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Thread: Controller for SSL Console plug-in

  1. #1
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    Controller for SSL Console plug-in

    Hi everyone, I am a newly registered user and want to thank you in advance for your help and advice.

    I am a professional musician/producer and I rely heavily on a certain Brainworx plugin called bx_console E. Hereís a link to see the layout: https://www.brainworx.audio/products...sl-4000-e.html. I hate moving knobs with a mouse and I decided to have a look into building a cdedicated midi controller for it. I am not totally new to electronics but the coding part might be a problem!

    This plugin will be instatiated onto many tracks so I would use rotary encoders rather than pots.

    There will be no screens or meters. Overall I will need:

    22 rotary encoders
    1 fader
    20 buttons

    From what I understand, this exceeds the Teensy 3.6 number of possible connections but 74HCT451s could solve this issue?

    I think it will only need to send CC since theee are no meters or leds needing to pull info from Pro Tools but I might be wrong.

    I would like to know if this is something feasible for someone with no experience with Arduino or Teensy or if it can be done.

    Thank you very much!

    Andre

  2. #2
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    For the most part it depends on how much time and effort you are willing/able to invest in such a project. It is also very important to correctly understand the requirements, what you want the controller to do.
    Do I understand correctly that there will be no feedback from Protools to the controller i.e. displays of current setting? This would imply that you always have to look at the computer monitor for the current setting but it certainly would make the controller much simpler.
    A Teensy 3.6 is more than able to handle this kind of midi controller, that's not an issue. The question is what the capabilities are on the Protools side. I could help you with the Teensy part but I don't know anything about Protools midi control.
    On the plus side, if you're willing to invest time and effort you can build something tailor made to suit your workflow and preferences. With knobs like these Elma classic collet knobs and perhaps a custom made front panel one could build a very nice controller for the SSL channel.

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    Thank so much Gerrit! Yes I had seen those Elma knobs. They are really cool! What kind of information would you need re Pro Tools Midi?
    Yes, I would look at the screen for the values. I assume the only other option would be to have screens under the knobs or some kind of led ring? Or motorized pots? That would be cool! But maybe a bit over the top. :-)

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by starsend View Post
    Thank so much Gerrit! Yes I had seen those Elma knobs. They are really cool! What kind of information would you need re Pro Tools Midi?
    Yes, I would look at the screen for the values. I assume the only other option would be to have screens under the knobs or some kind of led ring? Or motorized pots? That would be cool! But maybe a bit over the top. :-)
    Do you have tried to control the plugin with some other midi controller and does that work? Is there are midi learn function in Protools? How are midi controllers mapped to plugin parameters? Is relative mode supported for midi control (you don't want the values to jump if you touch a knob)? Can you provide a link to documentation?
    If you want feedback it becomes much more difficult and it is even more dependent on the Protools capabilities as you'd need to emulate a Mackie Control Unit (MCU) and even then it's not certain that it will work as desired.
    I'm working on a plugin controller myself which currently uses the MCU protocol for communicating with Logic Pro X This works rather well but only with Logic, the way Cubase handles plugin control with a MCU is completely different so my controller doesn't work with Cubase. Here's a picture of the controller

    Click image for larger version. 

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    BTW these are the 22mm Elma knobs.

    As I'm in the proces of switching from Logic to Reaper the controller will undergo serious revision but first I'll have to familiarise myself with OSC (Open Sound Control).

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    Thatís insane!!! So cool. I would like to have something reminiscent of the hardware console but itís not super important. I wouldnít mind building a nice wooden case for it either, for example.
    Pro Tools is fussy about Midi. I use Eucon usually. Others use HUI. But, certain plugins do respond to CC, though on a case by case basis. I have just bought a Novation Control (the old one, 16 knobs and 8 buttons) and will try to use midi learn on the Bx_console and see how it all responds and we can take it from there. Only thing is the novation uses pots and not rotary encoders. But it should give an idea of the feasibility of CC communication by USB within Pro Tools.

    Does that sound good?

    Again, I love your controller!!!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by starsend View Post
    Thatís insane!!! So cool. I would like to have something reminiscent of the hardware console but itís not super important. I wouldnít mind building a nice wooden case for it either, for example.
    Pro Tools is fussy about Midi. I use Eucon usually. Others use HUI. But, certain plugins do respond to CC, though on a case by case basis. I have just bought a Novation Control (the old one, 16 knobs and 8 buttons) and will try to use midi learn on the Bx_console and see how it all responds and we can take it from there. Only thing is the novation uses pots and not rotary encoders. But it should give an idea of the feasibility of CC communication by USB within Pro Tools.

