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Do You Use Hardware Controllers or Analog Mixers for Mixing? If Not, Why Not?

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  • Do You Use Hardware Controllers or Analog Mixers for Mixing? If Not, Why Not?

    When I give seminars and ask how many people mix with a mouse, I'm surprised that it's almost always well over 50%. I've been doing a fair amount of mixing lately using the V-Studio control surface with Sonar, and every time I do, it reminds about how much more fluid the mixing session goes with a dedicated control surface.



    So how many are using control surfaces, and if so, which ones? Any Euphonix Artist Series fans out there?
    _____________________________________________
    There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

  • #2
    I use a 32 ch. Neotek Elite II; previously I used a Mackie DXB. I was never really comfortable "in the box". I like having dedicated controls I can reach for on the fly, without the distraction of looking at a screen, finding the right control, making sure it's active etc. On a console or control surface I'm familiar with, I can operate almost entirely by feel.

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    • #3
      I Always use analog mixing consoles still. Mixing with a mouse is like taking hold of and caressing a woman
      "Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground."
      ~John Lennon

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      • #4
        I'm now taking hold of and caressing a woman's - , er, using a mouse. I was using Digi002's controller, but it broke, and despite repeated attempts to get the !@%#! piece of !$%! fixed, I couldn't do it, so I sold it for parts. I would like to mix with a controller again, but I do really have some serious space issues.



        I miss the tactile quality and control of mixing with a mixer, though. Hopefully someday I can get this going again.
        Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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        • #5






          Quote Originally Posted by UstadKhanAli
          View Post

          I would like to mix with a controller again, but I do really have some serious space issues.




          Hmmm...which brings up an interesting follow-up question: If you're not using a controller, is it a space issue, cost issue, compatibility issue, or do you just not feel the need?



          Ken - have you thought of something like the FaderPort or AlphaTrack as a potential solution?
          _____________________________________________
          There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

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          • #6
            I use an MCU. When I'm using Sony Vegas, I find myself hitting keys on the MCU expecting it to react . Then remembering and going to the mouse. Can't imagine having to go the mouse route again for Sonar.
            <div class="signaturecontainer"><a href="http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=742896" target="_blank">http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page...?bandID=742896</a><br />
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            • #7






              Quote Originally Posted by sailorman
              View Post

              I use an MCU. When I'm using Sony Vegas, I find myself hitting keys on the MCU expecting it to react . Then remembering and going to the mouse. Can't imagine having to go the mouse route again for Sonar.




              What problems are you having with Vegas? It's MCU compatible for transport and audio functions...can't control the video tracks, though.
              _____________________________________________
              There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

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              • #8
                I suppose it depends on the kind of mixing one does, I hardly ever moved the sliders around much, because of the type of lazy mixing I do, and really wanted one of those motorised mixers to do all the work for me.

                I like to use automation a lot, so doing it all with the mouse suits me just fine, and if the mouse breaks down it wont cost much to replace it compared to a controller.

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                • #9






                  Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
                  View Post

                  When I give seminars and ask how many people mix with a mouse, I'm surprised that it's almost always well over 50%.




                  I'm not surprised at that, considering how many people are creating music in home studios who have only seen mixing consoles in pictures and have never used one. And in line with that, there's a lot of music made from recordings that either have already been mixed (canned loops) or single tracks that have been compressed and volume-enveloped so they're uniform in level. "Mixing" tracks like that is pretty much like pouring everything into a funnel. There's little dynamic adjustment during the song. You turn on a track and it's already at the right level and panned where you want it, and when it's done, you turn it off. That's conducive to working with a mouse. When you tweak each track by itself, you can ride gain with a mouse without too much trouble. If there's no need to adjust half a dozen faders together, but not necessarily simultaneoulsy and the same amount each, that's where you need a mixing console or something that works like one.



                  I still have consoles and use them exclusively, because i work exclusively with live music and the playing isn't perfect, but it's dynamic in itself and that needs to be eveident in the mix - but not excessive. I've never actually mixed anything with a mouse.
                  --
                  "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                  Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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                  • #10
                    OK... so... I do pretty good mixes. With a mouse. I'm not saying this is the way. Definitely not saying that. But... although I am a very intuitive performer, I tend to embrace that polar opposite, the mouse fulfilling my intellectualized ideas. The mouse completes me in this particular scenario. But...



                    ...this is not to say that I don't long for a more intuitive approach. I guess what is happening with me is I am making do. And yet...



                    ...I read an article about a high profile mixer who does it my way. With a mouse. Now, I realize that isn't really real. It was some techno guy that has had some success. No problem with that but, this is wishful thinking on my part.



                    His paradigm is not really mine.



                    We have very different portals of release. But still...



                    I don't know... should I get a mixing surface?
                    Thomas Jefferson said... "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." hmmm...

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                    • #11






                      Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
                      View Post

                      Hmmm...which brings up an interesting follow-up question: If you're not using a controller, is it a space issue, cost issue, compatibility issue, or do you just not feel the need?



                      Ken - have you thought of something like the FaderPort or AlphaTrack as a potential solution?




                      Yes.



                      Have I followed through?



                      No.







