The Atari STe – Still The World’s Tightest Music Computer?

Atari_STEHexfix93 (Velvet Acid Christ) has been doing some tests, trying to figure out which computer/sequencer combination is the tightest for doing electronic music.

He tested sequencers by sequencing a series of 16th notes, recording the output, viewing it in an audio editor and checking how much the 16th notes deviated from where they should be. .

He found three computer/sequencer combinations that he thinks are tighter than anything produced today – and they’re all ancient.

The winner?

The Atari STe:

The Atari STe is monochrome in 640×480 max res, 8mhz, yes, 8mhz motorola 68000 processor, with 720k floppy drive and no hard drive, external mouse and monitor, a space hog. Doesn’t make noise though.

The timing is super tight with drums, if you put the drums on midi channel 1 and bass on midi 2, and put the hardware for the drums and bass 1 and 2 on the midi out chain, the drums and bass will be super tight. You can throw 170 bpm 32nd and 64th notes at it and doesn’t choke. It’s amazing.

If you are doing aggressive electronic, high temp, or glitchy stuff with hardware, these are the best sequencers. No PC or modern MAC can match it.

How tight is the Atari STe?

Tight to 1ms.

Anyone else try tests like this?

It seems a bit pathetic that the tightest computer for sequencing would be 20 years old.

65 thoughts on “The Atari STe – Still The World’s Tightest Music Computer?

  1. It makes me laugh that anyone thinks they're going to get truly tight sequencing over actual physical MIDI, from any computer.

    If you really want tightness, use analogue hardware and something like Silent Way or Volta to generate *sample accurate* control information. That's about 50 times tighter (at 44.1kHz) than "tight to 1ms".

    1. There is some financial issues there, not to mention workflow differences. Also, the comment just sounded snobby, despite it actually being a statement of fact.

      How about this next time “a great alternative to computers for sequencing is analog hardware, its sample accurate etc etc”

  2. Comparing what, just two channels of MIDI driven output? How about we build a full song and watch that downbeat lag with one MIDI port? Or what about the poor grounding of the ST's MIDI port that freaked some devices out completely? If we're testing external interfaces, let's do that on both. Or best of all: Compare the old MIDI mess to a soft-synth. Sure that's not fair, but we are talking about tightness. If tight timing were my concern, I'd rather run software than try to keep one of those grand old ladies, and her floppies, working. (Yes, I used Hybrid Arts SMPTE Track and Cubase on Atari ST's for years.)

    1. You can always run the Mac as an audio recorder, perhaps linked and synced by MIDI, hopefully the Mac will respond to start and stop quick enough! Or potentially use that ‘Softsynth’ feature you talk about by making the Mac a MIDI sound module ‘dumb terminal’ so to speak controlled by the ST.

    2. Well, I think you’d probably find similar *differences* between it and the other systems under test. Sure, the overall MIDI sync will lag more when you’re outputting more channels and notes, it’ll do that on every machine. But the ST will still give the best overall result as it adds less lag of its own on top of that. You’ve only about 3125 bytes (31250 bps with 10-bit encoding of 8-bit information) per second to play with, or in other words your minimum quantisation is worse than 1/3rd of a millisecond per byte… so being accurate to 1ms when you’re sending a stream of note-on / note-off bytes for two separate channels (something which most likely requires a minimum of two, possibly three bytes per note per event) implies that you’ve got essentially NO measurable lag on the computer side AT ALL.

      Presumably it’s a matter of what you’re intending to do with the machine.

      16 note polyphony (1 channel with 16 notes at once, 4 channels with 4 each, 16 channels with 1 note each … possibly there’s differences in efficiency, I’m not an expert, but let’s assume a worst-case scenario), that’ll be 1/8th as tight overall. So it’ll be accurate to 8ms, or 1/250th of a second. That’s still pretty good, better than most humans can manage. If you’re doing 240bpm, your note on / note off events will still be accurate to within about 1.6% of the entire length of a quarter-note / crotchet. About 5% for a semiquaver (16th note), or 10% for demisemi (32nd), which is where the cracks in the INTERFACE AS A WHOLE may start to show.

