Sequencing/Recording to S2400 with Trackers

Continuing the discussion from Getting The Most From Recording:

Hi everyone,

I’m a relatively new person to composing music on hardware and I know very little about how audio hardware interacts with audio software. I produce all of my major audio projects solely in Renoise. I occasionally bounce patterns on my S2400 and import them directly into Renoise, but I’d love to come up with a way to integrate my hardware so it can be utilized simultaneously with my software. I adore the tracker style sequencing workflow and I suspect that there is a creative way that is distinctive from a typical streamlined DAW of how it can be used particularly for sequencing hardware instruments.

So far I haven’t used Renoise to sequence S2400 directly, as I don’t have a MIDI clock device to make timings tighter, but I’ve managed to make Renoise send MIDI signals to a WIDI Jack, which would then transmit them to a predefined channel on S2400, so I could easily play chords and arpeggios and record MIDI signals. As of now I have to manually time myself pressing Record on S2400 and Play in Renoise after the countdown. It is a tedious way to do things that I want to drop as soon as I find an easier way to do this trick.

Has anyone used a tracker as sequencer for S2400? Are there any tricks that anyone is using to simplify the workflow of recording MIDI from a software sequencer?

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Has anyone used a tracker as sequencer for S2400? Are there any tricks that anyone is using to simplify the workflow of recording MIDI from a software sequencer?

No, but I think I will try this next! It would be great to be able to key in sample reversals and start point commands from the tracker window. No idea if this is possible. Can you go MIDI out to s2400 over USB? Would using an external midi box change this behavior? I have only tried sending the other way.

I’ll do some experiments as soon as I can.

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I’ve never used trackers but am keen to learn! I produce D&B / Jungle on my 2400 and I’m missing out on that workflow.

There’s a sample tracks midi map file detailed on page 84 of the manual, looks like that could be a starting point.

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@project95 With trackers you have to be precise with the note signals and effects. Your MIDI signals, for example, would continue to play on, even after your track playback would restart from the beginning, until you’ll manually assign where to cut it. Therefore you have to know where in the track you should place that “Note OFF” command. It’s a bit tricky to do in trackers because you can’t see a waveform or anything similar that would tell where the sample ends in the timeline. I usually determine that while playing back my track and timing the moment in the pattern where I’d want the note signal to end.

Even for simply sending MIDI signals with dynamic envelopes, I believe that a tracker works as an extremely fun and efficient production tool. it’s relatively easy and fast to sketch drum sequences and arpeggios or assign MIDI devices to play chords instead of just one note. I often feel like the tracker workflow could land somewhere close to working with MPCs or S2400-like samplers due to their user’s reliance on a pattern-based track writing process mostly consisting of literally pressing buttons.

I like that the midi notes play on, I’m building a track now with a continuous chord from my JD-990, and the note won’t continue in the 2400 sequencer when the pattern restarts, it’s re-triggered.

Also when arranging a song in the 2400, minor tweaks are a lot more involved. I build tracks fast by using SOLO events, but I have to repeat many steps to create new events in the song when I get ideas. I watched one of their video manuals and in Renoise I can select multiple patterns and any edits will be duplicated.

It just looks super fast, I am seriously thinking about switching over.

I’m also wondering how best to control Renoise, PC keyboard or macro mapping to a Keystep or other controller?

Not sure if this is up to date but the latter could be problematic Mapping rotaty knobs to instrument macros? - #6 by Raul - Help, Support & Bugs - Renoise Forums

To be honest, I’ve used a MIDI keyboard with Renoise about once or twice in my life and I rarely assign velocity to the notes in my tracks. I usually just assign it manually in Edit mode after the rough draft of a pattern is complete. It’s also handy that Renoise then assigns an individual delay parameter to every recorded note, which you can then easily edit or remove. There’s also a useful humanization option that increases or decreases those delay parameters to make the pattern sound less rough.

The fact that the workflow in trackers uses your PC keyboard as an input device by default is a reasonable advantage over the majority of streamlined sequencers where you have to repeatedly open a virtual keyboard to do that, but regardless, I still think that it’d be a more traditional way to record MIDI patterns with an actual MIDI keyboard in real time, especially if it has velocity and aftertouch functionality, or even the knobs, so you can also record automations.

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Ok I was trying to say that but you did a better job than I could have. It’s very much a computer keyboard experience for me. Especially when I am just selecting a time interval and holding down the C-4 note to fill a pattern with a rapid fire break.

Another example is how the inline “FX” menu does not actually do anything, the menu is just a lookup table of alphanumeric codes to accomplish various things, which one then types into the pattern edit window (eg. S20 would mean start sample playing at position 2/16).

So you will be looking them up constantly, and start to remember some extremely quickly.

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Here’s a project file for a fantastic track by Michiel van den Bos for Unreal Tournament that @cfd2 has showed me a few days ago. Checking it out should be a great example to get an impression on how structuring a full project in a tracker can look like.

Typically it’s better to open IT modules in a more traditional tracker, like OpenMPT or Schism Tracker, due to their usage of a more dedicated sound engine, which is also used in VideoLAN, IRRC. However, you can also open them in Renoise: it would convert it automatically into a Renoise project. One downside is that some original sample parameters might be altered, which would most likely show up in an unwanted sound in the looped regions of samples or some notes playing a bit too loud or a bit too quiet.


What a banger :heart_on_fire:

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This is great, I’ve got it open in Schism on my mac, it’s a bit overwhelming - I’m looking at this thinking where do I begin. Will Schism be a good place to start for a hardware only set-up? Or would Renoise be better?

@katerkeit and I got it opened in Renoise. It works fine there except for some loop points which do not sound as smooth (due to audio engine differences, as per @katerkeit) but you barely even notice these issues when the track is playing :stuck_out_tongue:

Use Renoise!

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Renoise is modern and powerful and has a huge devoted community. It’s borderline shareware. If you just want to program midi data then the demo version would even be fine (not that I have tried that yet), since the only difference is you can’t render tracks.

Schism tracker is kind of cute but it’s going to be a pain to do anything with.

The official Renoise tutorial video(s) are really good. It’a actually a very fast DAW to learn, and it makes other DAWs seem cumbersome once you know how it works. It just looks very dafuq when you first open it. Also you can pretend it’s The Matrix.

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