Midi controllers for efficient plugin control.

Discussion in 'Instruments' started by Glass, Nov 29, 2021.

  1. Glass

    Glass Newbie

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    So, I am in search for a midi controller that would simulate a decent “hardware-like hands on" Plugin control experience, as much as possible of course. My definition criteria for that would be:

    1. Have the controller load a template I’ve set up with my vst parameters – physical knobs/faders assignments of choice automatically (without searching by pressing buttons on the controller) depending on the current track active or plugin in focus. I don’t need pre-mapped templates or something, I am fine with setting up my own as long as they load automatically once the plug in is in focus.
    2. Send/update the parameters values/names in question on controller screens so I get visual feedback of what I am controlling at any given time.
    3. Toggle between the described plugin control to mixer control (which is not the priority but always useful to have) by pressing a button (without having to power cycle the device as I know some need to), again while offering proper visual feedback.

    Now, I mainly use Studio One and I know its mapping/midi learn system is pretty good, and it should basically allow #1 with every controller, but since the magic apparently works on DAW level would it also cover #2 with the controller screens taking notice?

    Ideally, I’d like to go with a midi keyboard and seriously considering Novation SL mkIII , maaaybe NI Komplete S but I am not sure NKS really provides something SL mkIII can’t do (apart from preset browsing on a screen) in order to sacrifice Novation’s extra features.

    Then, I also consider trading keys (I do have a master keyboard anyway, although it’d be nice to have everything in one device) for a dedicated controller with motorized faders so I also got visual feedback on them too. iCon QCon Pro and Behringer X Touch look nice but again, I got no idea whether they’ll work as I’d want them to based on the aforementioned criteria, so if anyone has any of the devices, I’ve mentioned, please let me know. Any other viable alternative is welcome too. Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
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  3. Sinus Well

    Sinus Well Audiosexual

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    QCon Pro controllers are good (I can't say anything about the others), but why no fader port? IMO It makes the most sense to use a Presonus product if you are using Studio One. Because it is so well integrated.
     
  4. GammaStar

    GammaStar Producer

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    Nektar T4 :wink:
     
  5. MNDSTRM

    MNDSTRM Platinum Record

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    I have spent a long time experimenting with dozens of midi controller surfaces (in Studio One if I may add). What I have settled on is a Faderport v2, and two Behringer X-touch Minis.

    X-touch 1 is in MCU and controls sends while buttons are assigned to control my Studio 192 monitoring (speaker switch, mute, mono, talkback).

    X-touch 2 is set up as a generic control surface that follows plugin focus.
    The best way to set up a midi controller is to treat each plugin as having 8 macro-esque controls - meaning you find 8 parameters that you find yourself tweaking majority of the time and assign those. Anything else, you use the mouse by itself or in conjunction with the Faderport V2 (you can hover and use link mode for the encoder to pick up automatically).

    You absolutely don't want to map 32 unlabeled knobs to each plugin because you will never remember what is what.

    For example with Fat Channel, I have mapped High pass, freq and gain for low shelf, mid, and high shelf. You may notice Q is not included, that is because you pretty much set it once and move on so that can be done with a mouse. Lastly, Plugin Bypass is always the top right button on X-touch.

    Plugins quite often have too many parameters too tweak - they put ones that you normally have open up a hardware unit and tweak a pot with a screwdriver right in front of the GUI. Filter through them, find the handful of critical ones and assign those to a controller.
     
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  6. BEAT16

    BEAT16 Audiosexual

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    Hello @Glass, this one fits you:

    Nektar - Panorama T4 / T6 (Deep Instrument Control)
    https://nektartech.com/panorama-t4-t6-controller/

    DISPLAY: INSTANT FEEDBACK
    The custom LCD display provides crisp and clear feedback for all your settings: Here is where you select Panorama’s different modes, access global parameters and navigate your software. With DAW Integration and Nektarine, you will even see your software’s mixer and plugin parameters right there.

    CONTROL MAPS
    No doubt, there will be plugins out there not yet factory mapped for Nektarine: no problem! Click the “Edit” button in the Nektarine header to open the control edit page. This is where control map pages are created. You can also rename parameters and create navigation assignments so it’s easy to select the plugin’s pages. Drag and drop parameters to assign them to controls on each page or use Panorama’s parameter learn function.

    CONTROL MAPS
    No doubt, there will be plugins out there not yet factory mapped for Nektarine: no problem! Click the “Edit” button in the Nektarine header to open the control edit page. This is where control map pages are created. You can also rename parameters and create navigation assignments so it’s easy to select the plugin’s pages. Drag and drop parameters to assign them to controls on each page or use Panorama’s parameter learn function.

    DAW CONTROL
    Panorama T4 and T6 are compatible with any DAW that supports Mackie® Control Universal (MCU). This includes transport, track selection and basic mixer control. The 6 LED transport buttons put an end to using the mouse for this. Dedicated Track up/down buttons are located below the display. If your DAW is supported by Nektar DAW Integration, you can do even more.
    Nektar DAW integration included for Bitwig, Cubase, GarageBand, Logic, Nuendo, Reason, Reaper and Studio One.

