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DAW Controller <VS> Mouse Control Surfaces
View Poll Results: Mix with Control Surface or Mouse
Mouse only
30 Votes - 50.85%
Digitally based Control Surface
29 Votes - 49.15%
Voters: 59. You may not vote on this poll

Old 24th July 2004
  #1
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NathanEldred's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
DAW Controller <VS> Mouse

For my own curiosity....

How many of you guys and gals, who are using non analog multitrack recording (anything from PT to Samp to a stand alone hard disc recorder like Radar, etc) are using a digitally oriented control surface (anything from a Control 24 to a D8b...actual audio does or does not pass through it, either way) versus mixing with just a mouse.

I personally use a 'hybrid' system where I use a DAW, but then use an analog console (non automated) in conjunction with the DAW for mix. I do all the moves/editing/etc in the computer using the mouse, and find it efficient, intuitive and fast for my purposes.
Old 24th July 2004
  #2
Rab
KMR Audio
 
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I'm with you Nathan. In all the PT sessions I've worked on, if a control surface was present I've only ever used it for faders... a convenience rather than a necessity.

For my own rig, when making a purchasing decision I've always had a big mouse on one hand or some musical kit on the other ... I haven't been able to justify the former yet. But I don't run a commercial facility so "Vegas Mode" isn't important to me - I don't have clients in my space to impress... I'm only judged on the results. I get away with a Mackie 1604VLZ which really only functions as a souped-up patchbay/ monitor controller...

mouse!
Old 24th July 2004
  #3
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Midlandmorgan's Avatar
 

Although I am as far removed from hi end as cannibals are from being dinner guests, I'll try and contribute...

I use Samplitude with a d8b...NOT in HUI mode, but as a playback mixer...Samp acts more as a recorder with great editing than a full blown DAW for me...

I tried like heck to get used to mousing...just never did get the hang of it...my work habits and mental image still require a mixing board of some sort, and until the cash gods are smiling more facilitating a higher end traditional approach, the d8b will do nicely.

I admit my work preferences are evolving backwards, but its what I prefer...no rodents, please...more knobs and sliders.
Old 24th July 2004
  #4
If working on PT only a mouse and keyboard is all that's needed.

If somekind of controller is around i only use the transport to track(reminds of the analog remote days).

I hate faders on controllers because in my mind its redundant(especially if the automation is on).

When mixing i prefer an analog console with auto recall and a little DAW auto.

To me its the ulimate and fastest way to mix.
Old 24th July 2004
  #5
Gear maniac
 

I prefer a mouse and keyboard. I'd much rather put money towards something else (nice outboard, more mics, ect.). I think it's just as easy mixing with a mouse rather than faders on a controll surface. It just takes up more space, will be outdated in a few years. They just seem like an unnecessary thing to me.

PS i'm talking about DAW controllers like command 8, mackie ect not digital or analog consoles with some kind of DAW control built in.

Matt
Old 24th July 2004
  #6
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 

Controller .... Procontrol in my particular case.

Serious mixing without a controller of some kind is virtually impossible imho. To be able to put your hands on several faders at a time is a must. Direct access to parameters like pan / volume / sends etc .... just isn't the same with just a mouse or a trackball. Controllers like Procontrol / C24 and Icon, be it in Protools' case enhance your workflow tremendously.

Track arming during recording sessions come to mind ... automating tracks and parameters ... pure software commands like grouping / zooming / new track / copy / paste / delete / ... all with dedicated buttons (although most of those have keyboard shortcuts) ... it just isn't the same without them.

Working a daw without a controller ... kinda like driving a car with square tires.
Old 25th July 2004
  #7
Rab
KMR Audio
 
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Chris has a good point regarding workflow... I guess it depends where you are in the session. Most of my work involves heavy editing combined with mixing - I'm rarely booked for a straightforward mixing session. If I'm hammering away on a keyboard and mouse, having to reach over and think about a control surface as well just complicates matters... by the time I've reached out to the ProControl I could have done the same thing from the keyboard.

A keyboard and mouse is ultimately a faster and more useful "control surface" for me... ever tried editing straight off a ProControl? Even selecting plug-ins is a drag. Despite Digi's "now you can throw away your mouse" blurb when it was launched, this is patently garbage. Sure you can buy an Edit Pack, but that's a fairly expensive keyboard!? If I was primarily a mix engineer I'm sure it would be a different matter. Although one product I could really use is a single hardware fader which was automatically assigned to a selected track for trimming automation data etc.

