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Gallery PX10 Production Palette

Pro Tools Control Surface By Mike Collins
Published June 1999

Gallery PX10 Production Palette

Digidesign's Pro Tools is undoubtedly a powerful system, and a hardware control surface such as the Gallery Production Palette can really help to unlock that power. Mike Collins just loves being in control...

There are a number of hardware controllers currently available for Digidesign's Pro Tools digital editing system, including, amongst others, the Penny & Giles DC16 (reviewed in SOS October 1997), the JL Cooper CS10, and the Mackie HUI (reviewed in the December 1998 issue). The recent Gallery PX10 Production Palette is designed to partner the latest versions of Pro Tools and targeted particularly at post‑production editors. It offers a wide selection of Pro Tools functions on dedicated keys, grouped logically, and both colour‑coded and visually coded with appropriate icons. The Pro Tools software is quite complex, so it's no criticism to point out that some of its commands may be buried in menus or require difficult‑to‑remember keystroke combinations. In audio post‑production facilities, for instance, experienced audio editors moving to Pro Tools have often been used to a more direct physical interface than that offered by an array of menus on a screen. In these scenarios, the PX10 adds a bank of tools which can speed up the editing process significantly. It also adds immediate access to 'hidden' functions previously available only to experienced Pro Tools veterans via little‑known key combinations.

The PX10 Production Palette is a neat‑looking rectangular box, its top surface covered with a matrix of 128 buttons for controlling Pro Tools' functions. And if 128 keys are not enough, on the left‑hand side of the panel there's a 5‑pin DIN socket which can be used to connect an extension unit. Each key comes pre‑programmed to operate one of the most useful functions, such as transport controls, zoom controls, tool selections, and so forth. Other commands are available, and these are quite easy to substitute using the supplied PaletteWorks software, while the supplied KeyQuencer software will let you write your own macros to control different functions within Pro Tools or other Macintosh applications. The keys all have clear caps, under which suitable graphics can be inserted, and the unit comes supplied with suitable legends and icons for Pro Tools commands. A handy plastic tool is provided to remove keys that need to have their legends changed or moved to another position.

The PX10 can even issue MIDI messages via OMS. For Pro Tools users, this means that the unit can emulate buttons on any hardware controller created for that system, such as the CS10. As new controllers are released, Gallery intend to incorporate the key features from these and provide them with the PX10. The Gallery unit is also a perfect complement to the Mackie HUI mixing surface, since it offers all the editing functions which the HUI lacks and even plugs directly into the HUI's ADB port.

Getting Started

Gallery PX10 Production Palette

Setting up is very straightforward. The PX10 is hooked up to the Mac using a small external box which has a pair of Apple Desktop bus (ADB) connectors on one side and a multicore cable to connect to the unit on the other side. One ADB connection runs to the Mac (assuming you don't have a new ADB‑less G3 Mac, that is), while the other runs to the computer's normal QWERTY keyboard. The PX10 uses a key access system for multi‑user operation, and this must be enabled with a key before operation. To get started, simply insert any of the seven supplied keys and advance it through the 'Off' position to any other setting. This will cause the top red LED on the front panel of the PX10 to light, indicating that the unit is operational. The different keys activate user preferences for different people who may be using the PX10 — very handy in a busy studio with several engineers who may all wish to customise the unit. The seven key positions are accessed with seven different keys, and each key will execute a specific KeyQuencer macro, to switch between seven Pro Tools preferences files in individual folders in the Mac's System Preferences folder. To choose between these, the user simply turns the key to the appropriate position to activate his or her macro. The macro then copies that person's user preferences file from its folder into the main System Preferences folder, whilst simultaneously moving the previous user's preferences into their folder.

Obviously, this system is ideal where there are several users, and it can even be useful for one person if they work on different types of job which require different preferences. It would also be useful in an educational setting with a number of students using the PX10. To prevent any confusion, a couple of software utilities are provided which reveal whose preferences are currently active.

In Action

When the computer is booted, the PaletteWorks software is automatically launched, with its window hidden. There's a Launch Pro Tools button on the PX10 itself, which you can use to launch Pro Tools, or you can do it in the normal way. Pro Tools automatically recognises the PX10 commands without any need for further configuration.

The different keys activate user preferences for different people who may be using the PX10 — very handy in a busy studio with several engineers who may all wish to customise the unit.

The system worked 'out of the box' for me, once the software was installed, and just having the transport controls on individual buttons, rather than having to mouse around, instantly made me feel a lot more in control of Pro Tools. The next buttons I tried were the waveform zoom keys. As well as the standard zooms for length and height of the waveform, there are dedicated keys for Zoom Out Max and Zoom In Max, and these all seemed to work much more responsively than clicking the zoom arrows in Pro Tools. Then I tried some of the buttons which control menu commands (such as Cut, Copy, Paste and Duplicate), and these all worked perfectly too. I also appreciated the buttons for selecting between the trim tool, hand tool, waveform cursor and jog cursor. Some of the key operations, such as Group Tracks and Show Tracks were, I felt, better done with the mouse on‑screen, so I replaced these with a couple of different macros for use with my system.