      But, when you’ve got 16 notes happening at once, are you going to notice a 10% variance in the timing/length of an individual 32nd note at 250bpm?

      Also, we’re assuming you’re going to use a single ST here, and have it as the sole, central device of a production rig. Which few people really did. It’s one tool amongst a suite of them. And it wouldn’t be unknown to have several STs (and other computers, sequencers, etc) hooked up in a network, with their playback started in sync from a single master, multiple-output MIDI controller (whose “start” command would go out in absolute sync on all channels, with only the inherent lag in each target system then causing any measurable drift). Or you could use software with a proprietary non-MIDI method of syncing multiple STs (/etc) together, e.g. via the serial, parallel, cartridge or mouse/joystick ports. You don’t have to have your entire studio running off a single 8MHz, 0.5-to-4MB RAM machine with a single 31.3kbaud MIDI output cable.

      While we’re at it, btw… the ST doesn’t have an INTERNAL hard disc (unless you get busy with the soldering iron and retrofit e.g. a modern CF reader device or the like), but it sure can have external ones connected, that’s no bother.

      And the output ports aren’t “poorly grounded”, they’re just specified in an unusual way – instead of having a third, bulky 5-pin DIN port for the little-used THRU function, they co-opted the otherwise unused pins 2 and 4 in the connector. These would otherwise have been floating and maybe provided some kind of shielding in the cable, but in the ST they carry the MIDI IN information mixed with the OUT. There is however *a* grounding problem implied by this… otherwise known as “some 5-pin DIN audio cables cross-connected pins 2 and 4 to ground to improve shielding in one-way analogue audio applications (or just to cheap out and use 3-core instead of 5-core cable), and not enough people realise that MIDI cables =/= DIN audio cables” (heck, *I* only just found out about THAT recently…). You get THRU trying to interact on the ground line? Welcome to freakout city. Use proper all-five-pins-connected MIDI-certified cables (or indeed a 2-port breakout (OUT/THRU to OUT plus THRU…)) instead of re-using questionable audio leads and all should be well. Admittedly, Atari kinda dropped the ball there by not labelling the “out” port as “out/thru” when I’m sure I’ve seen other corner-cutting MIDI devices do similar before… (the twiddling of what each port does is relatively rare, but certainly not limited to Atari, and I’ve seen enough other warnings elsewhere to use “proper” MIDI leads, not repurposed audio cables … which may often work fine for simple keyboard-OUT-to-computer-IN purposes, but will come back to bite you in specialist cases like this)

    3. Oh, and I almost forgot…

      Full-size keyboardputer ST too bulky and hard to move around into a convenient position? Can’t deal with a clunky old ball mouse, CRT monitor or yet another LCD? You still have options.

      One, a Mega ST or STe. These are more of a PC / Amiga X-thousand design, a separate desktop case (and a fairly modestly sized one vs, say, an IBM PC) and a smaller, lighter keyboard connected by a cable.

      Two, a portable ST. You can either go for the svelte but increasingly pricey ST Book and find your own way of dealing with the non-backlit screen, or plump for a somewhat heavier, chunkier STacy (but spend less and get a backlight for your money – and it’s still relatively portable vs a machine with a separate monitor, full-size keyboard and lots of trailing cables). Both of which have mouse alternatives built in.

      Three… a trackball… and a picoprojector 😉

    4. Greetings,

      I am looking for copies of the Hybrid Arts Smpte Track boot disk and program disk. Do you still have the floppy disk? I have a Falcon 30. I have loaded Edit Track7.01 from Tim’s website… .. My original Smpte Track floppy’s are giving me errors

      Just can not get the program to recognize the Hybrid Arts Smpte Track sync box.

      I would appreciate it.




