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Touch Innovations Kontrol Master: Holy Grail of mapping?

creativeforge

Barefoot Heart Music
Anyone seen this at NAMM or in a music store? Or has one?

kontrol-master-1.jpg kontrol-master-2.jpg

EXPERIENCE UNLIMITED KONTROL
Combining the KM with your favorite editing software transforms your workflow from standard keyboard and mouse control to a fluid and precisely accurate experience. The Kontrol Master is the link between human and computer that perfectly balances virtual parameter control with creative expression. Whether you are a music editor, graphics editor or video editor you will find the Kontrol Master to be the intuitive powerful instrument that directly links your inspiration to all your editing software.

Video:
Website: https://touchinnovations.com/products/kontrol-master/

Is this the Holy Grail of controllers, freeing us from the limitations of mapping software?
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
Soooooo...... the knob is like the scroll wheel on a mouse - position the cursor over a control and move the knob, except, unlike a scroll wheel, now you have to hit one of three buttons to determine if it's going to be a vertical, horizontal, or rotary control?

And the arcade buttons can trigger a key command, like a zillion other devices can?

And I can use buttons to flick the cursor to pre-determined spots across multiple monitors?

This is all old stuff - that a Kensington Expert Mouse trackball has been able to do for 15 years now. QuicKeys users have long been able to create custom key commands, outside of those available within an application, and including mouse recording for non-key-command-accessible screen elements like pop-up menus, and these can all be triggered by computer keyboard or even MIDI input - so you can record any mouse click and trigger it from a key command or a button on a hardware controller, TouchOSC, etc. Seems like a weak sub-set of features that have existed for decades.

Am I missing something?
 
OP
creativeforge

creativeforge

Barefoot Heart Music
Hmmm... not sure if you are. I haven't seen a "universal" map that doesn't require a mapping software. So this does sound like something new (to me). It's a research in progress so far, I wondered if anyone had looked into it, hoping I could gain some more insight.

So you're saying nothing here is practically going to simplify a workflow because it can be sort of achieved by a trackball? what I'm looking for is to replace the overuse of the mouse so I can stop pointing and clicking for every single operation, from browsing sounds in Kontakt, opening edit pages, as well as other functions.
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
So you're saying nothing here is practically going to simplify a workflow because it can be sort of achieved by a trackball? what I'm looking for is to replace the overuse of the mouse so I can stop pointing and clicking for every single operation, from browsing sounds in Kontakt, opening edit pages, as well as other functions.
I just didn't see anything in that video or on their website that would make me think it can do much that I can't already do - and the bit about needing to hit a button to determine whether the knob is going to control a horizontal/vertical/rotary knob seems a bit of a joke. Any mouse or trackball with a scroll wheel or ring can do that already (at least on Mac it does), and you don't need to hit any buttons or even click on anything first.

The Kensington Expert Mouse trackball has four buttons and a scroll ring (like the scroll wheel on a mouse). So by default, turning the scroll ring will be like turning an on-screen control (knob, slider, whatever) whenever the cursor hovers above it - no need to click first, and it will correctly adjust the control whether it's a rotary knob or a slider / fader. Since your finger is right there anyway, it takes less effort and time than reaching for a hardware knob. Just move the cursor around the screen to hover over any fader, knob, slider, whatever - and then spin the ring.

If you just want a hardware knob and don't want to mess with trackballs, mouse wheels, etc. then grab a Griffin PowerMate. I used to have one, and I believe it just duplicates the native scroll wheel functionality that your computer already has, but with a nice aluminum knob. I don't think you need to mess with their fiddly software to just get that functionality, just plug it into USB and you should be knobbing away at whatever the cursor is hovering over, no need to hit a button to decide between vertical, horizontal, or rotary. Which is good, because I think the software is deprecated and no longer being updated for new versions of MacOS - but it's a cheap way to see if an actual hardware knob can duplicate the scroll wheel, and if that's of any use to you. But it's been a while since I had one - all it did was duplicate the scroll ring of my trackball, which I already had my finger on, so....

