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  • #76






    Quote Originally Posted by Anderton
    View Post

    And finally...while templates and things like DirectLink are cool, they're not all things to all people. Maybe you use Pro Tools, but your favorite instruments are the ones made by Arturia. Did M-Audio map their Pro Tools template to Arturia synths? I doubt it. And maybe you'd rather use faders for some instrument functions instead of the rotary encoders, but the template might not be set up that way. Ultimately, you may find that even with a template, what someone at the company thought would be a good implementation might have little to do with the way you use the controller.



    We now return to our regularly-scheduled programming




    With a few exceptions, 3rd party synths and plug-ins do map to DirectLink because the map resides within the plug-in, not the DAW. Here's the "long answer":



    Third party synths and plug-ins that comply to the VST AU or RTAS spec have what is called an "Automation Page Table". This maps out how the plug-in will respond to a control surface (C|24, Mackie Control, etc .) HyperControl and DirectLink take their mappings straight from that page table. Most plug-ins map the most important controls to the "first 8". However some instruments (which may have 100 or more pages of 8 controls!) may not be so intuitive. Pro Tools has a "Page Table Learn" function that's much like MIDI Learn. You can re-arrange the mapping of any plug-in and even save multiple maps... even "save as default" so your favorite map will automatically be used in any subsequent Pro Tools session.



    Please note: "Page Table Learn" is only available for Avid controllers (including the Axiom MKII of course.) Also, there are some (very few) plug-ins out there that don't fully comply to the RTAS/VST/AU spec.



    In my home studio, I use an Axiom Pro along with a Kore Controller. I find that anything that won't map to HyperControl won't map to Kore either. In that regard, the onus is on the manufacturer of the plug-in, not the DAW or the Controller.

    Comment


    • #77
      Excellent explanation, Paul, and I stand corrected...sort of Yes, most controllers I've used with VST instruments do expose the same parameters, whether it's something like Kore or a Novation Nocturn. But as you've pointed out, the "first 8" may not be the desired choice for everyone, and that's something I've always found frustrating. However, the "Page Table Learn" function sounds really clever, especially the ability to save multiple maps, and I would consider that a strong incentive to match Pro Tools with an Avid controller given that you support the Page Table Learn function.



      What I meant with the Arturia comment is that I didn't think someone at Avid had analyzed an Arturia instrument's controls and decided which ones should be mapped to which controls on the Axiom. Of course, the fact that users can do it with page learn table not only solves the problem, but lets the user make the decisions.



      BTW I'm going to be carrying on with Pro Tools 8, not 9...don't have Windows 7 installed yet. I figured I'd be able to use PT9 with Vista as it's so similar to W7, but found that the PT installer won't let you do that.
      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • #78
        We've gone through the protocol for programming the pads and the rotary encoders, and you've probably seen a pattern emerge...a main assignment, then two pieces of data. The faders work pretty much the same way, as do the buttons (buttons?!? yes, for example you can program a button to send program changes only between a particular minimum and maximum value). So rather than dwell on the programming process any longer, let's just give some observations on it before moving on.



        Your initial reaction to making these changes will probably be that it's a daunting process, especially without the benefit of an editor, and that it takes a lot of keyboard presses. While that's true to some extent, the mitigating factor is that the programming protocol is consistent from one function to another. I do think it's a good idea to print out the manual during the learning process (or at least, print out the Advanced Programming Functions chapter) and it would be very cool if M-Audio put out a "cheat sheet" that just listed keys, parameters, and values. The manual has charts for this, and after you get used to the programming syntax, those charts are all you really need. And actually, if you pay attention to the display, after a certain point even the charts aren't all that necessary.



