Boosting Workflow when using Mackie Controller

PG

New Member
Hi Guys,
I know manny of you here are composers (I'm mostly a mixing engineer) and it's not that common to have a surface control for mixing but anyway, I would like to share this thing that I created that made me smile so hard when it worked :P

Since I first bought my X-touch and the extender, I always wondered if things could be more easy to do. Except from Volume / Pan / Sends, everything is too much buttons to click and knobs to rotate to do things. It's was way faster to just click with the mouse.

To close this gap I used MaxMSP(or PureData) to develop a patch to make all the hard work for me when working on the surface.

In short, what I did in Max was:

- Every time I click on the Next Bank/Prev Bank buttons, Cubase also selects the channel so the screen can scroll to the same channel I’m seeing on the controller.
- Every time a click on Sends, it will press FLIP for me, because I like my sends on the faders and not on the knobs. And everytime I leave the Sends page, it will FLIP back.
- Customize the wheel to do whatever you want, like clip gain, call macros, fade in time, fade out time.
- Editing plugins now is a breeze, you just have to click the corresponding knob to open the window and you are ready to tweak the plugin. You don’t need to press the Plug-In page button anymore, select the correct slot (IFX Slot) and then press the page button. Max is doing this automagicaly (HUGE time saver and fun).
- Same with channel strips. To add a channel strip module you just have to press a button, same thing to edit a particular strip module, just press a button. No more rotating knobs until you find the correct strip you want to edit.

I made a blog post with a video, explaining everything I did and providing the files for you to download.
It was a huge workflow enhancement for me and I really wanted to share it with the community because I always saw people complaining about some things that the controller could be doing differently and using this approach you can modify the way the controller works within any DAW, not only Cubase.

This is the blog post with the files and some explanations: http://www.pgaudio.com.br/site/improve-mackie-controller-xtouch-integration-daw/
And this is the video:

I hope that it is useful for someone! :D

PG
 

Gerhard Westphalen

Scoring Mixer
Nice work on this. I don't see why companies are still using Mackie instead of developing their own protocols like Eucon. DAWs should be open to easily integrating new protocols (I believe you can add your own to Cubase).
 
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PG

New Member
Nice work on this. I don't see why companies are still using Mackie instead of developing their own protocols like Eucon. DAWs should be open to easily integrating new protocols (I believe you can add your own to Cubase).
Yeah.. I completly agree.
 

greggybud

Active Member
Since I first bought my X-touch and the extender, I always wondered if things could be more easy to do. Except from Volume / Pan / Sends, everything is too much buttons to click and knobs to rotate to do things. It's was way faster to just click with the mouse.
You just very succinctly explained the problem with any MCU controller. I get the feeling that users who are thinking about buying one will somehow enhance their workflow. This IMO is only true if you intend to use it for volume/pan/sends. Everything else is too much button pressing and more quick with a mouse or Metagrid (for key commands or selection of large number of tracks)

- Every time I click on the Next Bank/Prev Bank buttons, Cubase also selects the channel so the screen can scroll to the same channel I’m seeing on the controller.
What about a similar MCU drawback (Logic I believe has solved this) where you focus/highlight track 1 in Cubase and therefore the MCU focuses on track 1. But when you focus for example track 9 in Cubase, the MCU does not switch banks from 1-8 to 9-16. The MCU receives focus, but it doesn't switch banks. I have always wondered how to make the MCU chase, or automatically switch banks to whatever channel you select in Cubase, and this IMO is a horrible drawback.

I love what you have done. I'm a bit intimidated to try it myself since there is a lot of configuration happening.
 
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PG

New Member
You just very succinctly explained the problem with any MCU controller. I get the feeling that users who are thinking about buying one will somehow enhance their workflow. This IMO is only true if you intend to use it for volume/pan/sends. Everything else is too much button pressing and more quick with a mouse or Metagrid (for key commands or selection of large number of tracks)



What about a similar MCU drawback (Logic I believe has solved this) where you focus/highlight track 1 in Cubase and therefore the MCU focuses on track 1. But when you focus for example track 9 in Cubase, the MCU does not switch banks from 1-8 to 9-16. The MCU receives focus, but it doesn't switch banks. I have always wondered how to make the MCU chase, or automatically switch banks to whatever channel you select in Cubase, and this IMO is a horrible drawback.

I love what you have done. I'm a bit intimidated to try it myself since there is a lot of configuration happening.
Thanks man. Glad you liked that!
This thing about not getting the MCU bank to chase the DAW is a pain. I was trying a solution for that but with large sessions it was not very consistent. Not always it worked, so I left it out from this version. But I think I ran out of ideas on how to do that. I don't have logic here, but my partner has, I may hook up the MCU on his workstation and try to see what Logic is doing to do that.