$45.

https://griffintechnology.com/us/device/laptops/powermate

But back to the Expert Mouse trackball - without even installing the driver software, the lower-left button is normal-click and the lower-right button is right-click, so in Logic that gives me three tools right there, so I've never actually used Logic's tool selector palette - EVER. Normal click is select, command-click is scissors, and right click is fade tool. Done.

But the Expert Mouse has four buttons, so if you install the software you can assign whatever you want to any of the four, so the two at the top could execute key commands, etc., and it supports "chording", where you hit both of the bottom or top buttons at the same time, so that's two more key commands right there. These can be assigned to send any combination of keys, or even type a text string if you want.

That thing on the Control Master about jumping the cursor to hot spots across multiple screens looks kind of neat, but there used to be a way, I forget if it was in the older Kensington trackball driver software or in QuicKeys, that let you designate any number of "hot spots" across any number of displays, and when holding a modifier key and moving the cursor, the cursor would snap to those spots - like "snap to grid" for mouse positioning. I kind of stopped using that feature a decade ago as I didn't need it - my dexterity with the trackball is just too good! Unlike with a mouse, with a trackball you can "throw" the cursor across multiple hi-pixel-count displays with a single brisk swipe at the ball, like playing the old Missile Command arcade game, whereas with a mouse you often need to "pedal" the mouse by moving it, lifting it, moving it again, etc. The Kensington trackballs have got a finely-tuned acceleration curve, so it's easy to "sling" the cursor across a big display but still have very fine control when moving the cursor slowly, and this is adjustable within their software - but I don't even use their software. I just plug it in to the Mac and go.

If you've never tried one, it might be worth the $100. Some folks prefer a track pad or mouse, but the scroll ring on the trackball is big and chunky and rubberized, and it's always been easier for me to use that as opposed to the little scroll wheels on a mouse (or the touch-slider-thingie on the Apple Magic Mouse), but it's all personal preference - I've been using these trackballs for 25+ years and when I try to use a mouse or trackpad I fumble like a child.

But that's just the basic stuff you get with an Expert Mouse for like the last 15 years, and not really what you're talking about. Most functions that you mentioned can be done from the keyboard, depending on what DAW you use. In Logic I almost never use the mouse / trackball for anything other than adjusting virtual knobs/sliders with the scroll wheel and selecting and dragging regions / notes on the screen, and even a lot of that I do from the keyboard. I don't ever manually pull down on menus to get to an edit command or whatever, that stuff can all be assigned to a key. Zooming, locating, creating markers, transposing notes by semitone or octave in the key editor, moving events or adjusting event lengths by ticks/16th/beat/bar/8 bar amounts, browse plugin / channel strip settings, etc. - that's all key command stuff - and in Logic any key command can be triggered by incoming MIDI events, so you can build a crazy setup with iPads, TouchOSC devices, or the buttons on hardware like a LaunchControl XL or something.

There's also devices like the X-Keys USB devices from PI Engineering. I used to have some of these back in the day. These are like super-extended user-configurable USB keyboards that can be programmed to trigger any key or combination of keys from any of their buttons, and you can print custom labels and slip them under the clear key caps. Pretty slick if you don't want to memorize complex key combinations or use an iPad that only has "virtual" buttons - these things have chunky mechanical buttons and they're pretty bad ass. Sort of like a hardware button version of Hans' touchscreen for triggering key commands in Cubase.

http://xkeys.com

Browsing Kontakt instruments can be a little less fantastic from the keyboard; for the most part you can navigate within the Files browser with arrow keys and load instruments by hitting Enter, but in the Libraries pane it often still requires some clicking. I do wish they'd implement a key command for the arrow buttons at the top of the Instrument that discard the currently loaded Instrument and load the next / previous Instrument in the current folder. That's one of the few things I actually need to click on in Kontakt, besides the knobs on the Instrument GUI or whatever.

