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Using MMC to Control Otari MTR-12 with SMPTE Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 13th October 2007
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Using MMC to Control Otari MTR-12 with SMPTE

Hi Fellow TapeHeads
First lemme give a brief description of my rig:
Allen & Heath GS3000 Recording Console w MMC control
A rackmount PC with 4 Edirol DA-2496 @ 24 bit 96k (32 tracks)
Otari MTR-12 1/4" 2 track with SMPTE.

I recently purchased a MOTU Midi Express really cheap only to find that its for MAC only.
I would like to be able to contol both Nuendo 3 and the Otari using the MMC transpot controls of the A&H GS3000.

Anyhow has anyone successfully controlled their analog SMPTE recorders using MMC on their console or controllers? If so could you maybe shed some light on which device will bridge the two formats and allow me to do this. I am midi stupid as I have never used it-too old school I guess but now i could really use it

Last edited by progdrums; 13th October 2007 at 01:23 AM.. Reason: TYPO
Old 13th October 2007
Lives for gear
themaidsroom's Avatar

i have synched my mtr-12 1/2" machine when it had 4 track heads - i synched
it up with a da-78 years ago.....

how is the mtr-12 ?
is it in good shape ?
is is calibrated and aligned ?
my inclination would be to say that things
will have to slave to the otari, and if it is in good shape
that should be fine
print smpte on the smpte track at -10 or less, but this is really situational
i print smpte as hot as i can get away with on the A827 when locking to
pro tools as the sudden non-locking situation is a nightmare.....

i would also suggest, even if it is time consuming.......smpte is an intense hi
pitched sound - wipe the track clean before re-printing it - most locking failures
i have encountered have involved people too much in a hurry to do this.....
don't try to print smpte on top of old smpte

i don't know anything about pc's
i don't know anything about nuendo
is there a smpte interface on the nuendo box ?
can you create smpte with the allen and heath board and hear it ?
if you can do this , get it on tape and then get that smpte into
nuendo, and figure out the offsets you are locked.......

scary til its easy

good luck
be well

- jack
Old 13th October 2007
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Hi Jack
Nuendo is a software DAW for Windows/MAC
The A&H only does MMC
I am looking into getting a JL Cooper PPS-100 which reads/writes SMPTE and converts to MMC. I am hoping this will do it. Now i just have to learn how to make it all work.
Old 16th October 2007
Gear nut
Goreski's Avatar

Easiest way is to lock Nuendo TO the Otari... and just use a normal remote to control the Otari. That way Nuendo will chase the Otari, lock to it and everything will be fine....

I think Nuendo locks to SMPTE but it may just lock to Midi time-code, and if so you'll need to convert SMPTE to Midi time-Code, which you can do pretty cheaply with various boxes out there.

A few of my clients use Nuendo and analog decks, but I can't recall exactly the set up they're using.

Having the Otari chase and lock to Nuendo is NOT a easy task - you need a full syncronizer to control and keep any Analog Machine in sync with a digital or other system... which is expensive.

Midi Machine Control can control the Otari with a proper interface.... but only to put the machine into various transport modes, not sync it to Nuendo... without a true syncronizer the two will drift apart.

So lock the Nuendo TO the Otari...


Old 17th October 2007
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Hi Goreski
Thanks for the reply. I actually want to control both the Otari and Nuendo with My Allen & Heath GS3000 Recording console which is Midi MMC. I guess it would have to be the MASTER and the Otari and Nuendo SLAVES. As I said before in another post,I am clueless when it comes to Midi (ignorant to it because Ive never had the need for Midi...Im too Old School-But Im NOT a newbie to recording and I would absorb the proper pertaining Info like a sponge )
From what I understand In the A&H manual I should have no issue controlling Nuendo from the A&H as the Midi commands are assignable.The Otari MTR-12 is as pro as Otari got for 2 track 1/4 inch. It is a big discrete card based studio recorder with the addon SMPTE card. I am looking at getting this JL Cooper PPS-100 which says it will lock MMC to SMPTE so Im hoping all goes well. I just dont think it will be all that easy for all 3 to speak the same language perfectly.
I just missed out on a Midiman SMPTE Display/Generate/Read/Write unit on Ebay.
Got beat by a dollar :(
Old 17th October 2007
Gear Nut
Dave Slevin's Avatar

Best bet is to slave the computer to the tape machine...
Smpte to Midi convertor and the computer will chase the Otari.

