Do controllers improve your studio productions ?

Pretty self explaining. When I used hardware synths for a short time period I controlled them via midi keyboard of course and played the melodies “live”. But I never saw the additional value in controlling a DAW with controller poties vs. the mouse. If you walk in a music store nowadays you are beaten by a endless supply of redundant pad controllers. Those have only raison d’être for live performances IMHO. Like padding drums live or playing loops over an APC-like interface.

But for production purposes it is just not fueling my creativity in any way. Especially in Renoise I prefer to type in notes via keyboard and play with the effects.

Some totally integrated DAW controllers like NI Maschine and Push are just clever marketed overpriced products. Please correct me if I did not get the advantages of certain production mannerisms. Could some controller rinpoche please enlighten me ?

In my not expert and very experience-lacking opinion, other programs like Ableton and such aren’t as efficient with a keyboard as Renoise can be…thus Push, for example, allows for letting the user to make stuff without having to look at the screen (much) or using the mouse. While it is true that there are a smattering of MIDI controllers, its just cuz of the market i guess.

Everybody is different, some of us can end up very picky about what we want to use to control our software, i for one, have a nanoKontrol and i love it, and while i also possess a Keystudio 49, i might use it but since Renoise is so good with just the keyboard, and the 49 keys take up space and are not portable at all, it might take a back seat. However, i know that at some point, i will want to play something with more than just 2 octaves and shortcuts to increase/decrease up the scale, so i have it there for that, there might also come a time when i just want to play live and record the sound rather than the notes, and then i will be very glad i have those 49 keys.

In the end, its all really just preference and choice, not everybody likes a mouse and clicking in notes to a piano roll or similar thing, and not all want to input notes via the computer keyboard, nothing wrong in anyway with that.

On a side note, i have been searching for an alternative MIDI controller that is only knobs, faders and buttons for the sole reason of giving me physical control of knobs, faders, buttons etc in Renoise and VST’s.

Sorry! Double post…

Right. I’ve always felt the same way about violin players. :rolleyes:

i guess it depends what are purposes for a controller?
knob based controllers is awesome with renoise to play with effects and macros. maschine is good for beating in drum patterns - its somehow more precise with overdubbing than renoise IMHO
keyboards is good for keyboard players or those who learn play keys, it would be difficult learn piano with computer keyboard, also arturia had their midi keyboards with own vst interface, i guess it can improve production if you know what is purpose for a controller.
for me synth and maschine not improving my as i can call “production” im laying down patterns with keyboard and use automations to be precise, and not using my controllers to make patterns, i use them for fun and ideas :drummer:

Thx for the input @Meriandros, LOLFAIL.

I did not know, that Maschine is felt to be more precise in quantizing/overdubbing. I agree, that it can be fun to play automation live via rotary knobs, but that approach is more suited for horizontal hosts IMHO. In Renoise it is beneficial to have a picture in mind before you are messing with effects, because you do not get a global overview for your automation envelopes. That is why in my constrictive view controllers play a less important role in the production process with Renoise.

I personally did not have a big pallet of midi controllers, so I have little experience in producing on a physical interface other than the computer keyboard. Had an Axiom 25, but now I just own an AKAI MPK mini, which I do not use in Renoise. Only for apps, where I have no visual feedback (like CSound) it is useful to have faders/control units to adjust effects.

I added a poll, it interests me, whether Renoise users benefit from controller use.

you can see each automation parameter overview for whole song, if you scroll back in automation window

Oh, come on, there’s nothing like knocking out a beat on a drum machine in live mode or whatever the particular machine calls it. It’s all about entering velocity values by feel and hearing back what you did after quantizing. Maybe it fixed your playing, broke it, did something better than what you meant to do…

But as far as mapping knobs to every software thing, yeah, doesn’t help me much at all either. I only bother if it’s to control a piece of hardware that is so annoying (or impossible) to control via it’s own interface it’s worth it. Indeed, before I gave my bro (cuz) my subphatty I barely programmed it at all except via the vst! Horrible of me, I guess.

nothing beats even with midi controller human touch if you leave recorded stuff unquantized :) and its impossible write it down with mouse

I think it’s one of Renoise’s biggest flaws, the disconnect between automation and the pattern timeline.

Drawing automation with waveforms or events on a DAW timeline is one of the luxuries of modern music software… but sadly with Renoise it is abstracted to a horizontal window which is divorced from the musical event timeline. So I generally work with the QWERTY keyboard and enter most of my automation in the pattern editor.

Would be so nice to be able to smoothly draw in automation data along-side the events you are interested in.

But more on-topic - I invested in several midi controllers over the years and found, eventually, that they ended up collecting dust and not being touched. For my kind of work at least, I find the mouse + QWERTY keyboard and a bit of mod/bend wheel more than sufficient to express myself with.

