The Missing Link has received some updates and we want to fill you in! This incredible device has been updated on the hardware AND firmware side of things that are both game-changers.
The Missing Link is a box that lets you connect your analog gear to other Ableton Link compatible devices. What’s especially useful about this device is that it operates over Wi-Fi so you no longer have to worry about MIDI cables. If you haven’t heard of the Missing Link, you can read our article on it and our interview with the creator here.
USB-MIDI Back Panel
First and foremost would be the new back panel! Ed Guild left us the below messages stating that he would happily replace the back panel allowing for a hidden upgrade he left us. He said that if your old panel looks like the image below…
… you need a new back panel to make use of the hidden USB port. This means you are one of my first twenty or so customers. At that time I didn’t have any plans for the USB port so I hid it behind the panel, sigh. Don’t panic! I will happily send you an updated back panel for free. Just send me a picture of the back panel of your Missing Link so I can confirm that you need a new back panel.
The back panel will look like the photo above which allows for USB MIDI! The connectivity just got brought into the 21st century! Beyond being able to connect your vintage analog gear, you’ll be able to sync up your newer hardware with USB-MIDI connections.
To accomodate the new USB-MIDI option, Ed needed to add a new gesture.
A New Button Gesture
Ed said that they ran out of buttons on the Missing Link so he improvised a combination. Hold the encoder down and then press either the Play or Tap Tempo button as a “shift” gesture for each of those buttons.
Encoder + Play: Send a “Start Transport” MIDI message the start of the next loop. This will re-align your drum machine should it fall out of sync.
Encoder + Tap Tempo: Re-zero the timeline to “now.” If you need to re-align your timeline to other instrumentation that is not playing on the grid (i.e. a drummer, guitarist, cellist, etc).
A More Musical Stopping of the Clock
Ed added in quantized clock stopping. The Missing Link is capable of being a master stop/start button for your sequencer devices but before it would stop on trigger. This feature was less-than musical and would require perfect timing from users. Well now, the clock will stop at the next end of the loop. If you want to stop it immediately all you need to do is double-click the play button.
Ed added in a new menu item that allows you to delay the MIDI information just like Ableton Live’s track delay parameter.
Link 3.0 Support
The major feature in Link 3.0 is Start/Stop Sync. This feature allows one Link peer to control the starting and stopping of another Link peer. Press the encoder button until you reach SYNC START/STOP. There are two options:
- OFF: Your Missing Link will only start or stop via the Play button
- ON: Your Missing Link will start or stop via any Link 3 peer that also has Start/Stop Sync enabled.
DIN Sync Support
A new menu item is available called RESET MODE. This menu has three options:
- Pulse This is the normal Reset output behavior. A short pulse right before the start of a new loop.
- DIN1 In this option, PPQN is automatically set to 24 and the Reset output will go “high” while the clock is playing.
- DIN2 In this option PPQN is automatically set to 24 and the Reset output is high while the clock is playing, except for a short period just before the start of the next loop. It is the inverse of the Pulse option.
Note: You will also need a way to translate the Clock and Reset outputs of the Missing Link to a 5-pin DIN connector. If you are handy with a soldering iron, Reset goes to Pin 1 and Clock goes to Pin 3 of a DIN connector. I am planning to sell a small adapter I designed to connect a DIN cable to the two 1/8″ patch cables. Email Ed if you are interested in trying one out.
Note #2: Although the DIN modes set the PPQN to 24, you can then set the PPQN to any value you wish afterwards.
A list of the original features found with The Missing Link are below.
- Ableton Link integration for wireless sync with compatible devices
- 5V clock output with user-setable PPQN (pulses per quarter note)
- 5V pulse output at the start of loop
- Push encoder for editing user settings (tempo, PPQN, Loop size)
- Tap tempo for quickly setting tempo
- Built on a Raspberry Pi Zero W platform with custom circuits for the interface and analog outputs
- Built-in web interface for easily connecting to your WiFi network
- Can be powered by any 5V USB power source including USB batteries!
- Open source software and hardware designs
You can use the Missing Link to connect your devices to each other whether it is a hardware synthesizer, drum machine, iOS device, etc.! Any compatible device can be linked! It looks like it can transmit MIDI clock info via 5pin so that opens the door wide for connection possibilities! For those of you unfamiliar with Ableton Link, we wrote two posts on the technology already here and here. In a nutshell, Link is a much more stable form of maintaining and communicating Tempo and loop phrase information between musical devices than MIDI clock or anything else previously used.
Circuit Happy’s big move here is based on the strength of Ableton Link, and it is wicked strong. “The Missing Link runs open source software built around Ableton’s Link technology. This means you share tempo and loop information amongst all the Link-enabled devices. So when you hit play, it waits to start the clock on the downbeat, in time and on time.” In the video below Ed demonstrates The Missing Link seamlessly linking devices, making tempo adjustments when there partners do and self-correcting any timing issues. Watch below!
The Missing Link is made on order and available for purchase for $200, request yours at the Circuit Happy website.