A 24 Channel Nuendo Controller made out of an old Mackie D8B

Hello guys,

After many months of testing and development, I’m happy to show you the progress I’ve made on a small project I’m working on. I’ve successfully converted an old Mackie d8b digital console into a full DAW controller. It’s using the MCU protocol to communicate with Nuendo (in fact, it’s like running 3 MCUs in a single box). It’s working very well and I’ve done a small video that shows a few features:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNtHdg0FA0k

Everything’s good and correctly mapped: Faders, Pans, Mutes, Solos, RecReady, Transport, Jog Wheel, Meter Bridge, etc. I’ll be testing this puppy on my full Nuendo 5.5 rig at my studio probably next week to give it a real workout.

So, if you’ve got an old Mackie d8b lying around, or have a friend that has one in his attic doing nothing, that might be your ticket for an affordable 24 channel DAW controller that has pretty much every feature needed for some serious mixing. I wonder why nobody has done such a thing before! :slight_smile:

Comments and ideas are welcome, thanks for watching!

That’s awesome, Marc. How do we get the software? Looks sweet.

Hello Marc,

Congratulations on bringing the d8b back from the dead. I am very glad I hung on to my unit. I have been checking in periodically on Peter’s d8b forum site and it is very exciting to see what looks like a release build of the software. :mrgreen:

In the past, I was very disappointed with my attempts at programming the d8b as a generic remote for Cubendo, and gave up on it as a serious controller due to the resolution mismatch issues and serious functional limitations. The bandwidth issues and lag were a concern when using basic midi ports, as was the fear of depending on the d8b CPU when thinking about studio reliability.

I for one, am glad that you have abandoned reliance on the d8b’s CPU box and not bothered to resurrect its DSP and audio functions. I recognize that others want it all and have asked for this, however I think you have struck the right balance. The d8b has been plagued with ribbon-cable issues, and its converters and effects are a little outdated and no longer state of the art. Not that the d8b converters sound terrible, or that the effects are bad; however using it to pass audio would not be in keeping the the modern paradigm.

It seems like the trend is towards native processing power which keeps progressing at a rapid rate, linked to great external pres & outboard conversion. The controller should be just that, simply a controller. Trying to capture too many functions in the one device is where many products fall apart. This makes upgrading any one component problematic in the future.

(I think of many of the FW and USB interfaces that try to do too much; they want to have great pres, good ADC & DAC, onboard DSP with flexible routing, and achieve this at low latency with solid drivers. Most simply cannot manage these functions equally well. If one element falls apart, or does not work the way you need it to, you have to throw away everything else when you upgrade or move on. The last generation Mackie interfaces that relied on the OEM Dice firewire chips come to mind as an example of a good product, flawed by one horrible element. A set of Onyx 800R pres linked to an RME interface for example, would make much more sense. The RME UFX, Prism and Metric Halo units, however seem to do a great job as all rounders, so it is possible. Once again however, you may not like all the elements of these all-in-one solutions.)

Your software rewrite completely resolves all of the old d8b controller issues and greatly extends the functionality of the d8b in such an elegant and useful way. Thank you so much to both you and Frank. This was a fantastic idea, well implemented, and shows what people with real software know-how can do. The d8b is a great board, and its midi functionality was so close to being usable as a good basic controller, but some showstopper issues meant it got left behind in the era of the DAW. Your product is the perfect bridge between these two worlds. Even the name is just right. Congratulations again Marc and Frank. I will be one of the first in line to purchase the software on its official release.

Please let me know if there is anything I can help with as regards bug testing, however it seems like your soak tests are throwing pretty much everything at the old d8b and its standing up under the pressure. I haven’t had a great deal of time in my studio lately (as I am in the middle of a house renovation) so I’m a little out of the loop, however I have a few questions. How does your MCU implementation work with the Quick control functionality of Cubendo? Could it be made to link up, using a 4th virtual MCU? This MCU bank could then be permanently mapped to your quick controls. In this way, you could set up templates within Cubendo, with all the Quick controls you need at different points in your project, and work this way rather than on a channel by channel basis. Just a thought bubble which you may already have thought of and rejected, or maybe it’s not possible. I have not really dug into the midi-learn and quick control features of Nuendo 5.5 so I may be wrong about the possibilities. Anyway just a thought.

Keep us all posted on a release date and price for the new software.

PS How have you gone about the rewiring of the power supply cable and have you thought much about sourcing a new replacement cable and PSU for your package? Considering how busy you must have been on the software side, you may not have had a chance to think about this yet, but I’m curious how this will work. Hopefully it is a reasonably standard multi-pin connector that is readily available, or I guess we can simply cut the old cable and attach a new simpler PSU.

What you have achieved is spectacular and worthy of high praise. Great work!! :smiley:

Kind regards,
George

I don’t have a D8B (I use a SmartAV Tango) but that is a stunning bit of work!

Are those 24 Channels bankable (A= 1-24 B=25-48 C=49-72, etc.)? Are the original functions of the d8b still functional in an either/or scenario or is the modification strictly a controller now? Is there anything in the mod that accesses dynamics?

I think this is a great idea and I’ve been trying to figure out similar approaches for a DA-7 desk. So this has really gotten my interest! I’d really like to find out more specifics about the full range of functions.

Please Charly, give a job to this man. Bravo Marc.