  3. It makes me laugh that anyone thinks they're going to get truly tight sequencing over actual physical MIDI, from any computer.

    If you really want tightness, use analogue hardware and something like Silent Way or Volta to generate *sample accurate* control information. That's about 50 times tighter (at 44.1kHz) than "tight to 1ms".

  4. have been trying to get one for some time now… and I think I'll just keep on trying… there's a lot of really cool software for this machine! I wouldn't get one for the reason you proposed though, as expertsleepers said, MIDI from a computer is always lagging somehow, but on the other hand, most of the time nobody really notices anyway…

  5. Well it seem reasonable that early computer would have better timing. MIDI was usually supplied by an interrupt in the circuitry, so it is not like it was fighting for resources from anything else.

  6. There's definitely something to be said for the tightness of analog.

    What's the latency going from a modern sequencer to Silent Way to a digital to audio converter and back again, though?

  7. Of course the ST wins. It is *NOT* a multi-tasking computer. There is really NOTHING ELSE going on besides the sequencing software. On a modern system, everything is "time sliced." Program A gets the processor for 1ms. Program B gets the processor for 1ms, and so on. Also, the operating system gets its own chunk of time too.

    Practically none of that happens on an Atari ST. You have interrupts every now and then for system maintenance, but those are tiny and take up almost no time. So I am not surprised at these results.

    1. Cubase is a purpose built multitasking piece of software. It manages the ST much in the same way you might hope Windows would manage the IBM PC compatible

      1. Are you seriously trying to tell us that Steinburg did what Atari themselves couldn’t and hardly anyone else ever did, and coded up some proper operating-system level multitasking on a machine which otherwise never saw any software co-operation above the level of a Desk Accessory? Even an Amiga, this wasn’t. And Windows itself, on more advanced CPUs, didn’t get even timeslicing multitasking until 3.0 in 1990.

        Don’t mistake the current versions of Cubase, on Windows and Mac systems, for the original Atari version. It might have had a couple of different threads or subroutines going on (so that it could, eg, send and receive things via the MIDI ports at the same time as updating the display), but that isn’t the same as multitasking.

        BTW there’s probably an additional factor in play: the MIDI signalling rate is equal to sending two bits per TV scanline… and a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation shows it’s quite likely that it’s equivalent to one bit per mono monitor scanline. (Usually reported as 400 lines at 70hz, but not specifying the amount of overscan or the exact refresh rate; with 46 lines of overscan, and a 31250hz horizontal scan rate (MIDI runs at 31250 bps), that’s 70.07Hz vertical scan) … So even on a single tasking, 8Mhz machine, if all it has to do when sending or receiving MIDI data is process a couple of bits per HBlank, that leaves a heck of a lot of chip time for doing other things… at 8mhz, that’s 256 cycles/line, in a screen mode that only needs to modify a max of 80 bytes (in a 2-byte-word system) even if it’s changing every piece of graphics outside of VBlank / being forced to take the place of the shifter, ZX81 style. And chucking MIDI data from RAM to the ports isn’t exactly demanding.

        There’s absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be able to keep 1ms accuracy. The only problem is that of the interface itself only being able to transmit 3.9 bytes (31 bits) in each millisecond, and though I know little else about the standard, I’d expect each note for each instrument probably requires a 16-bit packet (7-bit coarse pitch, 7-bit volume at the very least, plus a 2-bit control code (e.g. start/stop/other/reserved), not including panning, vibrato/pitch bend or fine-tuning/after touch/other controls)… so if you had sixteen channels with four note polyphony each, that’s pushing 1/30th sec latency. Which is still probably acceptable, and well within the ST’s capabilities, but risking problems if there’s additional traffic.

        USB, even 1.0 (maxing out at 1mbit/sec on each host port), will be far better, if you limit yourself to one device per host port and keep a good handle on the bus mastering and internal timing. Difficult on a complicated modern OS, but not necessarily impossible if the program asserts a “realtime” priority level and you don’t run anything else at the same time.

