Midi Remote Hardware Control

Rednroll wrote on 1/19/2003, 11:55 AM
I'ld like to hear about other users experiences using external Hardware midi devices to control software. I recently had a short discussion with Dave Hill about how I feel not having Vegas support midi Hardware control surfaces has always been a show stopper for pro users. My digital mixer (Yamaha 03D) has a "Midi Remote" function, where I can control external devices, like other mixers, and software. It specifically says in the manual I can control "Protools" and "user defined" commands for other software with this function. It will control Faders, Mutes, Solos,Pans and transport controls.

With my understanding of MIDI, I've always thought midi commands, where in a standard format, so my view has always thought that all mixers that have this functionality, most likely had to stick to some kind of midi guideline. Therefore, implementing this functionality in software would not be that difficult, because you could just develope this without having to develope for each particular mixer/control surface available. Dave informed me that, that is not the case.

So I'm looking for feedback from other users, that may be using this function with other software that has this functionality like Sonar,Nuendo,Cubase or Cool Edit Pro. If you have a digital mixer like a Yamaha 02R, 03D, or 01V and have used this functionality with other software, I'ld like to hear your experiences and feedback. I just don't have a lot of knowledge in this area and would like to clear up some grey areas, because I haven't been able to try these things out because I'm a Vegas user and don't feel like going back to using Pro Tools, because I like Vegas so much better and plus I'm a PC guy who likes my choice of Sound Cards without having to pay the big bucks for the Digi Design hardware.

Dave said, they've been working on hardware controler support for Vegas, but was looking for a hardware designer to jump on board with them. This made me think of Mackie HUI, or I just saw a Demo of Reason 2.0 with a USB hardware control surface which was specially designed for Reason. So basically this meant 1 hardware control surface, specially designed to function with that software. Where my thinking has always been and the reason why MIDI has been around for 20 years, is that it's a STANDARD, low cost solution. I've not worked with the Mackie HUI, but thought this also connected Via MIDI and was a reason why Steinberg software was able to support this control surface, along with the Yamaha options available.

Any insight about Midi Remote hardware control surfaces would be greatly appreciated.



PipelineAudio wrote on 1/19/2003, 12:45 PM
"Therefore, implementing this functionality in software would not be that difficult, because you could just develope this without having to develope for each particular mixer/control surface available. Dave informed me that, that is not the case.

I dont understand this at all. For instance Sounbdscape's mixer for their SSHDR-1 rEd and Mixtreme, allow you to use ANY MIDI surface that sends MIDI CC #'s. You assign the onscreen elements CC #'s and then just set your MIDI control surface to use those same numbers. Exact same thing in Cubendo, tho in that case there are many more features beyond volume and pan, and on their forums it seems like people are waiting for the Borg to come up with specific support. Maybe some of the mackie's features use MIDI System Exclusive messages. Sonar is the same way: define what you want to control, then make sure it matches on the controller. Why couldnt we do it just like this for Vegas? its a start at least
Rednroll wrote on 1/19/2003, 1:14 PM
Exactly, that's my understanding of how this works also. I already have a control surface that does this, so even if Vegas did support some other control surface....I don't see myself running out to buy it, just so it can take up more space in my studio and I have to mix with 2 different set of faders. I just want the ability to assign the faders on my mixing board, to the faders in the softare, so I can mix with my hands instead of with a mouse. I can pretty much do that now, because I have 16 direct outs from my sound cards that go to each input on my mixing board.....but if I go over 16 tracks, then I'm creating sub-mixes in Vegas, which means I'm mousing around mixing. I would probably still do submixes, but having the ability to switch over to "midi remote" on my mixer, would allow me to use actual faders to do the sub-mixes and work more effeciently.

Maybe someone from SF can enlighten us on our misunderstandings?
MacMoney wrote on 1/19/2003, 1:52 PM
Hi Red,
Im using the HUI with Pro-Tools 5.3.1 I F#CKING LUV IT!
I can control my TDM and RTAS plugins along with the other features all from the HUI.
The other rooms picked up the Mackie Control for the PTLE.
Im planning on picking up a Baby HUI for my home system.