    Nektar Panorama T4/T6 MIDI Controller Keyboards

    Nektar Panorama T4 / T6 series Review
     
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  7. Glass

    Glass Newbie

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    Thanks for the reply. Nothing against Fader Port other than while I am sure that reflects on the build quality, it's more expensive than the other products I've mentioned, while it asks me to sacrifice not only the keyboard part but also lacking encoders. Which is also why it appears to me (could be wrong of course) that it's "just" a sturdy, quality mixer control/transport device (probably simulating MCU etc), perfect for those looking for that, but not really what I am in search for. Which is mostly efficient "automap-like" (hopefully without its quirks, see end of the post for more info) VST instruments / FX plugin control in the way I've described in those 3 conditions (mixer control would be a bonus). Do you know whether this or QCon Pro fit those requirements?


    Sweet. I am interested in your opinion then, since you also got a controller in your avatar, your probably know your stuff! ;)

    Oh I agree! I mean, I do have a nanoKontrol2 which as great as it is for its price, while it's been helpful (pretty much the equivalent for your X-Touch mini minus the leds I think) it has the problem you mention. Which is why I need a device with "automap"-like support along with screens showing up-to-date values for whatever plugin is in focus.

    While it's probably Studio One doing its own great link/mapping job, I can't help but wonder whether the X-Touch big brother (or Faderport or anything else for that matter) would do the same (natively using its own software perhaps?) and if it's not, let Studio One handle it on DAW level but somehow show the proper values on its screens, pretty much what I describe on #1 and #2 conditions and a bit later in this post with additional info.

    as well as @BEAT16

    Cheers guys, I suppose you got personal experience with those? Would they really allow what I describe on #1 + #2 in my original post, without hiccups? If yes, I think the P series might be a better choice because of the virtual encoders in the screen, something essential for me.
    As I've said I originally thought going with SL mkIII (or Komplete S) since people seem to suggest the quality is better but if Nektrar controllers really do what I've described I am gonna have to seriously consider them. Do they use special wrapper versions of the plugins .dlls or something?
    Is the whole thing executed better than Automap?

    To be honest, the only devices capable of what I described I am aware of, are some older Novation controllers (sl mkII and Impulse) using their own "Automap" software. Now, that was kinda working but not without problems many times analyzed in music tech forums which is probably the reason they've ditched it. (special wrapper plugin dependency, software losing contact etc).
    So I took for granted Sl mkIII should have a modern, better way handling this in 2021 but after talking with someone from Novation, it seems this isn't the case unless you use Ableton Live...
    By I know I start wondering what I originally took for granted is even possible with current controllers (even with community scipts/hacks involved - I think people come up with stuff like this for X touch controllers for example) and this is exactly what I am trying to figure with this thread rather that simply seeking for "a decent controller". Thanks for all the replies and let's hope we find a controller like that, surely I can't be the only one who needs one in 2021? :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2021
  8. fiction

    fiction Audiosexual

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    Like @MYCbeats said, you never have enough knobs, buttons and switches to get an experience that's remotely close to using the actual hardware. One option that I actually prefer is a touch screen that's large enough to operate the synths and effects directly on screen. 20" is more or less the minimum for an acceptable experience I would say.
     
  9. BEAT16

    BEAT16 Audiosexual

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    Nektar Panorama P6 - 419 €

    Nektar Panorama P4 and P6 are incredible keyboard controller instruments with the most intuitive workflow, you have ever seen.

    Spectacular and deep integration with Bitwig Studio, Cubase, Logic Pro, MainStage, Reaper, Reason and Studio One puts the spotlight on performance and creativity. Keyboard and pads are dynamic, sensitive and balanced carefully with a solid feel that allows for complete expression. All this, combined with 93 real-time controls available at any one time, makes Panorama the definitive keyboard controller for Bitwig Studio, Cubase, Logic Pro, Reason and Studio One.

    nektartech.com/panorama-p4-p6/ and www.thomann.de/de/nektar_panorama_p6.htm

    Nektar Panorama P6 61-key MIDI Controller Keyboard Demo - Sweetwater Sound


    Is This The Best Controller For The Money?? |Nektar Panorama T6 Review|
     
  10. GammaStar

    GammaStar Producer

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    I got the ZeroSL mk1 years ago but recently the t4 its the bomb! Nektarine is there wrapper which will store midi cc's of you choice any vst... in the nektarine you can map all synths & fx .. layers up 16 intruments 4 fx each then you got 4 aux mix to taste.. then safe the chain as a preset for instant recall during performance.. WoW! this is the way it should be done i love my nektar over my studiologic Numa compact :wink:
     
  11. Glass

    Glass Newbie

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    and @BEAT16
    You guys made me seriously consider Panorama controllers. Watched many videos and read guides etc. I've focused my attention @ P series with the motorized fader, 8 more encoders and colour screen but AFAIK both lines function similar so the following questions would apply to both:

    1. Can the controller automatically load my custom templates for any (including third-party) instrument/effect plugin currently in focus, along showing the related values and proper names (not just midi cc) on its screen, for each encoder and fader attached without Nektarine? Is there a template limit? Where do they get saved?

