Anybody actually using their Encoders?

This is an open ended question to anyone using ANY kind of controller (Doesn’t matter if it’s an Old Mackie HUI to the latest Nuage or Avid S6). How many of you actually USE your encoders?

If I’m mixing on a desk, I obviously use the knobs because you can’t apply the function without them. But I’ve noticed that when I’m using my Artist Series controllers that, once I’ve launched the plug-in I just adjust the settings with the trackball because it’s already in my hand from the instantiation launch, so, to me, it seems faster.

Then I noticed from all the tutorials with the big name guys with mega buck gear that almost none of them were using their encoders either for the same reason. They used their trackballs/Mouse to search for and open their library of thousands of plug-ins. Then, they adjust them with the same trackball. At 1st, I assumed it was to show anyone without a controller how to do whatever they were demonstrating. But then I noticed that they never seem to go to their encoders UNLESS THEY’RE DEMONSTRATING THE FUNCTION of the encoders for the purpose of selling the controller.

Every once in awhile, I will use the encoder IF I opened the plug from the controller first and/or I’m trying to get a specific setting that the TB kept overshooting. But, otherwise, I just used the TB.

I wondered if anyone else used the same approach. :question:

I have a secondary 36in touch screen monitor that I use for plug in GUI. The console I have I get more into the channel type items like Equalization for instance. But like I said, I use a touch screen monitor for plug-ins. I still Mouse a bit on plugins as well. I use the scroll wheel a lot.

Yeah, I’m exactly the same way. The last time I remember using encoders for plugin control was in 2015 or 2016, and that was the last time I worked on a Digidesign D-Command. For those who don’t know the D-Command has (had) a set of encoders dedicated to dynamics and EQ, so with the stock EQ you had a 1:1 situation between parameter and encoders/knobs:

(image might be an Icon…)

It was easy and fast to grab the correct control for the focused track. But I never got around to learning or memorizing the “paging” necessary to work with one or two lines of encoders.

Before then I actually had a cheap Behringer BCR2000 rotary controller set up with Nuendo. I mapped it to three different plugins and set it up so I could switch between the three. If I recall correctly it was the built in EQ, the UAD-2 Neve 88RS, and I forget what the third one was… Perhaps an SSL strip. Either way it was the same thing; one knob per function per band. Plenty of control. Unfortunately the unit is pretty big (not to mention no longer made) and setting up was a pain. I upgraded the computer or software at some point and lost the set up file and couldn’t be bothered with setting it up again.

So yeah, like you I tend to instantiate and open plugins with my right hand on the trackball, and I always place my plugins in the same location so my brain/muscles always move the trackball to where it needs to be to then adjust. I actually prefer the feel of a knob-turn when adjusting compared to the trackball, but I don’t like the “paging” and I’m so used to the trackball now it just doesn’t feel compelling to switch.

I would however contemplate adding a smaller controller specifically for EQ if I did more work on Nuendo. Looking at the controller landscape though I don’t really see anything that tickles me. Either it’s a massive amount of knobs with no buttons or anything, far more than I need, or if there’s a limited amount with buttons it typically ends up being set up for four bands, so back to paging again…

Key, are you looking for an alternative or are you just curious about workflows?

I was thinking about getting a touch screen monitor. Only thing that makes me not get one is that I’d need to move my arm to get to it which means I’m losing time, and considering how often I tweak the EQ when I do post-audio work it’s just not really feasible (for me) I think.

Actually, come to think of it, I think I have the same impression. And the Raven comes to mind as well. I probably shouldn’t crap on other companies’ products (but I will)… but I remember Slate stating multiple times he was working on a tutorial or feature video for using the Raven in post production and that video never showed up. What did show up though was users showing their use of the device and… soooo, soooo slow!.. I think it’s probably fine for music, but for post? Forget it.

Anyway, I think I have the same impression as you.

I still have a couple of the Steinberg CMC USB controllers which I enjoy. I’m a left hander, but I learned to use the mouse with my right hand… so my left is free to tweak the CMC controls and it feels natural. I mainly use the QC controller to control the built in EQ and oddly the Transport controller strip to locate in the project. Works well for me.

I used to use a Mackie MCU Pro for music mixing ( I like faders for that ) but when I downsized my living situation I put it in its box!

It’s for sale if anyone is interested…

Basically, just curious about workflows. It’s an almost “schizophrenic search” now! I have tweaked my Artist Series Gear so much, for so long now that I’m at 90% Nuage/S6 functioning level! My ONLY GRIPE is that IT WILL NOT FOLLOW THE DAW BIDIRECTIONALLY 100% OF THE TIME. :angry: I built macros with layouts locked to visibility agents. I built templates that help keep the board and the DAW visibly linked. I built “step 2 layouts” to match channel expand options. ALL of this just to keep the hardware matching the DAW!! With these measures, I’m at about 75% visibly satisfied with this set up and, as stated, at 90% functionality. So, every time I think about dropping $25 to $40K for Nuage and place it next to the kinds of budgets coming through my shop, I just can’t convince myself to do it. I mean, what I’d literally be buying at this point was the 100 bidirectionality factor.

Then, when I see guys sitting at $150K S6 consoles or $50K+ Nuage consoles and they’re still using trackballs, I just lose it! I’ve already got a trackball and 20 faders to do what they’re doing and nobody seems to be using the encoders at any price point! So, besides my wanting desperately to be free of Avid, I cant justify the purchase. Then, I thought “maybe the people actually using it day to day ARE using all of the console! Maybe I’m just missing something because I’m not in that league. Maybe the real users are using it like a real console!” Hence my question.