                      I would prefer a fuller controller or a mixer, but this would probably be my best bet given my small studio space.
                      Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

                      Comment


                      • #12






                        Quote Originally Posted by Lee Knight
                        View Post

                        OK... so... I do pretty good mixes. With a mouse. I'm not saying this is the way. Definitely not saying that. But... although I am a very intuitive performer, I tend to embrace that polar opposite, the mouse fulfilling my intellectualized ideas. The mouse completes me in this particular scenario. But...



                        ...this is not to say that I don't long for a more intuitive approach. I guess what is happening with me is I am making do. And yet...



                        ...I read an article about a high profile mixer who does it my way. With a mouse. Now, I realize that isn't really real. It was some techno guy that has had some success. No problem with that but, this is wishful thinking on my part.



                        His paradigm is not really mine.



                        We have very different portals of release. But still...



                        I don't know... should I get a mixing surface?




                        It's not religion, you don't have to use one or the other. I do the preliminary mixing with a control surface, but use the mouse for touch-up.



                        I will say that after looking at the automation curves that get drawn due to my rhythmic "goosing" of the faders in time with the music, it would probably take a year to draw all of them in with a mouse.
                        _____________________________________________
                        There are now 14 music videos posted on my YouTube channel, including four songs by Mark Longworth. Watch the music video playlist, subscribe, and spread the links! Check back often, because there's more to come...

                        Comment


                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
                          View Post

                          When I give seminars and ask how many people mix with a mouse, I'm surprised that it's almost always well over 50%. I've been doing a fair amount of mixing lately using the V-Studio control surface with Sonar, and every time I do, it reminds about how much more fluid the mixing session goes with a dedicated control surface.



                          So how many are using control surfaces, and if so, which ones? Any Euphonix Artist Series fans out there?




                          I started using the MCU (w/ DP) for a week before Sandy visited my studio. (Theres another story here for another thread which I`ll share soon....) Anyway, I can see myself mixing more and more with the MCU. I can`t tell you how nice it was to reach for a fader after 7 years ITB and adjust the volume and panning.

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                          • #14
                            I use a mouse.



                            I have considered getting something like the PreSonus Fader port. But I'm not sure exactly how it works. Having to reassign just one fader for multiple functions seems like more trouble than it would be worth. I've also heard that they are buggy.



                            As far as something like the Mackie MCU is concerned I feel like I could get a pretty decent analog board and interface for not much more than the MCU would cost. If money were no object I'd be recording analog anyway.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I mostly mix with a mouse. I do use the controller faders on my old Roland XP30 to enter automation data- most often with filter effects that have to groove quickly in time, like Craig mentioned. Working to a grid, I often loop the best section of automation data rather than try to get a good take all the way through. Sometimes I tweak what I did with the controller by mouse after the fact.



                              The argument about how long things take to do with a mouse seems a little tenuous to me. First, barring some kind of insanely inefficient workflow, the time something takes here is not really a primary concern compared to being comfortable with how you work and how you get results that you're happy with. That said, some things that would be real time with a hardware fader are faster with a mouse...

                              • sending to delay on the last word of each phrase. Looking at the waveform of the track while automating the delay send, I can do a whole song like this much faster than realtime- something like 2 seconds per move. On rap sessions I always have quarter-note and a half-note delay auxes up because inevitably someone wants timed echoes on certain words.

                              • Boosting the lead vocal in all the verses by 3db... 3-5 seconds for the whole song with the mouse. Between playback takes I can spend 60 seconds tweaking track balances for an entire song in a way that would be pretty much impossible for one person to do during 3 minutes of playback. Guitars up in the chorus, lead guitar up here with rhythm down, vocals up here, bass comes up in the break, bump the drums up where they enter, big snare hit here, etc etc etc... all that can happen in the time of one playback.

                              • Smooth fade over some amount of time... the time it takes to draw a couple control points, maybe 5 seconds?

                              And I can still ride a fader with the mouse if I choose to, in just the same amount of time as with a controller. The limitation of the mouse is that I can only ride one fader at a time, but honestly I hardly ever ride more than that in the first place.



                              Much of my time spent mixing is on stuff that controllers don't really excel at anyway. So far I haven't been too impressed with configuring routing and opening and setting plugins- would much rather do this with the mouse. I don't dig the little LED scribble strips and also don't like moving my visual focus away from the computer monitors to try to figure out where all the values got thrown. My plugins all look different on the screen and a good amount of design went into the UI of each- why would I want to try to look at them through third party hardware that throws that all out?



                              I think it should be said that automation implementation in ProTools is first rate/world class/whatever, it just totally rocks. It uses the same editing tools and concepts as audio and MIDI in ProTools and all that stuff happens in the same window. Great tools, great interface, can't be overstated what a difference that makes.



                              I like how control surfaces look, and if I had play money I would buy one to look good in the studio, but I'm pretty sure I would keep working how I do with the mouse most of the time anyway. Actually for a time I worked on a ProTools rig that had a Control24 and basically it was a giant mouse pad and a mains volume knob for me, plus a way to scare clients into submission. Beyond having a couple simple faders on a MIDI controller I just don't find enough value in controllers, no matter how sexy they look.



                              What I'm really holding out some hope for is really incredible multi-touch-screen implementation with ProTools. Right now that's the only way I can conceive of a faster, better workflow for myself inside the box.
                              <a href="http://silkcitymusicfactory.com">Silk City Music Factory: A Connecticut Recording Studio</a>

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