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Universal Controller Concept - knobs on oled screen - What do you think?
Old 20th May 2019
  #1
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mixalis's Avatar
Universal Controller Concept - knobs on oled screen - What do you think?

Hi,

I would like to share an idea for a new midi controller and would love to hear some feedback.
I am not affiliated with any company or have any other commercial interest.

Prologue: If you are not familiar with the Novation Nocturn and their Automap technology, the nocturn maps controls on its 8 endless knobs on the selected plugin in the DAW. For example, if i select the Logic EQ in track 1, then all the knobs of the Nocurn map there, if i select the EQ in track 2 it maps on track 2 and so on.
The leds on the controller also get positioned to the corresponding values on the plugin upon selection.
I also do the same with my bcr2000 in Logic. I premapped some knobs to plugin parameters i use frequently and when i have the plugin selected in Logic, controlls i use mostly are on my disposal on the bcr2000.
I mentioning Logic here as an example but this can be done with most popular DAWs.


So, the idea is a controller like Nocturn or Bcr2000 with endless knobs. Imagine a similar controller with 32 or even more knobs, HOWEVER the background of the actual device, instead of plastic and the red leds, would be an oled or amoled display (similar to a high res mobile/cell phone screen).
So, we will have the real knobs and the background of the controller would display an 'arranged' version of the VST/AU synth/plugin selected in the DAW.

For example, if i select the Sylenth1 in my daw, the background of the controller device changes to the Sylenth1 (and the knobs would be automapped to the Sylenth1 of course). So essentially what i am suggesting is an oled screen with real knobs/faders/buttons on top of it.
That would be awesome!!! (imho)

Perhaps the real product would be something like this photorealistic 3d design:
https://static.reveal-sound.com/imag...iew-1-1400.jpg

I understand that there would have to be templates for each synth or plugin from different vendors (and that opens up to a whole new market, people could be designing their own templates for existing plugins - synths and effects - and this controller could become the new standard)

I have seen some people making overlays for the bcr2000..imagine that when selecting the plugin from the DAW, the background of the controller becomes...well.. the plugin.

Why? What would be the benefits of such a controller?
When you do sound design, you want to control the instrument. You know what i am talking about. You need to be able to reach to the controls with both of your hands, trying different things. It's not the same with the mouse. And no, with a touchscreen controller is not the same experience. I have seen these tuna knobs but again, far from what i am describing.

With a controller like the Mackie C4 or the nocturn or the bcr2000, it becomes very difficult to reach and remember the controls. The user experience is really poor. We want to be looking at the actual instrument, when looking at the controller.
So, similar to the photo in the link, i want to see each section separated from the rest, osc/envelopes/modulation/filter etc like looking at the plugin on my screen with similar colors and section arrangement. You could even have pages and on each page the controller background changes along with the assigned knobs (like it is with the nocturn).

I would pay $500-$800 for such a controller - given made of good quality and have templates for many plugins DAW & 3rd party - and that would be the last controller i would ever buy.
I discussed this with many people in the music scene/industry and they loved the idea. From film conmposers to edm producers and they were really excited.

What do you think?
Would you find it usefull?
Would it increase your workflow and overall music making experience?
What would be the biggest difficulty in making something like this?
Which company do you think could make something like that?
How much would you pay for it?

I would love to hear your response.

Thanks much,
Michael

Last edited by mixalis; 20th May 2019 at 11:42 AM.. Reason: insert image
Old 20th May 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I think it's a reasonable idea. I don't know that I would personally buy one.

I rather doubt you could find anyone to make OLED displays with holes in them in relatively modest quantities for remotely reasonable prices.
Old 20th May 2019
  #3
Lives for gear
I'm for it also. Particularly if it also maps to the DAW's mixer, when that screen is selected.

I suspect DrewE is right: OLED displays with the holes you want would not be a stock item, and in the quantities you're likely to sell, would be very expensive. The concept you posted doesn't do that: it appears to have stock rectangular displays mounted over buttons. That seems a doable middle ground: you wouldn't have one-to-one correspondence with what's on the screen, but you could certainly map sections of the screen to the individual displays.

Or am I misunderstanding what you want to do?
Old 21st May 2019
  #4
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mixalis's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
I'm for it also. Particularly if it also maps to the DAW's mixer, when that screen is selected.

