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FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / PC based recording: Controllers and control sufaces

ejm

usa

Mar 23rd, 2015 09:34 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have an old OLD Tascam 788 digital 8 track portastudio that I love. However, I know that it won't last forever. Because of that, I've been studying up on PC based recording lately to prepare myself for that fateful day.

One of the things that I like about the older recorders (like mine) is the faders and other easy to use controls. "Easy" is a politically correct way of saying "NO MICE/MOUSES/MEESES". That is one reason that I never really warmed up to the PC based idea.

As part of my studies I have run across several controllers/control surfaces that are somewhat inexpensive.

Nektar P1 Panorama
Akai APC40
Novation Launch Control XL (this one in particular caught my eye)
Various Behringer units

Below are some links to various articlae and videos. (Sorry for the cryptic way I posted the links, but I couldn't figure out how to do multiples in the same thread the fancy way.)

OK, ready........discuss.
========================================
Behringer:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan05/articles/behringercontrollers.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26glHaanAMQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFNAFA6i0ic


Nektar:

http://www.nektartech.com/PRODUCTS/Panorama-P1

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/mar14/articles/nektar-panorama-p1.htm


Akai:

http://www.akaipro.com/microsites/apcseries/


Novation Launch Control XL:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/LaunchContXL?adpos=1o1&creative=55226083081&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=CLLh9uucl8QCFZBafgodZ2gA3w



Mark From Hawaii
Contributing Member
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The Aloha State, USA

only cowboys stay in tune after all
Mar 23rd, 2015 12:42 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I agree - can't do user-friendly mixes on a DAW with a mouse. I use Reaper and found that the Behringer BCF2000 is compatible and affordable. It's on my ever-increasing list of gear and software to round out my home recording "studio".

Achase4u

U.S. - Virginia

Mar 23rd, 2015 10:12 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Ive heard good things about the Mackie Control Universal Pro Control Surface.

I personally might go for the X-Touch by behringer. Although, with so many different plugin interfaces, I just don't see how a universal control surface will make sense with multiknob effect plugins. Automation and fader work though, yes.

Ultimately, I wish all my effects were outboard and had a knob I could grab. Unfortunately, I am not rich, either.

(This message was last edited by Achase4u at 12:12 AM, Mar 24th, 2015)

Roly
Contributing Member
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Whitehorse Canada

I don't get out much
Mar 24th, 2015 02:06 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'd give it a sincere try without a controller.
If you really don't like it, spend the money.

If, like me, it turns out to be not so bad after all, that dough is still in your pocket and be put towards buying a better mic.

ejm

usa

Mar 24th, 2015 03:53 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

FYI: The Mackie mentioned is $1000+.
The others I mentioned are in the $200-$400 range.


Achase4u

U.S. - Virginia

Mar 25th, 2015 09:22 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The mackie is a metal enclosure with the ability to extend with add on units making your own "console"

Lots of customization available with the controls apparently.

Whatever way you go, I do recommend something with automation for the faders if you are getting into mixing more than 8 tracks at a time.

The other end of the spectrum is the presonus faderport - a single fader. 129 dollars.



reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
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When I sin

I sin real good
Mar 25th, 2015 10:03 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Automation in the DAW itself killed the need for faders for me.

Sure, I'd love one to just play with now and again but that's a lot of desk real estate for what I can do track at a time.

insanecooker
Contributing Member
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Rio

Apr 10th, 2015 04:45 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"Automation in the DAW itself killed the need for faders for me."

It's a lot more fun to ride the faders than to draw envelopes with the mouse.

littleuch
Contributing Member
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Florida

Apr 10th, 2015 06:36 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I spent plenty of time riding faders in real time. I'll take the exactness of lane automation anytime, especially when there are multiple things happening.

Juice Nichols
Contributing Member
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Panama City, FL

Same ol **** but my hair's longer
Apr 10th, 2015 09:32 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've been eyeballing this control surface. Looks pretty cool in the video.

Slate Raven MTI

insanecooker
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Rio

Apr 13th, 2015 09:19 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I'll take the exactness of lane automation anytime"

It doesn't have to be one or the other - I'll do the first passes with automated faders and then do some detailed sculpting with the mouse where needed.

