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What pointing device do you use with your music software?

For anything relating to music-making on Windows computers, with lots of FAQs. Moderated by Martin Walker.

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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby khapahk » Mon Sep 05, 2005 7:37 pm

I used to use a Logitech trackball but had to change back to a standard mouse when the wife started getting computer-literate - she hated the trackball !

I then tried using my Wacom pad for music stuff and haven't looked back since - it really is the mutt's nutz. I use it with Sonar / Cool Edit / XGEdit plus a couple of soft-synths but I find it far better than a mouse or trackball. As for the earlier comments about rsi-orientated problems, I would agree; I have a dodgy right shoulder which could play up with a lot of track ball usage but has never been a problem during long tablet sessions.

So, my sixpen'orth is "keep taking the tablets ".


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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby *INACTIVE USER* » Mon Sep 05, 2005 8:35 pm

Just a stupid optical mouse. Have used an A3 wacom for years at the office. One day I'm going back to that solution, much friendlier for your fingers. An A3 size has the advantage that it still works if you put keyboard on it because there is place enough besides it. Only problem is the price.
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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby Mixedup » Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:46 pm

Samurai Jack wrote:i use an optical trackball - i've always preferred trackballs and this one i'm using (microsoft optical) is a joy to use - far smoother, faster and more comfortable than a mouse, in my opinion.

I used to use a Microsoft optical tracker ball. It was great to use with Cubase but a bit tiring on the thumb that you needed to used to move the ball with. The main problem though was that the build quality was sh1te and it gave up the ghost within 6 months. I've gone back to cordless optical mouse, making the best use I can of the left and right buttons. Don't tend to use the other bits and pieces except for scrolling through documents.

The worst ever device I've used is that 'orrible single button mouse that you get with some apple macs. ...a mouse where you HAVE to use the keyboard as well?! What's the point in that? Okay, sorry for the bad pun, I'll get me coat... :roll:
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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:51 pm

Thanks all - it seems that trackballs and graphics tablet are almost universally liked by those that have tried them, but that they take a little initial getting used to.


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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby Matt Downing » Wed Sep 07, 2005 5:17 pm

I'm now using this ridiculously expensive, rather strange mouse, the "E-Quill-AirO2bic™ mouse"

http://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard_details.asp?PRODUCT=268

I got it to help combat RSI and it seems to be helping (although it's probably got a lot more to do with my posture). Like all alternatives, it takes a bit to get used to, although not long and it's definitely more comfortable than a regular mouse for me.

But I wouldn't get evangelical about it - it's only something to consider if you don't get on with a normal mouse.

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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby Henry-S » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:33 pm

I use a Razer DiamondBack Plasma Mouse, its got a VERY high DPI on it, much higher than those found on other mice (because its for gaming) but the mouse is super quick or super slow, because it has a thing called

on fly sensitivity, basically u hold down a button and then can slow the sens of the mouse right down, or really fast. eg

your moving loads of parts around and u wanna just do it quickly and not have to keep pushing the mouse constantly left and right, turn up to max and the thing will flick from top corner to bottom corner it about 1/2 and inch movement (yes its that quick lol) but then you can slow it right down, so when you trying to edit drum patterns in a sequencer windows and concentrating in a 4 bar pattern, u can make it really slow to move things, which is great for offsestting those quantized hi hats ;)

oh another thing, it has 9 buttons on it! so Left,Right,Middle,MiddleForward,MiddleBack, Side1,2,3,4

and u can assign a key to any of the side buttons, or even a DUN DUN Macro ;) so pretty much u can assign the mouse button to select a tool for u in cubase, saves a hell of a lot of time :)

basically its the nicest mouse i have used and its WIRED, why use a USB wireless mouse when those devices send out waves and add to noise?

I would also say to people who are using Mice, that not only is the mouse the only thing you gotta think about its the surface (mousemat) this can either make your mouse amazing or totally horrible.

Razer ExactMat is what i use, which has two surfaces, one side is for control which is softer and the mouse moves slower over it, the other side is Speed, in which the mouse glides much faster.

so pay attention to ya mat, can make a world of difference!
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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby ZombieSlugs » Wed Sep 07, 2005 8:45 pm

I use Tracktion2 and energyXT as my main software tools. T2 supports the scroll wheel pretty well.

