.

It has nice preamps built in plus Lexicon reverbs. I had initially ordered an Allen & Heath mixer but sent it back as I like the long faders on the Signature plus the Lexicon effects.


making dance music without your gear tempo synced together is not ideal and really hard, obviously you can (and probably should) play things like pads etc freely but playing a lead or bassline for the entirety of a track while managing everything else is hard. And getting your gear tempo matched manually can be very tedious and will never be as solid as a midi clock or click sync.

Just imagine trying to make tunes in a DAW without any sort of master tempo or parity between your synths/vsts and no midi


the volcas are p cool and fun if you find good deals on them, the problem I have with them is that by the time you own a couple you could’ve bought 1 actually proper synth or drum box.

I have the Volca Sample and the Beats. The beats is basically garbage but the sample is cool. It actually sounds p good and its a lot of fun with the motion sequencing.

The drums in this are mostly the Volca Sample (everything except the hi hats iirc)

I would 100% pass on the Op-Z, overpriced and limited functionality hidden behind nice industrial design

The Korg Minilogue is cheap and ridiculously packed with functionality + it will play nicely with the Volca series via sync.


Oh I stand corrected. More gear has this clock over mini-jack thing. Honestly have never used
or seen that.

I live by this principle though:

Especially because I have limited space. I did order a revised Dynacord s76 a couple days ago,
but I’m hoping that will cover a lot of my delay and reverb needs. Should also be a bit more interesting to play with than pedals.


thanks for the advice man. also thanks for getting my point about the syncing bit lol.

Im actually currently borrowing a mate’s volca FM and it has some sick sounds but I’m not used to working on hardware synths so the limitations of the step sequencer (it doesn’t even appear to have an actual sequencer, you can just record on it for like 2 bars) make it a bit counter-intuitive to use for me. and dw Im not getting the OP, the same dude I’m borrowing the volca from actually has it so I mentioned it because it’s likely that we’ll use it when jamming/making tunes. I wouldn’t buy anything that expensive because I’m not 100% sure making music with hardware is really my thing at all so I wanna keep the financial risk low. I’ve had my eye on the sample as well and there are some used ones about but everytime I’ve tried to contact the seller it has just gone lol they’re popular.

I’ve tried recording bits through an interface one by one and mixing and arranging it afterwards but it’s tedious and doesn’t differ that much from inside-the-box production. what I’m looking for is fun, jamming around type of workflow that feels like you’re playing in a band if you know what I mean. maybe what I’m looking for after all is doing all of the mixing in hardware as well and using the computer just for recording?


OK just assume as ive said several times that the synths we’re talking about have no sequencers of their own, they are just machines that receive note data and plays a sound based on that.

computer sends out midi message with note data when playhead hits the notes on the MIDI track > synth receives and plays notes > audio goes in through interface and onto track in DAW.

The synth isnt playing its own internal sequence, it’s purely getting MIDI notes and playing them as it receives them.

Why do I have to sync anything with MTC or Clock? You’re talking about “manually getting gear tempo matched” but a lot of gear doesn’t use tempo information at any point right? Are there just not that many non-sequencer synths, is that it? I’m NOT talking about a 303 or anything that has its own looping/sequencing functionality, im talking about purely machines that receive MIDI and make sounds. How can you even “synchronize” when theres no timeline or playhead position on the synth. Its like saying synchronize your amp to your guitar or it’ll slide out of time.


if your hardware synth has MIDI and you have a MIDI sequencer then you don’t need to use any other kind of sync. Some older synths didn’t have MIDI - for example the 303 - you can retro fit CV triggers to synths like these tho and then control them from your MIDI sequencer via a MIDI to CV gate.