I've had most of these devices, including things like the Euphonix MC-Control with its little touchscreen, iPads with TouchOSC, X-Keys, etc. But in the end, all these things are doing is giving you a different way to trigger key commands that already exist or can be user-configured in your DAW software - they don't add any new functionality, they just give you a different way to access existing functionality. So I just wind up creating and memorizing the key commands, rather than looking down at a touch screen with colorful virtual buttons that will do nothing more than trigger "command-option-shift-G" or whatever. But it's personal preference. I just like a clean, uncluttered work surface with as few moving parts as possible. So now my only moving parts are the scroll ring on the trackball, my Mac keyboard, and my ever-evolving list of Logic key commands.

But - my early years using computers for music were in the days before the mouse (!), when everything had to be done by typing a key. R for record, T for transpose, etc. I'm talking DOS 3.1, Commodore-64, etc. So configuring and memorizing long lists of key commands is second nature to me - but for those who came up in the mouse era this might not feel so natural.

Horses for courses.
 
Last edited:

dgburns

summer of pickles and IPA beer
I just didn't see anything in that video or on their website that would make me think it can do much that I can't already do - and the bit about needing to hit a button to determine whether the knob is going to control a horizontal/vertical/rotary knob seems a bit of a joke. Any mouse or trackball with a scroll wheel or ring can do that already (at least on Mac it does), and you don't need to hit any buttons or even click on anything first.

The Kensington Expert Mouse trackball has four buttons and a scroll ring (like the scroll wheel on a mouse). So by default, turning the scroll ring will be like turning an on-screen control (knob, slider, whatever) whenever the cursor hovers above it - no need to click first, and it will correctly adjust the control whether it's a rotary knob or a slider / fader. Since your finger is right there anyway, it takes less effort and time than reaching for a hardware knob. Just move the cursor around the screen to hover over any fader, knob, slider, whatever - and then spin the ring.

If you just want a hardware knob and don't want to mess with trackballs, mouse wheels, etc. then grab a Griffin PowerMate. I used to have one, and I believe it just duplicates the native scroll wheel functionality that your computer already has, but with a nice aluminum knob. I don't think you need to mess with their fiddly software to just get that functionality, just plug it into USB and you should be knobbing away at whatever the cursor is hovering over, no need to hit a button to decide between vertical, horizontal, or rotary. Which is good, because I think the software is deprecated and no longer being updated for new versions of MacOS - but it's a cheap way to see if an actual hardware knob can duplicate the scroll wheel, and if that's of any use to you. But it's been a while since I had one - all it did was duplicate the scroll ring of my trackball, which I already had my finger on, so....

$45.

https://griffintechnology.com/us/device/laptops/powermate

But back to the Expert Mouse trackball - without even installing the driver software, the lower-left button is normal-click and the lower-right button is right-click, so in Logic that gives me three tools right there, so I've never actually used Logic's tool selector palette - EVER. Normal click is select, command-click is scissors, and right click is fade tool. Done.

But the Expert Mouse has four buttons, so if you install the software you can assign whatever you want to any of the four, so the two at the top could execute key commands, etc., and it supports "chording", where you hit both of the bottom or top buttons at the same time, so that's two more key commands right there. These can be assigned to send any combination of keys, or even type a text string if you want.

That thing on the Control Master about jumping the cursor to hot spots across multiple screens looks kind of neat, but there used to be a way, I forget if it was in the older Kensington trackball driver software or in QuicKeys, that let you designate any number of "hot spots" across any number of displays, and when holding a modifier key and moving the cursor, the cursor would snap to those spots - like "snap to grid" for mouse positioning. I kind of stopped using that feature a decade ago as I didn't need it - my dexterity with the trackball is just too good! Unlike with a mouse, with a trackball you can "throw" the cursor across multiple hi-pixel-count displays with a single brisk swipe at the ball, like playing the old Missile Command arcade game, whereas with a mouse you often need to "pedal" the mouse by moving it, lifting it, moving it again, etc. The Kensington trackballs have got a finely-tuned acceleration curve, so it's easy to "sling" the cursor across a big display but still have very fine control when moving the cursor slowly, and this is adjustable within their software - but I don't even use their software. I just plug it in to the Mac and go.