Amen, brother! Same here, there is an initial sense of joy and wonder at the new tactile way to input data - which eventually turns to: “I`ll just put that over there for a while” and there it stays.

Controllers owned and/or subsequently sold: Novation SL, PadKontrol, LaunchKey, NanoKontrol (Knobs), Radium Keyboard.

The only thing I`ve used consistently is the Radium Keyboard.

What? Well, I still have The Dream. But I will admit the promise is greater than the reality–UNLESS–you’re willing to put the time and effort into tweaking the interface between controller and software. My big thing is mapping consistency. Sure, its easy to map knobs and faders for a given song, to a given object or group of objects. But will that mapping remain into another project? For the same object? Do you set things up as a template, or do you save configurations on the controller-side? Both? Does the DAW template even save controller assignments? And if you go for controller-side templates, how does that affect workflow in the long run? What does it look like 15-20 projects deep? Are the template names consistent between the DAW and the controller so you have easy recall?

There is (for most DAWs, I think) a fuzzy area where the promise of MIDI controllers yields to real-world issues that boil down to workflow. What you want versus what you’re willing to accept. I’ve done it all, from deriving NRPN’s by diving deep into MIDI implementation texts, doing dec-hex conversions along the way, and hand-entering the resulting sysex strings into a controller (Yamaha 01v), to buying a full-blown product (Euphonix MC Control) designed to be the tactile interface for a DAW (Logic, which I’ve basically stopped using for other reasons). Each solution seems to have caveats and drawbacks. But when it works in the moment, and your host computer/MIDI interface isn’t choking on the data…you can almost see the sunrise. A customized DAW/controller symbiosis is STILL my white whale, however. Just the name of the DAW changes.

Absolutely, a seamless integration between controller and DAW only exists in the mind of a person that knows what he/she wants to achieve.
There has been a number of different controller setups promising a “complete” DAW interface (I think this is especially true for Ableton live), but in my experience you only need a subset of features for any given project - so with such completeness, you risk ending up having to deal with the same kind of complexity that you wanted to get rid of, only transferred onto a different interface.

Instead, I personally prefer running “applications” on a controller, programs that have a very specific, and limited scope. But something that can pull off things that can’t be done in realtime if you had to stick to the features offered by the DAW (Renoise).

I tend to think of controllers as inspiration machines, and not necessarily the final stage of any project.

I use an AKAI MPK49, and I like it for the keys touch which gives good expressiveness.
Then I have an Ableton Push, that I do not use anymore.
To sum up, for composing a keyboard with nice keys is enough for me, then I would like to have 2 XY surfaces. I find it much more convenient than rotary encoders and XY are damn cool to record automations ;-).

I use my BCF2000 with Ableton Live and REAPER (when I use REAPER) for every project since I bought it. The only reason I can do that, though, is the support for MCU emulation. Without that I don’t know if I could be bothered to map everything manually every single time. I’d probably go insane or my head would explode…or both.

Renoise, on the other hand, doesn’t fit well with MCU mapping, so I can’t really use it without some ghetto-rigging or shoe-horning to make it work as seamlessly. So I usually don’t bother. But I still use MIDI learning to map things to my Oxygen25 or QuNeo when I want that humanized quality for velocities, timing, and automation.

I used to want a controller with the “be-all-and-end-all perfect” mapping for all my needs. Sadly, no such mapping exists. If you want to map stuff before hand, get a controller that makes mapping easy, preferably something where you can do it entirely on the controller itself (AKAI’s MPD32 or Novation’s ZeroSL MKII, for example). And expect to HAVE to remap some part of it every single time. Everyone who’s showing off their mad controllerism skills on youtube has already figured that out.

Otherwise, stick to kb/mouse and be happy that you, at least, have more precise control ;)

I have a nanokontrol, a nanopad, and a nanokey.

They fit into my laptop’s bag and I can use them just about anywhere.

What do they do for me?

They allow me to noodle out something fairly quickly, and then enter it. I can swing knobs and sliders, slap pads, peck out tunes and then they’re down. I can always obsessively tweak later with mouse and keyboard - and I do - but for pushing something out which feels right, the controllers are a big win. I can let the theory geek sleep while I make the sounds.

The other big win is that I can use the nanokontrol to enter automation while the track is playing, rather than trying to type everything out one note at a time. This goes double when I’m trying to automate a couple of tracks at the same time and I really don’t want to go through several hundred track places to painstakingly peck in every single one.

Basically, they don’t make me better but they do make me faster and they enable a lower friction workflow. Quite frankly, that sort of automation is the one point which sold me on a renoise licence (and I almost never buy software).

this is like asking if fingers improve my girlfriends sex life.

set up once, use template song for ever