        This kind of "operating system" seems to be an M-Audio kinda thing. I got one of the original Oxygen 8 keyboards, and that too had a reputation of being a bear to program. But the reality is that is was more tedious than difficult, and after a while, it became second nature. Of course you can save presets with the Axiom so if there are particular controller scenarios that are important to you, just save them for later recall.
        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • #79
          mikeyvoyles: "My Axiom would turn on after and yes it did work (kinda). Every "D" in each octave simply wouldn't work. Also, the trigger pads had misc keys that wouldn't work depending on the sound patch I was using in Logic..."


          Interesting, I had a very similar issue with my Axiom 61 yesterday. Every "E" note sounded bad, up & down the board.

          I fixed it. How? I use it to trigger a Yamaha MU90R sound module. I reset the sound module. Every "E" note is fine now.
          If one is using soft-synths, that won't work. I've had that module for eight years. The problem has never occurred
          until I used the Axiom 61.

          But it was easily fixed.
          He has escaped! Youtube , ​Murika , France

          Comment


          • #80






            Quote Originally Posted by Etienne Rambert
            View Post

            Interesting, I had a very similar issue with my Axiom 61 yesterday. Every "E" note sounded bad, up & down the board.



            I fixed it. How? I use it to trigger a Yamaha MU90R sound module. I reset the sound module. Every "E" note is fine now.

            If one is using soft-synths, that won't work.




            I haven't experienced this problem, so can't comment. But...I wonder if it's a situation where the sound module got stuck on note-off commands, or the Axiom got stuck in some way. As resetting the sound module fixed the problem, then maybe it was due to a communication error between the Axiom and the sound module. I'm curious if this happened on power-up of either unit, or in the middle of playing it (i.e., it had been working for a while, then went nuts).



            For soft synths, if this happened, I'd think the fix would be clicking on the "MIDI panic button" (all notes off command) that most sequencers have. However, the Axiom 49 has this command as well - access it via the Function button, then press the Prog and Chan buttons simultaneously. This sends an all notes off AND reset all controllers commands. The LCD screen shows "panic" to confirm what's going on.
            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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            • #81
              I haven't experienced this problem, so can't comment. But...I wonder if it's a situation where the sound module got stuck on note-off commands, or the Axiom got stuck in some way. As resetting the sound module fixed the problem, then maybe it was due to a communication error between the Axiom and the sound module. I'm curious if this happened on power-up of either unit, or in the middle of playing it (i.e., it had been working for a while, then went nuts)...


              It was shortly after a power-up of both units. I turn everything on at once with one switch. Maybe that's not a good idea.

              I've never had that problem before. And I was a little worried I'd made a bad purchase. I just bought the Axiom 61 new last week. But resetting the sound-module fixed it.
              He has escaped! Youtube , ​Murika , France

              Comment


              • #82






                Quote Originally Posted by Etienne Rambert
                View Post

                It was shortly after a power-up of both units. I turn everything on at once with one switch. Maybe that's not a good idea.




                I would suggest making sure your USB connection and Axiom are on and stable before turning on external sound modules. Try that power-up order for a couple weeks and report back as to whether you experience the problem again.
                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                • #83
                  The DirectLink protocol turns a 2nd Gen Axiom control into a control surface that goes beyond just hitting notes and wiggling a few controllers. DirectLink currently supports Reason, Record, Pro Tools, Cubase, Garageband, Logic, and Live; these require downloading a small application from the M-Audio site except for Live, as version 8.1.4 and higher have DirectLink built in to Live itself. (However, note that 64-bit versions of Snow Leopard aren’t working yet with DirectLink, and Reason is not supported with either 32- or 64-bit versions of OS X 10.6.5.)



                  I had hoped to test DirectLink with Pro Tools 9, but I haven’t moved up to Windows 7 yet, and on Windows Pro Tools works only with Windows 7 (on the Mac, it’s only with Snow Leopard). So, I chose Reason as I figured its 1,456,330 parameters (well, okay, maybe it’s not that many) could really give DirectLink a workout.