My pointing device? A big Kensington trackball! I find it easier to deal with over a long session of tweaking than a mouse. With the scroll wheel on it, it's a good companion to T2.

I also have a Wacom tablet, but it's too fiddly to use for anything other than drawing, at least for me. My desk space is very very limited so there's no room to sit it down in a "permanent" location, and trying to mix whilst poking the Wacom sitting in your lap is an undesirable experience!

I even use a trackball at work now (software engineer here as my day gig). I love 'em! Forget rolling the rodent. :headbang:

Never looked back, never going back. Blech, I hate mice!
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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:59 pm

Matt - sorry to hear about your RSI - that Quill does place your hand in a radically different (and rather more natural) position, but nearly all manufacturers of trackballs, graphics tablets, joysticks, and other ergonomic mice claim that their products are better for RSI sufferers. How did you decide on the quill out of interest?

Henry-S - on-the-fly sensitivity changes eh? Do you find this useful with a sequencer, or are the high sensitivity settings simply too much for anything but 3D games? Can you use all nine buttons in your sequencer?

TheWoolyLoach - ever used a small (marble-style) trackball, or is it always big balls for you? ;)


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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby Matt Downing » Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:59 pm

Hi Martin,

I'm not even 100% sure it's RSI, but I know it's something. It's not debilitating - just uncomfortable or a bit painful and I'm seeing a physiotherapist who helps.

I chose the Quill mouse because the hand position seemed to make sense to me even before I tried it. I find it puts fewer strains on the whole wrist and hand. In fact, you don't have to grip with your hand at all while moving the mouse - you just rest it there.

I was quite impressed by all the manufacturers blurb on this site http://www.aerobicmouse.com/ - but who knows if it's really that good or I'm just easily taken in?

Using it you make more movements from the shoulder and elbow and fewer with the wrist. It feels bit odd at first but I got used to it in a day or two.

On the downside it is expensive and I've had to send it back for repair once already. Keyboardco did the repair quickly though.

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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby simulacreant » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:00 pm

I've used a high-res optical mouse for awhile, and now use a Logitech MX1000 Laser mouse. Not a huge difference, but every little bit of accuracy helps. I also wear a SmartGlove from time to time and have become an ambidextrous mouser.

However, the greatest interface I've used so far is my fairly new Toshiba Tecra M4 Tablet PC (or convertible notebook, if you like). I use it primarily for patching in my Nord G2's editor, Max/MSP, and Reaktor, where RSI-type pain can come all-too-quickly when using a mouse for extended periods with these applications. Furthermore, in 'performance', I find the '1:1' interaction with the application's GUI is much more enjoyable and intuitive than it is with a mouse.

I had originally considered a Wacom Intuos but then noticed that a variety of Tablet PCs were well within my reach, financially.

For example, one can purchase a fully-loaded Fujitsu Stylistic 3500 for under $500 (on eBay) and use it as a tablet interface for something like the Nord Modular Classic Editor, as a WiFi-enabled web browser, and, using Remote Desktop or, e.g., FX Teleport, as a front-end for software run on one's main PC, and as CPU-power expansion, respectively.

This is precisely what I've been doing with my M4, with great success (and only a couple of weeks of acclimation) and I feel that, due to these capabilities and features, Tablet PCs, Convertible Notebooks and Slates are a potential boon for musicians. The Tablet PC, et al market is struggling a bit right now but the third generation technology has arrived and 1st and 2nd gen. units can be had for very affordable prices.

Lastly, I may add a Quill mouse or Intuos to my arsenal, eventually, since I'm trying everything in my power to avoid RSI, etc.

Oh, one last thing... if you have severe RSI, are para- or quadraplegic, or want to try one of the latest gadgets, there's this:

http://www.naturalpoint.com/smartnav/

You control mouse pointer movement with your head!

:beamup:
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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby seablade » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:26 pm

Hmm I use a mouse myself, wireless optical. Never go back to a non optical mouse.

I tried trackballs a while back, wasnt a big fan of it, I am curious what the reasons are that makes it so much easier over long sessions for the people here?

