Are hardware synths good to use with Renoise?

I am wondering if anybody uses hardware synths with Renoise, and how you are getting along? Are you having trouble rendering projects, or anything like that? I do not own any hardware synths, and I can’t really afford something big… but maybe it would be interesting to get a very cheap hardware synth, “for the hands on control??”

What do you think? Is it best to just stick with midi-controllers?

Casio has come back to the synth market… On gearslutz they are calling this, “a cheap toy, for the poor.” Lol… I just think its very interesting synth. Maybe because I remember the 1980s… But I am wondering how this would work with Renoise, if I decide that I could possibly swing the purchase… highly unlikely that I can, but does anybody have any thoughts?

I always wondered how one would render a song with hardware synths? External recorder? Or do one lead the sound back into the computer? I mean, you can’t just press “render song to disk”, right?


renoise can’t render individual tracks to wav. other than that, renoise is perfectly capable or working just fine with ext synths.

You can sequence your synths via MIDI very well, but recording the incomming Audio is another history.
I’m not using Renoise for the lack of Audio Tracks. Yes you can use the sampler, but is not ideal way of work.
Waiting for the Audio Tracks in next version. Fingers crossed.

mabe this is just me but when think of cheap 900 bucks isn`t the first number that comes into my mind ;)

AH!! Fuck, see… I made a huge mistake. I am still learning. I did not know this is why people wanted audio tracks so badly. I think this is OK for me. I can still use this synth, if I can by some luck find the money for it, without audio tracks. But now I understand so much more…


I do not think it is cheap too. I think it is very cool, very interesting… but on gearslutz, “where I found out about it.” They have been very snobby… "pfft, it is a Casio, Casio is pathetic, etc, etc." But I remember the 1980s. and I am willing to believe that many of the people on gearslutz are wrong!

But still… It may be nothing, because I am not sure if I can afford this. But I just want to clarify, that I am not being a gearslut snob… sorry if I confused.

I use a bunch of hardware synths, it works great. off course the more CC-parameters the better I guess, but I use old and analog stuff with great results too. a cheap and small synth I can really recommend is the Dave Smith Evolver! it’s awesome, there’s also a keyboard version. the only “downside” with renoise is you have to record the synth into samples, as jeruro mentioned. but this gives you more options to mess around with the sounds, as most of the control commands in the pattern editor only applies to samples.

but anyway, evolver is great. also the elektron Monomachine, the first versions can be found for around 400-500 bucks nowadays, you cant go wrong with that. it has a great sequencer aswell.

I use an elektron machinedrum, a korg electribe (and planning for an op-1 and maybe some nice ambient pad-synth…)… I use renoise in linux and want to use my machinedrum as midi-master… the idea is to make glitchy ambient and use renoise for samples and pads…

somehow I can’t get it to work… it does work when renoise is the midi master and my machinedrum is slave… but of course nothing beats the midiclock of my machinedrum.

any idea on how to configure renoise? (renoise manual is not very clear for me on this)…


I’ve been using Renoise to sequence my Virus TI. I think it’s a pretty nice workflow. I can create melodies and all that just by programming them in Renoise, and hear my Virus play them. Make a midi instrument control device and there’s your parameter automation. I don’t even need to render any samples to start a new instrument, because the Virus supports 16 different voices that happily coexist and can be edited and switched to without having to save anything before switching.

When I’m happy with what I’ve programmed, I can render it to samples. This process isn’t as easy as I would like, but it’s certainly good enough.

I got an Evolver and a Korg ESX and I never got them to work seamlessly in Renoise im afraid.

Recording into a free Sample-Slot actually works but is a bit clumsy. Realtime Rendering (which I think is now possible) could be a better alternative but I never tried it.