                  As it turns out, DirectLink is one of those “it just works” kinda things. When you boot Reason, you tell it to scan for controllers, Reason automatically finds the Axiom 49, and assigns it as your master keyboard (see the attached image). Thereupon whenever you boot Reason, the Axiom 49 goes into DirectLink mode and turns into a dedicated control surface. The faders/buttons, encoders, and pads become separate DirectLink “groups” with associated buttons. These buttons are illuminated when in DirectLink mode, but you can “release” any group from its DirectLink functionality by pressing the button so it’s unlit, in which case the controls do whatever the current Axiom 49 preset describes.



                  DirectLink had the potential to be an epic fail if the mappings, and way to control parameters, wasn’t done in a logical fashion. Although I’d still say you need to print out the PDF document that lists assignments, overall it’s clear quite a bit of thought went into how best to do mappings so they would make sense, as well as programming the display to help you see what’s being controlled. Playing with DirectLink answered my question of why there weren’t more DirectLink templates; it seems like this must be a pretty complex process.



                  As to actually using it, in the “Instrument” mode for Reason (the default; an alternate mode deals with global parameters and of course, you can also control the transport), you select the track containing the instrument, and then the Axiom 49 controls map to that instrument. You can select the track on Reason, or use the Track <> buttons in the Axiom 49 – communications is bi-directional, and you can also step within an instrument’s patch set by using the Axiom’s Patch up/down buttons. With a mixer, the faders control channel levels; with synths (any synths), they control envelopes. The LCD shows you what’s being controlled (at times somewhat cryptically due to the limited number of characters it can display, but you get the hang of the abbreviations pretty fast) and you can also “peek” at controller assignments without having to actually affect any parameters.



                  The encoders adjust additional parameters – for example, with a synth this might be LFO, filter, etc. As there are more parameters than there are encoders, you can select parameter groups by hitting a pad. There’s good internal consistency – once you know what controls a filter in, say, SubTractor, then you also know what controls a filter in Thor, Malstrom, etc.



                  Of course, any control surface dedicated to soft synths begs the question “Well isn’t it easier just to grab the mouse and move the parameter on-screen?” Well...yes and no. When tweaking envelope parameters, it’s much more convenient to have all parameters available for instant adjustment as opposed to jumping back and forth with a mouse. The answer also depends on what type of synth programming you do. If you’re just tweaking a parameter or two, then the control surface is more hassle than it’s worth. But if you create your own patches, once you learn your way around the controller, you’ll be able to fly among instruments without even necessarily having to open up their GUIs.



                  The key phrase here is “once you learn your way around.” I’m a keyboard shortcut/macros kind of guy, because over the years I’ve found that the time spent memorizing crucial shortcuts is time well spent, and ultimately saves much time compared to using a mouse for everything. And like using keyboard shortcuts, the quickest way to learn is to print out a listing of which controls affect which parameters (print out the Reason DirectLink manual and check out Appendix A for a complete listing) and going “cold turkey” on the mouse. After using the Axiom for a while, you’ll find that there are certain controls you’ll end up using all the time, and those are well worth memorizing. This is particularly true with interacting controls; for example, when adjusting a filter envelope it’s almost impossible to get it right without also being able to adjust the filter cutoff and envelope depth. Bouncing among all these parameters with a mouse is tedious; using the Axiom 49 gets the job done much faster.



                  So overall, my opinion of DirectLink is that it’s more than advertised. Anyone can have hardware that controls parameters, but the implementation with the Axiom 2nd Gen keyboards is done intelligently. Of course, a keyboard with a bunch of controls isn’t the equal of a hardware controller dedicated specifically to a particular piece of software – Akai’s APC40 comes to mind, which does Live and Live only, but fits it like a glove. Still, M-Audio has done a very good job of making the Axiom feel like it was designed maybe not with Reason in mind, but by someone who used Reason a lot and wanted to use the Axiom in their own projects