        Still, the point of it all is more likely that you can use it to synchronise the STe’s half-decent chip/sample audio (and graphics) capabilities with external samplers and instruments, including ones that may be being played live.

        1. “Are you seriously trying to tell us that Steinburg did what Atari themselves couldn’t and hardly anyone else ever did, and coded up some proper operating-system level multitasking on a machine which otherwise never saw any software co-operation above the level of a Desk Accessory? ”

          That’s exactly what they did. Steinberg created MROS or ‘music realtime operating system’. This was a true real time OS that could run multiple MROS compatible programs simultaneously, while giving the highest priority to midi timing. Hence the GUI could slow down, but your midi timing never suffered.

          MROS was revolutionary at the time, and allowed other useful features such as sharing device drivers between software and could be updated independently from the software it ran.

          The reason you don’t hear about it much is that the cracked versions of the Steinberg Atari products generally broke MROS enough to prevent mutiple programs, the MROS Switcher, and other useful features from working. Those of us with a handful of dongles and a MIDEX however had a rather powerful system.

          1. Damn, well, that’s me told then 😀

            Sounds pretty cool … was it a GEM replacement, or more an equivalent to a modern DAW that you ran as a program and it effectively took the place of a specialised recording studio OS, within which you ran particular programs / modules depending on what you were doing?

            Because it’s pretty hard to do any true multitasking on a 68000, the chip simply hasn’t got the architecture and commands for it, and the ST’s memory management isn’t properly up to the task either. All the programs/modules within the DAW/OS would have to be engineered to play nice with each other.

            I mean, I don’t doubt they did that, but it’s an impressive piece of work to contemplate even so… and worth the money paid by those who didn’t crack it 😉

            1. MROS doesn’t really have a user interface, other than the ‘Switcher’ which lets you swap between programs. It’s more like a microkernel than an operating system.

              It’s difficult to find much about how it works. Only Steinberg software ran on it, with one exception, the Live Plus sequencer by Harold Plontke. He described it a little:

              “Yes. MROS means MIDI Realtime Operation system which is an add-on which provides special interrupts with priority and many other realtime- and MIDI- related functions. I execute it at startup of my program and use its functions for the playback-routine. If you want to use Cubase, you need just one MROS and the programm started with MROS can communicate together (You can record from one sequencer to another for example)”

            2. Thanks Monsieur MROS 🙂
              Eddy well the ST doesn’t have an MMU to enable easy multitasking as in the Falcon.. but it could do it, there was an OS called MagiC! that offered a full multitasking environment.. and MiNT / MultiTOS / FreeMINT does run on a 4MB ST albeit not wonderfully.
              Cubase’s multitasking is honed to the specific environment.

              and not to forget the ‘Amiga’ using a 68k offered a multitasking type os too

          2. Oh, and, yay for searching for some unrelated thing to do with the machine, only to find that the reason google threw this page at me (on the third page of results, after exhausting all other options so far because it appears the information I’m after *simply doesn’t exist*) … is because of some keywords in the post you were replying to.


        2. “Are you seriously trying to tell us that Steinburg did what Atari themselves couldn’t and hardly anyone else ever did”
          Steinberg did made MROS (MIDI Real-time Operating System) not as full fledge OS but it had multitasking capabilities. Do not forget that today OS runs on 10.000x more powerful CPU than 8MHz MC68000 in ST.
          Atari Corp. eventually did make multitasking, preemptive, memory protected OS: MultiTOS.
          Beside Atari Corp. there was two other multitasking OS for Atari: Geneva and MagiC! (but I believe that you already know this 😉 )

  8. Then again how tight is a live orchestra, jazz band or rock group. Certainly not down to 1 ms. So, really, what does it matter to the music?

  9. This is why I still love my Atari St. I have Cubase 3.1 and a Midex MIDI expander. I still use my PC for lots of stuff but when I'm ready to groove it all goes back on the Atari, always.

