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Are you kidding me re: automation from external encoders???

Discussion in 'MASCHINE Area' started by CNW, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. CNW

    CNW NI Product Owner

    I bought into the Maschine Mikro Mk2 system because my studio space is extremely limited - that is, I am traveling constantly and it needs to fit in a bag. All well and good. The Mikro fits the bill, and the menu-diving is not as bad as I thought it would be. Great system.

    The one thing that concerned me with the Mikro was the single encoder for tweaking parameters. I make a lot of acid techno and breaks where I need to be able to adjust multiple parameters simultaneously. NI obviously was aware of this concern among potential customers because in the comparison chart, they have this:


    Cool, I thought. Just pick up a little external controller with a few knobs and I can change and record filter cutoff and resonance simultaneously using the external controller.

    Just got my external controller set up and was having trouble recording automation from the external controller, did some searching, and it now appears that there is no way to record automation from an external controller from within Maschine.

    Someone please tell me that I am incorrect and am overlooking something. If you cannot record automation from an external encoder, this is absolute garbage! I don't care whether or not it records the automation as some proprietary NI method. It should at LEAST record incoming CC messages. Every piece of sequencing software I have ever used going back almost 2 decades has the ability to record incoming CC messages as control automation. To say that this lack of a feature is disappointing is a MASSIVE understatement. It will essentially make Maschine UNUSABLE for my preferred style of music.

    If NI would have put an asterisk next to "Possible via additional MIDI controller", like "* Automation of parameters can only be done one at a time using the Mikro's one encoder", I would not have dumped all of this money into the system, a bunch of expansion packs, and a NI audio interface. I would have looked somewhere else. It is absolutely RIDICULOUS that this system, which has all of these whiz-bang features, does not support this most basic function. I am beside myself.

    Please don't tell me I should have researched this more before buying it. Being able to record incoming CC data is not even really a feature. It has been a given in MIDI software and hardware forever.

    I seriously cannot believe this. Can someone please tell me that I am worked up over nothing, and that it is part of the new update that I am just not seeing in documentation as of yet? I bought my Mikro direct from NI last week and did all of the updates, so I know I am running the latest software. I have searched through the manual and cannot find anything that speaks to this.

    I am obviously desperate. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. lethal_pizzle

    lethal_pizzle NI Product Owner

    You are right. Maschine only records modulation from its own knobs. There's a section on it inside the manual, explains it fully. It's called 'automation v modulation' or similar.
  3. CNW

    CNW NI Product Owner

    Yeah I saw that section. I love how it dances around the fact that "automation" is just changing settings with external messages. In what way is that automating anything? It's just letting you use a different knob to change the same value you could change using the Maschine hardware. They go to great lengths to tell you how all these parameters can receive messages from external controllers, and yet, unlike almost every single piece of MIDI software ever created, it will not record those controller changes. I am feeling cheated. I wish I had saved the packaging so that I could flip this to somebody else, but I didn't and now I am stuck with it, along with the other stuff I bought from NI at the same time.

    I'm pretty disgusted right now. There is no reason whatsoever that Maschine shouldn't be able to record MIDI CC messages. None. It makes me wonder what other glaring omissions I am going to find as I continue to learn this system.

    If anyone from NI reads this -

    1. This is an unacceptable feature omission for a package of this caliber and cost. I would love to know why this most basic function was deliberately left out of the software. It's receiving the messages. Why can't I record them? Not everyone is going to use Maschine as a drum machine to play back a bunch of sounds with a little bit of filtering here and there. You include this crazy powerful synth engine and only allow Mikro owners to automate one parameter at a time. That's ridiculous.

    2. It should be made VERY clear to potential Maschine buyers that external controller messages cannot be recorded. This would be useful info for Mk 2 and Studio customers, but for Mikro customers like myself, this is an absolute deal breaker. I didn't think to make sure that this piece of gear would record CC messages, because all MIDI systems allow for this functionality. I have a Roland MSQ-70 from the Reagan administration. It's the size of a VCR and has big cartoon buttons. It's a relic. It records CC messages. This is tantamount to not being able to adjust the volume of individual tracks or something. It's lame, and people should be aware before they drop a bunch of money on a system that is needlessly hobbled in this fashion.

    Are there any plans to include this functionality in the future?
  4. Mr36

    Mr36 NI Product Owner

    Just to be clear... Maschine does record MIDI CC messages from external controllers. What it does not (and arguably should) do is record modulation from external controllers sending MIDI CC messages that are mapped to Maschine parameters.

    There is a workaround involving a virtual MIDI cable (IAC driver on OS X; LoopBe etc. on Windows) and MIDI translation software. However, due to other arguably poor implementations in Maschine, it's an absolute ball-ache and I personally wouldn't bother for this purpose.