From the Mackie web page
Baby HUI Main Features:

Eight 60mm Touch-Sensitive Faders
Channel Mute, Solo, Pan, Send Level & Rec. Arm Functions
Multi-functional Rotary Encoders
Automation Mode & Arming Functions
Software Window Open/Close Buttons
Single Undo/Redo Button
Shift Modifier for Dual Function Commands
Tape-Style Transport with RTZ/END Jump Buttons
IN/OUT Buttons for Location Point Insertion on the Fly
Easy to Use MIDI In/Out Connections
Supports HUI™ MIDI Mapping Protocol

Powered By:
Digidesign Pro Tools
Digidesign digi001
MOTU Digital Performer
Steinberg Nuendo
Mackie Broadcast Professional Soundscape 32
Mackie Mixtreme

Sweetwater has a good selection at

Baby HUI $599
Mackie Control $999
HUI $2500

HUI- http://www.mackie.com/record/hui/
Mackie Control- http://www.mackie.com/record/mackiecontrol/
Baby HUI- http://www.mackie.com/record/babyhui/

Save some mileage on your mouse while mixing!
Cold wrote on 1/19/2003, 4:28 PM
Red, I think implementing volume, pan etc. automation with an HUI and maintaining the simple volume line interface thats so intuitive within vegas might be tougher than first appears. Before I moved to vegas I worked with Cakewalk and used one of their StudioMix controllers,( it now sits in my closet collecting dust until I find another use for it) the way cakewalk implemented automation and drew the control messages over the waveforms made this controller almost useless in many situations as it was a serious pain going back to do editting once the automation was in. I also found Cakewalk itself much to flakey to use in a client situation (no fun continuously appologizing for software glitches). When I switched to vegas one of the first questions I asked on this forum was where is the midi controller settings. So I agree with you that it is a serious drawback, but if they messed up how the current automation works it may not be worth the addition. I use an 02r so I am sort of in the same boat as you, I've got a big controller sitting in front of me waiting for the software to catch up. I could use the 02r internal automation but I much prefere to edit visually... So I would love to use a controller but not at the cost of messing up what is already there. Steve S.
Rednroll wrote on 1/19/2003, 6:29 PM
Thanks for the insight. I never considered the conflict between the volume envelopes and automation possibility through the control surface. I know Protools, has volume envelopes and also has hardware control surfaces available. The 02R as you mentioned being one of them.

I too use the automation features on my 03D by sending MTC from Vegas to the 03D. I would just figure that the automation wouldn't affect what was already done in Vegas volume envelopes. I figured any automation adjustment of "midi remote" faders would be recorded within my 03D, and Vegas would just read those back and their faders would move independantly of the volume envelopes, but would be added together as they are now. That way I have the best of both worlds. Right now, the volume envelopes in Vegas and the channel faders seem to be independant of each other. So if the fader is located at -10dB and there's a volume envelope on the track then the result is -10dB + Volume envelope adjustments. So I guess I was expecting the same type of thing, except now I could automate the fader through the control surface, thus it's not stationary.

How does this work through your Pro Tools setup? Any problems? Any advantages/disadvantages over Vegas?
pwppch wrote on 1/19/2003, 6:33 PM
There was a proposed standard by Tascam/Frontier Design that never really went anywhere. The JLCooper MIDI implementation has been cloned by other vendors. Also the HUI has had its use of MIDI modeled by other surface control vendors.

In the end, there is no standard.

The biggest issue is to support as many surfaces as possible. We could never become experts enough on each and every surface so we would have to rely on the vendors to write "drivers" for their particular surface. I have never met a vendor that would not be willing to do this.

I am working on a standard based on the OPT plugin spec from Yamaha that will permit a vendor to develope a plugin that will control any host that wants to use it. This way the vendor can get as fancy as they like with their implementation and also permits a simple plugin to support simple MIDI CC control of parameters. It would let us develope a simple user configurable plugin. It would not be limited to MIDI i/o control, so vendors that don't use MIDI could also attach to hosts that use a standard like this.

R&D stages right now.


MacMoney wrote on 1/19/2003, 6:54 PM
Hi Rednroll, it takes as long as to power on HUI.
Connect two midi cables to our Midi timepiece AVs(port8).
In Pro-Tools Setups>Peripherals>MIDI Controllers.
in the "type" drop down window I selected HUI
Rec from MTPAV#8
Send to MTPAV#8
We kept the default ch#8


You can also select CS10,Motor Mix, PC1600 as the other controllers.

