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is it a controller i want?

Postby SableTones » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:54 pm

Hi. This is a very basic question and hopefully not too dumb. I only need pointing in the right direction. Clarification would be really helpful. It's a bit long winded but i'm trying to paint a picture.

Basically, will a 'controller'/'control surface' of some specification, meet my needs.

My multitrack recorder died a few days ago. It may only be the PSU and i have posted it away today....but not to Yamaha, who don't cater/care for this mixer anymore (AW2400). But it makes me aware that i need to rethink my process.

Now i like the tactile feel of faders and i like mixing on the fly and i am not yet into automation......and i reckon...i need to partly involve a computer into my work. I had been producing CD's on the Yamaha or sending files from a back up recorder (Fostex) to friends with computers etc.

I don't 'make' music as such so i don't use MIDI....we/I record various music genres. I like what a computer can offer though but i want to work with my hands (professionally an Orchid grower and art therapist......tech skills/knowledge are of a low grade late arrival enthusiastic amateur status)

We have a decent live rig also.

I like my outboard preamps and effects, but i want software effects and dynamics on all tracks. I need a minimum of 16 recording tracks at a minimum of 24 bit. Lots of overdubbing for soundscape's and children's stories...which is actually how this all started!

We are in the process of completing fund raising for a Prism sound LRX2 and basic Sadie 6 editing software....for a school....(they opted to put 1/2 of original budget for Sadie etc into lights/curtains/reinforcement in a new hall.....ironically thanks to my own efforts at persuading them to do just that... and success with the equipment i then had for recording)....but i want my own/home rig to complement this....don't ask me why!

So....will a good quality and well specified control surface (or even a good digital mixer) allow me to play with fader's and control the computer software for recording/editing/mixing/production....is that what a control surface can do?

I imagine going: mics > preamps > interface > computer being operated by ?? a 'Controller' ?? then mixing, mastering , producing in the computer manipulated by the controller.

do you see what i mean? I imagine it as 'unpacking the AW2400 concept and having all the individual components and processes laid out before me.....but not totally redundant if one item dies or becomes redundant.

steve
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby The Elf » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:36 pm

sabletones wrote:So....will a good quality and well specified control surface (or even a good digital mixer) allow me to play with fader's and control the computer software for recording/editing/mixing/production....is that what a control surface can do?

Yes, but it's not all you might hope for!

Imagine how many knobs, buttons and faders you would need for the full control of a typical DAW, and then take a look at the number of controls on some control surfaces!

Many of us have trodden this path - 'I like physical faders, so I'll get a control surface' - only to find that within days of using the DAW the control surface sits gathering dust. There are so many functions in a modern DAW that you end up constantly switching between the mouse (a necessary evil, I'm afraid) and the control surface - this becomes distracting and unweildy. You simply learn to do everything with the mouse as you go; before you know it you're working just fine.

I do understand the need for a fader or two, and having some around for basic mixing tasks is useful, but it really isn't a big deal. I eventually went for a Frontier Alphatrack, which has only one fader, but it does everything I need. The multi-fader control surface I bought remains a dust trap.

I'd say save your money, set up your DAW and get stuck in. If, after some familiarisation, you still feel you want to try a control surface, then go for it. But don't start off with one - I doubt you'll find it the panacea you may be hoping for.

HTH!
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby SableTones » Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:27 am

Hmm!....ok,

it's maybe not as onerous as i think and maybe like swimming in Cornwall, ok once your'e in!

So i choose my software (and i fancy Sadie 6/MTR) get a good music dedicated laptop....i have x2 preamps (ISA 828/Audient) giving me a combined x16 ADAT facility and x16 line outs i send to the fostex as back up..

What can you say about the interface....minimum x16/24 bit etc....USB to laptop? Will that handle/cope with all my recording tracks?

A recomendation or a good place to start research? either a name, a genre, a minimum spec etc.

We use already x3 focusrites (scarletts 18i's and 8i) at the school as interfaces

A good quality stable interface allowing me to continue with the gear i already have is what i need advice on now.

