Pandora's box is an artifact in Greek mythology. The "box" was actually a large jar given to Pandora which contained all the evils of the world. Today, the phrase "to open Pandora's box" means to perform an action that may seem small or innocuous, but that turns out to have severe and far-reaching consequences.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandora's_box

Let us assume you have invested wisely in a quality hardware MIDI sequencer that performs its primary task very well - generating sequenced MIDI events in accurate and consistent time against an ultra stable internal Tempo-Grid.

Naturally you then connect the MIDI output from this hardware sequencer to your favorite MIDI sound module or MIDI keyboard and enjoy the results.

Tight MIDI event generation is only half the story.

In the same way that different hardware sequencers and drum machines keep time better than others, different MIDI modules and MIDI keyboards will all respond differently to incoming MIDI events based on manufacturer design and the operating system software.

In this variation of the Original Litmus timing test we take a precision MIDI Sequencer and program a single track of continuous and sample-accurate 16th Midi Note Events. No other MIDI messages are generated - no Continuous Control, no Aftertouch, no MIDI Clock and no MIDI Time Code. Just MIDI Note On and MIDI Note Off. The continuous 16th MIDI Note events are on Channel 1 exclusively.

In real-world use with extended polyphony, multiple MIDI Channels and Continuous Controller activity the timing performance results as reported here will almost certainly get worse. MIDI is a serial protocol - it can only ever perform one trick at any one time. You can transmit an enormous amount of MIDI data down a single cable but the receiving device deals with each byte only when it can get to it. The harder you make it work, the worse the timing train wreck is on the other side. How much that bothers you is for you to decide.

At a tempo of 120 BPM there should be exactly 6000 samples @ 48kHz between any two consecutive 16th Midi Note events.

Our Reference Sequencer:-

Akai: MPC-3000/OS Version Vailixi 3.50T3

This Test: Pattern Mode/Cycle - Raw Outgoing Midi Note Data - Port A

Number of samples [48 kHz] between consecutive Sixteenth Midi Note Events:
5998/ 5999/ 6000/ 5999/ 6000/ 5999/ 5999/ 6000/ 5999/ 5999/ 6000/ 5999/ 6000/ 5999/ 5999/ 6000

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Midi Note Events:
1 sample (0.02ms)

Litmus Ranking: 

Current Operating System is listed. Obviously a change of OS may mean a change in test results. Equipment is in no order of personal preference.

Feel free to email us if your own testing provides a different set of numbers.

Remember that this is a highly biased rating system based on one feature only. Important as timing performance is, there are many other aspects to software and hardware sequencers that contribute to their overall worth as musically creative tools.

Litmus Ranking Table:- 16th Tempo Jitter in Samples @ 48kHz

= Zero to 15

= 16 to 25

= 26 to 50

= 51 to 75

= 76 to 100

= 101 to 125

= 126 to 150

= 151 to 175

= 176 to 200

= 201 to 249

= more than 250

Roland: System-1/Main OS Version 1.0

Audio Output: Fastest Fast EG Attack Settings

Midi Input Source - 5 Pin Midi

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
6004/ 6000/ 5999/ 5999/ 6005/ 5999/ 6000/ 6000/ 6003/ 5999/ 5999/ 5997/ 6007/ 5999/ 6003/ 5998

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
10 Samples [0.21ms]

LitmusRanking: 

Arturia: MiniBrute/Main OS Version 1.0.2.1

Audio Output: Fastest Fast EG Attack Settings

Midi Input Source - 5 Pin Midi

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5987/ 6013/ 5991/ 6014/ 5986/ 6012/ 5988/ 6015/ 5985/ 6018/ 5986/ 6014/ 5987/ 6018/ 5984/ 6012

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
34 Samples [0.71ms]

LitmusRanking: 

Roland: SH-01 Gaia

Roland Gaia Web -  http://www.roland.com/products/en/SH-01/

Midi Input Source - 5 Pin Midi

Audio Output: Fastest Amp EG Attack Settings

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5997/ 6002/ 5997/ 5999/ 5997/ 6002/ 5999/ 5998/ 5999/ 6000/ 6000/ 6000/ 5997/ 6001/ 6000/ 5999

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
5 Samples [0.10ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Elektron: SPS-1UW MKII/Main OS Version 1.62

Audio Output: GND Impulse Machine

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5991/ 5991/ 5991/ 6026/ 5991/ 5991/ 5991/ 5991/ 6026/ 5956/ 6095/ 5991/ 5921/ 6061/ 5990/ 5991

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
140 Samples [2.92ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Waldorf: Blofeld Desktop/Main OS Version 1.16B2

Audio Output: Fastest VCA EG Attack Settings

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5991/ 6009/ 5991/ 6009/ 5991/ 5992/ 6009/ 5991/ 6009/ 5991/ 6009/ 5991/ 6009/ 5991/ 5992/ 6009

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
18 Samples [0.37ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Roland: Jupiter-6/Factory Standard - Non-Europa

