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MIDI Use Case Help Please #3011410 10/07/19 09:04 PM
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theeoddname Offline OP
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Please forgive me but I didn't know where else to turn - like so many noobs!

I am thinking about getting a MIDI controller. I have a MacBook Pro with Mojave 10.14.6 and use Logic Pro X, Final Cut, and sometimes Audacity. I am gearing up for podcasts and youtube videos of which OBS will be a part of my workflow. However, the controller will be use primarily for upping my game in the following areas:

1) Sound effects during live stream podcasts and youtube videos;
2) Live theatre style events and live streams of sound effects. I gamemaster for role playing games and host murder mystery parties in which I am wanting to ambient music, monster sound effects, and other audio gems to the game table / virtual table at the push of a button without the need of navigating file menus and such through my DAW or other software;
3) I would also like to take my music creation from just garage jamming to actual recording in a studio I'm building in my home.

I was looking at the Maschine MK3, MK3 Mikro, Personus Atom, Akai MPK 249/261, Novation launch pad Pro, and the Akai APC40 Mii. There are soo many out there I've about exhausted my ability to dive any further and ran into analysis paralysis. Ultimately I don't want to be interacting with a keyboard/laptop at the table while I'm telling a story. I am wanting something I can just push button behind the game screen where I've got all my notes and books laid out and a laptop becomes cumbersome in this environment.

Here's what I want in terms of functionality:
Must haves
1) Full ability to be used while recording my screen with OBS and in Logic Pro X and compatibility on the MacOS/iOS eco systems. If I must use other software it must be mac compatible with the exported files being used in Logic Pro X / Final Cut.
2) High quality/durability -- i.e. professional grade
3) push button assignments for full ambient sound effects & background music such as bar atmosphere crow, jazz bar music, cave ambient sounds, wind and thunderstorms, etc.
4) push button assignments for sound effects that are one offs such as a dragon roar or some pre-prep'd character speech.
5) ability to be used as a music machine as most people use these for.

Nice to have:
1) Velocity sensitive key's because I do toy with finger drumming at times and would enjoy this feature.
2) A device which would not need to be connected to a laptop but this is not essential.

I don't DJ and am new to midi / professional music DAW use / creation so am really lost in all this. I don't plan to DJ music but considering the rpg aspect of what I do and am, trying to accomplish, I figured midi controllers should be what I was looking for.

Am I looking at the right equipment and in the ball park of what I should be looking for? Or am i completely off in left field? What would you recommend I look at to meet my needs? Any particular product favorites out there?

Much appreciation for your assistance and patience.


Happy to Serve!
Re: MIDI Use Case Help Please [Re: theeoddname] #3012358 10/14/19 11:15 PM
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Stephen Mendes Offline
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Have you considered the Roland A-800PRO ? ..... I have a series of videos on it that might help you make up your mind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGTLXsmGznY&list=PL2T2hXG9I1ApvUczVrPosxtILsXXeK38w

Re: MIDI Use Case Help Please [Re: theeoddname] #3015215 11/07/19 06:19 PM
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Dr Mike Metlay Offline
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Hi theeoddname,

This is right up my alley. I am so sorry I didn't get back to you before this, but I had a loss in my family a few days before you posted this and I am only now getting back into online life... let me see if I can help you.

PUNCHLINE FIRST: Skip to the bottom if you want a nearly-free way to start doing this that will work on your iPad or iPhone immediately. But if you do want a controller, read on.

My primary recommendation for you in this area is to go with the "industry standard" when it comes to grids of buttons. As you may have seen from your research, which I can imagine would truly be nightmarish for a beginner, there are two basic kinds of pad grids:

- the 16-pad 4x4 array of larger buttons, commonly referred to as the MPC format since the Akai MPC drum machines were where it got its start, and

- the 64-pad 8x8 array of smaller buttons. Real music tech geeks will refer to this as the monome array (since that's where it was invented), but most people call it the Launchpad array after the Novation Launchpad and its many children.

For what you're doing, I strongly recommend the Launchpads. They're light, affordable, rugged, easy to set up, and fairly seamless to integrate with software that will do precisely what you need -- a simple version of which comes included with them for your Mac or PC, and a nearly-free version of which can run on your iPhone or iPad.

First, the hardware: Novation just released the newest versions of the Launchpad and Launchpad Mini, called the Launchpad X and the Launchpad Mini mk3.

These offer 64 pads with RGB coloring so you can sort them visually, and each button can launch a sample, loop, or MIDI clip. They also can serve as mixer controllers to turn sounds up or down, add effects, etc.

The main difference between the two controllers is size and performance features. The Mini is a lot smaller than the X, and its buttons aren't velocity or pressure sensitive. But nearly everything else about them is identical. They're powered over USB, and if you hook them up to the right software, configuration will either be (a) super-easy or (b) done for you.

Which software? Both come with a license for Ableton Live Lite for Mac or PC. Ableton Live is fabulous for what you want to do, because you can lay out samples and loops in a grid on your laptop screen, color code them, edit them, label them, and the Launchpad will trigger them for you. You can set them to loop or play once, cut off when you let go of the button or finish playing on their own, and with a couple of hoops to jump through, you can connect Live to other software to share audio, or export Live Projects for use elsewhere. For your needs, Live Lite will probably do all you want for a good long while.

On the iOS side, Novation's software division Ampify makes a Launchpad app. It's free to start with, but like many such apps, they get you with in-app purchases. Still, for not too many dollars, you can buy access to the full palette of built-in effects and to the ability to import your own samples. The main place they get you is with music loop packs, which cost just a couple of dollars each but are as addictive as potato chips.

Launchpad has a 6 x 8 grid of pads and a 2 x 8 grid of effects triggers. It's like the grid Session View of Live, stripped to the bare bones, but you might still find it enough for your SFX-triggering needs. Oh, and now we get to the punchline: it is a lot more fun to play with a Launchpad controller, but it's perfectly usable all by itself and controllable from the touchscreen with pretty much all the functionality of the hardware.

I hope this helps.

mike


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, whoop de doo)
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-- except for Bryce, who's, well, YOU know.

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