Project Studio Series:
Primer: AW4416 / AW2816 Synchronization
With External Sequencers like the Motif and RS7000
A Getting Started Guide
Phil Clendeninn
Digital Products Support Group
©Yamaha Corporation of America
This guide includes a step-by-step on setting the Start Time in the AW so that your Measure
Display counters will match in both the Master (AW) and the Slave (MIDI Sequencer).
RS7000 Music Production Studio. However, you
can apply the information given here to any
external MIDI devices capable of receiving and
following MIDI Machine Control (MMC) and MIDI
Time Code (MTC) and/or standard MIDI Clock.
You may need to consult the manual’s of your
device when it comes to setting MTC and other
interface details, as they can differ slightly from
device to device.
Guide to MIDI and Synchronization
Version 2.0 software upgrades the AW4416 to full
MIDI implementation, allowing it to function not
only as a digital recording front end, but also as a
remote MIDI controller for the industry's top
computer-based recording systems. MIDI control
messages can be assigned to the AW4416's faders
and ON keys to control the on-screen mixer of
music production software. The control changes
can then be recorded as auto mix data. The new
software also includes Assignable Parameter
Change/Bulk Dump and Assignable MIDI Control
Change and enables direct recording of MIDIbased instruments. By switching between two
channel layers, 32 channels of external MIDI
control is possible. The combined audio and MIDI
mixing capability of the AW4416 gives you
unprecedented control over a total of 76 channels.
Plan Ahead
We have all heard stories where the lesson
learned is “plan ahead” and when putting together
a recording project in your project studio, all of
them apply. If you are working on a session that
will ultimately include MIDI synchronization1 you
should plan for this at the outset. In other words,
what you record, when and where you record it
becomes very important. Don’t just record audio
and then have to build a metronome (tempo)
track for your MIDI. You can plan ahead and
generate the clock information that you will need.
Even if you start the session with acoustic
instruments you will want those musicians to
reference the clock that will eventually control
your MIDI tracks. When you are eventually going
to interface with MIDI, you should prepare your
MIDI data to run along side the AW in sync via
MTC. For example, if you were using a YAMAHA
RS7000 or Motif as the external MIDI device, it
would be wise to prepare the data to synchronize
with the AW audio workstation. In such a situation
you can use the AW tracks for strictly audio parts
(vocals, acoustic instruments, etc.) and you can
use the sequencer in the RS or Motif to
play/trigger your external MIDI parts. You can
decide to transfer tracks to the AW, as necessary.
Many users like to create parts and transfer them
to audio tracks on the AW because they can use
the synthesizer’s full complement of effects, while
other users will expand the outputs of the RS or
Motif (AIEB2) and record multiple parts to the
hard disk, simultaneously. And still others will
never record the MIDI modules since they can
have their own dedicated input channel on the AW
and they will utilize the MIDI sequencers ability to
automate (make repeatable) every nuance of the
MIDI tracks. More than likely, as you get to know
the tools you have, you will develop some
combination of methodologies. The thing to
recognize is what the tools are and what the
potential is, and then apply the appropriate
methodology to accomplish the job. No single
guide could possible cover all the scenarios, and
there is no ‘best way’ to work, but this guide will
open the door to some possibilities so you can
walk through with confidence.
These messages can be recorded and played back
to control the functions of the AW or they can be
used as a ‘remote’ control surface for any
attached MIDI devices (software sequencers, or
hardware MIDI workstations/modules). Since the
AW already features automated mixing built-in
most likely you will be using this function to
control external MIDI sequencers in a large
MIDI/audio project studio environment. This guide
will concentrate on this aspect of the MIDI
implementation. When you place the AW on the
special MIDI Setup screen you can use the faders
to control virtually any MIDI continuous control
change value (volume, pan, effect sends, etc).
The generated data can be recorded into the
external sequencer. This is a great advantage
when you are working with a large system that
includes MIDI modules and sequencers, because
you never have to transfer MIDI modules to AW
tracks. In such an arrangement the MIDI tracks
can remain ‘virtual’. Since the AW can handle ‘live’
inputs at the same time that it plays tracks from
the hard drive, it is possible to EQ, effect and
automate your mix without committing the MIDI
modules to HD tracks. The external MIDI
sequencer can run in perfect synchronization with
the AW. This bit of routing allows you to leave 16
AW hard disk tracks for things like acoustic
instruments and vocals.
When you are using the AW’s faders as MIDI
controllers, those movements are recordable as
regular MIDI events into an external sequencer.
