Table of Contents
Using the Unify Transport
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:
- The current tempo (aka BPM or beats-per-minute rate)
- The time signature
- 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 “–” instead of a number, as shown in the image above.)
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:
When Unify is running as a plug-in inside a DAW, the Follow Host menu defines how its Transport will synchronize it to the DAW's own Transport.
The menu provides three options as follows:
- Don't Follow means that Unify's transport is decoupled from the host's. This is useful for auditioning BPM presets at their reference BPM rate, and also to achieve certain special effects in embedded Unify instances.
- When Running means that the Tempo and Song Position indicators will automatically update when the corresponding settings are changed in the host DAW, and essentially, Unify will follow the DAW's tempo and song position. This is the default.
- Always causes Unify to follow the host's song position even when the host Transport is stopped. This may be necessary when working with a few rare third-party plug-ins.
NOTE the Follow Host checkbox is displayed slightly dimmed in the stand-alone Unify app, reflecting the fact that there is no host to follow. However, the menu is still available, and allows you to control new patches are saved, so they behave the way you want when those patches are later used inside a DAW.
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 set to When Running, 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 below, 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
The Transport also features two key-range controls, which allow you to limit the range of notes on the keyboard which actually trigger (or latch) 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.