Tony Mac
MacMoney wrote on 1/19/2003, 6:57 PM
"R&D stages right now.


Tony Mac
SonyEPM wrote on 1/20/2003, 9:01 AM
"Dave said, they've been working on hardware controler support for Vegas, but was looking for a hardware designer to jump on board with them. "

Sorry Red, I did not say that. R&D in many areas is ongoing, but we are not sitting around "looking for a hardware designer to jump on board" with us.

Trust what PCH has to say about this topic, everything else is a rumor or a mis-quote.
Rednroll wrote on 1/20/2003, 11:02 AM
Sorry Dave, I was paraphrasing, thus the reason for no quotation marks :-) . My apologees for my misinterpretation. Just like I didn't say:

you're just "sitting around" 'looking for a hardware designer to jump on board' with us."

Cold wrote on 1/20/2003, 6:16 PM
Peter, how would this interact with your UI? Would volume automation lines adjust to movement of a fader on an HUI? Would edits done in the computer on the volume line translate to fader moves on the HUI? Or would we perhaps have two forms of automation on top of each other? I know it's still in R&D but I think its important to keep the elegance and simplicity of one system. As you well know it's much more important for something to be usefull and integrate cleanly, than just to be there so you can list another feature.
Steve S.
pwppch wrote on 1/20/2003, 7:35 PM
The way I have seen it work that is the best to my liking is two modes:

1. Simple mixing externally : The faders/knobs on a external board map to faders on the GUI and visa versa. A 'live' or real-time mix mode if you will.

2. Automation mixing/recording : The external controls represent automation envelopes. If you are playing back from the software, the faders on the external box track what is going on with the envelopes. If you 'grab' a fader on the external control, it "takes over" from the envelopes and lets you record in real-time your fader moves.

The first method is for the traditionalist out there. Just a simple one to one mapping (using banks for surfaces since you have limited number of physical faders).

The later method is more dynamic and real-time. That is you can jump in and out of automation/envelope mode on the fly or configure some faders/controls to track automation and others to be simple mixer modes. For example, you may want to record automation for tracks your first 4 tracks, but not record automation for your master and sub buses. Ideally, if you are in the first mode and start to move a fader, the output of this fader is ALWAYS recorded and then you have the option of saving/merging or ignoring it.

The key here to me is that you can control anything using the surface EVEN if it is not visable on the screen. Example, you know you have the same EQ on each of your tracks. Your surface has three "knobs" for each channel strip that can be assigned to anything. You have it set up to control the three bands of EQ on the tracks. To control this in the app you would have to show the UI for each track one at a time and adjust with the mouse. With the surface control, you could control as many as your surface has "channel" strips.

The surface control "driver" should permit simple configuration and some form of learning. Many of these devices are dumb. That is they have no brains to store configurations or "mappings". It is entirely up to the host software to manage this aspect. (Some are smart - i.e. the EZbus or the SAC controllers.)

By using the "driver" model I eluded to, the vendor can make things as complex or as simple as they want. Say the surface haas a set of 10 generic function keys, a shift, ctl, and alt key. The app knows nothing about these so it can't really define their usage, the "driver" has to, but how? The "driver" _could_ have a UI that permits simple one to one assignment of these keys to functions in the app. Better yet, they could map modes or complex operations into simple key presses. For example: You want to toggle your "surface" into and out of "tracking" mode with a specific set of input assignements. You could automatically add 4 new tracks and arm them for record with one press of a button. No need to load in a default template veg file ever again!

(As an aside, think of a pluging that wants to "pretend" it is an external control, but in fact it is just a simple configuration/macro recorder. You could record the same macro in this tool and assign it to some simple GUI button that the plugin provides'. This button does the exact same thing as an external button does, but all in the plugins UI. For those that hate our mixer page or the layout of our track/channel strips, a plugin could be written that would provide a stand alone mixer page. It would not replace the Vegas gui, but extend it using the same mechanisms that an external control surface does. There would be no difference. In fact, I would envision that the Yamaha O1/V surface control driver would have a GUI view of the 01/v and permit you to control all of its "features" much like OPT plugs now permit you to control the Motif hardware from with in ACID.)

Again, my approach to all of this is to give the surface vendor as many interesting things to control as possible. The basics will be easy - start/stop/rec, moving a fader, adding a new track, inserting an FX, etc, etc.

