by Josh Lim
One of the great things about electronic music in 2019 is the vast multitude of ways to sync your modular or hardware gear to your DAW. There are tiny devices like Bastl Instrument’s Klik, full-fledged sequencers like Arturia’s Beatstep, and of course plenty of eurorack options. Joining the fray, Circuit Happy has arrived with their very first product: The Missing Link, a tiny desktop device that functions as the bridge between your hardware and your computer.
The feature that makes The Missing Link stand out in an already crowded sea of clock devices is the addition of Ableton Link support. Ableton Link is a technology that allows Link-enabled devices to sync their clocks wirelessly via Wi-Fi connection. You can sync multiple laptops running Ableton, sync your MPC to one of the many iOS or Android apps, and even sync Ableton with video and light mapping software. The possibilities are endless, and now with The Missing Link your modular synth [or anything that takes CV clock] can now be a part of this ecosystem. Being able to easily clock my modular to Ableton has completely changed the way I use hardware for music production as my modular can now fully integrate with my DAW and other Link-enabled devices. It really feels like the gap between my laptop and my instruments has been bridged. This new found ability has seriously changed the way I use my modular in music production and has sparked all sorts of creativity. I’ve even thrown my iPhone into the mix, thanks to the many iOS apps that support Link.
Connecting The Missing Link to your home Wi-Fi network [needed for Ableton Link] is simple. When you first start the device it won’t be able to connect to your network and will then go into what is called “Access Point mode”. Like the name suggests, this turns The Missing Link into its own “Wi-Fi” access point that your laptop, iPhone, and other Wi-Fi enabled devices can connect to. This means that if you play a live gig or are jamming somewhere that doesn’t have Wi-Fi, you can still use Ableton Link, which is incredibly useful. I will note that when I used the Missing Link on my own Wi-Fi network, I would sometimes lose the connection between the device and my computer, since Ableton Link can sometimes be a little finicky. I found that the device works flawlessly and that I didn’t lose connection when in Access Point mode.
The Missing Link has all of the features that you would expect from a clock device. Although it requires some menu-diving, the device is simple, easy to use, and features only 2 buttons [stop/ play and tap tempo] and 1 encoder, which allows you to scroll between all of the different device settings. The BPM page allows you to change the tempo, and if you change the BPM on the Missing Link, the change will be reflected on the other devices that you’re connected to, and vice versa. The Loop page lets you set the length of the loop of beats in a bar, which will help determine when the Missing Link will send a CV trigger out of the reset jack on the back. This coincides with the Reset Mode page, which allows you edit the point in the loop that a reset trigger will be sent out. The PPQN page allows you to divide the clock signal by 1, 2, 4, all the way to 32, and finally, the Start/ Stop page lets you toggle whether or not you want the stop/ play button on the Missing Link to control all Ableton Link devices connected to it, which is very useful, though it’s only compatible with Ableton Link 3.0. If you have older drum machines or MIDI-only hardware, you can use the USB out to connect your MIDI devices to the Missing Link provided you have a micro-USB / USB-MIDI adapter.
If you’re an Ableton user, The Missing Link is a perfect addition to your studio. Bridging the gap between my computer and my hardware gear has really fueled my creativity and inspired me in ways that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. I absolutely recommend it.