Studio Setup, page 6...
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Connection Scheme 6:
The scheme shown in Figure 6 below is extremely powerful for music production because it allows you to synchronize sequenced instruments and drum patterns with audio tracks that are already recorded on the multitrack recorder. Since the synchronizing tone is recorded onto the multitrack recorder, any sequenced instruments that are being played back do not need to be recorded to the multitrack recorded. They can be mixed directly to the 2-channel recorder during the final master recording step and combined with any tracks on the multitrack recorder. This synchronization is accomplished by a device called a tape synchronizer.
Back in the 80s and early 90s, this tape synchronization for home studios was performed by a box that allowed you to record a FSK (Frequency Shift Key) signal onto tape. An example of this type of device was the Yamaha YMC10. The FSK signal consisted of a certain frequency tone to represent a digital ONE and a different frequency tone to represent a digital ZERO. The FSK signal represented a synchronizing count on the tape from the beginning to the end of the song. Drum machines and sequencers could read this audio signal from the tape recorder, decode it and determine what they should play to be in perfect sync with the tape. Usually, the FSK encode/decode circuitry was built right into the sequencer or drum machine. This approach has now given way to the use of MTC (MIDI Time Code) used in conjunction with SMPTE Time Code. See pages 29 and 38 of the book.
Using the scheme in Figure 6, a SMPTE Time Code signal is first recorded onto track 4 of the 4-channel recorder (or track 8 or 16 of an 8- or 16-channel recorder, respectively). This is generally done by driving the MIDI-Tape Synchronizer via MIDI with a drum pattern (set to the correct tempo and time signature) from the drum machine. This recorded audio signal becomes the master synchronizing signal for the system. The MIDI-Tape Synchronizer later reads this audio signal off of the multitrack recorder and generates the MTC signal that is used to synchronize all of the other MIDI devices (sequencer, drum machine, synthesizers, samplers, etc.) in the system. The MTC signal is sent out of the MIDI Out port of the MIDI-Tape Synchronizer and travels within the normal MIDI cables.
With this scheme, the tracks on the multitrack recorder can be reserved for non-MIDI instruments (stringed instruments, human voices, woodwinds, horns, etc.) and the MIDI instruments can just mixed in with the mixer at the last step as everything is recorded to the 2-channel recorder. Another bonus of this approach is that the song tempo can be slowed down for recording challenging passages by adjusting the pitch control on the multitrack recorder (if there is one available).
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