This can greatly enhance your computer based or
hardware based sequencer by giving you real time
hands-on control that you otherwise would not
have over your MIDI tracks.
This guide will get you started with using
an AW4416 or AW2816 (MIDI implementation is
built-in) along with an external MIDI device such
as the Motif Synthesizer Workstation and the
-where you will be synchronizing playback of your
principal audio recorder with your MIDI sequencer.
the SLAVE sequencer. If there are tempo changes
in the song, fear not, you can build a tempo map
ahead of time. Planning your session can mean
sitting down with the arranger or musicians with
their charts and creating a tempo and time
signature map for the song. By building this into
the AW’s (master) Tempo Map ahead of time, all
attached slave devices can follow along and you
can intelligently locate any measure/beat or
timing cue that could possibly arise. With MTC it is
possible to have the SLAVE running at a different
tempo from the MASTER, tempos are set
independently – with MIDI Clock the SLAVE tempo
will always match the MASTER, it cannot be set
independently. Why would you want separate BPM
for MTC and your sequencer? Your right it would
be an unusual situation, but when referencing
music to film the music often must meet a
particular timing cue and this would allow the BPM
to be adjusted accordingly.
MIDI Basics
MIDI has an entity called the SONG. I know, I
know, you think we are getting too basic? Hang in
there, just a minute. A Song is a linear structure
much like the recording on the AW hard disk
recorder, or any multi-track tape device. Song
mode can be synchronized as to speed and
location with external MIDI devices via MTC. MTC
is a form of SMPTE time code. SMPTE (Society of
Motion Picture and Television Engineers) is the
name for timing code principally used for film.
However, in this instance it is in RS-232 format so
that it can travel down a standard MIDI cable.
When in use, if you advance the AW, considered
the MTC Master, to any spot in the song, the MIDI
sequencer, considered the MTC slave, will
automatically find that location and match the
speed. It is a musically intelligent clock. If you
have always worked with regular MIDI clock, then
you need to know about these differences. MIDI
clock has a timing resolution of 24 ppqn, not that
this is really important in terms of how well it
syncs. It can be used in a Master-Slave
relationship to ensure that the connected devices
all keep time together. MIDI clock will work with
“Pattern” based sequencers but you will have to
manually locate start points other than the TOPof-Song. Typically, Pattern mode does not have a
linear time line (this is true for the Motif and
RS7000). Pattern Mode can be intuitively
rearranged in real time. Song mode however,
does have a linear time line and therefore can be
used not only to maintain sync with external
clock, but also automatically find the exact
location within the linear structure. If you are
using standard MIDI Clock in Song mode you can
have the slave follow along via what is called
Song Position Pointer. This keeps the slave in time
with the master by interlocking every 16th note.
MTC has a timing resolution of a quarter frame.
MTC is listed in hours, minutes, seconds, and
frames. Typically, film is 30 frames per second.
MTC is like ‘intelligent’ sync because you fast
forward or rewind your AW to any location and the
slave sequencer will automatically find the correct
location. One added thing, TEMPO (speed) is still a
function of the slave’s settings. In other words,
the time code is counting based on clock time,
while musicians don’t. Musicians need to know
what measure and beat they are at. So although
MTC allows you to find a specific time location in a
song, you need a TEMPO MAP to reference it to
something musicians can use. Here’s an example,
the chorus begins at exactly 1 minute into the
song. If you advance the AW (master) to that
automatically move that distance (1min) into the
song according to the BPM setting in its window.
This is why we must set a Master Tempo for MTC
in the MASTER and the same tempo (if desired) in
Working with an Audio Workstation like the
AW2816 or AW4416 and a MIDI sequencer gives
you the best of both worlds: Audio and MIDI. Let’s
start our discussion of Clock with synchronization.
You will be linking the two machines together via
MIDI to accomplish the transfer of control data
and timing data. You have the following options
regarding synchronization:
configured to go down a MIDI cable allowing MIDI
gear to synchronize with this film industry
standard clock. It is divided into “Hours: Minutes:
Seconds: Frames: Sub-frames” and is used to
clock music/film or just music devices. The AW
units can be the MTC MASTER (or Slave), while a
sequencer like the ones in the Motif or RS7000
can only slave to MTC. The Motif/RS7000 can be a
slave to MTC at 30-frames/sec. Check the Owner’s
Manual of your sequencer and determine if it can
slave to MTC. The AW units have a dedicated MTC
output – use this just for clock. In any scenario
where you will be using MTC as your clock the AW
should be set to 30 frames per second, and it
should be the MASTER clock.