                  If you’re the kind of person who hates keyboard shortcuts and uses a mouse for everything, you may find that learning how to use the Axiom as a controller might be more effort than you want to spend. But for those who do a reasonable amount of tweaking, DirectLink is a useful feature that requires no brainpower to set up. It’s arguably even more useful for straightforward DAW control (mixer levels, pan, EQ, etc.) because you’re not dealing with as many parameters as something like Reason, and therefore, it’s easier to learn your way around (and yes, there's bank switching if you're dealing with more than 8 channels in your DAW). And of course, for a laptop-based live performance, having controls on the keyboard itself is way better than turning to a laptop’s touchpad, squinting at the screen, and trying to make real-time changes.
                  Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                  Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                  • #84
                    Thanks Craig for the depth of your Reason DirectLink review. I would also like to point out that Pro Tools 8 and 9 have the DirectLink personality built in as well, so no need for an installer. Just set up in the "Peripherals" dialog. Reason is the only app where all the mapping is inside the personality. During the initial development cycle, one of our testers has the daunting task of checking all the mappings. It usually takes about a month!



                    One advantage of Axiom Pro over Axiom MKII is the user can view all 8 parameters per page on the LCD via the peek mode. This eliminates the need to cross reference.

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      Although these days most multi-timbral synths have ways to restrict incoming data to particular channels or notes, in some cases – particularly with older hardware gear – you need to create these restrictions within a master controller.



                      Axiom 49 provides zone functionality when using it as a master keyboard. You can segregate the keyboard into four zones, which can be overlapping (layered) or not (split). Setting zones is easy; you hold down the Zone function button, hit one of the four numbered Zone buttons, then hit the low and high keys of the desired range. If you hold down more than one of the numbered buttons, you’ll apply the low and high keys to all selected zones – this is a time-saver when setting up layers.



                      In addition to zone ranges, you can also edit the following for each zone:
                      • Adjust the octave for each zone over a +/-5 octave range

                      • Transpose up to +/-12 semitones

                      • MIDI channel (1-16)

                      • Program change (transmitted for each zone when you call up an Axiom preset) along with Bank LSB and MSB messages.



                      And while we’re on the subject of bank select, it’s also worth mentioning that you can send RPN (Registered Parameter Numbers) and NRPN (Non-Registered Parameter Numbers) directly from the Axiom 49, although you can’t program or send Sys Ex messages.



                      One thing I can’t figure out how to do (maybe it’s not possible) is how to disable pitch bend in selected zones. This can be extremely useful if you’re hitting sustaining bass notes (i.e., long release time) in the lowest zone while playing leads that require pitch bending in higher zones.
                      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                      • #86
                        We’ve done a photo tour, checked out the action, looked into the programming and user interface, hooked up DirectLink, split the keyboard into zones, and had some helpful, informative participation from Patrick at M-Audio (thanks, Patrick!)...so now we’re ready to reach some conclusions.



                        First of all, the usual caveat: Just because we’re presenting conclusions doesn’t mean that this Pro Review is over. You may have additional questions, or I may have missed some important feature that still needs to be addressed. But, I think I’ve now had enough of the “Axiom 49 experience” to draw some definite conclusions.



                        Although I haven’t subjected the Axiom 49 to abuse, I have had to move it around, and done quite a bit of pounding on it during the course of this review. My overall impression is that with even a reasonable amount of care, it should have a long life. I wouldn’t put it in the “built like a tank” category; it would need a metal casing to qualify for that. But, I think that it pretty much hits a sweet spot of light weight/portability vs. strength.



                        One little feature I like is that all the controls – encoders, wheels, faders, pads, buttons, etc. - have a rubberized, non-slip surface. Your fingers can get good tactile feedback, which is important with live performance tweaking. I also like the display. While it may not be sophisticated or show you a lot of stuff, it’s very readable for on-stage use and tells you what you need to know. It’s bright, readable, and useful. And I appreciate that the keybed includes aftertouch. Normally I’d complain that it doesn’t have polyphonic aftertouch, but not only do very few keyboards offer that feature (one reason why I’ll never sell my Ensoniq TS-10!), too many manufacturers seem to think that aftertouch is superfluous. It isn’t, and I’m glad M-Audio recognizes the importance of including this expressiveness-enhancing feature.