Sadly, I end up reading articles about working on songs like “Ol Town Road” and the engineer said that he had an ice pack under his wrist from working on the mix so long! Then I freak out with RSI worries and start trying all over again to find a solution. The real problem is that the solution is obvious and, for some reason, just like politics, manufacturers just won’t build it.

Well, I suppose we only see a fraction of the work they do though. It could be that any number of them at times use encoders regularly and then they’re worth it. I think that might depend on what they’re used for of course. It might be a better experience to dial in sends with an encoder for example rather than a trackball, when mixing for film/tv.

Generally though I think that people have gravitated towards s3 and above on the Avid platform for better faders as well as for spill functions and more. I mean, looking at how you can go up and down the ‘tree’ on an s6 controller is pretty impressive, and you can spill left/right etc and do all sorts of things. And I think that along with VCAs and some automation features it really provides a great allround solution that you might not get once you drop down to the Artist level. Not saying that the Artist isn’t (or wasn’t) great value for Pro Tools setups, I think it is, but I think that at a certain production budget level those bigger controllers start making some sense. It’s just that we’re maybe not seeing a “linear” bang:buck relationship.

As for RSI etc I actually attended a clinic while at Berklee exactly on that problem (for musicians). The teacher recommended obvious things like exercise and good posture etc, but also emphasized that sitting completely still is actually bad. Moving a bit back and forth, side to side allows the blood to flow and we’re not stressing the exact same joints the exact same way for hours on end. So in one sense I can actually see the merits of some of these older larger consoles forcing you to move around a bit. I try to take breaks if I’m working a ton of hours one week, and definitely a trackball and good chair helps. I also alternate my posture in my chair just to not get stuck in one single posture for too long… Anyway… getting side tracked maybe :slight_smile:

Well for pan, yes. :astonished:

The only time I use the DAW controller is for basic mixing functions and the 16 programmable function buttons that I use for Workspaces. Many people seem to use it for writing automation, but if I do that I know I’m going to have to go back and edit it anyway so I would rather draw it in the fist time and get it right.

The only time I use encoders is when I feel I’m going to be tweaking a tool for a while and it doesn’t have pages of knobs. If the VST has very many parameters, it gets cumbersome since MCU handles it in banks of 8 so there you go switching banks again… For me, 95% of the time it’s just faster manipulating something with the mouse.

I won’t get into the horrible method of selecting a VST for editing using a DAW controller…

I was looking at an Alan Meyerson film score mixing tutorial. That guy has thousands of plugins!!! It was very clear that just the sheer volume of listings REQUIRED him to just use the trackball to go right to the plugin he wanted and, once again, as he already had it in his hand, he changed the parameters with the trackball. It just made sense.

I did a test using just the MC Control for an insert.
1 click to activate inserts.
1 click to go into config mode.
1 click to select the slot.
1 click to select the category of plug.
Then 1 click to select the plugin IF it was on the 1st page. If not then you’re clicking indefinitely to page to the plug you want.

Trackball Method:
Pick the track.
Go directly to the slot an open it.
Then scroll down to the plug.

Now why would anyone waste time using the other method. Furthermore, as you can’t rely on consistent mapping, you might as well continue with the TB to adjust the parameters.

Well I think instantiating plugins using a controller indeed is a huge time-suck, but controlling plugins is a different matter. Typically when I mix for post I have templates that all have most of what I need already instantiated; EQs, compressors, reverbs, denoisers etc. It’s all in there, so no need to add anything.

I suppose the next thing is what the fastest way to access plugin control is. In the case of the Digidesign setup you’d just select/focus the track and then the EQ section would adjust the EQ on that track. I think we can get something essentially the same going with other controllers. So having a plugin open at all times but have it follow selected track and the controller then defaults to that plugin for encoders. And then switching inserts easily with a button press. Alternatively one could simply open or select the plugin to focus it.

So yeah, I’m with you on instantiating plugins - I’ve never done that and never will…

Speaking of which…

It actually looks pretty fast on Nuage, at least in the tutorials.

  1. Select the track.
  2. Select the slot
  3. The drop down menu works the same as the mouse/TB for the plugin selection.

So, I could see how using it in this fashion would make it closer to “working with a real desk feel” at a far accelerated rate when compared to an actual real console! The thing is, if that can be done equally as fast with the mouse/TB is it worth the gigantic price?

Like you, I have several work templates, that are project type specific, with my favorite plugs/FX/etc. already loaded up and ready to go. This speeds things up a lot as do the tweaks I made to the hardware. However, as I am a media composer, I have to be careful not to get into a rut that causes every composition/production to sound the same! So, I’m trying to find a “balance” by developing more open templates that allow me to pull in new plugs/layouts/whatever as needed to keep things fresh. Again, I’ve been partially successful in this effort, but, as usual, I am frustrated by the lack of a complete bidirectional relationship. it is THAT one feature that keeps me going in circles over whether to “take that plunge.”

There is zero business justification to do this. But I wonder, if I could amortize the cost by the savings in headache pain medications and the obvious need for therapy to break this “gear addition!” :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

more stuff is more better…

I watched a video by Avid on the workflow on an s6 controller and I can see other ways in which it might be valuable (on Pro Tools) and justifiable.

I think for someone purely on Nuendo the Nuage controller does look really sweet. It seems pretty intelligently laid out and programmed.

I wish Smart AV was still in business! THAT was a tragic loss! :cry:

Watching a new tutorial with Tony Maserati. He’s got an Avid D Command. Never touched it. Every thing he’s shown, so far, has been with mouse moves. :unamused::grin:


you can speed up the workflow with cubazen and a touch screen. there is a demo version for cubase and nuendo. A solution with a cheap touch screen. macros and icons to work better.

Eric, I bet your last name is Deleplanque and you’re connected to the product. So, maybe spam the forum a bit less?