The Good Shadow on Syncing and Innerclock Systems

Ryan Spinoglio, aka The Good Shadow, has been a long-time user of Innerclock Systems gear as the solution to syncing his extensive analogue studio setup. Clan Analogue Label Manager Nick Wilson caught up with Ryan to find out more about how he utilizes Innerclock Systems to keep an unruly bunch of analogue synths, sequencers and drum machines in order.

– Nick – When was your first Innerclock Systems memory?

– Ryan – Back in the 90’s like everyone I had a large amount of gear that by themselves sound great but when you try to plug them in together things start to go sideways with clock and timing. I spent a lot of time trying to plug my rig in to get the clock to play nice. 

I had synths with internal sequencers, drum machines that were MIDI or DIN sync, and others that required triggers for timing. This included a number of sequencers from many different manufacturers from the 70s, 80s and 90’s. These seemed to my ear to be quite tight with DIN sync and triggers, but when I plugged in different machines that required MIDI, problems started to happen. Different equipment had varying MIDI clocks, and when daisy-chaining them together it started to become noticeable to me that the clock was not in time.

A chance meeting at Steve Jones‘s synth repair workshop was when I met David Lackey. Immediately I understood that David was very passionate about gear and clock/timing.

Having a fix for running multiple pieces of gear at this time was really hard to find and very costly. David very kindly built me a 1-in 8-out powered DIN sync box made for me.

I was able to then use my Swingcroniser as the master clock to drive the clocks on my other drum machines and sequencers.

This was great fun back then because I could swing old drum machines that never had that ability to be swung like the TR808 and 303’s. 

– Nick – When did you get to a point where things change?

– Ryan – I remember this day very clearly. It was a revelation for me. It was around 2011 when David and Steve came over to my studio and David was very excited as he had a new piece of gear that he and Warren McAlister AKA Innerclock Systems had just made – the Sync-Gen 2 Pro. This was a very important day for me. We hit play on my rig and brought up an 808 and kick drum on the desk playing by itself. I then pulled it down and then brought up a 909 kick drum. Each sounded great, then I brought both up in the mix and there was a noticeable time difference between the 2 clocks. 

We then pulled my rig apart and introduced the Sync-Gen 2 Pro into my setup. Now Logic became the master clock and all of my gear would be driven via the Sync-Gen 2 Pro’s 5 MIDI outs and 5 DIN sync outs. We hit play and listened to the TR808 and TR909 kickdrums almost phasing as they were now rigidly locked to a very tight clock. I realised that the percussive parts of my mix now sounded so much more rhythmic and funky. The other massive benefit was that all 32 tracks on my desk were perfectly lined up in Logic. I often think back on this day as a turning point for me. The types of music I like to write depend on a solid tight clock.

– Nick – How are you driving your rig today?

– Ryan – Today I still love using gear. I am not one for using a computer for anything other than recording the outputs of my mixer. I am using 2 Sync-Gen 3 LXs and 2 Multi Splits. 1 Sync-Gen 3LX is for driving my MIDI clock, DIN sync and triggers. My other Sync-Gen 3LX is dedicated to running V-Trig / S-Trig for my Korg SQ-10 Sequencer. The Sync-Gen 3LX and Multi Splits offer me all the trusted Innerclock Systems rock solid timing but now also has the ability to control a number of variables from the front of the 3LX. I like to walk into the studio and turn everything on and start writing. I cannot get stuck looking for why a certain piece of gear is not behaving. Knowing that all my MIDI clock, DIN sync, V-Trig / S-Trig and triggers are all locked in and tight enables me to be more creative and focus on writing music.

Hear Ryan’s rig in action on his collaboration with Andy Rantzen from the compilation Cognition 303: Bassline Deviations.