                        I’m less impressed with the programming procedure. M-Audio has been using the “keyboard keys as data entry devices” since the first Oxygen keyboard hit the world, and while it keeps the price point down, it’s user-hostile at first. Fortunately, programming becomes more fluid as you program more; there’s logic behind the programming protocols, and it helps that the procedure is very similar for programming faders, encoders, pads, or buttons. I think the bottom line here is you’ll need to print out sections of the manual, and just dive in to doing the programming. Although the programming process never really becomes “transparent,” it at least becomes less tedious as you become more familiar with it. Then again, programming is not the kind of thing you’ll do all that often; once you come up with the desired assignments, you can save a preset and not have to concern yourself with it again.



                        While I wasn’t a big fan of the aptly-named Enigma programming software, it’s unfortunate that it won’t be developed any further, and therefore not support the 2nd generation Axiom keyboards. The keyboard could really use some kind of editor so you can program it from a computer. As compensation you have DirectLink, but if the Axiom 49 is to live up to its goal of being a universal, comprehensive controller, a computer editor would make it a lot easier to create custom presets.



                        Speaking of DirectLink, that turned out to be a pleasant surprise because it was more successful at making the Axiom 49 feel like a custom controller than I would have expected. I’ve used a lot of control surfaces, and while they can be helpful, the correlation between what you move with your hands and what you see on screen is not always obvious, and is sometimes downright convoluted. While the Axiom 49 can’t compete with a controller that’s dedicated 100% to controlling a particular DAW or soft synth, it’s versatile and the DirectLink templates indicate that some serious thought went into how they were made. Granted, if you use (for example) Ableton Live, you’ll find that something like Akai’s APC40 has far tighter integration as a controller; but of course the APC40 doesn’t really work with anything else, and it doesn’t have a keyboard either. Where DirectLink really shines is if you use more than one of the supported programs, as there’s a certain amount of commonality among the various templates.



                        However, everything about this keyboard needs to be considered in light of the price. In that respect, I think there’s absolutely no question you’re getting value received. That doesn’t just apply to the keyboard; the documentation is very complete, and includes much useful information on MIDI that will surely be helpful to those who are fuzzy on the details. Bear in mind that when you buy an Axiom, you’re also buying the ability to download the DirectLink templates, as well as instrument definitions for Pro Tools. These are all as well-documented as the unit itself.



                        And remember, the Axiom 49 is a mid-line keyboard from M-Audio. If you want to spend a little more and go upwardly mobile, there’s the Axiom Pro line...and if your budget is yelling at you, there’s the Oxygen line. So while there’s no question M-Audio designed the Axiom 49 with one eye on the price, they didn’t have to cut corners to hit a lower price point, or bundle in advanced features typical users may or may not want: They have other product lines for that.



                        As I’ve mentioned before, every Pro Review has its own gestalt. In this case, the review itself has followed a path that’s very similar to the product itself: Straightforward and obvious, with no drama. There were no significant “head-scratching” moments. When I needed to figure out something, a quick read of the manual took care of any questions. Nor did the unit misbehave – when it was plugged in, it worked. But far from this making for a boring review, the depth of the functionality keeps things interesting. Although you can use the Axiom 49 in a basic way – drive a synth, hit notes, move wheels, and leave it at that – there is the option to go much, much deeper in terms of hands-on control.



                        Bottom line: The Axiom 49 is an economical keyboard with a good feel, and incorporates more sophistication that you would expect at this price. If M-Audio’s goal was to provide a seriously useful mid-range keyboard – not too basic but not too complicated, and definitely not too pricey – they’ve succeeded.
                        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                        Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                        • #87
                          Kudos on a great overview...I just purchased the Axiom 49 Mk2 and am looking forward to what seems to be an active discussion of its merits...if I had only known that DirectLink wasn't compatible with Reason 5/Record 1.5 I would have been a bit lazier and purchased something that did all of the work for me!!!



