Unify Manual

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transport

Using the Unify Transport

UPDATE: Most of the screenshots on this page were made prior to Unify v1.1.3, and don't include the note-range controls to the right of the time indicators. The time-signature controls have also been made more compact and moved to the left of the Tempo/bpm control, as shown below.


Unify is a plug-in host, much like a DAW, and thus it has its own internal timing/clock mechanism, called a Transport (by analogy to a mechanical tape-transport). Unify's transport provides timing information to any plug-ins that may require it (primarily MIDI arpeggiator effects and synthesizers with arpeggiator functions).

To see the Transport in the Footer area of the Unify GUI, click on the transport icon (looks like a triangle with a vertical line beside it) at the bottom left part of the Icon Strip:

Tempo, Time Signature, Song Position

Unify's Transport knows about three distinct, but related pieces of timing information:

  1. The current tempo (aka BPM or beats-per-minute rate)
  2. The time signature
  3. The current song position, which is the current location along a musical time-line (e.g. DAW track)

Tempo is pretty easy to understand—it measures how quickly beats go by–and is obviously critical to software functions like arpeggiators and tempo-synced delays, to ensure that they play at the same speed. The Transport's current tempo value in beats per minute (BPM) is displayed in the tempo/bpm indicator, here outlined in purple:

So-called “BPM” patches in Unify have an associated Reference Tempo, which is the rate at which the sound designer intended them to be played. This is displayed as indicated by the red outline above. (Non-BPM patches will display “No ref BPM”.)

Time signature is a concept from music theory, and simply describes how beats are grouped into bars (measures). A time signature consists of a numerator which specifies the number of beats per bar, and a denominator which specifies the kind of note or rest that represents each beat. A song in “3/4 time” has three beats per bar (numerator=3) and each beat is a quarter-note (denominator=4). The Transport view in Unify provides pop-up menus for numerator and denominator, plus a third one for “division”, which will be explained in a moment.

To keep a group of arpeggiators playing together, tempo and time signature are not sufficient. They must all be at the same bar/beat position, which is referred to as Song Position. The Unify Transport view displays the current song position in a pair of numeric readouts as shown:

The smaller readout at the top shows the song position in hours, minutes, and seconds (with three digits of fraction after the decimal point, i.e., milliseconds). The larger readout below indicates bar number, beat number (within the current bar), and beat division, which is an arbitrarily-chosen subdivision of the beat, and again there are three digits of fraction following the decimal point.

The beat division is 16 (i.e., 16 divisions per beat) by default, but you can use the rightmost pop-up menu to change it to any power-of-two value from 1 to 64:

Follow Host

When Unify is running as a plug-in inside a DAW, you can check the Follow Host checkbox to synchronize it to the DAW's own Transport.

When Follow Host is checked, the Tempo and Song Position indicator will automatically update when the corresponding settings are changed in the host DAW. (Note that, for BPM presets, the displayed “Reference BPM” number will remain unchanged even when the DAW's tempo changes.)

Sometimes, you may want to de-couple Unify's transport from the host's, so that you can e.g. audition BPM presets at their reference tempo. To do this, simply un-check the Follow Host checkbox.

NOTE the Follow Host checkbox is displayed in the stand-alone Unify app, but this is only to allow you to specify whether Follow Host should be checked or not, when creating and saving BPM patches.

Starting and stopping the Transport

Unify's transport can be started (and stopped) in three very different ways.

Method 1: In plug-in versions of Unify, when Follow Host is checked, the Transport will automatically start and stop when the host's Transport does.

Method 2: When the Trigger menu is set to “MIDI / Quick Stop” (the default), the Transport will start automatically as soon as a MIDI note is played, and stop immediately when NO notes are active (i.e., when a matching MIDI note-off event has been received for all previous note-on events).

Method 3: When the Trigger menu is set to “Manual start/stop”, the two large icon buttons at the left-hand side of the Transport will light up to indicate they are active (see image, red outline).

  • Click on the double-triangle “Rewind” icon to rewind the Transport (reset the Song Position)
  • Click on the triangular “Start” icon to start the Transport
    • It will change to a double-bar “Pause” icon: Click on this to pause the Transport
    • The double-triangle “Rewind” icon will change to a square “Stop” icon: Click this to stop AND rewind

Key-range limits (added in Unify v1.1.3)

As of Unify v1.3.2, the Transport features two key-range controls, which allow you to limit the range of notes on the keyboard which actually trigger the Transport.

These work the same as the note-range controls on layers.

Additional trigger modes

In addition to the “MIDI / Quick Stop” and “Manual start/stop” modes, the following are available:

  • MIDI / Restart: MIDI key-down triggers transport to start, but then it keeps going unless stopped manually. Subsequent key-down events restart the Transport time at bar 1, beat 1. Useful when playing live with sequenced loops.
  • MIDI / Manual Stop: As above, but without the restart behavior.
  • MIDI / Latch: MIDI key-down starts AND stops the transport. You would normally use this only with the note-range set to e.g. a single note at one end of your keyboard.
  • MIDI / 1 Bar, MIDI / 2 Bars, MIDI / 4 Bars: These are variations of the “MIDI / Quick Stop” mode, where the Transport will continue running for a short while after all MIDI notes are released, finishing out the current bar, the current bar plus one more, or the current bar plus three more, respectively. These are still somewhat experimental, but are intended for live performance, where you want to be able to start e.g. a drum groove with, and have it continue even when you happen to lift all fingers from the keys for brief periods.
transport.txt · Last modified: 2021/01/28 21:27 by shane