Going the other way around is more difficult. Ideally you are going to need a Lynx Timeline set-up and a control cable for the tape machine, like what we used to use to lock to tape machines together. Basically you feed Smpte from the computer to the Time line, this in turn locks the smpte on tape to the incoming code and will slew the tape speed until the two are frame accurate. The Timeline becomes the tachometer for the capstan. ie it controls the tape motor speed. It's all a bit much for just having two tracks of tape. Without controlling the tape machines motor the two will drift apart and not really be the same each pass.

I don't know of a machine that will convert MMC to the Otari transport control protocol. Though I guess it could be done. A la sony nine pin or something like that...

You could if you just wanted to run a signal onto tape, work out the time it takes for the signal to get from the record head to the repro head and offset the track you wanted to treat by that much. It should be possible to track like that by moving the other tracks too.

Old 17th October 2007
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Thanks for the info Dave
The otari has a SMPTE card and a center head for striping to tape.
I cant wait to try this when the PPS-100 gets here
Old 17th October 2007
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Wont the SMPTE card control the transport functions?
Old 17th October 2007
Gear nut
Brian M. Boykin's Avatar

You could if you just wanted to run a signal onto tape, work out the time it takes for the signal to get from the record head to the repro head and offset the track you wanted to treat by that much. It should be possible to track like that by moving the other tracks too.
I farted around with this technique once. I set up a click track in my daw, like 16 clicks. Then I would hit record on my Otari, then record on my daw. I would record kick and snare to the Otari and everything else to the daw, overheads, rooms toms ect... I put the Otari in repro while recording and sent the kick and snare back into the daw in real time. Then I would cut out a section of silence before the click on the kick and snare track in the daw. Then slide the kick and snare tracks around until the clicks line up. When there is no slap back or serious delay, you got it. Because its recorded in real time while the Otari is in repro it is very solid. I allmost forgot, you have to send the click to each track on the Otari and then mute it before you start playing. It's a lot of trouble, get a 2".

Old 17th October 2007
Here for the gear

Thread Starter
Hi again
Dave,here is a link to the JL Cooper PPS-100 Manual.
Maybe you could peek at this and tell me if it will do what i need.
I think it may but it would be nice to get a second more educated opinion
Old 17th October 2007
Gear nut
Brian M. Boykin's Avatar

Check out the motu midi timepiece av while your at it. Motu's web sight has a lot of info on it.

Old 17th October 2007
Gear Nut
Dave Slevin's Avatar

Can't see the link!
I haven't had time to look for a JL cooper manual, but I'll eat my studio sofa if it controls the otari's transport.

I suspect the otari's smpte card's only function is to read and write smpte to the time code track on the tape. (check and see is there a 'chase' function on the otari if there is I'll get the mayo.) You'll need a Motion Works, Lynx Time line or Adam Smith Zeta to do the kind of thing you are describing.

The thing about locking a tape machine to anything it that it must read the smpte from tape and then adjust the the tape transport accordingly, so the smpte from the two different devices are resolved, ie. they both are running at exactly the same speed. It's all about relativity really ;o) Not to mention what happens when you rewind etc. regarding where the two machines are in respect to each other.

Simplest way I see it from here is to stripe the tape with smpte time code, starting at either 1 hour or 1 minute. (if you start at zero you may not have enough roll up time for the two to sync by the top of the song). Then run the smpte into the JL cooper's smpte input. It should just spit the midi time code straight back out the midi out port. This is then sent to the DAW's midi input.

I could of course sell you an old opcode studio 64xtc if you can find the drivers for it. It goes smpte straight into the computer via a parallel serial interface. Was the sync for my old protools rig. None of your auld usb here!!!

Anyway, if you can PM me with some pdf's or photo's of the card I may be able to give you a more definitive answer. About the otari.

