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Recommendations for Interface/MIDI Controller - High Sierra

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  • Recommendations for Interface/MIDI Controller - High Sierra

    Back in '04, I bought an M-Audio ProjectMix I/O for my PC-baased studio. For the past 13 years, it has performed like a champ - loved the moving faders, etc. In 2012, I ported my studio over to Mac. My current system is a MacPro 12-core with 32GB RAM and 4 1TB drives. I'm running (latest revs of all) Logic, Live, Reason & Sibelius. In the past year, however, the ProjectMix began to have transient problems - the display would show quirky stuff, the faders would become "agitated" and sometimes the A/D seemingly went on the fritz, and would require reboots of both the device and the Mac. I wasn't upgrading my O/S because stuff was working...but then it wasn't.

    As my O/S became more stale, the transient hardware stuff increased AND I was having problems with VST installs - particularly Kontakt plugs. So - two weeks ago I decided to remedy things as best I could by updating Logic, NI, Spectrasonics, etc. - and the O/S - to High Sierra. That promptly broke my studio - the ProjectMix was no longer even being shown as a choice in any of the audio preferences in any of the DAWs. Since I've retired to rural San Diego - getting my Mac/audio consultants down here from LA is a major hassle. So I thought I'd throw money at the problem and hope it goes away.

    I decided to go with a Yamaha TF1, which is marketed as a solution for both live and studio! I foolishly bought it from a vendor on Amazon instead of somewhere like Guitar Center that had it in stock. If gets here, I hook it up - and there's no MIDI CONTROL! Perfect for the studio - if you like a dumb $2k interface that you cannot physically mix from. I called the vendor - they said sure, we'll take it back - with a 50% restock fee of $1,0000.00. Needless to say, I now have the makings of a nice PA - because I sure as hell am not going to give anyone a grand for this screwup.

    So then on Monday, I called Sweetwater. I told them of my woes, and they recommended a Allen & Heath QU16 - assuring me that I'd have a "new & improved" ProjectMix - that it would work on all of my DAWs - providing sufficient channels as well as MIDI control. It arrived yesterday (I've been surviving on a little M-Audio M-Track I had), I plug it in - and nada. I go to the A&H's site to check for firmware upgrades - and lo & behold - their website is telling me their products are not compatible with High Sierra. I then call Sweetwater, who confirm this - and suggested I hold onto it until A&H gets it together with the new O/S. I of course said that doing so would be completely unacceptable - and I'd be returning the device this coming week.

    So I'm back to Square One...and I'm thinking I need to jettison the idea of finding a combo A/D - MIDI Controller, and just splitting the functions - or maybe just getting used to mixing from the screen. I'm using a wireless touchpad, and it is really annoying to try to mix from - so I'm thinking of trying a trackball mouse instead.

    SO assuming I'm SOL is finding a controller/mixer with moving faders that is going to work in my physical space (see photo), what interface should I go with? I have Firewire, so I'd prefer Firewire to USB. I've been perusing the alternatives - and MOTU seems to have it together in terms of High Sierra compatibility/support. My input needs are nominal - 4 XLR, 4 instrument (or a variation thereof), I've got rack space, etc. Also, IF there is a controller that can function as a MIDI mixer (I've got an APC 40 - need something more than those little faders) with 12-16 faders.

    Thanks SO much fro your input!


  • #2
    You do seem to have your share if issues.

    Unfortunately I'm not a Mac guy so my advice is limited. I do think you'd be better off with your idea of purchasing two separate devices.
    There's no real need to combine the two other then maybe portability.

    I do know Presonus has good Mac solutions. Maybe you might want to look at their digital mixers that also work as a controller.
    Not sure how many channels you'll need. I don't think their 16 channel will work as an controller but I think the 24 channel does when you add their additional board.
    Optional AVB and Dante cards provide easy integration into advanced recording/production setups

    You'll need to read through their manual to know for sure. From what I read awhile back they integrate when running studio one. Have no idea about Logic. It is Firewire however.

    Personally on my latest DAW, I'm waiting for thunderbolt interface costs to come down. My older PCI cards are only going to last as long as my older DAW does. It has 3 PCI slots so I can run 24 channels but PCI is being phased out so I'll have to change interfaces. I have two USB interfaces. I'm not super happy with their speed or stability. I can get by with them for now.
    My newest DAW is top end. I'm running the USB for now.

    This year most major interface manufacturers have included thunderbolt. Some even have USB and thunderbolt.
    The only two still using Firewire are Presonus and Motu. There may be a few others but they are likely New Old Stock (NOS) being sold.
    My concern when upgrading is longevity. I don't want to get stuck with a computer or interface that cant be upgraded.

    I been there several times already, even going back to Win 95 days when I bought my first 8 channel interface. It couldn't be upgraded to XP and the manufacturer quit supporting it after Win ME. Next I bought M-Audio 1010LT cards and computer manufacturers have dumped PCI for PCIe.
    Then I had a series of OS upgrades so I had to buy new DAW software. Seems like every time you turn around something changes to make your gear incompatible. (not that I'm in a huge rush to upgrade anyway) Its a huge pain in the ass so I try and plan well in advance and read the trends of what's going on before I buy anything. I try and think of everything from getting the best purchase pricing to selling it off as I retire it.

    I do think you can do better with a separate interface and controller though. The controller doesn't have to be firewire either. It can be USB and work fine while mixing. That's what I did. I didn't invest a lot. I bought one of those Nano Korg units for riding volumes and panning tracks. I really don't use it that much so I'm glad It only cost $39. I had been mixing with a Mouse for over 20 years and learned how to do things that way. When a Mix gets close to completion you're usually doing small micro tweaks anyway so having fader control is only good when you're needing to create multiple volume envelopes at the same time. For singles its just as easy to do it with a mouse.

    If you buy the interface and controller separately, when one wears out or becomes obsolete the cost of a single units is a heck of allot cheaper and less disruptive to your work flow. You also have a much wider range of purchase options and can get the best bang for the buck that way. When you buy all in one solutions you'll usually be stuck with it well beyond the time it should be upgraded, plus the money you save upgrading separately can be put to much better usages, whether it be additional software or hardware.


    • Casella Studio
      Casella Studio commented
      Editing a comment
      Excellent response! I'm thinking on going for

      That way I'm not stuck with a Dodo bird (Firewire) and upgrade to Thunderbolt when ready. Is that a card installation, or is it contingent upon my motherboard - (2012 MacPro)?

      Thanks again, my friend - you are the only answer I got across multiple forums!