Recording MIDI from IAC driver with Chuck


I've been having some problems recording the MIDI generated by Whole-Play, but I think I've found a solution (slightly clunky, but workable). I'm writing this for future personal reference, and also in case it helps someone using Chuck with the IAC Driver, or in general anyone having trouble with Chuck and Midi Clock. Well, at least I think the problem lies in the fact that Chuck is not generating Midi Clock, but I could be wrong.

Here's a brief history of my process. At the beginning I was using Logic Pro 9 to receive the MIDI generated by Whole-Play, but there was one frustrating limitation: I couldn't record MIDI coming from different ports simultaneously, which clashed with my approach of one MIDI port per instrument.

Then I tried Cubase 9, which allows me to do that, plus it's 'industry standard' (??), plus it'd probably be useful for other projects. Problem: the MIDI was coming in well, but was recorded without timing (all notes collapsed at the start point of the recording). Very strange behaviour IMO. My setup is as follow:

  • Whole-Play sends MIDI to various IAC ports.
  • In Cubase there's the corresponding number of MIDI tracks, listening to each one of those ports.
  • Each MIDI track is connected to a software instrument.

And this works fine for playback, but fails when I try to record them. In fact the MIDI gets recorded, but the timing info is lost, so all notes for a certain track get recorded at the same point in time, right when I click record. Frustrating! This doesn't happen in other DAWs, at least not in Ableton Live or Tracktion.

Ideally I'd like to fix this, but haven't found out how. Steinberg are not responding very well (also frustrating!), and my research on public forums hasn't shed any light on this yet. I also tried to generate MIDI clock from Chuck, but that hasn't work either (the clock messages are sent, but Cubase is still collapsing everything).

My best solution so far

Until I can get timing into Cubase, my solution is to use two DAWs, listening the same IAC ports:

  • Cubase 9 for sound (and live playing). This way I get all the goodies from Cubase (right now, its audio plugins and the automation).
  • Tracktion 5 (free!) for MIDI recording. This is a very simple setup: one track per MIDI port, no output.

Then I arm the tracks both in Cubase (so that it plays) and Tracktion (so that it records), hit record in Tracktion, and start Whole-Play.

At the end of a performance, I stop Tracktion, and save (or simply export to MIDI, one file per track). Then I can transfer the MIDI files to the appropriate tracks in Cubase, and I have a working offline version.

Like I said, a bit cluncky, and kind of furstrating. I wish I had tried Tracktion 5 before getting Cubase. Would have saved money and time. Now transferring all my Cubase setup to Tracktion is a fair bit of work, so I'll settle for this hybrid solution for now. But really, triple thumbs up to Tracktion, awesome piece of software, and if you don't mind using a slightlier older version, Tracktion 5 is completely free!


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