Meanwhile I'm off to find a new premises for my studio as we are been turfed out at the end of the month. (love those Irish tennancy laws)


Virtu Studios Ireland
Old 18th October 2007
Gear nut
Brian M. Boykin's Avatar

I had time to think about this some more today and I realized the gs3000 supports MMC, which is midi machine control. There is also MTC, which is midi time code. MMC will control any transport of a device that supports MMC. You can stop, play, rewind ect. from the gs3000. All the gs3000 is going to do is control basic transport functions. You can control up to 127 devices using MMC. MTC is how they sync to each other once the MMC comand is given from the GS3000 for all devices the GS3000 controls. In the case of the Otari, it does not have a midi cable connector for MMC to control it. You also still need a master clock "so to speak" to sync Nuendo and the Otari. If Nuendo is the master I would stripe an audio track in Nuendo with smpte, also stripe your center track on the Otari with smpte. Otari made the EC-401 resolver for resolving decks to time code. You would feed the smpte from nuendo and the smpte from the otari into the ec-401. The ec-401 would then speed up or slow down the otari to sync to Nuendo. I think, and this a big I think because I have never done this before, if Nuendo is controled by the gs3000 via MMC, when you hit the play or record button on the GS3000, Nuendo should then wait to start playing until the ec-401 syncs up the otari, when it has a lock then it's off to the races. I think you will still have to manually hit play on the otari to trigger the ec-401 to sync up. So what is a midi express or midi timepiec for. If you had devices that would only sync via MTC, then either the midi express or the midi timepiece would convert between the two formats (smpte and MTC) and then send the appropriate location back to each device in the format it understands to sync them all together. So say you had a drum machine you wanted to sync also but it only syncs to MTC. The midi express would convert the smpte comming from Nuendo to MTC and then send that to the drum machine which would sync to the MTC. If the drum machine was MMC compatible also, you could assign one of the 127 numbers that the GS3000 can control to the drum machine and when you hit play on the gs3000 it would cause the drum machine to start playing. Of course everything would start talking to each other until they were all synced, then, off to the races. I still think you would have to manually hit play on the otari to start it. But it is possible once its all going, when you hit say rewind on the GS3000 it would then tell nuendo to rewind, the ec-401 would respond to the smpte rewinding and cause the otari to rewind to the proper location. Now, play devils advocate me, like I've said I've never done this before, but have thought about in debth before. I really want to sync a 2" to my daw so this interests me.


Old 18th October 2007
Here for the gear

Thread Starter

You and I are on the SAME page!. Thats exactly what I was thinking and trying to describe only i didnt realize I needed the Otari EC-401 (WHAT AND WHERE IS ONE?)hehheh
I Thought I needed something like the JL Cooper PPS-100 because it converts timecode to MTC. I also assumed it would be all I needed to have the A&H GS3000 control everything. The otari uses XLR connectors for its Timecode so I needed a device to accept XLR (or TRS) to Midi.I also assumed that the SMPTE card in the Ptari would control the sync of the transport (there is no chase on the card..just read and write-i now realize this feeds the signal and only the signal to the SMPTE head in the center and does NOT control the transport).
Now where the hell am I gonna find an EC-401?
Oh and BTW Dave,
Thanks for your input,it was also greatly appreciated and I guess no Sofa with mayo sandwich for you man LOL
Old 18th October 2007
Gear Nut
Dave Slevin's Avatar

You know what!
I'd run a few tests on that machine first and see was the thing working really well and you aren't getting any spill on the audio tracks before going for a synchronizer. You might be better off just using it to mix onto and run the odd effect through while mixing.
Personally, I'd get an autolocator for the Otari and make that the master for the moment, see how that works out. To convert MMC to something the otari will understand this is the proper tool for the job...
Old 18th October 2007
Gear nut
Brian M. Boykin's Avatar

EC-401's come up on e-bay regularly. I just saw one go for like $45.00. I believe the Adam Smith Zeta will do the same thing, they come up as well but are usually pricy. Watch e-bay like a hawk. If I see one I will pm you. Smpte is a set of tones. They used it to sync film to audio back in the day. So the xlr on the otari should be treated as an audio input. The inputs and outputs on the ec-401 are xlr also. If the output from your converters are trs, just make a cable with an xlr on one side and a trs on the other. I've read that you only need to record smpte at about -10vu, tape saturation is not necesary, ha ha. That should help with bleed over. The ec-401 will control the capstan motor of the otari. One of the cards to the right of the audio cards is the capstan control card. Ok, I just went and check e-bay and there is an adam smith zeta for buy it now, $89.99, with manual. I checked completed listings and there were some others that showed the rear of the it. It has midi connectors, xlr for slave and master input, and a parellell port, and some other connectors. I looked at the back of my Otari and it has an I/O parellell port, a transport control connector and an auto locate connector. Do a search on gearslutz to find out if the zeta is what you need. For $89.99 and the manual it's hard to go wrong. The midi connectors tell me it accepts mmc and mtc. Who knows, mabye it converts it to Otari's protocol and controls the transports basic functions.


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