Using Play Quantize to practice timing and why some of my notes are "Missing"

[Caveat Emptor- I create these posts as a forcing function for myself to learn more about Scaler. As a result, some things might be imprecise, incomplete or down right wrong…just saying)


Play Quantize…that mysterious setting floating up in rarified air. Well, at least it was for me. Lets take a closer look at Play Quantize…what it does, what is doesn’t and how it might be useful.

The Basics

According to the manual, PQ “Delays the start of the pattern until the next beat” and it does…but here is the thing. The “pattern” is just a key press…so effectively, PQ simply tells Scaler to delay registering your key press until the next beat. This is why when you have PQ on, it can seem like your keyboard has a random delay between your key press and the sounding of a note or chord. Simple when you understand it, frustrating when you don’t. (based on personal experience"

Another key takeaway, PQ does not behave like the Quantize function in your DAW (at least not in Studio One) When using MIDI capture in Scaler and Play Quantize is ON, the only notes that are played and recorded are the notes that match the beat. Scaler is not “correcting” your timing as you play (like Record Quantize in a DAW) it is only sounding notes that are in time (or if a key is currently pressed during a beat). This is why it can seem you are loosing notes when you are recording with PQ on… you are.

Important note… In Studio One and I would imagine most DAWs, if you are recording w/in the DAW with PQ on, you will capture all the notes you play regardless of timing BUT, if you record a bunch of notes out of time into a midi part in your DAW and you then play that back through Scaler with PQ on, Scaler will only play the notes that are in time.

Now that we’ve calibrated our understanding of what PQ does , how do you use Play Quantize to practice timing? Simple…turn it on and start playing. If the notes play when you hit a key you are golden. Ok, maybe a little more info would be helpful:

Timing Practice Workflow (Simple):

  1. Select Arpeggio in Perform Mode and pick an instrument with a fast attack like a Piano
  2. Turn Play Quantize on in Settings (Be sure Latch is off for now…more later)
  3. Select a tempo (1/4)
  4. Be sure to set a reasonable BPM in your DAW or VST host
  5. Press and hold a key and wait for the note to start playing
  6. Now start tapping keys to tempo (no holding key down- think in terms of a 16th note)
  7. If you can tap keys and you hear a note each time you tap, you are in time.
  8. If not, you’ve missed the timing so either keep tapping until the note sounds or hold a key and start again.
    Try adjusting the tempo or BPM

Timing Practice Workflow (Advanced):

Same as above but instead of an Arpeggio, pick a performance you like and try these two things:

  1. Set playback speed to x.05 (this makes it a little easier to hear your misses)
    With the keyboard unbound, press a key to listen to the performance and then start playing keys in time adding chords or just key combinations to mix things up. No need to always try to duplicate the performance, just try to be precise with your key press and avoid any gaps between keypress and sound.

  2. Now that you have that, bind the keyboard and play the chords BUT, turn Play Quantize OFF and Latch ON and see if you can fold the performance back into itself seamlessly down to the individual note level. Try with and without PQ and you’ll really hear the difference.

With all the power of Scaler’s perform mode, triggering playback in time can really create some interesting music…hope this help.