MIDI Control Surface

What’s a good set up?

I am working on setting up a MIDI control surface to help with mixing recordings in N. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the pleasure of sitting in front of a pro mixing desk, and I’m not sure what makes the most sense. I could try out some different configurations and see what works. Since configuring this takes some effort and this device is not one of the TASCAMs that have a pre-loaded config, I wanted to see if others have set up something similar and what made the most sense. Here’s what I was thinking. What would you change? Are there other functions you’d try to work in there? Things you’d move, do differently, not include?



Anyone willing to share their experience? Thanks in advance.

I’m a mouse mixer meself HDW… I thought I’d pop in and BUMP the post for you though…

D :)

i cant make out what make/model of the surface in your picture -

99% of the time all the controls on the left hand side are SET and FORGET - so these are better done with the mouse -

8 faders is not enough - 24 is about right -

if you intend to mixdown to a CD using a surface how are you going to do it ? -

do you have an outboard pro CD recorder ? or do you intend to use realtime mixdown in N ? -

which ever way you do it you sure are going to waste a lot of CDRs till you get it right -

the one thing i cant see in your picture is SNAPSHOT, (so you can store all the settings in the surface), if you make an error and cant find where it is, all you do is recall the last snapshot and everything is reset - but to do that correctly the surface has to have MOTORISED faders -

to emulate a studio setup you need the following

a Medium on which you recordings are stored, PC, multitrack tape machine, ADAT hard disk recorder etc -

studios generally do not use soundcards as you know them, they use ADAT cards, ADAT is an optical system using fibre optic links each link carries 8 channels - the storage medium has 1 output per channel (so running 24 tracks of audio would use up the full capability of a RME Hammerfall 24 out card) -

eack output from the recorder ends up connected to an imput on the mixing desk, it is here that all the mixing is done, so that that tracks themselves are never altered they always stay as recorded -

the dask is connected to the recorder by MTC/SMPTE this is a timing method that keeps the recorders and the desk in SYNC -

the desk controls how the audio comes out of the desk, all parameters are automated and the automation is recorded within the desk nowhere else -

when the recording engineer is happy with his work all he has to do is press play and walk away the desk will do the rest -

you will soon get fedup of trying to control a mixdown without full automation - try mixing down 12 tracks in succession or a 60+ minute track and you will see what i mean -

My system has 32 motorised faders and full automation, however not being a fully pro unit the automation memory is only suitable for a normal 4 min track, for longer tracks i use Ns automation for Volume and Panning, compression/gateing effects are all in the desk not on tracks - but the outcome is still the same, i can press play and walk away -

OH one more thing, you cannot concentrate on how the mix sounds when you are manually mixing down and can miss some setting errors - with full automation you can sit back and concentrate on how the mix sounds -

i would reccomend that you concentrate on learning to use Ns automation first before using a surface - one will lead to an understanding of the other -

Dr J

D thanks for the bump! DRJR: Thanks for the insight. I’d never even thought of mixing down something in real time. Based on what you’ve told me, I’ll keep not thinking about that!

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i cant make out what make/model of the surface in your picture -


You’re looking at the right hand side of an M-Audio Keystation Pro 88.

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if you intend to mixdown to a CD using a surface how are you going to do it ? -

do you have an outboard pro CD recorder ? or do you intend to use realtime mixdown in N ? -

which ever way you do it you sure are going to waste a lot of CDRs till you get it right -

the one thing i cant see in your picture is SNAPSHOT, (so you can store all the settings in the surface), if you make an error and cant find where it is, all you do is recall the last snapshot and everything is reset - but to do that correctly the surface has to have MOTORISED faders -


I originally intended to use this as a keyboard, not a mixing desk, but I started thinking it might be useful as such, at least in a limited way (bonus, eh?). I don’t intend to try to replace N’s automation and attempt to control things on the fly during mixdown. To do that, I think you’d have to be very quick and very talented (I am neither :laugh:)

The faders are definitely not motorized, though there are store and recall buttons. I think they are meant to store control assignments though, rather than values.

So here’s how I was thinking I could use this.

1. Getting the base levels right - use the controls during playback to set the level, pan, EQ of each track, not recording any fader automation. I thought this might be easier than clicking around and trying to set things in N, particularly since opening up the mixer with a large number of tracks tends to result in high CPU usage for me. It also seems like it would speed this process up a lot and allow me to focus on the sound rather than where to click next. In the absense of a snapshot/recall feature and motorized controls, I guess I’d want to take care to unload the midi faders set up in N after adjusting so as not to knock something out of whack accidentally, right?

2. Helping to set up N’s automation using the record fader movements feature. I haven’t actually tried this yet, and don’t know how it would work out. I’ve always used the mouse to draw envelopes but thought this might be an interesting alternative.

Any other ideas?