If you've never tried one, it might be worth the $100. Some folks prefer a track pad or mouse, but the scroll ring on the trackball is big and chunky and rubberized, and it's always been easier for me to use that as opposed to the little scroll wheels on a mouse (or the touch-slider-thingie on the Apple Magic Mouse), but it's all personal preference - I've been using these trackballs for 25+ years and when I try to use a mouse or trackpad I fumble like a child.

But that's just the basic stuff you get with an Expert Mouse for like the last 15 years, and not really what you're talking about. Most functions that you mentioned can be done from the keyboard, depending on what DAW you use. In Logic I almost never use the mouse / trackball for anything other than adjusting virtual knobs/sliders with the scroll wheel and selecting and dragging regions / notes on the screen, and even a lot of that I do from the keyboard. I don't ever manually pull down on menus to get to an edit command or whatever, that stuff can all be assigned to a key. Zooming, locating, creating markers, transposing notes by semitone or octave in the key editor, moving events or adjusting event lengths by ticks/16th/beat/bar/8 bar amounts, browse plugin / channel strip settings, etc. - that's all key command stuff - and in Logic any key command can be triggered by incoming MIDI events, so you can build a crazy setup with iPads, TouchOSC devices, or the buttons on hardware like a LaunchControl XL or something.

There's also devices like the X-Keys USB devices from PI Engineering. I used to have some of these back in the day. These are like super-extended user-configurable USB keyboards that can be programmed to trigger any key or combination of keys from any of their buttons, and you can print custom labels and slip them under the clear key caps. Pretty slick if you don't want to memorize complex key combinations or use an iPad that only has "virtual" buttons - these things have chunky mechanical buttons and they're pretty bad ass. Sort of like a hardware button version of Hans' touchscreen for triggering key commands in Cubase.

http://xkeys.com

Browsing Kontakt instruments can be a little less fantastic from the keyboard; for the most part you can navigate within the Files browser with arrow keys and load instruments by hitting Enter, but in the Libraries pane it often still requires some clicking. I do wish they'd implement a key command for the arrow buttons at the top of the Instrument that discard the currently loaded Instrument and load the next / previous Instrument in the current folder. That's one of the few things I actually need to click on in Kontakt, besides the knobs on the Instrument GUI or whatever.

I've had most of these devices, including things like the Euphonix MC-Control with its little touchscreen, iPads with TouchOSC, X-Keys, etc. But in the end, all these things are doing is giving you a different way to trigger key commands that already exist or can be user-configured in your DAW software - they don't add any new functionality, they just give you a different way to access existing functionality. So I just wind up creating and memorizing the key commands, rather than looking down at a touch screen with colorful virtual buttons that will do nothing more than trigger "command-option-shift-G" or whatever. But it's personal preference. I just like a clean, uncluttered work surface with as few moving parts as possible. So now my only moving parts are the scroll ring on the trackball, my Mac keyboard, and my ever-evolving list of Logic key commands.

But - my early years using computers for music were in the days before the mouse (!), when everything had to be done by typing a key. R for record, T for transpose, etc. I'm talking DOS 3.1, Commodore-64, etc. So configuring and memorizing long lists of key commands is second nature to me - but for those who came up in the mouse era this might not feel so natural.

Horses for courses.
Yes, you are decidely pro Kensington mouse, as am I. But I gotta say, as a former Xkeys user, the ipad/lemur/osculator/applescript combo is by far the most powerfull. You can initiate macro events, not just simple key commands on multiple computers in the same network. So buttons for your Protools dubber sitting right next to your main Logic machine right there next to each other. Not so with any other solution I've seen so far.
I feel the only step forward from ipad is possibly touch screen capability, especially for those things that are hard/tedious to program into the ipad, such as soft synth control. But Apple are fighting this tooth and nail so far.
To me, the problem with your approach is that at a certain point, you run out of keyboard shortcut combos and you end up hitting a wall. Personally much prefer to see buttons in front of me with functions labelled then having to remember key combos . But that's just my take.
 
OP
creativeforge

creativeforge

Barefoot Heart Music
I just didn't see anything in that video or on their website that would make me think it can do much that I can't already do - and the bit about needing to hit a button to determine whether the knob is going to control a horizontal/vertical/rotary knob seems a bit of a joke. Any mouse or trackball with a scroll wheel or ring can do that already (at least on Mac it does), and you don't need to hit any buttons or even click on anything first.

