Using the Tascam DA-88 with Performer and MIDI Machine Control
The document below gives step-by-step instructions for using a Tascam DA-88 Digital Multitrack Recorder with Mark of the Unicorn's Performer and its MIDI Machine Control implementation.
Synchronization allows multiple recording passes to be perfectly aligned on the multitrack tape. This benefits composers by:
- Permitting more simultaneous voices than their synthesizers may allow.
- Permitting more simultaneous timbres.
- Allowing for different signal processing on each pass.
- Allowing greater flexibility in panning and equalization.
With the advent of stereo instruments it is common to have each pass recorded in stereo, using two tape tracks at a time. Keep a list of these pairs, so that they may be appropriately panned during the mixdown procedure (panning both tracks of a stereo pair hard right will still be mono).
The normal flow of the recording procedure is to compose the entire sequence, then to record one or more sequencer tracks during each pass. These first tracks are then disabled on the sequencer while another set of tracks, perhaps with new signal processing or new timbres, is recorded. This procedure may repeated until all tape tracks have been used. Stereo pairs may need to be sacrificed and passes done in mono if more tape tracks are needed.
Steps 1 and 2 can be implemented simultaneously to save time.
- Format a Hi-8 video tape (preferably Sony MP). Make certain the tape is completely rewound. Plan to format to the end of tape (approximately 2 hours). Press FORMAT, then the Fs switch to select sampling rate (either 44.1 or 48 is fine). Press FORMAT again. Press RECORD and PLAY (only if you do not want to simultaneously stripe SMPTE--if you do, go on to Step 2 without pressing RECORD/PLAY).
- To stripe SMPTE Time Code onto the subcode area of the tape, rewind tape to the beginning. Be certain VARISPEED is not activated, then press TC REC button. The light should start blinking. Press REC and PLAY, then TC GENERATE immediately. Be sure to record more time code than needed. It is preferable to stripe tape to the end, if time allows. Rewind tape and tap DISPLAY until the TC light is selected. Run tape and observe the start time of your time code.
- Launch Performer. Change settings to enable MIDI Machine Control and SMPTE synchronization.
- Under WINDOW menu, select MIDI Machine Control. Click on the arrow between computer icon and the tape deck. It should turn black.
- Open CHUNKS window (under WINDOW or with CHUNKS icon). Select your current chunk (probably Seq-1) and choose SET CHUNKS START from the CHUNKS mini-menu. Depending on when the tape starts with SMPTE time, it is advisable to set the FRAMES in by 10, 20, or more seconds (as in 00:00:20:00). This means measure 1 will start when your tape's SMPTE stripe reaches this time value.
- Under BASICS menu, select RECEIVE SYNC. Set the radio button to MTC, DTL option. Slave to External Sync should already be selected. Select it if it is not.
- Play-enable the performer tracks to be recorded in the first pass. Record-enable the DA-88 tracks to be used for the first pass in the MIDI Machine Control window and drag down to RECORD in the Record Mode box. Set 5 seconds of preroll to be safe. Use REHEARSE mode to check settings.
- Setup mixing console and check levels.
- Deselct the RECORD-ENABLE icon on any Performer track. If you don't, you will erase any record-enabled track with the next step!
- Click on RECORD in Performer. The DA-88 should start running and sync up at the Chunk Start Time.
- If nothing happens, recheck each step above. Make sure CHUNK START TIME is set beyond the beginning time of the SMPTE stripe. (see Step 2). Also, launch the MIDI Time Piece Desk Accessory under the Apple menu. Make sure the MIDI SYNC window is set to convert SMPTE to MTC.
- Roll Performer and DA-88 back by clicking on REWIND in Performer.
- Return record-enabled DA-88 tracks to SAFE.
- Deselect play-enable of old tracks in Performer.
- Record-enable new tracks of DA-88; play-enable new tracks of Performer.
- Change any synthesizer patches necessary.
- Reset mixing console to monitor recorded tracks and record new tracks.
- Repeat above steps. To have the DA-88 ignore Performer transport controls, deselect ONLINE button in MIDI Machine Control window.
Note: This document may include extensions to the HTML language supported by Netscape 1.1 or higher. Certain items may not display properly with other browsers. The most recent Netscape browser is available from the Netscape Web Site.
This document prepared by Prof. Jeffrey Hass, Indiana University School of Music, Center for Electronic and Computer Music, 7/17/95.
Email any comments, suggestions, requests for new documents, or corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to CECM Home Page.