I suspect DrewE is right: OLED displays with the holes you want would not be a stock item, and in the quantities you're likely to sell, would be very expensive. The concept you posted doesn't do that: it appears to have stock rectangular displays mounted over buttons. That seems a doable middle ground: you wouldn't have one-to-one correspondence with what's on the screen, but you could certainly map sections of the screen to the individual displays.

Or am I misunderstanding what you want to do?
Hi,
thanks for the replies. I am not trying to build this, but perhaps someone from an audio tech company would think it's a good idea and make it.

That way they would produce enough to justify investment in the technology.
I agree oled/amoled displays with holes is something hard to come across, i wouldn't know much about the subject but strange shapes of screens pop here and there.

Oh, the mixer! I didn't think of that. Yes, we could have the mixer display on it as well.

What i have in mind is like a hardware desktop synth, but the panel that the knobs come out of is screen it should be one continuous screen to display like a hardware synth. imagine the access virus desktop as a controller with the whole panel is amoled
https://d1aeri3ty3izns.cloudfront.ne...00/preview.jpg

This could go a long way. Like selecting your favorite compressor in the DAW and immediately appears on the controller with the graph and all the controls mapped.
Well, i can certainly dream on
Old 21st May 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
Somebody from an audio company might like it. But if they want to keep their audio company, they have to look at the business case:
a) How many units could it sell
b) What pricepoint would it need to sell those units
Then, multiplying A*(B*.6): [Why .6? Because you have to sell it to stocking dealers at a low enough price that they make a profit at the pricepoint.]
c) Subtract hardware/assembly cost per item.
d) Subtract amortized development cost. That'll be high, because not only do you have to program it, you also have to deal with non-existent APIs from a bunch of plug-in and DAW manufacturers.
e) Take the remaining gross profit per unit, and see if it'll keep the company a) open, and b) able to keep supporting this product.

Sorry. I've been down this road doing new product development with quite a few high-end broadcast and MI manufacturers.

If you want to learn enough programming and find the materials, and either build it yourself or get a contract manufacturer, and do the whole thing as a hobby activity... do it! I'll buy one (if the price is reasonable).
Old 22nd May 2019
  #6
Gear Addict
 

Hi all

This concept already exist since about 15 years, introduced by Studer in the Vista console... there is for sure a patent for it.

Best
Zam
Old 22nd May 2019
  #7
Lives for gear
You had me going there for a moment, Zam.

Studer's Vista has a rectangular display with graphics for compression, eq, an so forth... and above it, a regular matrix of 40(?) knobs that can change the displays around them as needed.
But AFAIK the knobs can't change their configuration to match how a plug-in manufacturer put them on the screen... let alone display the complex graphics around the knobs in many plug-ins. They're stuck displaying the Studer software that was designed for them.
In other words, somewhat more sophisticated than the top of a Mackie MCU... but also more limited, since the MCU can at least control the knobs that a third-party DAW's plug-in has given external inputs for.
Oh... and it costs around a quarter $US million. Full review here.

So between prior art and expanded functionality, I don't think the OP's idea will have patent problems. Manufacturing and business problems, sure...

"There ain't no such thing as a free SMOP" -- CTO of the first high-end DAW company I consulted for. (SMOP: Simple Matter of Programming", or a proposed function that's easy to describe in simple terms, but starts getting incredibly complex when you try to write a recipe that covers every possible user [or mis-user] case, is relatively bug-free, and faces the reality of where this module is supposed to live.)
Old 22nd May 2019
  #8
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
You had me going there for a moment, Zam.

Studer's Vista has a rectangular display with graphics for compression, eq, an so forth... and above it, a regular matrix of 40(?) knobs that can change the displays around them as needed.
But AFAIK the knobs can't change their configuration to match how a plug-in manufacturer put them on the screen... let alone display the complex graphics around the knobs in many plug-ins. They're stuck displaying the Studer software that was designed for them.
Hello

Yes Vista can only display it's own software, I just point this technology as that's the OP have in mind, pot over dispay (multilayer glass/electronics/display...)
It's not cheap

Midi controller with oled display is possible (have a look at midibox)

Best
Zam
Old 23rd May 2019
  #9
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mixalis's Avatar
I believe that for this product to be successful, it must be accompanied by templates for many popular plugins and stock DAW plugins or the 3-4 top daws.

And/or provide the ability to make templates. if there is a simple editor like with touchOSC and an opensource API, people could be making their own templates and putting crazy cool backgrounds etc.
I think this approach on a controller could help the software plugin world explode even more.