  10. Unfortunately for VAC, he feels softsynths are cack compared to the dedicated outboard synths. And I have to agree… I have yet to find a softsynth that doesn't end up sounding exactly the same as all the other softsynths on my computer (basically, they all sound like my computer… which isn't necessarily a good thing).

    So, if you're already dedicated to the external hardware route, then MIDI timing inside the computer is secondary to the timing outside.

  11. it matters only to those that are into the same things. i use my nanopad to control some vocoding aspects which i believe to be impressive but none of my friends even know what the hell im talking about when i try to explain it. the findings here are relative only to the people that can relate. i know that out of diet coke and coke classic only one floats but its of no consequence. its just interesting to know. anyway – john bonham is the tightest and bestest drummer ever. i know because he told me.

    1. While there is a lot to be said for the Amiga, this is one area where it was no competition. 🙂 The tight Midi timing is in part a result of the midi interface being included in the hardware design and operating system. Ironically, the main reason Ataris had a midi port in the first place, was to compensate for their lack of advanced audio hardware like the Amiga has. 🙂

  12. perhaps i am biased as i have two and have used them since the mid 80s (when i bought them new).. but these where specifically design by the atari team for music, hence having midi ports built in, and directly bused to the cpu. we have made jokes for years about nothing ever being tighter, and it's actually noticeable compared to a mac.

    in fact i have used macs for years, but have always complained of the lag even in the best of setups, so it's not surprise to me that test show the same.

    yes, it's not OSC, and the granularity of midi could never be compared, but usually running 16 relatively chord heavy tracks and even spitting out sysex at the same time, the atari really is incredible.

  13. ps: if you get one, make sure you get the scsi connector, to avoid floppy madness. also, this machine boots up fully in like 5 seconds, which is truly nice.

    would also recommend the CLAB expander (if you are running creator/logic (creator pattern based sequencing is better btw imo ! )

    And find M if you can as well, if you even want an extra "player" in your "band'…

  14. Browsing the internet and just dropped on you comments. Yes I'm still using an ste computer and the ARE incredible . All my midi music is on floppy disc of course. The perennial question: if I want to transfer these files to a "modern" computer system, how do I di it? What do I need to convert these files ? Is it possible? Am I wasting my time?


  15. You can format a disk on your PC, DD not HD (720KB available, not 1,44MB) and it can be used directly on your ST. You can write there all your files and then transfer them to the PC. I believe that on latest versions of TOS, TOS formatted disks are also accesible from PCs, but do the trick mentioned above (format them on a PC) to be certain.

  16. You can quote timing figures all you want, but it is ultimately how good or 'right' the music feels and in my opinion the Atari ST/E etc are PERFECT. I love it so much that I now have a Falcon 030 14MB 68882 FPU and Cubase Audio v2.06 with dongle, plus all the hardware that gives digital I/O, multiple analogue audio outs and so on. Fabulous setup and totally silent! I have tried for a decade to get a PC to be as good, and failed after throwing a couple of grand at it. I've also got a second Falcon 030 and maybe I could sync that to give 16 tracks of uncompressed audio? Also the app Zero X for the Falcon is not unlike SoundForge on the PC.

    Atari rocks as far as music production goes!

  17. Fun to read:)
    Actually testing IE9 and punched in Atari Ste by habit.
    Still using my Falcon for games and some midi and have several Ste:s+St and a spare Falcon.
    In fact I am even developing a network interface board for the falcon(slow going thou).
    The main reason for the ST to be so 'tight' on midi and otherstuff is that they used the MFP
    to handle interupts and really use the 8 levels of interupt priority on hardware.
    So about the not being multitasking is kind of fun cause the OS halts programs all the time(hence handling things like keyboard and midi and so forth).
    However the 'normal' definition of multitasking I quess would be atleast 2 user applications running at the 'same time'.
    This only the Accessiories are capable of in a sort of way(havent coded any ACC's so dont know).
    Most fun machine to have anyhows in my opinion:)

    1. Under Steinberg’s MROS multiple applications can run simultaneously.

      You could play midi out of one sequencer (Cubase), and record this into another MROS compatible sequencer from a different company (E.g. ‘Live’) using the operating system’s ‘loop back’ cable. At the same time, you could be editing and processing waveforms in Avalon, and transferring them to a sampler.