Out of preference, my favourite kind of rig to work on is PT for tracking/editing/automation with a good analogue board for levels and EQ. This seems to be the best of both worlds to me.
Old 25th July 2004
  #8
Gear addict
 

I cannot rationalize spending money on a control surface to get redundant functionality. I would much rather spend my money on things that will enhance the sound of the recording, such as an analog desk.
Old 25th July 2004
  #9
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by ToddS
I cannot rationalize spending money on a control surface to get redundant functionality. I would much rather spend my money on things that will enhance the sound of the recording, such as an analog desk.
I think the effect a controller, even without it realy actually passing the audio, can have on your overall 'sound'. It brings the whole mixing aspect, from whichever angle you look at it, so much closer to traditional ways of mixing. It does affect the way your mix sound. Merely because there's so many things it can do that a mouse cannot do. automation rides in real time with your fingers on a physical fader comes to mind for example.

Milages vary ........
Old 25th July 2004
  #10
Gear maniac
 
YuriK's Avatar
 

We are using Mackie Universal + Expander. Makes mixing much more immediate. Allows much more precision in the fader moves and more complexity. You can also move a number of faders at the same time or make simultaneous fader and rotary moves, something you cannot do with the mouse. For most common uses the control surfaces are good for a few years, there is no need to chase technology and own the latest control with most flashing lights. When the ergonomics improves drastically it may be time to upgrade. By then the controller would have paid for itself. If you have a client waiting it is much easier to get a quick result using a controller.

Yury
Old 25th July 2004
  #11
LTA
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I'm using a mackie control myself. If i could operate a mouse by touch without looking at the screen, i would.

Once the session is set up, an entire tracking session can be done without touching the mouse, if desired.

Using a mouse to manipulate transport controls was kind of odd. Keyboard control works too, but that wasn't the question.

I dislike mice, but i hate trackballs. Trackballs are for centipede and marble madness. And if you drink at bars, for playing golf.

Edit: I did take the time to really learn the Control, btw. Even adding plugs on the inserts isn't so bad. No more difficult than a LARC, only with more "patches." If you don't put any effort into learning something new, it will be slow. The control surface is actually easier to "get" than an MC505.

Editing is all about the mouse and keyboard though. But editing is not tracking, not overdubbing, and not mixing. That is just my workflow though; i know plenty of you edit while tracking and mixing.
Old 25th July 2004
  #12
jho
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My wrist/hand freaks out trying to do all those tiny screen things sometimes, I much prefer mixing with a control surface. I can get stuff done much faster. During tracking it's more mousework tho.
Old 25th July 2004
  #13
1484
Guest
Controllers I found are great for faders, mute, solo, pan, transport control and markers. Pretty much what you can do with a digitial mixer as a controller in some cases. However controlling plug ins are easier to do with a mouse over a controller. I had the Houston and found it to be so with Nuendo. Then I got rid of it and purchased a digitla mixer. I sum in the digitla mixer so I can use the effects in the mixer. I keep all the faders in the DAW at 0db. Then all fader volumes are done on my mixer.
Old 25th July 2004
  #14
Gear nut
 
soundmoves's Avatar
 

I use a Pro Control. Before getting it I thought it was redundant. Now I can not work without it, well I can it is just much quicker and more intuitive with the controller. One of the coolest things is putting the plug in parameters up on the faders. With some of the plugins there are many pages to scroll through but still very cool for control and automation. I do a lot of mixing and find my work flow has increased tremendously. It is definitely a luxury but one I have grown dependent on.
Old 25th July 2004
  #15
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echorec's Avatar
 

Re: DAW Controller <VS> Mouse

Quote:
Originally posted by NathanEldred
I personally use a 'hybrid' system where I use a DAW, but then use an analog console (non automated) in conjunction with the DAW for mix. I do all the moves/editing/etc in the computer using the mouse, and find it efficient, intuitive and fast for my purposes.
Exactly the same over here
Old 25th July 2004
  #16
Re: DAW Controller <VS> Mouse

Quote:
Originally posted by NathanEldred
I personally use a 'hybrid' system where I use a DAW, but then use an analog console (non automated) in conjunction with the DAW for mix. I do all the moves/editing/etc in the computer using the mouse, and find it efficient, intuitive and fast for my purposes.
What if you have to do a recall?