    Does that sound good?

    Again, I love your controller!!!
    Thank you

    Using the Novation controller to test things seems like a very good idea. If it works out you can try a Teensy with a single rotary encoder to see if that works and take it from there.

    What I like so much about the Teensy (and all the surrounding stuff) is the fact that it enables one to build devices that are not available on the market. There are very few controllers for tracking / plugin control so I decided to build my own. Because the hands on control is what it's all about I used high quality optical encoders which can cover the standard midi range with one 300 degree turn like a potentiometer. The movement of the knobs exactly matches the movement of the virtual knobs on the controller screen and computer monitor. I don't know any commercially available controller where this is the case. It may not seem important but I think it is because it really makes the controller 'disappear' and it feels like you're directly controlling the plugin.
    Here're some more pictures to give you an idea of the complexity of a large project like this:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #7
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    Watching with interest, I've recently started early prototyping/learning to make a waves SSL E controller for use with logic.

    Currently I've got 6 encoders working with a teensy 3.5 and I'm pondering going for a lasercut mdf enclosure, inspired by how cool this looks: https://blog.arduino.cc/2018/04/03/t...oller-for-djs/

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    The Launch Control should be here in a few days and Iíll put it through its paces and report back! Iím totally with you re getting something tactile under your fingers. I hate staring at the screen and do a lot from hardware.

    Astrocreep, hopefully this will work out. A lot of people would like to build something like this for their favorite plugin(s).

  9. #9
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    Sorry for the delay. I got the Novation Launchpad and it didnít work at all. Apparently Novation gave up on AAX control, so I had to return it and now Iím back at square 1!

    But, i found out Pro Tools only accepts these formats to control plugins:

    Command 8
    HUI
    Maudio Keyboard
    Surround Something...

    I donít know much about these protocols. I had an maudio axiom 49 but sold it. I remember controlling a few things with that. Also, unless one of these protocols is specified, the plugin window wonít even show the midi ďLearnĒ option.

    Hope this helps!

  10. #10
    Senior Member vjmuzik's Avatar
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    Yeah Pro Tools is real finicky with what controllers you can use with it, any of the quote unquote midi controllers are basically garbage from what I understand. I was told that Eucon has the best integration in Pro Tools which doesn’t surprise me since Avid owns the protocol, but all of their Ethernet based controllers have the best functionality for it. That being said, I’m making a custom Eucon controller to integrate into my console for automation and plugin control, plus the Eucon can emulate HUI or MCU for any program that doesn’t Eucon.

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    I use Eucon and it works great. Iím ignorant regarding teensy. Can you actually program a controller to use Eucon?

  12. #12
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    You have to have an Ethernet adapter to do it, but yes itís entirely possible. If a little complicated because of lack of support for some needed Ethernet things.

    Hereís a picture from last time I worked on it, I have the protocol figured out I just need the rest of the hardware to finish it.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  13. #13
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    It’s also possible to program a Teensy as any Diginet Ethernet controller as well, I.E. Control 24, Pro Control, C|24, D-Command, or D-Control they all work.

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    I use the Eucon Artist and Control surfaces and they are great, but I donít want to scroll through pages and screens. I would just like knobs and buttons thay replicate the interface of the ssl plugin. I wouldnít mind looking at the screen either. Either that or have a small screen on the controller which shows values for what Iím tweaking (not a screen for each knob or button).

  15. #15
    Senior Member vjmuzik's Avatar
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    I can understand that, but from my knowledge Pro Tools will only allow you to map plugins to a controller if they have a profile as a midi device in the settings. I believe I read that Novation products that support their Automap program is the best thing besides an Ethernet controller for Pro Tools plug-ins since it is supported and will map the plugins to the controller. Although last I heard it doesn’t support AAX plugins yet and only VSTs, I could be wrong about that, I only briefly looked at it.

  16. #16
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    You are correct, Novation apparently gave up on AAX support...

  17. #17
    Did this project come to fruition? I very curious about making some sort of midi controller to control Reaper with plugins like the Brainworx SSL strip.

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