The Kensington Expert Mouse trackball has four buttons and a scroll ring (like the scroll wheel on a mouse). So by default, turning the scroll ring will be like turning an on-screen control (knob, slider, whatever) whenever the cursor hovers above it - no need to click first, and it will correctly adjust the control whether it's a rotary knob or a slider / fader. Since your finger is right there anyway, it takes less effort and time than reaching for a hardware knob. Just move the cursor around the screen to hover over any fader, knob, slider, whatever - and then spin the ring.But - my early years using computers for music were in the days before the mouse (!), when everything had to be done by typing a key. R for record, T for transpose, etc. I'm talking DOS 3.1, Commodore-64, etc. So configuring and memorizing long lists of key commands is second nature to me - but for those who came up in the mouse era this might not feel so natural.

Horses for courses.
Thanks for the very helpful reply! I don't have sophisticated needs for recording, I'm pretty comfortable using the mouse and keyboard shortcuts.

My main issue is when I am looking for sounds, browsing small and large amount of patches in soft-synths and vi-instruments. Kontakt, Omnisphere in particular. I like the hardware format of synthesizers because of this, so I was doing research to find a MIDI controller that would offer me this. Yet, after reading tons of reviews, I found out that beyond the headlines and slogans, both AKAI and NOVATION's mapping software can present problems, not the least being their software updates, sometimes they remove functions people have been using. But again, it seems others are happy with them.

So I thought: what if I detached the keyboard and a "navigation" tool? I saw an AKAI MPD128 which I thought could give me that tactile hardware multi-usage tool. Along with a controller with Fatar-ish keybed, I thought it could work. Then this popped-up.

I'll check to find videos of musicians using the trackball mouse. But the quest remains: navigating virtual instruments in a more intuitive and fluid way. I'm on PC, Windows 7 64, and using Mixcraft by Acoustica for a DAW. I don't produce music for others musicians, just want a tool for my own creativity (home project studio).

Thank you again! To be followed...
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
Yeah, the lack of consistency and hardware-map-ability for patch browsing across various virtual instruments is still a problem in general. I do like the next / previous preset buttons in Kontakt and Omnisphere, but not being able to assign them to key commands or MIDI events is definitely a drag. I wind up not using instruments if they are a pain to navigate.

And I've been down the Novation AutoMap road a few times and always wound up with my car upside down in the bushes!

I'd happily buy any piece of hardware that solved any of these issues, including that Control Master thing, but I'm not seeing any evidence that it's going places we can't already get to by other means. Same with that "Nob" thing that was on KickStarter.

I agree to some extent with what dgburns said about running out of key commands - it's a very real possibility depending on what your workflow looks like, but in the end I don't need all that many features. I don't really need a lot of control over my ProTools layback recorder, and it's got its own keyboard and trackball sitting right there, so no biggie. But when I was trying to configure Cubase to match my Logic workflow I wound up using way more key commands than I had room for on the Mac keyboard (or in my brain's RAM!), so I can understand why Hans and Junkie have those big touch screens - but that's just because Cubase handles things a little differently.
 
OP
creativeforge

creativeforge

Barefoot Heart Music
I do like the next / previous preset buttons in Kontakt and Omnisphere, but not being able to assign them to key commands or MIDI events is definitely a drag. I wind up not using instruments if they are a pain to navigate.
Exactemente!

And I've been down the Novation AutoMap road a few times and always wound up with my car upside down in the bushes!
That's a fitting allegory. :P

I'm considering a touchscreen now, as my finger is faster than my hand-to-mouse-to-eye-to-cursor-to-mouse-to eye-to-cursor-to-mouse, etc. Tired of living hand to mouse, I need to upgrade my life.

Just having the possibility to assign the browsing to the arrow keys would be revolutionary... But we're in 2017, and at least somebody using this is coming up with solutions. I know there's THIS:


HmmmmmMMMMMMMmmm....
 

charlieclouser

Senior Member
I think it's possible with Keyboard Maestro or QuicKeys to record a click, positioned relative to any corner of the top-most window, and assign that to a key command, and from there to a MIDI event. This would let you create a key / MIDI event for next / previous preset in both Kontakt and Omnisphere (and whatever other synth plugins you use).