Since the board is not automated you will have to store all of the settings by hand i gather?
Old 25th July 2004
  #17
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NathanEldred's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Re: Re: DAW Controller <VS> Mouse

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
What if you have to do a recall?

Since the board is not automated you will have to store all of the settings by hand i gather?

Yep, with recall sheets. But there is more than faders involved. Lots of analog outboard gear, which I don't think will ever be automatable (automated TG-1 anyone?). So it's not much of a stretch from writing down a bunch of analog comp & EQ settings to writing down the fader settings on each song. I'll probably get some auto on the board now that VCA's are much higher quality than years ago. 8 channels of auto would probably be enough (I'm stemming into the console), everything else could be computer auto if post auto fader compression must be avoided. I'm mixing most of what I track so my train of thought is a little different than just a mixer guy doing other people's tracks.
Old 25th July 2004
  #18
Captain
 
Mike Shipley's Avatar
 

I have to use a controller also so that something about the process stays second nature to me , so I gotta have faders infront of me that I can put my hands on , I came up in the world of using faders and "feeling " the vocal or gtr or whatever with a fader and that is so different to a mouse otherwise oddly enough I cant connect with the music the same way .........call me weird but it works for me. I also really love the "control/flip" thing on the Procontrol so all the compressor or eq settings appear on the faders so I can really get into a sound. The mouse is great for the drudge work but give me faders!!!!
Old 25th July 2004
  #19
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 

digital cameras have made life a bit easier when it comes down to recalling outboard. I tend to make pictures of the devices and store them in the session folders.
Old 26th July 2004
  #20
Gear addict
 
LumenStudio's Avatar
 

I used to use a Mackie Control to control Cubase SX, which was a good controller for what it was. However I wanted more faders and ended up buying a Tascam DM-24 digital mixer and mix digitally out of the box. It has made it easier for me to mix. I'm still waiting for the firewire card to come out for it.

Using the Mackie Control sometimes would push the software faders more or less than I wanted. Using the DM24 the summing is done on that board so what you see is what you get.

Jon
Old 26th July 2004
  #21
Re: Re: Re: DAW Controller <VS> Mouse

Quote:
Originally posted by NathanEldred
Yep, with recall sheets. But there is more than faders involved. Lots of analog outboard gear, which I don't think will ever be automatable (automated TG-1 anyone?). So it's not much of a stretch from writing down a bunch of analog comp & EQ settings to writing down the fader settings on each song. I'll probably get some auto on the board now that VCA's are much higher quality than years ago. 8 channels of auto would probably be enough (I'm stemming into the console), everything else could be computer auto if post auto fader compression must be avoided. I'm mixing most of what I track so my train of thought is a little different than just a mixer guy doing other people's tracks.
Nathan,

I understand the outboard since i do this also.

I was actually thinking about the pans,auxes, EQ settings and faders as well.

I guess since you are summing only 8 channels that would be easier, but for a person like me i am normally hitting over 72 channels of information so not having some sort of recall is suicide.

I have done it in the past, but i don't particularly look forward to it.grudge
Old 26th July 2004
  #22
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C.Lambrechts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by shipshape
I also really love the "control/flip" thing on the Procontrol so all the compressor or eq settings appear on the faders so I can really get into a sound.

yessssss ..... big fan here of that one.
Old 26th July 2004
  #23
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Jose Mrochek's Avatar
 

The Weight of Faders

I always had this question in mind, why does Pro-control and all digital controllers have faders that feel so cheap ? Making a fader ride on a Neve or SSL feels so solid. While even the capricorn as I recall felt cheap and lifeless. Was this ever an issue with you guys? It may sound stupid.. but a nice solid fader just sounds better, (whatever that means) and this goes to all other knobs. Is it that expensive to inprove these things ? How is the Icon?
Old 26th July 2004
  #24
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NathanEldred's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Re: Re: Re: Re: DAW Controller <VS> Mouse

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
Nathan,

I understand the outboard since i do this also.

