Control Surface/MIDI questions


Junior Members
Reaction score
I was wondering what you guys are using for a control surface if anything at all. What are your experiences with it, what do you like about it and what don't you like about it?

There is a new system coming out, they are taking perorders now, it looks pretty interesting and seems relativley affordable, check it out at Ergodex. It would be sweet if it had rotary dials on board but I guess that is something to look forward to.

Does anyone have a Doepfer Pocket Dial/Control? How well is it working for you? Have you been able to program it from a DAW? What is the point of doing this?

Can somebody explain to me what sysex and NRPN are?

What is aftertouch and how does it work? I have it on my keyboard but when I try to get aftertouch midi messages, I presume this is additional pressure on the key after it has been struck, nothing comes up in the logic midi message window on the transport. What gives?

Go to to learn about sysex messages, NRPNs and RPNs.

You can easily assign the Doepfer control's/dial's pots and encoders to the desirable CCs using an editor program that allows you to program your own presets. Say you set up a preset that has the first knob assigned to Absynth's filter 1 cut-off, the second one to filter 1 resonance, the third one to filter 2 cut-off...etc. Then you save that program and everytime you open Absynth, you recall that program on the Control and you tweak away.
You can save different programs for different hard/soft synths that use different CC for different parameters.

Aftertouch are midi messages that can be used to say start the onset of an LFO that controls the oscillator's pitch. It can be used to control anything really. Dunno why it does not work with Logic, are you sure your keyboard transimts aftertouch? Or maybe you need to enable it or something?

I always thought that the problem with control surfaces is that you have to spend quite a bit to make it worthwhile.... IMO Logic Control is great, so is the Mackie HUI... but if I had the cash, I'd get this baby...

Behringer have got a couple of budget control interfaces out at the moment I think... and that ergodex thing looks pretty cool...
I have a Yamaha ProMix 01 which I use to monitor through, and it has a lovely "local off" mode that turns the faders into a motorised control surface. I don't use it as much as I could though as I've got so used to mixing with the mouse (and because with say 60 faders in the mixer it's difficult to tell exactly which channel is which without automatic labelling!) but it does get used for recording some types of fader automation.

You're supposed to be able to use one of the buttons above each channel as well but with VST5.1 this never worked and I haven't tried it with SX yet.

As for aftertouch, if you're sure your keyboard has it, it does sound like you need to enable it in the leyboard's MIDI Setup page, or maybe make sure it's not being filtered out in the Logic Environment?.

Then again, maybe the Mac is incapable of dealing with Aftertouch messages? :Wink3: :Wink3: :Wink3: :Wink3: :Wink3: :Wink3: :Wink3: :Wink3:
Thanks guys, still not sure about the aftertouch thing, I understand it in principle. What kind of midi messages does it send? I mean is it a toggle on/off or is it scaled 0-127? I wiggle my finger around, even lift it a mm or so, apply what I think is aftertouch but nothing comes up on Logic transport, what messages do you see? I am pretty sure it isn't getting filtered out by the enviroment. Are these messages between note on and off messages? I have it switched on on, on the Yamaha SY35 but there is a dodgy key and a coin banging around inside so this may have buggered it.

Cheers Mum, I haven't been using the editor because it is over on the PC and I wasn't sure if it is ok to plug and unplug midi cables while the power is on. Is it?

Yeah Lazytom those Yami 0X1 look pretty nice and you can hook up to 64 different mLAN devices up, I can only think of one other mLAN product though and that is the $4k Kurzwiel KSP8 effects processor. Man would I love one of those.

I have been looking at the CM Labs Motormix CS because it specifically works with Radial which I am trying to use already and the Kyma Capybara combo which is probably the best sound designers tool out there and high up on the wish list. I don't know too much about it yet but the company seem like they are cool people to deal with.

Colin your reply has made me think of another question I want to ask but I will start another thread and it has nothing to do with a crapintosh, well not much. :P

Kinda funny how MIDI is still version 1.0 after twenty years and still going strong :sun:
unpluging/plugin midi cables shouldnt be a problem really, i think.

i believe aftertouch is a 'cc' message (continuous controller)
yeah its 0-127, and in logic, i think its called 'channel pressure'
if you select the part, open up a hyper edit you should see it.

on my 'crapintosh' :lol: file>song settings> midi options, make sure all the boxes are lit up.
if they are, then i dont know why you cant record aftertouch, if your keyboard does have it.?

of course it has to be assigned to some parameter in the instrument - for you to 'hear' its effect.
I've had a motormix for a while now that I have been mostly using with pro tools.
I didn't pay for the thing(long story) and was mostly interested in it for pro tools
so i didn't look too much into the standard CC implementation,
which seemed to be such an obvious feature, i Just assumed it worked.
As it turns out(as you might already know), the
motormix does not send/receive standard CC messages, so software developers
need to add support in their software for the control surface(Imagine the scenario - you find a new and funky bit of software which just needs CC messages - no go if they haven't included support for motormix
. :sob:

Even if they do this,
a lot of the time the implementation leads a lot to be desired - e.g. control of a lot
of plug in parameters of pro tools plug ins is well sketchy -impractical resolution
and some parameters not covered+some plug ins just don't have the coding to
be controlled by motormix at all. I haven't seen how good it works with logic, but
I know that, at least in the first version of radial, there was no way to switch between
banks of faders, which is a waste of potential for motormix. There was a useful app
that I got hold of (OS 9 only) from a bloke known as Jhno, one of the coders behind
Max/msp and the brains behind radial, which translates one bank of 8 faders and
dials to stamdard CC messages (works via iac bus). I tried taking it apart and
trying to sort out bank switching using max/msp, but that was a total headfuck.
and Im no scripting language(or whatever) genius. There is a motormix object
for max/msp for both OS 9 and X, which you could , theoretically use to
sort this problem out but I had enough 4 am hair pulling sessions to give up.
There is also an app released for windows and in the pipeline for mac OS X :
-costs $79
But - the developer is traelling round europe so doesn't expect to release
the mac verison till june/july (as far as i remember)

The point of this whole rant is that the motormix is POTENTIALLY a very nice
control surface - very portable - bank switching potential for almost
limitless number of parameters easily accsessible with faders jumping to previous
values on bank switch - funky electronic scribble strip to remind you what parameters
you are controlling (shame about the fiddly
nipple shaped dials - but these could probably be replaced - I haven't bothered yet)
The midimixer app, could potentially sort all this out - or not

Anyway, I haen't got too much too complain about, as I didn't pay for the thing,
and it does work well for a lot of stuff in pro tools and i can only hope
that things sort out with the midimixer app- that would make it my ideal
control surface

Hope this helps inform your decision
dubmobile thanks for taking the time to post that info

thanks mum I have got much more of an understanding of sysex, et al.

I am figuring the aftertouch is bent on this synth as there is no output in a freeware midi monitor app I just got.