I moved on to the trim commands next, and was very impressed with the range of controls set up here, especially when I discovered that the PX10 allows automatic previewing when trimming regions. This feature allows you to automatically follow a region trim button command with a Pre Roll or Post Roll from the edit point you have changed, if desired. This applies to the 'Trim Rgn' buttons located underneath the Trim, Separate, Heal and Capture buttons. If you don't want Pro Tools to do this, pressing Trim Play On/Off will switch the feature off. Also, 'Trim Rgn' only operates when a complete region has been selected, either by double‑clicking that region with the mouse or by using the Extend Selection middle pair of buttons. Beneath the Trim Rgn buttons are the Trim Select buttons which let you trim the selection start and end, with a pair of buttons for each end. Both the Trim Rgn and Trim Select sections operate at the current nudge/grid value, set using the Second, Frame, 1/4 Frame, Sub‑frame and Sample buttons. Beneath these Trim Select buttons are the Extend Selection buttons, for changing the selection by larger amounts. The two middle buttons extend the selection to the start and end of the current region, or onto other region boundaries, while the other two buttons extend the selection to the session start and session end.

Other useful buttons on the PX10 are Fade, Fade Head and Fade Tail. These are short‑cuts for editors to use when creating fades. The Fades Menu button is a short‑cut for the Fades dialogue, while the Fade button skips the dialogue and reapplies the last fade settings. Fade Head and Fade Tail can be used to automatically apply a complete fade with no dialogue, from the current insertion point, a feature which I found particularly useful. To fade out, you simply click at the start of the fade, then press Fade Tail. This automatically selects to the end of the region and fades. Fade Head does the same thing from the insertion point to the start of the region.

The Rollback button offers a quick way of moving back four seconds, although this only operates with the grid mode set to TimeCode. Play Half‑speed is another neat feature, which plays your selection at half‑speed when you press the button (this won't operate on PowerMix systems, by the way).

Buttons are also provided for the many different 'play' modes available within Pro Tools:

  • Pre‑Roll Start plays up to the start of the selection using the pre‑roll time setting.
  • Post‑Roll Start plays from the start of the selection using the post‑roll time.
  • Pre‑Roll End plays up to the end of the selection using the pre‑roll time.
  • Post‑Roll End plays from the end of the selection using the post‑roll time.
  • Play Across Start plays across the start of the selection using pre‑ and post‑rolls.
  • Play Across End does the same thing across the end of the selection.
  • Play Pre and Post lets you play a selection with pre‑ and post‑roll, but when your normal settings are with pre‑ and post‑roll off. This function turns on pre‑ and post‑roll, plays, then automatically turns these settings off again.

There are still quite a few buttons I've not specifically mentioned. But that's what Production Palette is all about — providing lots of buttons for useful Pro Tools commands!


The PaletteWorks software is the interface between the PX10 control surface and the KeyQuencer macro engine which drives Pro Tools. PaletteWorks is constantly running in the background while you're using Pro Tools, and it scans the Apple Desktop bus for incoming presses on any of the PX10's keys. When it receives a keypress, it checks the current mapping of keypresses to KeyQuencer macros to see which instructions to send, then causes the KeyQuencer to run the appropriate macro to control Pro Tools. A library of over 350 command macros is supplied with the PX10, though only 128 are assigned; you can use PaletteWorks to assign any of the others as alternatives. Gallery's extension unit, the PX10e, provides a second bank of 128 keys — ideal for anyone who becomes addicted to using dedicated keys for everything.

Just having the transport controls on individual buttons, rather than having to mouse around, instantly made me feel a lot more in control of Pro Tools.

It's possible to create new macros using the KeyQuencer editor, which is similar to QuickKeys, but works much better with Pro Tools. These macros will appear in the pop‑up menu inside the PaletteWorks command dialogue, ready for mapping onto PX10 keys. The Production Palette can also be used to send MIDI messages, via OMS, to any MIDI applications running on your Mac, or to any MIDI gear in your rig. Using MIDI events can be advantageous because macro events require the target application to be in front, while MIDI events don't (as long as you're using OMS — Open Music System). Also, Pro Tools has various MIDI 'personalities' for the CS10 and other controllers, which provide a more direct way of communicating with Pro Tools. The PX10 actually emulates some of the commands from the CS10 so that you can send messages through the 'personality' into Pro Tools, which lets you do things you can't do using events. If you want to solo track 5, for instance, there's a single message you can send through the 'personality' to do this, whereas if you tried to do this using events you would need to know exactly where the solo button is on the screen — and this is not easily predictable. All this flexibility makes the Production Palette a great problem solver, as well as a productivity aid for Pro Tools.


The Production Palette is a Pro Tools operator's dream in many ways — especially for editors doing post‑production work, who need to make heavy use of menu commands and move around the software quickly. For these people, the Production Palette will increase productivity enormously, whilst making editing moves much easier. The other controllers available for Pro Tools mostly provide faders and switches and other controls more suited to recording and mixing, so the PX10 makes an excellent complement to these. The macros provided should cover most eventualities, and it's relatively easy to swap the default settings for alternatives. And having the capability to program custom macros and MIDI commands using KeyQuencer will allow advanced users to make even fuller use of the PX10 to control their MIDI software and hardware.


  • Tactile control of Pro Tools commands from a compact and convenient unit.
  • Extremely easy to use, thanks to the (mostly) self‑explanatory icons and legends on the keys.


  • The documentation leaves something to be desired. I couldn't find out what all the keys were for until I rang Gallery.
  • Writing macros does require more than a casual knowledge of the Macintosh computer.


The PX10 is particularly valuable in a post‑production environment when lots of detailed editing is required. It is easy to install and provides an excellent selection of commands from the outset.