MIDI CLOCK - The AW and external sequencer can
be synced via MIDI clock. The AW can generate
MIDI clock (but does not receive it – for obvious
reasons) and sequencers like the Motif/RS7000, of
course, can send or receive MIDI clock. Therefore,
in any scenario where you will be using MIDI
Clock, the AW will be the MASTER clock.
When using MTC sync the following situations
The Audio Workstation should always the MTC
What if I am working with Pattern Mode in
my MIDI Sequencer?
Pattern mode in the Motif and RS7000 sequencer
allows for intuitive rearrangement of the music.
Pattern mode is made up of up to 16 user
definable musical sections. These sections can
intuitively be recalled at the press of a button.
Pattern mode can be used to construct your
music. Pattern mode in these sequencers does not
respond to MTC. Obviously, those of you used to
PATTERN mode (open arrangement) see the
arrangement). Song mode can automatically find
the precise location within the recording and
match your external sequencer device to that
location. This means that it will be easy for you to
assemble your recording with all parts in perfect
synchronization. You can start anywhere within
the song and the sequencer will find and follow.
Both the Motif and RS7000 (Yamaha’s Integrated
Sampling Sequencers) allow you to build a SONG
from your Pattern data. You place Pattern mode
Sections into a Pattern Chain, which in turn can
be edited and converted to a linear Song
structure. This Pattern Chain is very analogous to
the AUTOMIX in the AW, in that you are
documenting, via several independent passes
through the song, a final mix. A Pattern Chain
consists of three automation tracks: 1) Pattern
(PATT) – this records the Section Changes and
can handle Time Signature Changes; 2) BPM –
this track records any tempo changes; 3) Scene –
this tracks documents both Scene recalls and
Mute status changes throughout2. When you have
satisfactorily assembled the components into an
arrangement, you can execute the CONVERT TO
SONG job, which will write out the data in a linear
format to a SONG location. Your settings are
automatically transferred to the SONG. However,
you may need to tweak the locations of Program
Change events within the SONG to ensure ‘glitchfree’ playback3.
Set Up
Once you have a repeatable, edited Song (a MIDI
automated mix) you can synchronize this to the
AW by setting the following:
The clock reference should be set to 30
The MIDI sequencer is set to MIDI SYNC =
The MIDI sequencer should be used in SONG
mode (Song mode is the only mode that can
respond to MTC). MTC uses Song Position
Pointer to locate and chase-lock.
MTC needs a dedicated cable for clock
information. Set the AW’s dedicated MTC
output for clock information.
The tempo of the Slave (MIDI sequencer)
must match the tempo of the Master (AW
clock). They can be set independently when
MTC is in use – if you want them to reference
time to the same tempo you must set them to
the same BPM.
The reason MTC tempos can be set independently
has to do with its use in film. That is, when you
are referencing music (MIDI) to film, often you
need to make the music fit a certain ‘cue’ point.
The killer jumps from behind the curtain at 1hr:
20min: 33sec: 10.00frames, and there is a 30
second musical build-up. The composer has a 32second piece of music. You can set the tempo of
the music to climax at the given cue point by
increasing the tempo. But for our purposes you
will want the clock/temp in the AW to match the
clock/tempo of the MIDI sequencer.
There is no single way you must work. Sometimes
you will need to be building tracks while working
with both units together.
The following situations will exist when using
MIDI sync to clock the units:
The Audio Workstation is the MASTER MIDI
The MIDI sequencer is the MIDI Clock SLAVE
The MIDI sequencer can be in Song mode
(where Song Position Pointer will apply) or in
Pattern mode (where you will have to ensure
measure location manually).*…{*this is an
often-asked question: How come PATTERN
mode doesn’t auto-locate? It is simple logic. It
can’t – you have a four-measure pattern that
cycles. You advance the AW to measure 53 –
where is it within that pattern? You see,
pattern mode has no linear time line and clock
with locate needs a linear time line}
The tempo of the Slave will automatically be
set to match the tempo of the Master. They
cannot be set independently.
On the AW:
Set MTC and MMC to MASTER: Press [MIDI]/ [F1]
MIDI Setup 1
In the Motif this track records MUTE status, in the
RS7000 it can document both SCENE and MUTE
If your music contains program changes from Section
to Section, these events will now be placed in the track
event list at the “top” measure where the Section
change occurs when converted to a linear SONG. While
in Pattern mode the sequencer embeds Program Change
events in a header, not in the track data. Now you must
ensure they do not interfere with smooth Song playback.