    Side note: I've never liked the terminology distinction of automation/modulation with Maschine. Largely because it makes discussion and understanding for users much more complicated than it needs to be, especially for something most users are familiar with as automation from other softwares AND that Maschine's own controllers use the abbreviation "auto" for recording/writing modulation (i.e., not automation).
    • Informative Informative x 3
  5. dj_67

    dj_67 NI Product Owner

    It is possible to record automation via external MIDI, as long as you route your MIDI CCs into a plugin sitting in the first slot of a sound. The plugin has to be midi mappable.
    Enable MIDI in for that given sound. Select an MIDI-Port, MIDI-channel and disable MIDI-Thru. Now enable MIDI-learn in the plugin and set the desired parameters to respond to your MIDI-controller. Maschine does not route MIDI CC-messages between plugins, so only the first slot of a sound or group is accessible.
    Hit record, tweak, done.
    I admit, that editing this automation in Maschine is a pain.

    In this way it is also possible record mutes (and theoretical solos). This is done by setting up one or two groups, where all sound inputs are fed by your actual Soundplugins. Put an empty Guitar Rig in every first soundslot, MIDI-learn master volume of every Guitar Rig instance with a different MIDI CC or on a different channel and your good to go. I use a Kontrol F1 for this.

    You can save MIDI-mapped plugins/sounds or groups in the respective Maschinefileformat and Maschine will remember the MIDI-mapping. In this way you're able to save an Initstate of your favorite Synths, Effects or Mixgroup.

    NEVER EVER!!! use MIDI CCs to control an genuine Maschine-parameter directly, even if this might be convenient.
    Maschine lets you assign 128 CC-messages to internal parameters and ignores the MIDI-Port as well as the MIDI-channel information.
    So if, for example, you route CC #100 of a given MIDI-port and channel to level of sound 1 in group 1, this CC-message is blocked for every MIDI-channel on every MIDI-port.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. Mr36

    Mr36 NI Product Owner

    That's another potentially good workaround, but unfortunately only for external plugins that have their own MIDI mapping system. Certainly a good tip and will work for some users though.

    I assume by this you mean with the above method of MIDI mapping the plugin with its own MIDI mapping system. I wish Maschine would remember it's MIDI mappings when saving as instruments/Sounds.

    The port limitation is, indeed, annoying, but the channel limitation is frankly ridiculous. Truly limiting to what you can do with external MIDI.
    However, these (horrific) limitations do not impinge on the MIDI mapping you can do with Maschine, which can be very useful and "NEVER EVER!!!" is going far too far. The MIDI mapping works for 128 CCs, so if that can be useful, use it. If we didn't use features because they're not implemented well or not implemented as well as they could/should be, we probably wouldn't use Maschine at all. :p

    (And about MIDI channels, Maschine doesn't block the same message on other channels, it just ignores the channel information in the message, so CC 67 will work regardless of which port and channel it is received by Maschine on.)
  7. dj_67

    dj_67 NI Product Owner

    Which is more or less true for all plugin-synths i know of - especially all Kompletesynths and! Diva. Or the other way round - i don't buy a plugin if its not MIDI-mappable.

    Sure - in this way its not blocked, but your CC 67 will always control your mapped Maschineparameter regardless its port or channelsettings. It is not possible to map another CC 67 from another port or channel to a different destination - neither to a genuine Maschineparameter nor to an external plugin.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  8. Mr36

    Mr36 NI Product Owner

    Indeed. And it's ridiculous.
  9. theinvis

    theinvis NI Product Owner

    this whole thread pissed me off!
    • Funny Funny x 1
  10. Bertotti

    Bertotti NI Product Owner

    I have learned form this thread but some of it is way over my head and just confuses me. I must be a more basic user then I thought! HAHAHa.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  11. CNW

    CNW NI Product Owner

    So does NI have any plans to allow "modulation" from external MIDI controllers, or is the only option to buy the bigger hardware? Does the full size Maschine MK2 allow for recording of "modulation" of parameters using all of its encoders at the same time or are you limited to just one at a time. I no longer trust reading the promo literature, because I feel like it is purposefully ambiguous on this very glaring omission on the Mikro. I would prefer to hear from somebody that has actually used the hardware in this way.

    Thanks for all the replies. I am beyond pissed about this. It's not the end of the world, obviously. It's a piece of gear. Whatever. There is simply no reason at all that this functionality could not be added. It makes the Mikro into a simple toy for people pasting beats together and a non-starter for users wanting to make synth based music that reflects the user's ability to modify synth sounds over time like one would with a traditional synth. I can't help but think that the Mikro is purposefully handicapped like this because it is such a basic, legacy MIDI functionality. Mikro is marketed as Maschine in a smaller package, which is why I bought it. I could have afforded the studio, and I like the idea of having so much direct control via the hardware, but got the Mikro because I needed the system to be truly mobile. It's a real bummer.
  12. Mr36

    Mr36 NI Product Owner

    The Maschine Mk1/Mk2 and Studio controllers allow recording modulation from all parameter knobs, one or more at a time (auto write is pinnable).
    Unfortunately for you, this is just a (somewhat physical) limitation of the Mikro.