    2. Is it possible to use Nektarine once per plugin so you map parameters and rename them as you please, then export the .npm files and use them with DAW's integration without having to resort to Nektarine again?


    3. Is the DAW integration really as great as it looks, with stuff such as the data encoder "Grab" function controlling the parameter you've clicked last, soft take-over etc. working as expected with no hiccups?


    4. What's the impact of loading plugins through Nektarine on CPU/RAM performance?

    Cheers!
     
  12. BEAT16

    BEAT16 Audiosexual

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    I do not own a Nektar midikeyboard and therefore cannot answer your questions. Please contact the manufacturer
    Nektar with your specific questions, they made and programmed it and know best what it can do and how it works.
     
  13. Glass

    Glass Newbie

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    Oh I already did. But of course, user feedback is more objective therefore extremely valuable as well. My questions were mainly towards GammaStar since he got one but since you had suggested Nektar I included you as well. :)
     
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  14. Moleman

    Moleman Platinum Record

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    uhm a bit surprised nobody has mentioned this:

    MP Midi Controller

     
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  15. GammaStar

    GammaStar Producer

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    Hi,
    1. yes load plugin through nektarine.. plug is auto detected on track select (Auto focus only works in studio one.. other daws nektarine needs to be clicked to get focus)
    two way feedback of parameter names fast access to plugin pages (via front panel buttons under sliders)
    2. yes has encoder & slider grab for selected parameter :wink:
    3. yes also great build quality nice sensitive pads with nice feel easy calibrate velocity & aftertouch..
    its great if your a studio one user.. im ableton so i found a python script & modified it & its now integrated perfect :)(Scripts on this forum https://audiosex.pro/threads/selected-track-control-for-ableton-live.52439/#post-542465)
    4. CPU load is normal nektarine can host 1 or 16 instruments 4 inserts each & then the 4 Aux (seems well optimized with regular updates)

    hope this helps :wink:

    p.s pads are better quality on the T & also the keybed afaik.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2021
  16. NeverenoghFun

    NeverenoghFun Platinum Record

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    Novation Launchkey MK3 and a Launchpad X running the Launchpad95 Script is a powerhouse of easy midi mapping. All your major daws have templates for the launchkey but one of the cool features is. atleast in ableton, I can map a entire plugin with one click. All the knobs get spread out ammong how ever many banks. Very very nice feature.

    I've run Pro Tools, Ableton, and Traktor with these daily for all sorts of things. Midi Automation, Effects, even a bit of mixing.

    I too have seen good things about nektarine. I think they do the same thing as Novation MK3's with the one button mapping but maybe more widely available through other days besides ableton.
    !The launchpad X's also have MPE. Very cool feature for expressive instruments and effects.
    MPE can be enabled on a launchkey but I dont think it physically can.

    Also.. If you have a Ipad and little time, TouchOSC is absolutely incredible. Know its not what you're looking even with all my controllers I love using my touchosc tablet with them. Amazing effects with a multi touch XY mhmm
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2021
  17. recycle

    recycle Audiosexual

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    Nektar controllers only work well with some daw, but not all, for example Ableton is not officially supported (I guess these are unreached trade deal issues). This means that Ableton/Nektar users will have to work on it and manually map their instruments.
    In my experience, Nektar controllers work very well with Bitwig and Logic.
    When on Ableton, Novation controllers are very good and nothing beats Push
    If you use a lot Native Instruments than Komplete is the way to go
     
  18. quadcore64

    quadcore64 Audiosexual

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    If Studio One is your DAW for, the foreseeable future, I would suggest staying in the Presonus ecosystem using one of the Presonus Studio consoles that have tight integration with S1 and loads of visual feedback, automation & custom setups.
     
  19. Dimentagon

    Dimentagon Platinum Record

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    I'm Studio One all the way since 3..5.4 is very stable.
    I have an Atom, Faderport One, and the Ipad connected.. covers all bases and just works.

     
  20. odiza

    odiza Producer

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    I have a Nektar Panorama P1 which is in fact the same controller that is used on the P4 but with more space for the knobs, buttons, faders and the display and without a keyboard. Perfect solution for me as i already have a good midi keyboard. Covers up most of the wanted features of OP i guess as long as the DAW used is supported.
     
  21. odiza

    odiza Producer

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    1. yes, as long as your Daw is supported. For Reason it does that perfectly. You can even switch between the plugins on the P1 (which i have) buttons to change focus without needing to click anything on screen, also VSTs. There is no template limit, the mappings are stored in one huge file that can be edited/altered with notepad. You need to understand how that works, though.

    2. Dunno, i don't use nektarine.

    3. Yes, it has a grab function, but that only works temporarely and is lost after closing. In order to make these permanent, you have to edit the mapping file again.

    4. See 2.
     
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