Also (and i don't want to keep bothering the very helpful guys at Prism sound) is it possible to install e.g. sadie 6 and Sadie MTR software on x2 computers 9being mine and the school one)

i appreciate the answer you gave to a rather broad question...many thanks

steve
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby narcoman » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:24 pm

have to half agree with Elf. The control surfaces only become the hand savers (and time savers) they are once you get into the serious end. We have two DCommands here, a HUI and two of the Euphonix Artist MC Controls. The DCommands are incredible, the HUI amusing and the MC Controls distracting. I have a faderport at home which is useful writing fader automation so thats cool
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby The Elf » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:39 pm

I can't comment on Sadie - I've never used it.

Neither can I comment on laptops. I don't use laptops for serious studio recording. For portability they're fine, but I wouldn't want to be stuck with one in a studio.

As to an interface... I like RME for their solidly stable drivers, their TotalMix software that takes all of the pain out of routing and monitoring, and for their flexibility (the two ADAT ports on the Fireface 800 are superb for expanding I/O) . It would be worth seeing if there's anything in their product line that takes your fancy.
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby Richie Royale » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:49 pm

+1 on the RME

Elf, have you tried any of the Cubase controllers (the little modular ones)? I've considered them, but I think like you have pointed out, I'll wind up just using the mouse or both and it wouldn't really be a huge benefit.

http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/controllers.html
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby The Elf » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:56 pm

I've not tried any of Steinberg's mini controllers, but I have fancied the Steinberg CC121 for while. I suspect I'd find it similar to my Alphtrack, with which I'm very happy indeed, but it is more focussed for use specifically with Cubase - and I like that.

The mini controllers hold no appeal for me at all. I see a lot of messy USB cabling and desk space taken up with these fiddly little devices (you will notice that Steinberg are very careful to avoid showing the cabling in their advertising blurb!). They represent entirely the wrong direction for me - if they put all of those messy separate controllers on a single desktop surface then my interest might be piqued.

As Narcoman suggests, a single fader device is perfectly adequate for writing automation, which is the primary use of a hardware controller in my experience. I'd be tempted to try the CC121, but I'd certainly buy another Alphatrack in a heartbeat.
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby Richie Royale » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:19 pm

I have no desk space, but a studio re-shuffle is long over due!

The CC121 looks more appealing, but it would take up even more space

I don't think I can justify one though. Having one fader would be useful, but then I recently started using the quick controls and that enables a mod wheel to be the fader, so I may just stick with that for the moment.
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby SableTones » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:26 pm

all responses and developments very helpful to me...sincere thanks.

i am looking at the carillion audio computer site (ok...ditch the lap top....but what does H. R. johns do when he's finished location recording with his LRX2 and laptop?)

The carillion site has a comprehensive list of interfaces that i now begin to understand the relevance of.

also came across compatability concerns of some with pc/windows and fireface, but i guess that will open up and become clear.

again, many thanks

steve
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby Phil O » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:35 pm

I'm with The Elf and Narco on this. I had a 002 C/S for Protools. By the time I'd shiffled through various sub menus to reach the required controls I needed (e.g plug-in parameters, I could've had it done with the Mouse.
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby narcoman » Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:15 pm

Yup. For me the only options that are useful are the single fader systems (and the Alphatrck is better than the Faderport I have) or you go the full hog and have a DCommand (which is awesome) or a System5MC setup. I'm fortunate to have both; i find the mid level solutions to be far too much menu messing.
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby chris... » Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:47 pm

narcoman wrote: the MC Controls distracting.
Yep - that's why I got MC Mixes

(and enough of them I rarely have to bank around)
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby SableTones » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:21 am

I may be getting my way after reading SOS 'hybrid Studio' article and using a mixer in some form and the facility of the DAW.

We often split mic signals to recorders and a pair of o1v's for monitors as part of our rig and we will probably keep this facility.

A question arises: Sam Inglis (SOS Feb 2012/Steinberg UR824) states:

"it’s been apparent for a while now that Firewire is a dying standard, it still seems to be the most popular choice for multi-channel audio interfaces....."

what am i to make of this with reference to e.g. the positive thoughts around e.g. RME fireface 800
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby InactiveX » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:04 am

+1 for Frontier Alphatrack. Very useful.

I found I had to install the driver in Compatibility Mode in Windows 7. After that, everything is fine.
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Re: is it a controller i want?

Postby The Elf » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:15 am

sabletones wrote:what am i to make of this with reference to e.g. the positive thoughts around e.g. RME fireface 800
I wouldn't let it stop you. There are already Thunderbolt/Firewire interfaces available, so an investment in a FW interface is unlikely to give you much to worry about for a few years yet.
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