But then you would wind up with different keys for next / previous in each plugin, since the buttons are never in the same place!

If you go ahead and convert every synth preset to an AUpreset inside Logic, then you can use Logic's single, unified key command for "Next / Previous Plugin Preset or EXS Instrument or Channel Strip Setting" - which is genius, but that means everything's got to be an AUpreset. Drag. But that's why I still use EXS and Logic's native plugins for most things - the program knows which window is topped, and knows whether you want to go to the next plugin setting, or channel strip setting, or whatever. It works brilliantly, and only needs only a single pair of key commands, but it requires that you're operating entirely within the AUpreset world.
 

clisma

Active Member
But then you would wind up with different keys for next / previous in each plugin, since the buttons are never in the same place!
You could use KM's "Found Image" capability to differentiate between the Kontakt and Omnnisphere buttons, then trigger the same two keys for switching them by using the "if/else" argument. I use it to launch plugins in Logic, activate them when their UI is closed, and unload them. Works very well.
 
OP
creativeforge

creativeforge

Barefoot Heart Music
You could use KM's "Found Image" capability to differentiate between the Kontakt and Omnnisphere buttons, then trigger the same two keys for switching them by using the "if/else" argument. I use it to launch plugins in Logic, activate them when their UI is closed, and unload them. Works very well.
You mean it creates a "toggle" effect? I would rather enjoy seeing this on a short video... You are using KM? Which DAW are you using it with? Has it really been helping your workflow?

Thanks!
 

ScottWaara

New Member
FWIW, I saw it at NAMM, and talked to the guy a while. It's lack of midi programmability was also a non-starter for me. I couldn't imagine it on my desktop in it's size/usability quotient. There is something appealing about big buttons, but I didn't see that it would let me do anything easier than I can with the controllers I use.
 

clisma

Active Member
You're welcome Charlie, after all of the many, many tips of yours I've profited from, it's great to hand over a tip you can use!

Creative: I'll try to put something quick together to show what I mean. Yes, it's a "toggle" effect you can put together in KM. I use it with Logic, but there's no reason you couldn't in any other DAW. It all depends on KM's ability to recognize parts of the screen.
 

higgs

boson
The Logitech Gamepad G13 has become integral for my project setup/tweaks and MIDI & audio editing. There are three completely mappable "zones" (which expands the available keys to 3x) with user customizable colors for each zone. You can map most anything from common favorites to crazy macros for each key. As an added bonus, you can leave keys unassigned for when you just want to have buttons that do nothing... Seriously though, it's a powerful tool that has onboard memory for storing presets that you might want to keep loaded for use with two or more computers without the fuss of programming macros and key combos on two+ computers.

I'm also loving the Contour Designs Shuttle Pro 2 for most of my in-session work and anytime a jog and shuttle is beneficial.

Both of these have program specific customization, and the Shuttle Pro automatically switches presets (if you tell it to) depending on which program is active on your screen. Add to that the Better Touch Tool app, and there's not much you can't do, save MIDI programming.
 

clisma

Active Member
I'm also loving the Contour Designs Shuttle Pro 2 for most of my in-session work and anytime a jog and shuttle is beneficial.
Have been using it for a couple of years and love it in conjunction with a trackpad. The buttons, and especially the jog wheel, feel great.

I think there's something to what Charlie posted above: if it's just a different way of triggering a macro, to me, nothing beats the immediacy of a keyboard. I don't have trouble remembering shortcuts and my hands are on the keyboard most of the time. If they're not, they should be, as most likely I'm not being as efficient/fast as I could be, and more importantly, I'm not preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries by "clawing" my pointing device.

Over the years I've tried many different setups to improve workflow. Shortcuts work best for me. And so far, I have had no trouble coming up with new ones, even on a number-pad-less keyboard. Though I'll admit they might not make logical sense to someone else.
 
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