    We are in the dark about this too. Hopefully they will allow this, but they are clearly very protective over what external controllers can do - you can't even map a MIDI button to PLAY to start the sequencer, for example.
  13. CNW

    CNW NI Product Owner


    Thanks for the info on Maschine. I absolutely love the way most of Maschine works. If there was something else that I thougt would work better for what I want to do, I would s***can the Mikro and stay away from NI going forward. Removing core MIDI functionality and then inferring in your literature that using an External MIdI controller I'd just like having more Maschine knobs is extremely misleading. I have been using MIDI gear since the early 90s, so I kind of have an idea of what's up. I got straight up duped by the literature and now I am going to be out hundreds of dollars getting a system that has core MIDI functionality.

    As for your latter example, that's ridiculous. They should disable the space bar on the keyboard for Start/Stop, too. Imagine what nefarious things you could do with the software if you aren't using the start button on the Maschine hardware to start and stop a sequence.

    What on earth is the purpose of hobbling functionality like this. Why allow external midi controllers at all, then? What are they afraid of, exactly? I am not being glib. I am actually curious. On my issue, it's probably just a money grab - spend the money on the $600 controller and get core MIDI implementation that was available during the 80s. Buy the Mikro, which is marketed as just a smaller version of Maschine, and you get a budget version. It should be called Maschine Lite or Basic or something and all of the MIDI built-in designed handicaps should be spelled out. But not allowing external start/stop? What is to be gained by that?
  14. Mr36

    Mr36 NI Product Owner

    I think here are still a couple of things that need to be cleared up and that you're either getting muddled with or I have misunderstood your comments...

    Mikro vs Maschine Mk1/Mk2/Studio...
    There is no difference in MIDI implementation in the software, the software is the same regardless of which controller you use. The difference is that the bigger controllers have the physical knobs to allow you to tweak and record modulatable parameters. You still can't record modulation from non-Maschine controllers. No amount of money will buy you a better MIDI implementation in Maschine.

    Start/stop via external MIDI...
    Maschine does respond to standard start/stop MIDI clock messages, but only when sync'd to an external MIDI clock. And these messages aren't typically available to be sent by MIDI controllers anyway.
    I'd like to think that it's just something they haven't added yet, but I also can't help but think it's intentional in order to limit external MIDI control. Which is ridiculous. Even with extensive Bome's MIDI Translator work, users still wouldn't be able even approximate Maschine controller functionality with 3rd party controllers. And MIDI learn of play/stop, record, sample record start, along with other useful controls would not make this possible either. It would just make Maschine more palatable to use as a centre-piece of a studio, as it would be more easily and better integrated with other things.

    Like most features in Maschine, though, so many features are just not yet finished. I, for one, wish NI would concentrate on finishing off the current feature set before adding other, new, shiny features.
  15. alpert

    alpert NI Product Owner

    I don't know the difference between "modulation" and "automation". (in english at least)
    You're not alone. :)
    • Like Like x 4
  16. Illumination Station

    Illumination Station New Member

    Hey everyone, just got a maschine mikro mk2 love it. After reading the manual i was able to understand that "automation" cannot be recorded in Maschine, "modulation" can be recorded in Maschine by using the knob and holding shift. "Automation" comes from external midi sources. I was a little bummed for a second, but if you happen to also use ableton there is a very easy solution. load maschine into ableton, arm the maschine track in ableton, go over to maschine and map all your midi parameter you want to use. when your making your sweeps and adjustments simply record the midi track in ableton. when the midi track is played back through maschine boom the automation is played through just fine. this took me an hour to figure out, I hope i save you all some time and frustration.
  17. rogi

    rogi New Member

    sorry if im resurrecting an older thread, but what about recording "modulation"/automation from the 8 knobs on the NI Kontrol Keyboard? is that something that is supported in Maschine 2? I've not been able to do that which completely puzzles me since Kontrol is supposed to be "fully integrated" with Maschine.
  18. lethal_pizzle

    lethal_pizzle NI Product Owner

  19. crystaldrone

    crystaldrone NI Product Owner

    @Mr36 Hello, any idea on how to get this working with LoopBe?

    I am thinking a midi capable simple vst plugin like this can take care of volume, mute automation in maschine - https://goo.gl/images/aP07T2

    Does anyone know of a midi capable simple fader and mute plugin. Moot by de la Mancha is a midi capable mute switch that I am gonna try. Is there a midi capable fader/knob vst around?

    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017