Some of the classic drum machines and synthesizers we love to dig up today don’t have MIDI to keep them in time. Back in the 1980’s Roland came up with a synchronization format for their growing range of machines called SYNC24. It runs on the familiar 5 pin DIN cable (and is also known as DIN SYNC) that was adopted by MIDI later on, but the two formats are not compatible. Many different sorts of converter boxes are been available but DSP Synthesizers have just released the SYNC24USB cable which looks like the simplest solution yet.
Both Kenton and Doepfer do little boxes that can achieve the same thing. But the SYNC24USB is just a cable and half the price. It plugs in and is powered over USB and is fully class-compliant and so requires no drivers. This means it will also work with tablets and smartphones.
The SYNC24USB interprets real-time MIDI messages and converts them to the physical signals that the Roland gear will understand. What the SYNC24 equipped drum machine or synthesizer is after is 24 PPQN clock, reset and start/stop. The cable can work in both directions. It is switched to “input” mode (from SYNC24 to MIDI) when you plug it into a Sync Out socket. To go back to “output” mode (MIDI to SYNC24) you have to replug it into the Sync In and unplug and replug the USB.
That’s all very simple. Presumably, if you want to sync up multiple machines you can get multiple cables.
You’ll find SYNC24 on more than the usual Roland suspects including the TR-808, TR-909, TB-303 and MC-202. It’s on more recent devices such as the Novation DrumStation, Jomox XBase09, Elektron Analog Four, Arturia Minibrute and KOMA Elektronik. More information here.
The SYNC24USB cable is available direct from the Dspsynth.eu website for $39. Just to say that Dspsynth is (I believe) run by one very busy guy. It took me a month to get a USB-MIDI2CV interface out of him, so I’d recommend making a nuisance of yourself once you place an order.
- DSP Synthesizers website.