      This is true real time multitasking by any definition.

      1. I’d never heard of MROS before – based on Google, it looks like it was the precursor to CuBase. Can you tell me anything else about it?

        1. MROS was the multitasking operating system Steinberg created for the Atari. Later versions of Cubase or software such as Steinberg’s Avalon ran as programs on this operating system.

          MROS did not really have a user interface of it’s own, it just ran in the background and managed the hardware, drivers, midi communication between programs and program scheduling. Perhaps the nearest thing to a GUI would be the ‘Switcher’.

          The first versions of Cubase on the Atari however did not use MROS. I think it was introduced in version 2.0.

  18. I originally bought the 1040ST because it was half the price of a a Mac and had COLOR!!!
    I remember when I went to get sequencing software that I was was sold on Hybrid Arts “SMPTE Track” because “it doesn’t go through a MIDI translation”, it replaces the time clock with SMPTE code, using SMPTE code as it’s timing engine. It also included a separate box that plugged into the side of my ST, into the “Expansion port”, to get direct access to the processor. It also had 1/4″ I/O for the SMPTE read/write jacks. To those above that have said it is still the “tightest” sequencer out there, they are 100% right. Nothing can beat it.

  19. The ST can’t multitask? Ever heard of MagiC, or Freemint? Even Atari released the (admittedly crap) MultiTOS, which is a multitasking operating system.

    None of these are recommended for use with Cubase, however so you are correct and that’s why it’s so tight. I always deactivate MagiC before firing up Cubase Audio Falcon.

    1. You forgot to name “Geneva” by Gribnif Software 😉 although it was only cooperative multitasking in contrast to MiNT and MagiC!…

    2. Falcon =/= ST. Sure, there’s intercompatibility, but only backwards, so on the level that a Megadrive can play Master System games (or PS2/PSX, Wii/Gamecube, GBA/GBC/GB, Spectrum/ZX81/ZX80, later Amigas/early Amigas, 486 Windows PCs running 8086 DOS software…).

      In other words, you might be able to use those things on the Falcon, as well as running ST-compatible software on it, but it’s got a 68030 in it, running at a higher speed, *usually* with more memory than a typical ST, and a much upgraded general internal architecture. If the dev team had done things properly and used a MegaSTe or TT as their base system to expand from rather than a regular STe, it would even have come in a desktop case to further differentiate it from the old home systems.

      I think you *could* get MultiTOS working in some minor regard on the 68000 machines, but it was very limited and still not even up to the level of the Amiga. No background processing or timeslicing (only the foreground program and any desk accessories – such as a shared clipboard – got any CPU time, everything else was paused), no screen space sharing, etc. And it was notoriously fragile, because the ST system doesn’t have any kind of memory protection, being originally birthed as a big brother to the 8-bit XE range, rather than some kind of whizzo professional system. At the time when it launched, the Mac was still new, and neither that nor the PC could multitask either, partly due to that not being a particular need of computer users at the time, and partly due to the exact same CPU and architecture issues. Safe and effective multitasking requires memory protection / address relocation abilities and process switching in hardware (essentially, what Intel calls “protected mode”), and that didn’t happen along until the 80286 and … maybe the 68010 but probably 68020, can’t entirely recall. It’s generally a 32-bit or most-advanced-16-bit thing, even though the first OSes to use it were still largely 16-bit in of themselves…

