Ardour as tempo synced MIDI slave

So after all these years, and much improvement to the software, I am still not able to set up Ardour as a slave of an external hardware MIDI sequencer.

What I want to achieve:

  1. Send MIDI clock pulses and “start/stop” messages from an external sequencer to Ardour via the audio interface
  2. Have Ardour set it’s BPM based on the incoming clock pulses
  3. Make the Ardour transport start playback when a “start” message is recieved
  4. Make the Ardour transport stop playback when a “stop” message is recieved

This is how the connections look in Ardour. I’m using version 7.3 on Linux with Jack:

The messages are showing up in the tracer:

I have the “external position sync” enabled, it says “M-Clk”.
When I press play on the external sequencer, the playback button is engaged, however the playhead only moves a little bit forward, before quickly jumping back to the starting position again, and stays there.

Am I doing something wrong here? Is this feature supported at all? Has anyone got it working? I do not actually want “external position sync”, I merely want the tempo to stay in time with the incoming clock pulse, as well as the transport reacting to incoming start/stop messages.

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We are working on this at this very minute. It is broken in 7.x.


We’ve made significant progress fixing this in git master. It’s not quite where I’d like it to be yet, but the overally behavior is much, much better than it has been since 7.0

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