                          Actually I am quite pleased with the fit/finish of this controller; when I have a coupla days off to program I hope to give a more detailed review...i will get this prawn in my grasp soon!!!

                          Comment


                          • #88






                            Quote Originally Posted by geronimothomas
                            View Post

                            Kudos on a great overview...I just purchased the Axiom 49 Mk2 and am looking forward to what seems to be an active discussion of its merits...if I had only known that DirectLink wasn't compatible with Reason 5/Record 1.5 I would have been a bit lazier and purchased something that did all of the work for me!!!



                            Actually I am quite pleased with the fit/finish of this controller; when I have a coupla days off to program I hope to give a more detailed review...i will get this prawn in my grasp soon!!!




                            Just to clarify...I tested DirectLink with Reason 5, not Reason 4 (sorry I didn't make that clear in the original post). The issue is compatibility with particular flavors of OS, not the program itself.
                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                            • #89
                              Not sure why this review did not explain that the Axiom 49 Mk2 does NOT support Reason 5 Kong at all yet, especially as it was evidently reviewed using Reason 5?



                              FYI - the older Axiom PRO controller works (I've seen it) with Kong in Reason 5 right out of the box, including the drum pads P1 through P8 interfacing with no thought or effort whatsoever with Kong's drum/controller Pads.



                              I see a few people online asking in other places, "when will Axiom 49 Mk2 support Reason 5" and I see no one answering yet!



                              Overall, I like my Axiom 49 Mk2 but I'm frustrated it is lagging in supporting Reason 5 fully.



                              My concern is I bought this to get away from programming stuff.



                              Manually making Kong interact with this controller, even if I spend/waste the time figuring that out, I see NO mention of how to SAVE that CONNECTIVITY with Kong for the future? Surely M-audio isn't expecting us to re-program this every time we boot up Kong? How also do non-supported instruments that one tediously maps manually work along side Directlink? Where are these user pre-sets stored? How do I access them? Too many questions and too little answers. Documentation is insufficient!



                              While a reasonably priced piece of decent kit, in order for Directlink to be of real value, I expect it to at least keep up with recent releases of prominent software, or at very least, provide some simple guide to creating and SAVING and USING one's manually mapped relationships with unsupported software ongoing. In clear English preferred.



                              Failing this, Direct link with its claim of ease of use is useless to me. Give me something I can easily work with into the future and show me clearly how to make it work. Did I waste my money on Axiom 49 Mk2 and should I have bought the older Axiom PRO that is working with more software now?



                              Reason 5 and Record 1.5 NOT supported yet:

                              http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=products.directlink



                              Other users asking the question "Reason 5 support"? (dead silence)

                              http://forums.m-audio.com/showthread...ason-5-support



                              Thanks for any feedback.

                              Comment


                              • #90
                                I notice both the Axiom 49 PRO and the Axiom 49 Mk2 have not had a driver update since August 2010, yet I have seen in action that the Axiom 49 PRO works considerably better with Reason 5 KONG now (Axion 49 Mk2 Directlink does not work at all with Kong).



                                Driver Updates at a glacial slow 6 month +++ level will always mean DirectLink is out of date. The programming interface and operation of this controller seems safely guarded behind some esoteric rite of passage - i.e. programming this controller with the user manual's current befuddling instructions, is clearly for those who have more patience than I. Definitely not for newbies or those wanting to just make music!



                                If this level of responsiveness is then the norm for future Directlink driver updates, then Axiom PRO, with its seemingly more intelligent and accommodating Hyperlink software, would have been far the better choice.



                                Anyone want to buy my Axiom 49 Mk2?



                                Ok, maybe I'm being a bit unfair ..... but .... this can all be fixed with more regular driver updates. PLEASE M-audio PLEASE !!!!

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