I’ve been meaning to reply on this thread from some time now, but waited for an opportune moment when I could devote time to a more detailed post. I’m making time now, as it seems it will never happen otherwise.
Of all the CMC devices, the AI is probably the least useful in my setup. Having said that however, I must admit that I have it default to Volume mode, which in conjunction with the control room gives me instant access to adjust the monitor volumes should I notice them clipping, regardless of what I am doing or where the mouse is. This is very handy, but hardly a viable reason for buying one.
I have also programmed the four F buttons to open certain windows which otherwise have no standard default keycommand.
I personally don’t like horizontal faders or adjusting virtual, rotary knobs with a mouse - neither by dragging nor with the wheel. I like twisting a physical knob but must admit that said adjustment is more often than not, quicker i.e. more efficient with the mouse alone. It depends a lot on workflow and foresight. If I tweak a parameter on the spur of the moment, it will usually be faster with the mouse alone. If I tweak parameters as part of a preconceived workflow, my hand can (be trained to) automatically move to the AI knob as my mouse targets the control(s) in question. Using the AI knob then is “an act of will”, one has to want to incorporate it into ones method - it is not intuitive in the same sense as tweaking with mouse alone or using a dedicated controller would be.
The lock control can be helpful at times when you want to dedicate it to a specific control, and also when adjusting multiple parameters simultaneously.
The jog function I prefer to leave to my ShuttleXpress, I find the AI knob generally too course (crude).
The browse function does not get used much here and value selection and deselection in the browser is easier with the mouse. The open browser by clicking the knob and the reset and close functions via the lock button are handy in this respect, though insofar as the browser is used - I don’t tend to change track presets much. VST(i) plugin presets I also prefer to use the PD browse controls over the AI as it’s simpler.
My primary critque with regard to the AI is that there are a number of controls which don’t respond with the device - particularly in the control room (i’d very likely use the AI function more if this were remedied).
Secondly, the wasted space at the top of the unit literally begs the question “Why?”. Surely a second row of function buttons, if nothing else, could have been placed across the top rather than simply leaving it blank.
A finger-mouse (joy pad as found on many laptop keyboards) or pad beside the AI knob might have been an interesting idea.
To recap, the AI will not do anything that can’t be done (often faster and more efficiently) by some other means, but rather offers an alternate method of control that may appeal to some, but will not be ‘right’ for everyone. You have to want to use it, and it will require a specific effort to work it into your workflow.
For someone on a tighter budget, or wanting to minimize desk real-estate there would be no real advantage to having the AI and I wouldn’t recommend getting one.
So, you’re not an idiot, an idiot would be someone who bought an AI while already having a CC121 or one of the CI interfaces which already feature an AI.
I suppose that I have a kind of advantage in some respects, having had a 2 year hiatus from mixing while designing and building my new studio, I am now able to embrace Cubase 7 without any qualms about interupting ongoing projects. Although a custom Cubase/Nuendo keyboard remains central to my setup, I’m also in a position to reassess former, and experiment with new workflows and techniques. This is primarily why I bought the full compliment of CMC controllers. who knows, perhaps I’m the idiot?
Looking forward to your future discussions of the other CMC controllers.