Regarding the business aspect of it, i agree it should make a compelling business case for someone to produce, but then you see a product like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=683lF1Mlo6E coming out in 2019 and i'm thinking...why? why do you want to run a soft synth in a hardware box? while you can run it in the DAW with unlimited resources such as polyphony etc.
(if there was a controller like the proposed one, perhaps they wouldn't make something like this?)
Also, my point being, you see all kinds of products coming out, i mean really it's just overwhelming so many products, plugins... this and that. And honestly, sometimes i see products that don't make sense to me. And i wonder...do they have a solid business case behind this ? or they are just making it because hey it's the music tech industry...someone will eventually buy it.

I have hardware gear myself, synths and effects, but i truly feel that i can make the music i have in mind with software, and then i do sometimes layer in an analog synth or use outboard effects. I work a lot with Sylenth1, NI Massive, Spire, Serum, Virus TI and i am quite happy with the sound i can make. With software you have so much more control over things...and they are sooo powerful. I mean in any aspect that you see it, you have a limitless machine in polyphony, modulation, routing and effects. And i really don't see a reason to go spend 3k on the next big hardware synth and the next big hardware synth (i mean, yeah when i see them, of course, i want one..who doesn't)
I am amazed, strictly from the business perspective of things, how these companies put all these resources in making the "same" things again and again.
We don't want a better compressor or a better synth, we want to revolutionize our workflow. "Logic, find me a baseline preset from my library of 100k presets that sounds similar to that in the youtube video. or even better make one" (hehe)

I haven't seen a revolutionary change on how we make music since that algorithm that allows individual notes in polyphonic material to be found and be edited. And the time/pitch thing was a change of era as well.

We also want to see some AI in the DAWs. But before that...i keep coming back to that controller screen with knobs idea. Make it possible for me to work on a software synth like it is a real physical synth. And this is the closest way i can think of.
This company made this https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/19...g?v=1553789236 again mapping everything from their plugins in the controller. So, seems everything is pointing to that direction, i just don't get why they are not making it.

If i could find an oled screen with holes, i think it wouldn't be so impossible to make and here is why. (but i looked and i can't find any)
Let's assume we got the midi controller part of it.... get an arduino, go online find a python midi library and in ten days you have a one knob midi controller.
Then there must be an api with a message broker to handle asynchronously the incoming messages of the midi feedback and push it on the graphics controller on the screen so that it changes the screen when moving the controller with the mouse or when there is DAW automation. There are many open source api tools and message broker frameworks. There are perhaps even better easier ways to do this, like how touchOSC works.
I believe that for a company that already makes controllers it would be "relatively" easy. The bcr2000 and the nocturn and many others already display feedback from the plugin on their LEDs, so the signal coming in is there, it's just how you present it.

I would love to hear more ways of how people would utilize and use such a device.
better control over compression? over eq?
Old 24th May 2019
  #10
Lives for gear
Somewhere in the middle of this video there’s a midi controller similar to what I think you’re talking about. There was a lot of interest but for some reason never took off.

http://cdm.link/2009/03/the-star-tre...ontrol-cubase/
Old 24th May 2019
  #11
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If i could find an oled screen with holes...

Aye, there's the rub: for a screen manufacturer to set up to do this, they'd have to see a need for x number of holes in y,z position that would cross many industries, in order to have a big enough market.

Wikipedia says there really aren't very many OLED panel manufacturers. Obviously, it takes a big capital investment and they have to service very large markets to be profitable... or else there'd be a lot more people in that business.

Then, if you're making a large run of standardized panels with holes, what do you (as product manufacturer buying these OEM panels) do with holes that your product doesn't want to have pots in...
The remote control OEM manufacturers solve that by building switch panels with lots of holes for conductive rubber contacts. Then TV and air conditioner and hifi and... manufacturers simply cover the unneeded switchless holes with their foil overlay. You'll see this almost any time you take a remote apart.

And of course if you're stuck with standardized hole patterns, how do you map them to the endless variety of control layouts and knob quantities on current plug-ins?

A better idea: next generation OLED panels that will let you machine them without destroying them. Then you can buy a large panel and drill it for your particular knobs. [Of course that doesn't answer the other question about this product working with a Waves one-knob compressor and also with some of the more-knob-than-you-can-count algorithmic reverbs. Perhaps the OP can chime in on this one?]

