Happy new MIDI controller day

Discussion in 'Home Recording Studio' started by simoncroft, Jan 11, 2022 at 1:08 PM.

  1. simoncroft

    simoncroft Still playing. Still learning! Silver Member

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    I picked up this Akai APC 40 Ableton Controller for about £45 ($61). I'm not interested in Ableton, but I can use Controller Assignments in Logic, or control binding In MixBus to get the transmitted MIDI to do what I want, which is mainly to address multiple plug-ins.

    The unit arrived today, so I hooked it up to the MIDI Monitor diagnostics software and started to go through all the controls. All fine bar two faders, which transmit nothing. Well, one of them just about transmits MIDI data if you wiggle it about a bit.

    I told Cash Converters – who sold the unit – I'd keep it if they refunded £23 to cover the cost of two new faders, and they agreed. So I got the unit for about half price. They're £250 new, so I'm pretty pleased!

    As for what to do about the duff faders, well, I'll get round to replacing them at some point, but not until I've discovered what the component values are electrically, and sourced them at a more reasonable price...

    AkaiAPC40.jpg
     
  2. velvet_man

    velvet_man Senior Stratmaster

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    Cool, Simon. I see those Abelton controllers come up on CL from time to time, but I was never sure how well they'd work in Logic. I had Abelton installed for all of 15 minutes before I deleted it.
     
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  3. Stubie78

    Stubie78 Strat-O-Master

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    I thought Abelton was okay, got some decent results when I used it.
     
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  4. tery

    tery Dr. Stratster

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    Congratulations Simon :cool:
     
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  5. simoncroft

    simoncroft Still playing. Still learning! Silver Member

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    OK, when I've made some headway, I'll report back. Before I go any further, I need to work out which – if any – buttons change the MIDI control values coming from the 40 main buttons.

    I think the truth is, most of the DAWs are pretty good, so it depends which orthodoxy you learn. There is a Live Loops grid in the most recent versions of Logic Pro, and it's obviously there to attract Ableton users. I've never been near Live Loops, because it's not how I usually like to work. But, I've got a hunch it might prove to be a very efficient way of assembling a finished arrangement using blocks that represent verse, chorus, middle 8 etc.
     
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  6. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

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    I want to do a ska punk song and program the horn parts. I think I can do it but would probably take me a long time.
     
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  7. simoncroft

    simoncroft Still playing. Still learning! Silver Member

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    TBH, it all takes a long time! :D
     
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  8. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

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    I guess thats true.....

    Bet I could do it though. :D
     
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  9. Higgins1980

    Higgins1980 Strat-O-Master

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    You could always hire a horn section.
     
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  10. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster

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    I am a horn section.....I'm sure I could quickly get my lip back.... :D
     
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  11. simoncroft

    simoncroft Still playing. Still learning! Silver Member

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    You should do that. Nothing sounds more like 'real brass' than... Apart from anything else, it gives your band a distinctive voice. Punk with a brass section? Why the Hell not!? :D
     
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  12. cranky

    cranky Senior Stratmaster

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    MIDI is so over my head
     
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  13. Electgumbo

    Electgumbo Not Of This Earth

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    Very nice @simoncroft !!! I’m still using a old Roland GR-20… I’ll get a big boy rig one day…
     
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  14. simoncroft

    simoncroft Still playing. Still learning! Silver Member

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    It can look a bit daunting at the start, but as soon as you make it do a few things that change the way you make music, you'll probably think: "That's really cool. I thought this stuff was just for boffin types, but this great!" Typically, that happens when you have a recent DAW, and connect a recent keyboard. Either the DAW will say "would you like me to set this up for you?", or you need to go into your DAW's preferences and select the MIDI product you've got. At that point, it should set it up for you.

    If you've got older gear – like cheapskate Simon here – you need to set it up yourself.

    OK, here's where I've got to for now. PLAY, STOP and REC do exactly what they are supposed to do in Logic Pro. The pointer arrows in the Device Control section are currently assigned to Go To Previous Marker and Go To Next Marker, which makes it easy to jump to a specific section of a song.

    If anyone would like step-by-step instructions on how to make this happen on any MIDI controller, please just ask. Working this stuff out took me a long time, so I'm more than happy to speed up anyone else's journey. :)

    Transport Controlsjpg.jpg
     
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  15. cranky

    cranky Senior Stratmaster

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    So your MIDI device optimizes your mouse and keyboard controls, aka shortcuts?

    I’m sure I could use this, but I’m just now getting into the DAW itself and I’m concerned about being turned off by having too much to learn too soon. I don’t even know what sort of MIDI device to look for — sometimes it’s keyboards, sometimes it’s just a bunch of square buttons, idk what I’m looking at . . . so I just start playing guitar.

    But it’s time for me to start getting good at the engineering side.
     
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  16. Bowmap

    Bowmap I nose a thang or two. Platinum Supporting Member

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    What is it with Akai stuff that they always have some of the black knob tops missing. I have 3 missing on my MPK88 keyboard. I wish I could find a source for replacements.


    Simon, If you go to Akai's web site you might be able to get some freebies. My keyboard was used but I am guessing that it was never registered. I was alble to download VIP64 and MPC Beats. Because my storage room/office/music room is in disarray, and my focus on getting my new space across the drive together, I had not much time to mess with that software. All those pads you have, MPC beats might be of something of interest.
     
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  17. grandstick

    grandstick Strat-Talk Member

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  18. Patlogsdon

    Patlogsdon Strat-Talker

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    The dark arts of MIDI. I'm still trying to learn.
     
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  19. Mansonienne

    Mansonienne Mod admin Staff Member Silver Member

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    Have fun!
     
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  20. simoncroft

    simoncroft Still playing. Still learning! Silver Member

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    I think your priorities are right. Unless you really know the DAW, setting up a MIDI controller could take up a lot of your time and save you very little. Meanwhile, you could be making music... :D

    You're right about those damn knobs! So far, I've found a generic source for fader tops that comes in at about 50p a unit. UK price for an official Akai rotary is about £8.30. That's the plastic knob and top, not the pot itself. I used yo work for a mixer manufacturer and I know that about 30p is more like it. There are lots of knobs at that sort of price that will fit the Akai pot shafts, but they don't look the same. When I find a good source for the correct tops, I'll share the love!

    Thanks for the reminder about the free stuff.

    Alas, if there is a LUA script for the APC40, it's a closely guarded secret. That leaves us with Controller Assignments. I started to create a booklet about the subject, but realised how much more there was to lear, so stopped. Frankly, I'm embarrassed by my early attempt, but here it is: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fr6y5ob82vqkns5/ControllerAssignmentsBookV1.pdf?dl=0

    Also, I made one demo video, which is not available to the general public, because it's a rambling mess and makes little sense without the booklet! The interesting stuff starts about two minutes in.



    Since then, I made a live set-up, using the Korg NanoKontrol and a Mac Mini. Basically, the Mute buttons across the top jump to Marker 1-8 in Scene 1 and 9-16 in Scene 2 etc. Each marker is the start of a new song, so it turns Logic into a non-linear jukebox. The faders can be used to trim the FoH mix, while the pan pots above them are the monitor mix. Each song comprises two stereo tracks. One is the backing track for FoH and the other contains clicks, intros and cues. That one goes to the stage monitors. I will be making a video about that one too.