I also on occasion use a nostronomo programable gamepad to get around various apps on the computer. I will eventually be setting it up for my audio apps, but probably wont be doing any fader edits, just use it to pull up the windows I want(Mixer, plugins, etc) I actually got it to use with AutoCad where I type in the same commands over and over again and just setting up a button with a macro would be so much nicer;)

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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby ZombieSlugs » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:35 pm

Martin Walker wrote:TheWoolyLoach - ever used a small (marble-style) trackball, or is it always big balls for you? ;)


Martin

Oddly enough, I find the marble trackballs fiddly to use! The large ball of the Kensington makes for a more "solid" feel in my hand, and it seems to be easier to accurately point on my 1280x1024 display! With the marbles, I'd either undershoot and creep up on a pixel, or go blasting across the screen into the neighbors apartment! :ooo:

Maybe it's because I started out musical life as a guitar player and I like the feel of something thick and heavy (like a guitar neck) in my hands! :headbang:
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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby fluffybeastie » Sat Sep 10, 2005 11:15 am

I'm also using a Kensington trackball. I think i might be having driver stability problems, but i've not narrowed it down enough to be sure yet... ...recently, heat's also been a problem, so it might just be that.
Agree about the big ball feeling better. My hands are pretty sweaty so i have to keep my er ball clean for it to feel nice!

Also use a wacom intuos A4 tablet when i am required to do any colouring in, and find the pen too narrow for prolonged use. the intuos 2 pens are a lot better in this respect.
I found it a little too easy to misclick and drag files by mistake. Using right click was a little hard to get used to.
I do a lot of coding, so i do find that i need to make rather drastic changes to my desk to work with the tablet, and then switch back for working with text.
I prefer using it in absolute mode across 2 monitors and have experienced a few problems in sonar 1 that i think were described above or in a previous thread.

Saw a 3d glove in the states and was interested in it's usuablility outside of gaming, but never got round to buying one. Am still interested in that side of things, but need to make some more free time before i'll go for it.
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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby jamesgzyx » Mon Sep 12, 2005 12:55 am

Hi,

Nice topic. Will this article talk about using alternative pointing devices as MIDI controllers? I'm sure I read somewhere about using pen and tablet as a MIDI controller but I haven't had time to investigate it.

I know pointing devices and MIDI controllers are two different topics but if you're thinking of spending money on a piece of hardware then the possibility that it can do both jobs is worth consideration!

Anyway... for what it's worth, I always found mice inefficient as pointing devices, and I also got RSI. I tried a track-ball and found it no better. Now I use a Wacom Intuos A5 pen-and-tablet as a general-purpose pointing device for every type of application, and have done for many years.

I took to the tablet almost straight away, there was almost no learning curve, even in pen mode (which I sadly can't use all the time now due to incompatibility with some music apps).

One thing I like about the Wacoms is the side buttons on the pen which you press with your thumb - I have one side button assigned to left double click, and the other assigned to right click.

The only downside of a tablet is that occasionally I accidently move something (e.g. a clip) slightly when I intend to only select it. This is becuase you click on something by making contact with the tip of the pen on the tablet - and it's hard to do this without some slight sideways movement - so when you try to "click" you accidently "drag" (even if only by a few pixels). For this reason I often have to make sure that "snap-to-grid" is turned on, before I select something - to make sure that any accidental drags are less than the threshold needed to actually move it.

It would be lovely if selecting and dragging were more separated so you actually press a different button to select than you do to move (just as right-click is a different button to left-click), so there is no danger of accidently moving an item you only want to select.

But this is a relatively minor issue - apart from this, pen and tablets are great in my opinion!

Cheers,
tj
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Re: What pointing device do you use with your music software?

Postby Brian Moynihan » Mon Sep 12, 2005 10:20 am

I don't know if this is slightly diagonal to the subject of Martin's question, but has anyone been using the Frontier Tranzport? I've been thinking of getting one of these so I have a means to record from various 'positions' in the studio like at the drum kit, playing guitar away from the computer keys, seated at the piano etc

I'm interested in whether it's reliable with things like selecting between tracks and arming them, all totally away from the screen, and also how far can you go from the computer before it loses contact?

Bob
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