Is CTRLR what I'm looking for to make this work?

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  althemusicwizard 2 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #84723

    althemusicwizard
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    Over the last thirty years I’ve used most home recording type gear in professional and semi-professional environments.
    I moved from analogue to MDMs in the 90’s and have used most of the hardware DAWs made by Roland, Akai and Yamaha as I never liked mixing on a PC. I’ve had a plethora of analogue desks over the years and have now settled on a system that has a Soundtracs Solo mixer as the bridge between analogue and digital. As such I record to a Fostex G24S 1″ reel to reel, then digitise the recordings via 3 Behringer ADA8200 via a RME HAMMERFALL 9652 ADAT card. Once digitised I can then run Cubase as a tape recorder perfecting the mix using the MACKIE Ultramix system ( a VCA system that sits on the Soundtracs Solo insert points.), before turning the G24S back on for a final mix pass. Now you may think me mad for wanting such a clunky system, but the sound of tape (even 1″) with an analogue desk (and this desk in particular) adds a compression and bass end that kicks. I’ve never been able to mix digital signals that achieve the same punch or ability to ‘gel’. The problem is this.

    Because the Ultramix is such an old system, the software won’t run well on Win 10. I have got it to run of a fashion using Windows Compatibility settings, but it isn’t stable. I can run it on a laptop using Win XP but that means editing the mix data using the original software which was never updated or barely finished and in comparison to Cubase isn’t a patch. So after fudging this for a while it got me thinking that the best results would be made by harnessing the Ultramix’s best bits (the Ultrapilot control surface and the 19″ rack’s VCAs) and trying to use the midi data within Cubase or a VST editor that would run in Cubase. Using Midi-Ox I’ve identified the data that the Ultrapilot kicks out and now need to use something like Ctrlr.org to design something to fit. Problem is I’m a real novice at something like this. Is there anything within Cubase itself (I remember making simple editors in Cubase 3.1 forAtari…does the PC have something similar?). I don’t really want to simply map the Ultrapilot onto Cubase’s mixer as this wouldn’t allow me to send the data out for a final mix when playing the G24S (I think?). Is CTRLR the answer?

    So has anyone any ideas on a way forward?

    Thanks,
    Al

    #84726
    Possemo
    Possemo
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    As Ultramix seems to use midi standard for computer communication in theory Ctrlr would be suitable. You would need a sysex implementation chart from Mackie to know how midi messages are built up (probably sysex). If Mackie does not provide this information you would have to reverse engineer it. This could be feasible if sysex is not too complex but you will need knowledge about midi, sysex, ctrlr and maybe Lua (the used programming language of Ctrlr).

    Offtopic: you are using cheap Behringer AD-converters? They will only do 48khz sampling rate which will limit soundquality significantly. At least to my ears a good ADC with 96khz samplerate will make a big difference. Also vst-plugins will sound that much better when the DAW-Project is set at 96khz. E.g. there are very good master-tape simulations to get the punch of an expensive tape machine. Even at 96khz you may still hear a difference to real hardware but I would say that it gets damn close.

    Of course, to make a CD you then have to downsample to 16Bit-44.1khz which is an art of it’s own.

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by Possemo Possemo.
    #84727
    Quimquim
    Quimquim
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    Hi Al (for short), about your old software, did you try to run old Windows version compatible with your software on a virtual machine (vmware or VirtualBox).

    About what you want to do with midi data can you give more details?
    (control some parameters, do message translation etc.)

    If you could give a couple concretes examples of midi fonctions you want.

    I’m more familiar with music keyboard control than studio gear so That’s why I’m asking.

    CTRLR can do a lot of things so there is great chance it can do what you want.

    Stay tuned. Quimquim

    #84732

    althemusicwizard
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    Thanks for the replies.

    I haven’t tried any emulators, I’ll try that next.

    I’m only looking to have the faders automated as the Soundtracs Solo has midi mutes which can also be used. As far as digital /analogue goes, I’ve never had any digital setup that can sound like analogue. With certain sounds (electronic) that isn’t so much of a problem. With analogue sounds (real instruments and voices) digital always sounds one-dimensional to me….as if something has died. I also haven’t come across any package (in my budget) that will allow mixing with real faders…..I simply hate adjusting faders on screen. I almost bought a Presonus StudioLive Series 3 desk recently thinking I could ditch the tape, but was shocked to believe in 2018 a product could be released with only 48KHz sampling. What am I supposed to do with the last 20 years of 44.1 recordings I have? I don’t actually hear a massive difference with 44.1 and higher rates….what I do hear a difference in is good gear. RME is good gear and the Behringer units do both 44.1 and 48 and feature allegedly both the benefits of Behringer buying Midas and Klark-Technik technologies.

    I have used Midi-Ox to identify the midi CC messages outputted from the 19″ brain when receiving instructions from the Ultrapilot control surface. They consist of ‘status, data1, data2, midi ch, note, and event data instructions. A typical one from moving Fader 1 just fractionally (to register from 0 to 1 u of the 127 steps) would be:

    BF 00 01 16 – 00

    Another one for bank shifting 1-16 to 17-32 would be:

    9F 73 00 16 G8 Note Off

    Would that lot be able to be used in CTRLR?