      Really, unless you really needed it, didn’t mind about the lack of background processing, and were really certain that the software you’d use would all work nicely together, and had a good pile of memory to hold everything “live” at the same time, it wasn’t much worth the bother vs having a HDD and switching between single task applications that took less time to quit and reload than it takes a cheap PC to Alt-Tab… (heck, on floppy, less time that it takes even a moderately expensive on to task switch if it’s under heavy load or the “new” application has been dormant a long time, as it STILL needs to page in from disc ANYWAY).

      tl;dr I said ST, not Falcon or “ST range” (which the Falcon is nominally part of, as is the TT)

      1. Or you do not have a clue about Atari 😉

        “I think you *could* get MultiTOS working in some minor regard on the 68000 machines, but it was very limited and still not even up to the level of the Amiga. No background processing or timeslicing”

        — MultiTOS (or MiNT) is preemptive multitasking thus it have timeslicing and background processing. And it work on ST with 68000 (for memory protection you need 68030 CPU).

        “ST being originally birthed as a big brother to the 8-bit XE range”

        — ST had nothing with previous 8bit Atari computers. ST was designed by ex-Commodore designer Shiraz Shivji. Jay Miner, designer of Amiga, was responsible for Atari 8bit computers.

  20. I’ve still got notator for the Atari st. The timing was unreal, however I was just learning. Still I know a good bit of kit when I hear one so just in case I kept the monochrome monitor and two mice. I’m looking to borrow an STe to see how good it performs as a midi master clock to drive my external sequencers, MPC 4000 / ASQ 10. Now this is how I’ve got it, the more tempo precision you have the closer to the ends of the waves you’ll be (at least for the tuned frequency for the tempo and its perfect fifth above), and also it’ll allow for more frequencies on a shifted 12 et scale to line up to the song tempo as well as allowing me to get nearer whole delay times ( for my external effects which only run to milliseconds and not portions of ms )….say for instance my mpc says 86.7 beats per minute and the delay time for Q bar is 692.0415225 ms. Having a tempo clock accurate to four decimal places will allow me to get even closer….providing there’s no slop or jitter of course. With mpc tempo’s ranging from 120 bpm to just over 180 their’s 19 possibilities I’d use, by what I mean; tempo’s with delays times which are accurate to within 100th of a millisecond and I tune synths ect to match tempo….and at what I call half speed 60 to just over 90 bpm there’s only 10 I’d use, because you can’t get 180.7 beats per minute and divide it by 2 on an mpc, you have to recalculate frequency and tempo because of the 1 decimal place. Gonna buy a latency device which will hook up to my scope, and work out maths to generate required frequency from my sig gen (accurate to 9 decimal places lol) and then see if clock output of Atari lines up to square wave zero crossings of generated frequency, we’ll see if its tight, just as a clock though. As I say It could be a cheap midi master clock compared to say the new midi clock just out at 120 UK beans (probably still cool, claims 50,000 times more accurate than any DAW clock), still only one decimal place though duh!
    One last thing….When’s the ASQ 20 coming out with eight midi outs…zero latency ports across the range….standalone unit…..960 PPQN sequencer and four or at least three decimal places on tempo….who’s with me?
    ps I spit at USB and everything that is USB.
    Great topic,,,timing is everything!!!

  21. Well guys i really don’t know for you, but last summer i got an Korg M1 and last month i got an Atari 1040 STFM, the rig is ready and this summer will be a lot of fun 🙂 For the timings i really don`t care, but i know the music wil be delicious super hot

  22. best midi timing prize for the year 2016 goes toooooo…..ATARI STE/FM and Notator 3.21
    This setup is the master of the groove!!!