The clocking options are very flexible and will
allow you to work with the Sequencer (in record)
while maintaining synchronization with the AW, if
composition this would be the start of the song.
Your mileage will vary depending on the kind of
recording you are doing. If you need to setup a
count-off because many of the overdubbing
musicians will need one as a reference, you can
prepare for this by programming in several
measures of just empty ‘time’ in your sequence
and on the hard disk of the AW. You can use the
metronome of your MIDI sequencer, or the builtin metronome in the AW5. If you do not reference
your song to musician time (measures) at the
start of the project, you will be in a world of hurt
if you try and add it later because you will have to
manually build your tempo reference. That is why
“planning ahead” is always a key. If you are the
studio owner and are working with outside clients,
you will want to know in advance if they plan on
adding MIDI instruments via a sequencer. It is a
good idea to setup for sync referencing, if they
are not sure. When in doubt, do it! It opens the
door to so many possibilities in terms of final mix.
Ensure that MTC is assigned to the correct out port:
Press [MIDI]/ [F2] MIDI Setup 2 (MTC OUT)
Connect the MTC OUT jack to the MIDI IN of the
target slave device
Set the Display counter to Measure: Press [SONG]/
[F2] Settings; Change DISPLAY to MEASURE
Set Master BPM/Time Signature: [SONG]/ [F3]
Tempo map. These should be set to match the
Tempo and Time Signature in the MIDI sequencer.
It is possible, unlike MIDI clock, to set the Tempo of
the Slave device independent of the Master device
when using MTC. This flexibility will be appreciated
when you need to reach a timing cue (on film) with
a specific moment in the musical composition.
On the Motif/RS7000 or external sequencer:
Prepare the data as a SONG, as necessary. Convert
PatternÆ Pattern ChainÆ Song
Move or remove unnecessary program change
events to ensure smooth playback timing.
Set the Sequencer Clock to MTC: [UTILITY] MIDI
If you still wish to use the PATTERN mode of the
RS7000 or the Motif, you can sync the sequencer
via standard MIDI Clock (Pattern Mode, by
definition, does not support MTC). Although the
sequencer can start/stop and remain in tempo,
you will be responsible for manually updating the
location if ever you stop playback and wish to
resume in a spot other than the top – in other
words it will not automatically find the right spot.
You will be “free-wheeling” when you control
Section changes4 and you will need to start from
the top each time to ensure location.
The entire setup is very flexible and you
will need to determine the best method for what
you need to accomplish. The AW MTC out will
always output MTC. The AW can generate MTC
through both OUT ports or it can output MIDI
clock and MTC simultaneously. It is possible to
simultaneously control the Motif in Song via MTC
and the RS7000 in Pattern mode via MIDI clock
simultaneously via MTC on independent MIDI
Setting the START point of a SONG
It is recommended that you leave a small amount
of time before the actual start of the song
content. This way you can allow for count-ins and
other musical ideas you may have at a later time.
If you leave room in the beginning you don’t have
to worry about not having it if later you need it.
Here is a STEP-BY-STEP guide to the setting the
critical clock START point of an AW2816/4416
SONG at the start of a session.
Press the [SONG] button and select the [F1]
SONG LIST screen
Cursor to the “NEW SONG” box and press
[ENTER]. The unit will ask you do you want to
save the current song and then offers you the
opportunity to import data from an existing
recording. This function6 means that once you
get to know the AW, you will be able to import
your favorite setups from any previous
recording sessions making working with the
unit easier as you go along. Just select OK
and press [ENTER]
You can also NAME the SONG and write any
comments about the session. If you have not
invested in a simple serial mouse, do so. You
will find it invaluable navigating the AW and
comments. Best $10 you can spend!
Understanding how the AW displays time on the
screen is our next task. We have selected to
DISPLAY: MEASURE so that the numbers in our
sequencer and the numbers in the AW display will
be automatically referenced to the musical
subdivisions of time. The AW display can be
changed if you need to know the exact time or the
time referenced to MTC.
In the AW you can view ABSOLUTE or
RELATIVE time. ABSOLUTE time is the technical
time from the moment PLAY/RECORD is pressed,
while RELATIVE time is referenced to where the
By outputting the AW metronome to an OMNI OUT you
can send this on to your headphone amp for
overdubbing musicians, if necessary.