    #84737
    Possemo
    Possemo
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    I see the Behringer are relatively new ones, they are probably ok. It is true that if you have good gear 44.1 could sound nice as well. 96khz is more important if you are mixing/mastering on a DAW – otherwise it probably doesn’t matter a lot.

    The midi messages are a bit odd but they don’t seem too complicated. If the old software works well on a virtual WindowsXP machine it would probably be the easiest “fix”. I’d recommend VMWare 14 Workstation Player. It is free for non-commercial use. You will find a vm with preinstalled WinXP on the internet.

    According to midi standards BF would be a Control Change on midi channel 16:

    B = Control Change
    B0 = CC on channel 1
    BF = CC on channel 16

    2nd byte would be the controller number
    3nd byte would be the controller value.

    The other example:
    9F = a NoteOn event on midi channel 16.

    You can lookup all midi status codes here:
    http://www.opensound.com/pguide/midi/midi5.html

    So, as you see these Ultramix messages are non-standard midi messages. I don’t know if you could build these messages with the standard Midi component of Ctrlr. It would most certainly be possible when doing it with Lua scripts. If you want to go that way I could help you getting started with Lua scripts.

    #84745

    althemusicwizard
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    Thanks Possemo for your input and offer of help. I tried running VirtualBox and it all looked good until I tried to connect an aging M-Audio Midisport 8x8s. I couldn’t get the host machine to let go off it in order to install it within Win XP. I’d also tried Win 95 and Win 98SE with no success. I’m not sure whether Virtual players are the way to go, so after ditching the Midisport, I hooked the Ultramix Midi IN and Midi Out direct to PORT 1 on the RME HDSP card. The card (3 ADATS, SPDIF, Wordclock IN & OUT and 2 sets of Midi Ports) also has the other midi port (IN & OUT) attached to the FOSTEX G24S. By doing this I could get the software of the Ultramix to run in Win10 using Win 95 compatibility…..albeit with a few peculiarities. I could then do what I want (namely perfect a mix using hard disk tracks from Cubase with Ultramix providing MTC sync) then switching the Fostex on and by changing a setting in Cubase to receive the MTC from the other Midi port, replay that mix using tape tracks. The only downside is the software is clunky compared to Cubase. For example, you can’t even copy and paste data from one track to another….thinking about it, this may be because each track uses a different controller number (TRK1 -CC0, TRK2-CC1,TRK3-CC2 etc….). So I’m now thinking back to a template in Cubase that I started building which has a midi track for each track in Ultramix. I need to be able to assign the different controller numbers to different Cubase midi tracks and for say TRK1 to only look out and record CC0 data, TRK2 to only look out for CC1 data etc….I think I could do this by filtering using Logical Editors or something similar.

    What’s really interesting in this, is how stuff sounds. For these tests I’ve been using a song that I originally recorded using a Roland VS1680 and sounds from an EMU E4K sampler back in around 1999. The VS always had a sound of its own (and suffered from a mix bus that did the original tracks no justice) but over the years I transferred the recordings to WAV, so they’re the source material. So I’ve essentially imported the WAVs into Cubase. Sent the WAVs straight out of the ADAT outs into the Behringer units and onto the Fostex G24S tape machine. The Ultramix is sitting on the consoles insert points and is automating the VCAs in its 19″ rackbrain then returning the signals to the console. By either switching the consoles inputs to listen to LINE (hard disk tracks) or TAPE (tape returns) I can hear the effect that tape has…..and I prefer it.

    Anyhow, now I’ve got a system working albeit with certain workarounds needed, I’m going to investigate if Cubase could handle this side of things as it would make for a more unified system.

    Al

    #84747
    Possemo
    Possemo
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    IMO VMWare has better compatibility than Virtualbox but I have no experience with midisport interfaces. Before you start reverse engineering the midi messages I would ask Mackie for a documentation – who knows. With a proper documentation it would be a lot easier to understand the concept. If Cubase won’t be able to do what you want you could post the midi impementation here and I will have a look.

    #84748
    Quimquim
    Quimquim
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    Hi Al, when running operating system in virtual machine, it’s sometime the problem to get the softwares to comminicate with the real world hardware. I Don’t have experience with VirtualBox. On my part I’m using VMWare player and got good success up to now.

    About Midi messages MidiOx can do many message filtering and routing to different channel.

    At the beginning I scratch my head how to get the message transform to work. So you have to go to the 66 icon for port routing and connect the input to output. Also You’ll probably need many virtual Midi cables to do the connection between the different Midi software/hardware. I found Springbeat vMIDI who work very well and give 8 VMidi cables.

    EX: you can get a value of x change to y and reroute from channel a to b. Very flexible.

    Hope it helped a bit.

    Stay tuned. Quimquim

    #84764

    althemusicwizard
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    Thanks guys for your help with this….I’m up to my neck with work and then holidays so won’t probably get back to this for about a month….but thanks. Al

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