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Synchronization of DAWs with MTC & MMC


This post focuses on the use of MIDI Time Code (MTC) and MIDI Machine Control (MMC) to synchronize multiple DAWs together.

SMPTE timecode was create for the purpose of synchronizing audio systems together, such as tape machines, computers, and other time sensitive audio devices.  MIDI timecode is an extension of SMPTE timecode into the MIDI format and is very useful for synchronizing MIDI enabled devices, such as DAWs, together.  Some possibilities for these sorts of arrangements include using one DAW’s transport to control other machines, using transport controls on your keyboard or controller to control the transport in your DAW, syncing sequencers/samplers to your DAW, and tempo-synching filters in synthesizer systems.

Each DAW software package configures its synchronization options differently, of course.  However, in a synchronization system there can only be one master.  The master is the device that you would like to control all other devices (slaves).

First, run a MIDI cable from the MIDI out of your master device to the MIDI in of your slaves.  Most software requires you to enable MIDI Sync through a synchronization menu somewhere and, then, select which MIDI channel the sync will be transmitted over (make sure this is the same on both machines!)  There’s usually a ‘transmit’ Next, on the slave enable ‘external sync’ through a button on the transport or through a menu in the drop-downs (Pro Tools has a little clock icon and Cubase has a ‘sync’ button, both of which toggle between internal and external sync).  Look through the manual for your particular software to find out the specifics.  Try searching for MTC or MMC.