Audio Output: Fastest VCA EG Attack Settings

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5968/ 6089/ 5962/ 5965/ 6085/ 5969/ 6084/ 5846/ 6085/ 5966/ 6084/ 5847/ 6087/ 6084/ 5966/ 5962

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
240 Samples [5.00ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Elektron: A4/Main OS Version 1.06

Audio Output: Fastest VCA EG Attack Settings

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5984/ 6018/ 5985/ 6020/ 5978/ 6016/ 5984/ 6019/ 5984/ 6012/ 5986/ 5984/ 6018/ 5983/ 6011/ 5986

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
42 Samples [0.87ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

AKAI: S-3000/Main OS Version 1.50

Audio Output: Fastest VCA EG Attack Settings

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
6002/ 5998/ 6000/ 5997/ 6000/ 6000/ 5999/ 5999/ 6002/ 5997/ 5998/ 6000/ 6001/ 6000/ 6001/ 6000

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
5 Samples [0.10ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Alesis: Andromeda A6/Main OS Version 1.40.12

Audio Output: Optimized Fastest VCA EG Attack Settings

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5938/ 6052/ 5954/ 6052/ 5954/ 6036/ 5954/ 6053/ 5954/ 6037/ 5954/ 6052/ 5954/ 6054/ 5937/ 5954

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
117 Samples [2.44ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Roland: JD-990

Audio Output: Rim Shot

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
6000/ 5999/ 6000/ 5999/ 6001/ 5998/ 6000/ 5999/ 6000/ 5999/ 6000/ 5999/ 6000/ 5998/ 6001/ 5998/

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
3 Samples [0.06ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Roland: Jupiter-8 with Kenton MIDI Retrofit

Audio Output: Fastest VCA EG Attack Setting

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
6054/ 5870/ 6149/ 5871/ 6114/ 5964/ 5870/ 6149/ 5871/ 6197/ 5870/ 6115/ 5779/ 6149/ 5872/ 6239

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
367 Samples [7.65ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

AKAI: S-5000/OS Version 2.14

Audio Output: Rim Shot Sample

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
6002/ 5997/ 6012/ 5985/ 6004/ 5998/ 5998/ 5999/ 6000/ 5998/ 6001/ 6001/ 5998/ 6003/ 6015/ 5983

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
32 Samples [0.67ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

AKAI: VX-90

Audio Output: Fastest VCA EG Attack Setting

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5806/ 6067/ 6107/ 5785/ 6088/ 6109/ 5790/ 6126/ 6110/ 5805/ 6019/ 6109/ 5807/ 6109/ 6109/ 5807

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
322 Samples [6.71ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Roland: V-Synth XT

Audio Output: Rim Shot Internal PCM Sample/Fastest VCA EG Attack Setting

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
6026/ 5991/ 5991/ 5991/ 5991/ 6026/ 5991/ 5990/ 6026/ 5991/ 5991/ 5991/ 5991/ 6025/ 5991/ 5991

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
35 Samples [0.73ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Fairlight: CMI Series III - MFX2/OS Version 11.39B

Test A

Audio Output: Cowbell Sample - Direct Output Voice Card 1
N-Phony: 1 Voice

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5974/ 6023/ 6022/ 5974/ 6022/ 6021/ 5975/ 6021/ 5974/ 6022/ 5973/ 5975/ 6023/ 5973/ 6023/ 5974

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
50 Samples [1.04ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Test B

Audio Output: Cowbell Sample - Router/Mixer Card - Output 1
N-Phony: 1 Voice

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
5975/ 6021/ 6022/ 5974/ 6021/ 5975/ 6023/ 6022/ 5974/ 6022/ 5974/ 5974/ 5974/ 6022/ 6021/ 5975

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
48 Samples [0.99ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Test C: NB - Voice Cards/Router Card may require calibration - more tests soon.

Audio Output: Cowbell Sample - Router/Mixer Card - Output 1
N-Phony: 4 Voices

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
6023/ 5878/ 6118/ 5878/ 6118/ 5879/ 6117/ 5927/ 6069/ 5926/ 6070/ 5880/ 6117/ 5878/ 6165/ 5831

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
334 Samples [6.96ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Roland: Juno-106

Audio Output: Fastest VCA EG Attack Setting

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
6012/ 6012/ 6009/ 6006/ 6015/ 5931/ 6013/ 6009/ 6015/ 6006/ 6007/ 6014/ 5932/ 6012/ 6011/ 6012

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
84 Samples [1.75ms]

Litmus Ranking: 

Yamaha: TX-816/TF-1 Module - Direct Midi Input

Audio Output: Fastest VCA EG Attack Setting

Number of samples [48 kHz] between generated consecutive Sixteenth Notes:
6002/ 6000/ 5995/ 6000/ 6004/ 6000/ 5995/ 6000/ 6004/ 6000/ 6005/ 5999/ 6006/ 5990/ 6014/ 5990

Maximum variation between any two consecutive Sixteenth Note intervals:
24 Samples [0.67ms]

Litmus Ranking: 



'Always note the sequencer. It will never let us down'

Rage Hard - Frankie Goes to Hollywood - ZTT - ZCiD22

 

 

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