The power to map special functionality or create macros would then be up to the vendor. They could provide specific templates that mapped their surface to the host app or provide a tool with in the plugin that permited editing and assignements of macros to specific control commands. The reverse is also true. What ever you do on the UI should be echo'd to the "driver" so that the surface can correctly follow the things you do with the mouse. Of course, it doesn't have to as you may want to quickly edit something with the mouse with out changing the surface's current state.

Realize, this is the 'dream' approach. The reality is these things build up incrementally.

Anyway, you asked. And remember, this is how I think about it, not what may or may not actually happen in our products.


Cold wrote on 1/20/2003, 9:46 PM
Awsome dream Peter! I like your 2 mode concept and of course the open ended aproach. Hope some day to see it happen. Thanks for the response. May the Gods of time and money be on your side.
Steve S
KjipRecords wrote on 1/21/2003, 5:11 AM
Speaking of remote control, this one looks nice (or maybe cute is a better word?): JL Cooper CS-32 Minidesk.
They even list Sonic Foundry on the supported products list. Is it really so? How?


klyon wrote on 1/21/2003, 7:30 AM
A quick comment regarding the interaction of control surface and software:
My experience with Pro Tools is that once you start using faders (whether the software mixer faders or external ones) you start throwing in so many envelope points that vector mixing -- which is, in my opinion, vastly superior, certainly more accurate and, in the long run, faster -- becomes very difficult.
(Just another viewpoint, albeit one from someone with many SSL hours behind him who appreciates Vegas' abandonment of the old paradigm. The only reason to use a real console is simply that it sounds better. Of course, that's a pretty big reason, but it doesn't extend to control surfaces.)
Rednroll wrote on 1/21/2003, 9:08 AM
"(Just another viewpoint, albeit one from someone with many SSL hours behind him who appreciates Vegas' abandonment of the old paradigm."

What abandonment? What Paradigm are you referring too? I've always been able to use Vegas with an external mixer, so I'm not sure what you're referring too.

Also as one who has many SSL 4000G hours behind him, for the record I always hated the sound of the SSL. I loved the flexibility I had with the routing of signals and patching external effects into channels, but the sound was less than desirable. The EQ's where always too harsh on an SSL. I would have desired to mix entirely within Vegas, than mix on an SSL. Now if you would have mentioned NEVE, then I'ld be agreeing with ya :-)
PipelineAudio wrote on 1/21/2003, 11:03 AM
noone says you HAVE to use it
stakeoutstudios wrote on 1/21/2003, 12:39 PM
I dunno, the SSLs always seem to be great for that harder rock and metal... but yeah, I prefer a Neve for just about everything else.

In any event, I can't afford either for my studio... and nor can I be a$$ed with 2" tape. If I had a Neve... I'd probably hook it up for monitoring and preamps to Vegas.

That would be fun!

I do like realtime, tactile EQ / Comp controls... but to have that with the undo and preset memory in vegas? killer!

I have to say though... soundwise... with the plugins I have, I'm not really missing the sonics of the Neve's and the SSLs. Just make sure you have the preamps.

klyon wrote on 1/22/2003, 6:09 PM
The paradigm I refer to is that of the analog mixer: putting a graphic mixer onscreen complete with hard-to-turn knobs and hard-to-read print. Every program but Vegas has a "mixer view." What I'm saying is that I'm glad SF didn't go that route. I prefer mixing from the time line. The thing to remember is that traditional mixers have no connection to the media other than streaming audio. With computers the rules changed. Being able to mix and draw curves right on the audio is more accurate than fader moves and a real time saver.
As far as the SSL vs. Neve debate, I love tracking on Neves. But I generally have gotten more successful mixes on SSL. (Total recall. But don't forget: outboard eq.) This is, of course, like everything else in this business right down to the essential value of any of the music we make, completely subjective. But I will say this: if you don't like the sound of music mixed on SSLs you must not like the sound of very much modern music. SSLs are everywhere, used by everybody, and still being made, sold, and bought.
pwppch wrote on 1/22/2003, 9:12 PM
- Klyon


I still get a kick out of the need for "scrubbing" in a PC-DAW. Why I ask?

"So I can find a specific point in the audio".

Uh, you can jump to any point and see the wave form?

Ok, for the visually impaired, I can see the point.