BTW, Try it on your system, If you have any question, just ask! :D

PG
 

greggybud

Active Member
. I don't have logic here, but my partner has, I may hook up the MCU on his workstation and try to see what Logic is doing to do that.
There are a few gearslutz threads that address the no auto-bank switching. Since this is Mackie protocol, I thought that would not be possible, but some current version Logic users say it's working. Therefore it must be something that Logic does after Mackie protocol...sort of an addition? This is all above my pay grade. I just see this as a huge drawback of Mackie protocol.
 
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PG

New Member
There are a few gearslutz threads that address the no auto-bank switching. Since this is Mackie protocol, I thought that would not be possible, but some current version Logic users say it's working. Therefore it must be something that Logic does after Mackie protocol...sort of an addition? This is all above my pay grade. I just see this as a huge drawback of Mackie protocol.
I just tested now in Logic and yea it did bank correctly!! It's amazing!! It's actually not a protocol limitation, it's actually a cubase poor implementation of this feature. In Logic, when you click on another channel that's is out of the bank, the bank indicator (the strip near the channel name [similar to cubase]) also moves to the correct page and then Logic tells to the MCU to update to this bank. I have no idea why steinberg don't do the samething in cubase...
Meanwhile, I'm trying to think some workaround for this
 

JamieLang

Active Member
I do. Because Logic's implementation is unusable to me. So much so that I was going to SELL my MCU+Ext when I tried to use Logic for a year because it was a glorified transport control for me. ProTools is worse with it's need to repeatedly press "bank" to get anywhere on the mixer.

Steinberg's is gold standard For MCU implementation for me. I can push a button and have all my FX...push a button and have all my drums on the faders...etc. I would be livid if that changed because I clicked some track with the mouse.

Harrison does some really wonderful things with the MCU, too. But, you stil lcan't carve up the mixer logically for direct access with it.
 

JamieLang

Active Member
Wow. That's a big undertaking-I see what you mean-I refuse to ever use the bank command. I guess in theory, if you're trying to use it like that, you would want the screen to follow.

I use (Cubase)mixer configurations and (MCU)direct access buttons? The Behringer left that row of buttons off. See--they're mimicking the MCU, but they left the row of buttons of that Steinberg used to directly select mixer configurations.
 

greggybud

Active Member
Steinberg's is gold standard For MCU implementation for me. I can push a button and have all my FX...push a button and have all my drums on the faders...etc. I would be livid if that changed because I clicked some track with the mouse.
As you probably know not every DAW controller that uses MCU is identical. I use a QconPro, but the MCU Pro has buttons not available on the QconPro. With this said, you are using the MCU assignable function buttons that you have already configured in Cubase using configurations/channel filters to control this correct? Using a MCU function button, of course the MCU should reflect the Cubase configurations/channel filters since you can set any configuration/channel filter to a key command in Cubase.

You said Pro Tools is worse since you have to repeatedly press "bank" to get anywhere in the mixer. The switching of channel banks is exactly the problem in Cubase too.

Just to clarify, we are addressing the issue that any MCU controller with the exception of Logic that I'm aware of, does not auto-bank change the channel you select in Cubase. For example, channel 1 is selected in Cubase, channel 1 is selected on your MCU controller. All is good. But if you now mouse select channel 10 in Cubase (or any channel outside the MCU channel 1-8 bank) the MCU controller will not automatically switch to the next bank (9-16), you have to do this manually. The only thing the MCU does when you focus channel 10 in Cubase, is correctly focus channel 10 on the MCU. It doesn't switch banks.

I guess every MCU controller has advantages and disadvantages. For example while MCU protocol is limited to 6 or 7 characters, the scribble strip is a total mess on the QconPro unless you only use 4 or 5 to create a couple spaces. The spaces has been physically addressed on the X-touch so while the character limitation exists, it at least gives some separation.
 
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PG

New Member
Just to clarify, we are addressing the issue that any MCU controller with the exception of Logic that I'm aware of, does not auto-bank change the channel you select in Cubase. For example, channel 1 is selected in Cubase, channel 1 is selected on your MCU controller. All is good. But if you now mouse select channel 10 in Cubase (or any channel outside the MCU channel 1-8 bank) the MCU controller will not automatically switch to the next bank (9-16), you have to do this manually. The only thing the MCU does when you focus channel 10 in Cubase, is correctly focus channel 10 on the MCU. It doesn't switch banks.
I had in Idea here to implement the auto bank switch in Cubase using a HUUGEE workaround but, it will probably work :D . I made some preliminar tests here and it partially worked. Gonna try to enhance the solution later.. I'll post here if I have any success
 
