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:

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.
  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. Launch Performer. Change settings to enable MIDI Machine Control and SMPTE synchronization.

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    This document prepared by Prof. Jeffrey Hass, Indiana University School of Music, Center for Electronic and Computer Music, 7/17/95.
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