Achase4u

U.S. - Virginia

Apr 13th, 2015 03:25 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Any way of working is valid. I like to sometimes limit myself to what I can do with a fader by hand like the old days. Makes for a different sounding mix.

guitarmoog
Contributing Member
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Belgium

I wouldn't say that's excessive
Apr 14th, 2015 06:03 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have the MCU and two extenders to make 24 channels and issue it with Logic X. Aside from a few bugs that always seem to happen when moving between Logic updates, I couldn't be happier. It was a big investment though, and I used 2 Beri BCFs and an M-Audio icontrol for a good few years first. There are lots of things I love about the MCU that you can get from other things though, like Flying faders, transport control, pan knobs etc., and the Beri/iControl combo worked pretty well, and would be enough for most people.

Having said that, there are quite a few things that the Mackie has going for it that others don't, unless you get even higher up the price-scale to the Avid Artist Controls and so on. The things I've found dramatically improved my workflow are:

- Great Jog Wheel (I must have a jog wheel. Hate working without one).

- Dedicated automation buttons - select track, hit 'write', play and write automation without touching a mouse.

- Digital scribble strips. The bass is too loud? you don't have to look at the screen to find the bass track to pull it down a touch.

- Zoom buttons to change the zoom level in the main window. I use these constantly, especially while editing.

- dedicated master fader. I never saw the point of this, but it seems to get used all the time. Again, no need to go hunting, it's just there.

- ability to switch to control plugins (not hugely straightforward admittedly) and sends (much more straightforward). The sends thing comes in handy all the time while mixing.

Added to that, my clients are always impressed by it, especially when the faders start moving!

As for the overall value, I find it is great for getting general levels in a project. For example, getting all the tracks going to the drum bus sounding like a real kit, and then balancing the drums and bass. I still draw automation for the fine stuff, or for lifting or dropping individual sections, but this helps me get close to a good mix very quickly. It's also brilliant to just be able to hit a nut or solo button instantly, bring in multiple instruments at once and so on. Same for panning - How do those two instruments sound if we switch sides for both? While tracking, it's great to be able to scroll to drop-in spots, arm the right track or tracks, and hit record without squinting at the screen with the mouse. Like I said, for editing, the ability to zoom easily and quickly is tremendous.

Of course, surfaces don't actually do anything you can't do with a mouse, but I think mine helps me focus on the sound a bit more. I'd definitely recommend dipping your toe in the water with a BCF or similar and seeing if it works for you.

The MCU in action with clients

Mick Reid
Contributing Member
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Australia

American-made in Oz!!
Apr 22nd, 2015 11:09 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Another option that no one else has mentioned is one of the Zoom digital recorders.

I have the Zoom R8 but admittedly only have used it very limitedly. Mainly due to my 7 y/o laptop having developed a problem with audio that I haven't been able to fix.
However, I have bought a new laptop this week and hope to get things rolling in due course.

Anyway... the R8...
It comes with a lite version of Cubase for a DAW and the recorder can function as an interface or a stand-alone recording device. (note: Cubase, Logic and Sonar are all supported)

When connected to the computer, the faders & controls of the R8 appear on screen but you can adjust them manually and see the changes on-screen.

To me, you're getting the best of both worlds with this set up.

The main limitation of the R8 (at least maybe for some) is that it only has 2 inputs so only 2 tracks can be recorded simultaneously. Not an issue for me as my needs are strictly for demo stuff and capturing ideas. However, if you want to spend a bit more doe, the R16 offers 8 inputs/simultaneous recording.

Anyway, just another option I thought I'd throw out there.

BTW, the Zoom units don't seem to get any love here.
I posted a "who's using a Zoom R8" thread a couple of years ago and got ZERO replies :^(
but I think they're very good.

edit to add:
Plus the Zoom comes with a heap of drum loops with the ability to create your own as well.
It also has built in stereo mics for quick, spontaneous recording.

(This message was last edited by Mick Reid at 01:17 AM, Apr 23rd, 2015)

Coral Head

Sunshine State

Groupies needed
May 11th, 2015 09:16 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I bet that if you switch to a DAW and use a mouse from the start, you will never think about faders again.

FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / PC based recording: Controllers and control sufaces




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