November 19, 2005

DIY MIDI Controllers For Fun And Profit!

by Chris Randall

Okay, this is going to be a somewhat convoluted tale, so try to bear with me here. Our label just signed this fellow from Chicago (more on that when it is appropriate) and his prefered method of working is with Live. Since Wade and I will be doing a certain amount of production on the resulting album, I thought it not a bad idea that we spend a little more time with Live. I have it, but I'd only really used it for testing Audio Damage stuff. I did one show with it back when it was in 2.0 land, and decided it wasn't for me.

So, I put Live 5 on my HP laptop, which is my main Road Machine I've talked about at length in previous entries. This laptop is heavily tied in to my modular, so my experiments with Live 5 as an actual working tool today were based around that, rather than a loop fest which is what would occur if I had have done this on my main music computer. Since I don't really have any loops on my laptop, I started out by just poking some sounds in using the loop recording tool in Live.

That was around noon yesterday. Since then, except for a brief break to sleep and get the oil changed on my Jeep (not simultanously, I'll add) I've been rocking this setup. Let me just say that I've become a True Believer. With version 5, Live is finally ready for Prime Time. I don't mean any offense to the Ableton guys, as I think they've always made an imaginative and useful product. However, it just wasn't for me. Didn't fit in my world. Whatever. Well, all that has changed, and I've actually thought up a couple new modules for my modular based upon having Live 5 in with it.

So, you're wondering if there's a point to this post anywhere in your future. Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Pictured above you'll see a controller made by my good friend Mike Fisher. It is one of several featured on the Doepfer site that were created using Doepfer's Pocket Electronic series of DIY MIDI modules. Mike made this controller for working with Live specifically, and the giant video game buttons are intended for easy visibility during a (dark) stage performance.

One of the modules I've been thinking of making for my system would have, say, 3 or 4 large knobs and a couple buttons, and would be just for sending MIDI CC to Live. It's kind of an odd way to do things, but it would make more sense than buying one of those crappy throw-away Evolution controllers or something, and it would be right in my modular. Has any of my dear readers done something like this? Or is there an already-existing Frac-Rack module that sends MIDI CC that I don't know about?




Nov.20.2005 @ 3:59 AM
u have checked the BCR2000 i spose?

i personally use that one, and couldnt be happier.
tho, i on the other hand is morphing my way onto Nuendo 3 instead of Live 5 (wich i have been testing out for a while now). the external instr/fx thingys are _really_ usefull. (sorry to go OT there. :P )


Nov.20.2005 @ 8:15 AM
Ahh DIY MIDIboxes,yes the Doepfers are badass.But before going out and buying all of their DIY stuff,have a look at this site : link []">link []
Parts are dirt cheaper and you can get the OS already programmed in the chip here for a few extra bucks: link []">link []

Live 5,great to hear your a beleiver !


Nov.20.2005 @ 10:27 AM
Chris Randall
Regarding the BCR2000, it is made by Behringer, so it is obviously out of the question. No Behringer shit is allowed in my studio. I may be a snob, but I'm a principled snob.

Regarding the MIDIbox shit, yeah, I've looked at that. I'm just wondering if the Doepfer one is an easier way to go, being all set up and what-not. It's not that much cheaper; the Pocket Electronic is only $115 from Analog Haven, and all you do is add knobs. For all the drama that the MIDIbox entails, I'm not sure if it's worth the effort.



Nov.21.2005 @ 8:44 AM
Adam Schabtach
What I want to know is, where did Mike get all of the joystick mechanisms and the nice Al handles for them?

Nov.21.2005 @ 5:17 PM
Chris Randall
Those are the same ones I had, from MECI I imagine. I'll ask him.



Nov.21.2005 @ 9:56 PM
I'm going to get a BCR2000 for some AudioDamage plugin control and there's nothing you can do about it!


Dec.08.2005 @ 9:13 PM
I'm trying to think of a way of making a massive Midi controller surface (excess of 200 rotaries) out of cheap USB mice rotary components. i.e. the wheels that track the ball X and Y directions, and / or the scroll wheels. The idea being that the parts should be realtively cheap, and possibly might get away without PICs beng introduced.
Has anyone ever heard of this being done?



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