The point, at least to me, is to REMOVE the hardware paradigms that exist.

Hopefully with the addition of Bus Tracks in Vegas and ACID we are taking the next step in this direction.

Still, there is something to say about familiarity.

On the other hand, many of todays "kids" that are getting into all of this don't know what TRS 1/4 insert cable is or why they need one. They do know what a USB cable is, but for the life of them can't see why the need a DI box for their -10 hardware. Then again, they don't have any hardware. They are using softsynths - freeware/shareware/warz ones. They have more FX processing power than we could have dreamed of 10 years ago. They don't understand that less is more (is it?)


Rednroll wrote on 1/22/2003, 10:02 PM
Ahhh...now I understand the paradigm you're referring too. I totally agree. Originally before Vegas was born, I had worked on Protools and an AMS Neve audiophile, for hard disk recording and editing. I was looking for something to go in my own studio on the PC side. I chose Cubase at that time. It had the paradigm mixer you're referring too. I couldn't stand it, although I was brought up on hardware mixers. Everytime I went to turn one of those knobs with my mouse, it never failed to spin in the opposite direction I wanted it too...it was very frustrating. Then came along Vegas Pro 1.0 and I knew I was saved. I've always preferred the slider method that SF uses and the ability to just type in a value in most of their plugins.

The SSL I was referring too was a 4000G, which was the big daddy for the 80's rock stuff. The EQ's sucked and the compressors were medioccur...not what I'ld expect for a $500K price tag the studio paid for. The EQ's where op-amps...thus going with the "Solid State" concept, but where not good for sound. I much preferred the old API console EQ's we also had in that studio...not as flexible as an SSL EQ...but sounded a whole lot better...That API eventually died, but the owner and I made some lunch boxes out of the Mic Pre's and EQ section, and sold a few for $3K a piece...much more than we could have gotten for the entire console at that point. The nice thing about the SSL was that it had inserts anywhere in the channel...thus allowing me to plug in the Pultecs we had available.

I'm sure the newer SSL's sound much better now...I haven't used one to hear for sure though.
Rednroll wrote on 1/22/2003, 10:11 PM
Peter said:
I still get a kick out of the need for "scrubbing" in a PC-DAW. Why I ask?
"So I can find a specific point in the audio".
Uh, you can jump to any point and see the wave form?

How about I email you a picture of a waveform, and then ask you to jump to the word "Specific point", which is located somewhere in the middle of verse 2...at the same time I'll be scrubbing through the waveform quickly and getting there faster, so I know where I'm going to punch into, because the client wants to punch in at that point from the session we recorded 3 months ago....and I just don't have the waveforms memorized from that long ago?

Or if I'm editing out a cuss word for a radio edit and replacing it with a sound effect, and I want to slowly scrub over it to ensure just the right amount has been edited out, so you know what they're saying, but is still radio exceptible. You do your editing visually, and I'll do mine with my ears and see who's turns out better.

pwppch wrote on 1/23/2003, 3:00 AM
Ok, so I stand corrected. There is a use.

I guess that is why I wrote scrub.. somebody actually finds it useful. I don't.

However, you tend to "know the media" on your time line and where things exist. I could not identify a word from the wave peaks. However once I was familar with the material, I would know where things generally exist and know where to start looking for specifics.

If you are looking for a bogus spot in the audio or a clear transient, it is visable. Scrub to me is a location mechanism from the tape days.

I still find it much easier to get generally where I want and hit the play button and then use a loop region to narrow down what it is I am trying to remove. Scrub just never hit me as being useful for this.

CDM wrote on 1/23/2003, 10:47 AM
I'm with Brian on this. I've never understood why no one at SF understands the need for a good scrubber. I, for one, have never in my 4 or 5 years using Vegas ever used the looping tool. I feel I can spot just about any aberration in a waveform as well as anyone out there, but there are still times where I need to scrub over a word to find a mouth noise or click or vinyl pop. Most of the time I can play and stop manually and just zoom and find it, but it's a hell of a lot faster to zoom in and scrub and stop right on the exact location of the noise. I have yet to be able to use the scrubber in a zoomed in state as easily and fluidly as I was able to with Sound Designer II. Currently, just as I'm getting to the noise in question, the scubber speeds up and zips out of sight and changes the display to an area I'm not interested in. It's frustrating. It's better than it used to be, but it's not perfect.