My biggest gripe with Renoise always was the MIDI-timing. I could never get it to be real tight no matter what. Just setting a negative value on the MIDI-Sync-Out is far from tight. there’s a possibility to set a timing offset in the actual track your using which kind of helps. but this changes once the CPU-load increases and you have to re-adjust it every now and then which is simply annoying. It also depends on what you want to do with your external gear: for pads or leads the timing may be good enough - for stuff like drums or baselines i think it’s not.

Also speaking of MIDI-Sync, i think that only having one Master-Sync-Out is pretty unprofessional for a DAW. I hope that is changed in a future update.

For all these reasons i migrated to Ableton as my main DAW. It also took me some time and efford getting a solid timing there as it depends on a number of variables, but i finally got it right and now it’s rock-solid, almost Sample-accurate (tiny bit of MIDI-Jitter but i can live with that…). I still use Renoise every now and then via Rewire as I still like the workflow of it, but I don’t think I’ll be coming back and use it stand-alone anytime soon.

My 2 cents…

I use a lot of hardware synths in my setup, and what I have found works for me was to use Renoise as a ReWire slave into Logic. If you do it this way, you have to go to Logic’s preferences and change the ReWire behavior drop-down-box to “Live Mode”. This way you can sequence MIDI in Renoise and record in Logic and everything syncs up perfectly.

I am also using some external synths in my setup. I am recording my tracks with an analogue mixer (Mackie 1404 VLZ), that means I am routing the synths into the mixer and also the Renoise output. I had never timing problems, it just works great.

If this is your first synth I would recommend you should keep in mind the following:

  • multi mode (play minimum 2-4 sounds at the same time)
  • minimum 12 voices
  • a nice front view with suits to you (I prefer a lot of knobs, wher you can modulate the sound easily; not a synth which has thousands of submenus)
  • the most important before you buy: go into a shop and try it. Also try alternatives to get an picture of different synths and their concepts.
  • be carecul not to buy a cheap sample-player but a real synth

Then I would recommend to consider to buy used gear. If you do not like the synth you have bought you simply sell it again an do not lose much money (if any).

Maybe you can have a look at the Access Virus C, Waldorf Blofeld (keyboard), Novation Ultranova.

I use sometimes Motif XS with Renoise and it works well because of the connection. It’s a little bit inconvenient of course. You have to put Line Inputs into your tracks but this isn’t a problem. Then you feed the Renoise tracks with Midi notes and routes them to the Synthesizer.

im quite new here, but i want to add that im using renoise on linux (debian squeeze) with monomachine, machinedrum, hardware synths, puredata (to reroute cc og remap to sysex) and some modular stuff. It works like a charm. Expanding, shrinking, copying … cc is easy enough, but could be really nice to midimap it. Elektron products understand easily BPM and LPB changes.

How did you configure renoise midi? (I presume you use one of your elektron’s as midi master? Can’t get mine to act as midi master)

Could you maybe post a screenshot ;)


arent you getting the machinedrum to receive clock at all? try out every different setting in the global preferences of the machinedrum and make sure that renoise sends clock offcourse… it works for me, though I am getting latency…

I want machinedrum to send clock since the midichip in machinedrum is much better than anything send from a laptop… the other way works though (laptop as midiclock / master works perfect. I’m a bit concerned about hangups during a live set, since laptops have always been a bit unstable in clubs - in my experience, so I really really want my master midiclock to be my machinedrum or my electribe, because that never fails…)

sorry for my english by the way :D

Get a proper audio interface, they have their own clock chip which is good.

MIDI timing is always determined by the computer as far as I know. How would an audio interface know what tempo the DAW is set to? If what you state was the case why would there be so much difference in jitter and timing between the same interface running on Windows or OSX?

hardware midichip/clock (for instance in my machinedrum) is far far better and more precise than any pc midiclock. pc midiclock will always give some latency (no matter what soundcart you use), hardware midichip/clock wil hardly give any latency. also it will not crash.

I know it’s possible to get it working… I just don’t know how right now ;) I think I might get it done by messing with my renoise slave settings (from now one to be called ‘mr slave’ ;)