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Control Surfaces and Classical Music

Discussion in 'Consoles / Control Surfaces' started by Cucco, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Up until very recently, I was addicted to the control surface. Any automation was done via 9 smooth faders and FX automation with the twist of a knob.

    Many of my clients would say - "I want the viola out just a tad here..." a task easily accomplished by boosting the right channel .5 dB (this small of a change isn't really detectable as "boosting the right channel," it merely adds the impression of gaining intensity.)

    I'm curious, how many of you out there in recording-land use control surfaces every day?

    I should say, it's only due to my move to Sequoia do I not find the need for a control surface any more. I fought it kicking and screaming, then I realized just how easy it was to get along without it and there are no complaints here.
  2. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    It's interesting you mention that , Jeremy (and I appreciate your honesty.) For years, I've felt a little "less than complete" without a control surface that everyone ELSE says I should have.

    Since I moved into digital editing, I've NEVER felt a need for a control surface, beyond the input side, if at all. I got very good at using a mouse, and when carpal tunnel syndrome began to show up, I switched to a pen-pad. (Now I alternate between them, along with a touch pad on my VAIO laptop.) I'm left-handed, but as a musician I've always been ambi-dexterous, as well. (sp?)

    I did almost end up with those wrist braces, but I think I've caught it all early enough.

    I have heard (and read ads) all about "killing the mouse" and "the end of the mouse" in workstations, etc., and wondered what the big deal was. Moving faders are fun (and expensive) but after about 5 minutes, it's like: "what's the big deal?" Same with work surfaces that someone ELSE designed for their personal use, hand/arm sizes & lengths, etc. None of it was screaming my name to come try out and use/buy.

    Of course, I moved into Red Roaster/Samplitude digital editing fairly early, so maybe that was the key. Now that I'm into Sequoia, I still don't see a need for a control surface, but who knows....that little remote controller from "Frontier" sure looks cool...If I could justify a need/use for it, I'd give it a whirl.

    I use my "lowly" Mackie 1642 to monitor the sound card out, the CD player, the VCR/DVD, other PB sound sources in my studio and FM Tuner, but that's about it. The high-end inputs/preamps go through AD/DAs, and the rest is all onscreen. Short, simple pathways, and minimal corruption of sound. (I'm STILL Trying to justify anything more, and I really can't...)

    I will put in one good word for the Wacom Pen Pad, if you're at all thinking about making a change: a GF bought it for me one Christmas, and I 'pretended' to be happy about it...thinking: Sheesh, who needs THIS gadget! Then, just for the sake of harmony in the relationship, I tried it, mostly to show her I was going to use it. It took a few days, perhaps a week, but I eventually FLEW with it. There IS a learning curve; a significant eye/hand/brain coordination thing going on, but WOW, once you get proficient with it, the mouse is slow by comparison, and the idea of a separate control surface becomes even less inviting; you just DONT NEED it, IMHO.

    And here's the weird part that startles EVERYONE: Since I'm lefthanded, I have EVERYTHING on the left side: Mouse pad, pen pad, etc. Heheh...it keeps a LOT of people away from the work station, too...they just can't stand all the control buttons being reversed. :twisted:

    Works for ME, anyway.....as always, YMMV. 8)
  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    You know, you bring up two great points here:
    I do want to play with that frontier gadget.
    The Wacom - my wife is a photographer, and they are indespensable tools for photo jockeys. What can you do with it in DAWs?
  4. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I use Sequoia so I DON'T have to use a control surface. 'Nuff said?

    I've tried using the Wacom, and I had a really tough time with it. Perhaps one with the LCD screen would help more, but in the end, I can work so quickly with a keyboard and mouse that it really isn't an issue...

  5. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    You can use the Pen Pad for everything the mouse does, and more. (Think about actually DRAWING volume and pan curves, for example.)

    You can also assign all the buttons on the side of the pen to do what the mouse reverse buttons do, etc. It's a little like learning to eat with chopsticks, but it really does pay off in the end. Invest a little in learning to use one of these, and you'll probably wonder why you never thought of it in the first place.
  6. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Regarding mice, do any of you guys use a fixed mouse with the big dotted red ball on them, or the standard. I have often thought that one of those fixed mice might be good for a DAW, but never bothered to try it.

    I have never used a control surface though.
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Trackballs? I never could get into them. I tried a real nice logitech one a few years ago, but the sweatier and greasier I got, the less it worked. (let's face it, I'm Italian, so I sweat olive oil - and I love my potato chips while I'm editing!)

    I love my good ole fashion optical mouse with more buttons on it than my keyboard has.
  8. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Can't stand trackballs either... Optical mouse for me. I know plenty of others, though, that will only use a trackball. Different strokes as they say...

  9. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Right, thats the name I was trying to think of... Trackball. Thanks for the info. One thing I lament about Wavelab, but its only a petit lament, is that I wish the keyboard shortcuts were a little more usable, and customisable. Some of them are 4 or 5 finger salutes, and memorising them is a problem.
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Are you using WL 4 or 5? Just curious. I own 4 and I love it, but I never got too deep into it. I'm thinking about putting the money up for the upgrade from 4 to 5, but I don't know if I can justify it, espec. since I just bought Seq.

    BTW...I know what you mean by 4 and 5 finger salutes. I add the silence at the end/beginnings of each track to taste and that ctrl-shift-space nearly broke my finger each time.
  11. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Absolutely no need if you have Sequoia. But I have WL5, upgraded for the multichannel record only. It does DVD-A mastering and surround, but as you know :oops: I am not impressed by either of these "technologies". WL4 was/is a great product and I love the montage.

    Ctrl Alt Dlt is a 3 finger salute as we say in Australia, ie you need to hold down three keys. I was exaggerating by saying 4 or 5 etc, and this is uncharacteristic of me, I never exaggerate, normally. :wink:
  12. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    I went directly from a 16-channel Studer to total ITB Sequoia mixing, and aside from having all of the mix DONE when I leave, mixing with objects in Seq is so easy and gives such flexibility I would not want to even THINK of a control surface.

    Plus, it costs money!

  13. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I HATE using a mouse with a passion. The only way I can work is with the trackpad on my laptop. I found it need a lot of tweaking before I could get it right, but I find myself using it without thinking about it, and I don't have to move my hands from the keyboard.

    I use an Edirol control surface. It doesn't have motorised faders or anything like that, but it's invaluable for mixing, or controlling loads of effects when I want to sound weird.

  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    In case anyone is interested, I've decided to sell my control surface. You can find it on ebay at:


    For anyone who is an RO member (for at least 30 days), I will throw in free shipping. Just be sure to include your RO username in the comments field when you check out.

    Also, the reserve is a rather moderate $850.


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