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PG

New Member
@greggybud : I got it working!! \o/ . Everytime you click a channel on Cubase the MCU switch to the correct bank!!
The hardest part was to find out a way to make cubase send the Channel number data to Max (or Puredata). The only way I found was to add a WK-Audio ID!! I tried every other Control Surface and none of them cubase will send any MIDI information if you clicked on a channel outside the controller bank. But, fortunately, at least one (WK-Audio ID) send the channel information, even if the channel is outside the bank! Cubase sends a SysEx message with the channel number. I captured this Sysex message, extracted the channel Number, did the math to find the bank and now I got the auto bank! :D
There is one problem though... If you hide any channel on your session, cubase will mess up the channel numbers and it won't work. I had to adapt my workflow to that. :(
For example:
If you hide from channel 1 to channel 8.. The first channel is channel 9.. it's not channel 1 anymore.. the channel numbers remains, even if you hide the channel. In this chase, when I click on the channel 9 (which is my 1st channel now) the MCU will switch to the next bank. If you don't hide any track (or if your hidden tracks are at the end of your project) it will work! :D

let me know if you need the files to do that and I can send the Max version (I didn't have time to make the Puredata version yet)

PG
 

greggybud

Active Member
@greggybud : I got it working!! \o/ . Everytime you click a channel on Cubase the MCU switch to the correct bank!!
Wow! Congratulations! The things you have addressed would make any MCU so much more useful.

For myself, what you did, even before auto bank shift, is incredibly DAUNTING for myself with no experience in MAX, let alone Mackie protocol. I need to watch the video again and figure out if this is something that I can attempt.

Thank you for posting this. I think there would be a large interest here with many MCU users... The question is how easily it can be implemented.
 
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PG

New Member
For myself, what you did, even before auto bank shift, is incredibly DAUNTING for myself with no experience in MAX, let alone Mackie protocol. I need to watch the video again and figure out if this is something that I can attempt.
Yeah.. I'm aware that it's not that simple to setup everything but let me know If you have any problem. Would be a pleasure to help.

PG
 

Aroldmusic

New Member
Hi PG! I've registered in this forum just to say thank you, for all of the shared work you made. I recently purchased a new Icon qcon g2 and I was searching for the way to "bank follows the selected track in the Cubase mixer" and how to improve the vst tweaking. I have to install the Max and study well your tutorial. Thanks a lot for everything.
PD: so, in your previous message, are you saying you found a way to get the bank jump to selected track?
 

greggybud

Active Member
so, in your previous message, are you saying you found a way to get the bank jump to selected track?
I'm not PG, but unless I misunderstood him, yes.

But just for clarification, your Icon Qcon G2 should already "follow" whatever track you focus on the Cubase mixer. If your controller is showing channels 1 through 8, and in Cubase you focus channel 9, then on your Qcon, you must manually switch to the next bank, or shift up by 1 channel, and confirm that channel 9 is indeed focused on your controller.

I believe the issue PG is addressing is to have that Qcon automatically switch or jump to the next bank when you focus channel 9.

Automatic switching is what is lacking with most MCU controllers, however I'm told Logic is an exception.
 

Aroldmusic

New Member
Hi Greggybud. What happens, at least with Cubase 10 and my icon Qcon g2 is, by default, if I do click on a track outside of the "1-8 bank block", as you say, I must manually go with the next bank block or press shift+bank to go to that track. What I would like to get ( I don't know if it is possible ) is to select a track manually ( with the mouse or with the right-button pad on the icon ) and the bank-block jumps to those track ( maybe auto or manual, assigned to a button ) as first or as last track of the 1-8 bank-block. I use to work with large projects ( more than 64 tracks usually ) and I use to tweak the tracks from side to side. I would like to manipulate, at least volume fader, the track I select without scrolling the "1-8 bank" from side to side.
 

greggybud

Active Member
. What I would like to get ( I don't know if it is possible ) is to select a track manually ( with the mouse or with the right-button pad on the icon ) and the bank-block jumps to those track
Yes. Automatic bank switch. I'm told it's not part of MCU protolcol, so unless you are on Logic, it doesn't happen.

But just to clarify, if your Qcon is currently on channels 1-8, and in Cubase you focus channel 9..either in the mix console or project page, then manually switch to channels 9-16 on your Qcon, you should see the select button 9 lit. So your Qcon is following Cubase, it's simply not automatically switching banks when you select channel 9 in Cubase.
 

sathyva

Member
Hello guys !
Sorry to jump in your interesting thread !
i've just bought a Presonus Faderport V2 and i now realized that there'is no "channel focusing" :(
As i have a pretty big template in Cubase, the idea of turnig the jogwheel or using the prev or next button to move by one channel at a time is pretty annoying...
If someone have some ressources he can point me onto, i would more than happy.
cheers !
 

sathyva

Member
There are a few gearslutz threads that address the no auto-bank switching. Since this is Mackie protocol, I thought that would not be possible, but some current version Logic users say it's working. Therefore it must be something that Logic does after Mackie protocol...sort of an addition? This is all above my pay grade. I just see this as a huge drawback of Mackie protocol.
@greggybud

Hi
i just check GS for the threads but i found nothing :(
If you hava link that would be awesome !
Trying to make my Presonus Faderport V2 working properly with auto-bank and auto channel switching..
Thanks mate !