I was actually thinking about the pans,auxes, EQ settings and faders as well.

I guess since you are summing only 8 channels that would be easier, but for a person like me i am normally hitting over 72 channels of information so not having some sort of recall is suicide.
I'm not summing 8 channels...I'm summing generally 24-36 tracks generally down to 16-20 channels. The other 4-8 channels are reserved for meat and potatoes efx returns. For 'special' efx, I don't mind reaching for the occasional plug-in. We aren't arranging during mix, so it doesn't need to be any more tracks than that....I'm definitely old school in that respect...get all takes down to tape, make definitive decisions. When I said 8 channels of automation, automation derived specifically on the board on a physical analog fader (as opposed to DAW auto). The only reason I would want those is to avoid post automation/post fader compression, otherwise everything could be done in the computer (FUNCTIONALLY speaking, not sonically). Even now with no auto on the analog console, there are workarounds. Things like guitar amps, among many others others, can be automated 'in the box' to stems. I mix on a 24 x 2 console. And I don't think of it as a 24 channel console...it's 12 stereo busses if you get what I mean. Plenty for any kind of rock music. By being stereo stems, that takes care of the panning automation. The Auxes are sent from the DAW also, digitally out to the signal processor, then returned analog, so there's any efx auto there too. I don't even want to think about EQ automation, never have needed it. This is definitely not a traditional system, but I would think a lot of people are mixing this way these days. Sorry if this doesn't make sense, I might not be explaining it clearly, but it works well day in and day out in a commercial setting.
Old 26th July 2004
  #25
Gear addict
 

Quote:
Originally posted by C.Lambrechts
digital cameras have made life a bit easier when it comes down to recalling outboard. I tend to make pictures of the devices and store them in the session folders.
That's a great idea! Never thought of that.....
Old 26th July 2004
  #26
Gear Nut
 
woodworm's Avatar
 

Re: The Weight of Faders

Quote:
Originally posted by Jose Mrochek
Making a fader ride on a Neve or SSL feels so solid. While even the capricorn as I recall felt cheap and lifeless. Was this ever an issue with you guys? It may sound stupid.. but a nice solid fader just sounds better, (whatever that means) and this goes to all other knobs. Is it that expensive to inprove these things ?
FWIW, parts cost would be a very signifant factor. Looking inside an SSL for eaxample, we're talking about the top of the line P&G faders, clarostat pots with steel shafts, expensive switches with lots of contacts. The fact that most of the pots and the most frequently used switches are mounted on the channel face and not the PCB adds a lot to the solid feel factor also.

Regarding digital consoles as opposed to analogue consoles, there are other differences. The feel of an opto-encoder is by essence different from a pot, and there are qualities there too. And although most if not all elements are PCB mounted, the size of the PCB and the way the PCBs are attached to the metalwork will affect the feel.

Does it really sound better? that is debatable, but it probably will in the long run - in one word: reliability. Lets not forget that our mind can play tricks on us, and that the association of two senses (hearing and touch) will play a role there too.

Why isn't everything built the same way? Well, cost is main reason: mechanics are still the expensive part of technology.
Old 26th July 2004
  #27
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Yes woodworm I agree, it must be cost. The "sounds better" part was just a way of saying that the feeling in these things should be taken as seriously as other parts if they want to eventually replace analog consoles. Some kind of virtual whatever mechanism should eventualy be implemented for the feeling factor. By the way congratulations for Brazil's win yesterday
Old 26th July 2004
  #28
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PRS1JAZZ's Avatar
 

It deprends. I work better with a mouse, but for automation I like to jump on the faders. Tape buttons are fantastic. It makes life so much better on long nights.
Old 27th July 2004
  #29
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: DAW Controller <VS> Mouse

Quote:
Originally posted by NathanEldred
[B Sorry if this doesn't make sense, I might not be explaining it clearly, but it works well day in and day out in a commercial setting. [/B]
I totally get what you are doing.

But i gather you mix mostly the music you track correct?
Old 27th July 2004
  #30
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NathanEldred's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: DAW Controller <VS> Mouse

Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor


But i gather you mix mostly the music you track correct?
I mix 99% of what I track, and around 20% of my work involves tracks recorded other places. If it's something that doesn't fit the way I work, I recommend another engineer or studio who I know will be into it.
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