If the only practical business answer now is a regular arrangement of knobs with labels, like the Behringer (and the top of the Studer console)... then we haven't really gotten anything new. You might as well use standard pots and small LED or LCD displays over them.
Old 24th May 2019
  #12
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mixalis's Avatar
Wow, yes that's very close. They put the knobs on top of the screen.
I also found this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7vyh_1fH8Y which is discontinued, but it was made only to control their standalone software. and came in an LE controller form to expand their SXE product
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...ne-rhizome-sxe
Old 24th May 2019
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JB872 View Post
Somewhere in the middle of this video there’s a midi controller similar to what I think you’re talking about. There was a lot of interest but for some reason never took off.

http://cdm.link/2009/03/the-star-tre...ontrol-cubase/
Ah yes, was trying to find this video after I read the original post!
Old 24th May 2019
  #14
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mixalis's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Rose View Post
[I]If i could find an oled screen with holes...
A better idea: next generation OLED panels that will let you machine them without destroying them. Then you can buy a large panel and drill it for your particular knobs. [Of course that doesn't answer the other question about this product working with a Waves one-knob compressor and also with some of the more-knob-than-you-can-count algorithmic reverbs. Perhaps the OP can chime in on this one?]
It would be great to have oled that could be drilled.
Why wouldn't be working with Waves?
In Novation's automap and it scans the plugins and finds their available parameters and maps them to their controller. The plugin exposes all available controls to the DAW.
In regards to a complex plugin with many many controls, the product could have pages (like the bcr2000 has) and go in the next page, of course, it would change the background.

Another idea is this. We can create an intermediary virtual controller that will be running and be displayed on the computer, outside the DAW, not a plugin.
So, it would be like simulating this "controller". The trick here is that it would look exactly like, let's say the bcr2000 or the mackie C4. And then all the controls on this virtual controller will be mapped on the actual controller.
So the "virtual controller" would look like this http://www.taktility.com/data/imageg...880aa7edce.jpg
It's just that this is not a universal solution and it will work with just the controller the template is made for. Perhaps if it was like an open source thing, people would go and make templates.
But, on a second thought, c'm on this is 2019. There must be a way...
Old 24th May 2019
  #15
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mixalis's Avatar
comments on the Dragon midi controller video

I was just reading the comments on this Dragon midi controller video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=iKSXPsLJ6f8

People really want this. I am amazed.
SandThruFingers 10 years ago
Probably the sickest thing I've ever seen. Makes me want to cry.


The Robot That Stole Your Jawb!!!
10 years ago
holy **** i would kill santa for this.


eReZ128
10 years ago
i wouldnt surprise to see your work over on stores in some months
i would recommend you to patent your work


Ace Picante
10 years ago
Absolutely amazing. Where should I send my check?


and here towards the end, this guy is explaining how he did, seems he got a bcr2000 apart hahaha
https://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=242084
Old 25th May 2019
  #16
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rylos's Avatar
 

You only need holes in the display if you try to use conventional controls. Have a transparent layer over the display layer. with sense elements built into it that can sense knob position (capacitive comes to mind), with the shaft assy' being very thin on the bottom, and potentially repositionable on the transparent layer to allow for differing layouts.

I've done a fair amount of work in capacitive touch-sensor design, and can see how it could readily be adapted to sense knob position in this kind of scenario. even allowing for relocatable controls. So for each synth layout, you place the knobs where you want them, and the display shows appropriate graphics background, including parameter values at each knob, with all the mechanicals being above the display, instead of having to be integrated with it.

I, also, have a strong dislike for touchscreens. They typically seem tedious to use, partly due to lack of tactile "feel", and they often have a sluggish response, partly due to software issues, and often to problems with obtaining clean enough sensing signals when in the midst of electrically dirty environments.

I constructed a proof-of-concept protoype of a touch-operated midi controller that addressed the tactile concern by a combination of having slightly textured guides, so that the user only has to give minimal attention to actual finger position relative to the desired control area, and giving it very fast response time by using a sensor design that provides high immunity to received electrical noise (even at / near the sensor's operating frequency). That combination gave it a much better-than-anticipated natural feel. When I first fired up the completed device, I was prepared to find it tedious to use, but instead immediately fell in love with it.

Here's my take on having live control after calling up a preset:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIE3WfrEEX0

Of course, I wouldn't mind working out the details of the knob on the screen concept, if the project kept a roof over my head, and food on the table.
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