The AW2816/4416 can recall SCENE MEMORY, TEMPO
setups from any other session and import them to the
new Song session.
If you miss the downbeat while changing Sections
synchronization may be lost.
When working with music and musicians, you
will find it convenient and wise to have the
clock count MEASURES and BEATS. The AW
can count hours, minutes, seconds, frames
and fractions of a frame or just hours,
minutes seconds and milliseconds, but when
working with music and MIDI set the display
to count in “musician language”. Press
[SONG]/ [F2] Setting, set the DISPLAY
parameter to “Measure”. This will increase
your ability to “talk” music with the
composer…most musicians know that the
1min:32.476seconds into the song.
Next you will want to set up the Metronome
function. You can set the metronome by
pressing the [TRACK] button and selecting the
F1 TRACK VIEW screen. Use the down cursor
to the select the “METRO” ON/OFF parameter
and turn it ON. This is an audible metronome
but will not be recorded to the track (unless
you have an open microphone near your
speakers). You can use this click as opposed
to the click of the MIDI sequencer for all
recording, if you wish.
Set the TEMPO MAP. Press the [SONG] button
of [SONG]/[F4] to select the TEMPO MAP
screen. Input the time signature and BPM of
the song you are getting ready to record. You
can actually create a tempo map event list,
outlining any tempo changes or time signature
changes that are in the song. By doing this
ahead of time you can have the metronome
count correctly no matter how complex the
song. You cannot remove this “STEP 01”
event. What you can do is affect where
“Measure 001: beat 1” occurs. It is, generally,
a good idea to place a few seconds in front of
the meaningful start of the song, just in case
you need you to build a count-in or want to
place information in front of the main song. To
do this we can “Set the START Point”… This
will be the time at which the measure counter
begins and the AW begins to generate MIDI
clock (or MTC) for controlling the connected
slave devices. We will be literally placing
measures prior to the start command of the
clock. If at a later time you need to overdub a
musical part that starts at measure 1, beat 1,
you will be glad that you have this “count-in”.
Under the [TRACK] button select the [F4]
MARK ADJ. screen and select the “LOCATOR
POSITION” function. This will show you a list
of key points within the recording. You will see
START, END, Marker A, Marker B, and Last IN
and Last OUT points of the SONG. Move the
cursor to the ‘frames’ position next to the
“START” time: Hrs:Min:Sec:Frames:subframes:
The time is always displayed here in Absolute
time. As you begin to move the Data Wheel
clockwise to input a new start time the measure
counter will begin to count backwards. As you dial
up the frames you will see the BEAT counter start
counting according to your selected time signature
and tempo. If, for example, your song is in 4/4
time, you will see the BEAT counter count back
from 4. As you scroll the time you can count how
many measures of lead-in you are creating. For
example, if you want a two measure count-in let it
count backwards from 4 twice and add one extra
tick (for good measure):
04 – 03 – 02 – 01 – 04 – 03 – 02 – 01 – 04
You stop at the next 04 so that when you start the
playback you get the four-count complete twice.
Other options with RS7000 or Motif
The Integrated Sampling Sequencer that is found
in both the RS7000 and Motif, give those products
some of the capability that you find in the AW
hard disk recording system, principally, the ability
to overdub while monitoring tracks. They are
‘samplers’ that allow you to record like a real
Multi-Track Recorder. Of course, the difference
between a table top/keyboard workstation
sampler and a true audio workstation hard disk
recorder is one that needs to be appreciated on an
artistic level. Hard disk audio workstations have a
large record memory (20GB or more), while a
sampler deals with a much, much smaller record
memory (64MB maximum for the Motif and
RS7000). But what you can accomplish in a
sampler is very refined control over the playback
of audio. What we are talking about here is you
can record a single snare drum hit that uses about
250 ms of time and repeat it, in a musical
performance hundreds of time in a composition
without using additional sample memory. In an
audio workstation like the AW you can record the
entire performance in one long chunk. In the
sampler you can manipulate each and every snare
drum event individually as to pitch, tuning, pan
position, volume, etc. You can apply swing, and all
those musical things. It is like working at the
molecular sub-atomic level when compared to
working with audio in a gigabyte sized audio
workstation, where the strength is recording like a
big tape deck. They are too tools that when you
know how to use them, gives you unlimited
Phil Clendeninn
Technology Products
©Yamaha Corporation of America