  23. Atari ST really was amazing for music production
    Remember starting off with Pro24 seq then moved to Cubase.
    Midi wise you can’t beat the Atari version of Cubase. I moved on to PC version, and i Really was crying and ripping off my hair of the bad timing on the windows version of Cubase.
    It wasn’t until Cubase 3.5 for the PC that Steinberg got Cubase to run “fairly” on the PC platform

    Sure todays version of Cubase does tons of stuff you couldn’t do on the Atari versions… the world have moved on, but Software synths even on my today i7 is still hard to get to work. “Zero latency” audio interfaces, wether its on firewire or USB2/3 is bollocks. nothing is zero latency. There will always be latency. USB 3-4 ms, Asio drivers 2-3 ms + what the PC is doing. So Audio recording isn’t the way to beat the latency as far as digital recording goes. only analog recording gets close to that.
    Having external synths and samplers will always beat any software synth, and MIDI only have 2ms latency. Sure you can saturate MIDI if you send large amounts of Ctrl messages or sys-ex, but Note on/off does always get priority over Ctrl and other data on the MIDI port

    Gotta say I wish I hadn’t sold my old Atari 1040 STfm and upgraded my Cubase 3.1 Atari to Cubase 1.0 for Windoze back in the days. PC’s and Windows has always been crap at timing untill we got to Win XP and newer Pentium CPU’s.

    Quite a feather in the hat for the old 6800 8Mhz CPU

  24. I wish ataris where still in production as they where the best for midi sequencing. The moment a company makes an Atari style/Cubase style sequencer I think it will be the new bench mark. I have been making tracks for 25 years and the problems I have these days with PCs and timing, etc has been enough to send me round the bend.
    Lets hope people will make one. More memory , but same style and sytem.

  25. This forum is very interesting, because it’s 2019 and the problem still occurs! I started off in the early nineties and used an Atari ST for years with Cubase V2.0 midi connected to a Yamaha SY85 workstation and Akai S950 sampler. I wan’t happy with the sound I was getting so like a lot of people over the years I started to move into the box. I started off with a pc world decent spec home pc 10 years ago, running Cubase Sx2 and then 4, upgraded to a scan 3xs laptop running Cubase 5, then got my current pc, a scan custom 3xs powerdaw that’s several years old now with Cubase 7, 7.5, 8 and now currently 9.5. It’s a brilliant machine, very powerful, handles all the plugins I throw at it, but there was one aspect of all these pcs and laptop that is incredibly frustrating; the midi timing is terrible, all over the place, some plugins worse than others. It sounded relatively ok running live, but when it came to print all the midi as audio, the waveforms showed it was drifting badly and not consistently either, so I couldn’t just cut off the start of the audio and line it up. The only common denominator was windows and Cubase, I tried technical support with steinberg (I didn’t bother with Microsoft, I thought it would be a waste of time). Steinberg said it was the plugins at fault, so I contacted the plugin manufacturers and they said it was the DAW. I didn’t want to change DAWs because apart from this Cubase just works for me. After months of tearing my hair out and spending hours slicing up the audio to the point where I started to get paranoid about the timing of all of it, I stumbled across a website called Innerclock systems and bought a synchronisation box called the Sync Gen Pro II, which instead of using midi from the pc comes with a VST plugin that sends an audio pulse that goes to the Sync Gen, and is then converted to MIDI. I noticed it has been mentioned in a previous post and it had excellent reviews. It changed everything. I still use the pc for sequencing because it is simpler, and I can live with the midi tracks running live at this point, because they don’t sound too bad, then when I’ve done the arrangement and it comes to print as audio, I save it as a midi file and then break out my trusty Atari ST, load the midi arrangement, connect the midi out of the Sync gen to the midi in of the ST and the midi out of the ST to the hardware I want to control, and set the ST to receive MIDI clock and it locks up with no problems, and then print the audio to the PC. I also have a lot of software synths, and used the same method, effectively using my laptop with the soft synths on as a sound module. You have to have two interfaces for this part, and as a whole it’s a fag to do it every time, but believe me it’s worth it. The timing is incredible. the waveforms are exactly on the beat. So I wholeheartedly agree with the post about The Sync Gen Pro II and the Atari ST. The timing is unbeatable. Long live the Atari ST!

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