MIDI device panels right-click menu displays “assign to midi remote”, but doesn't work

I am trying to integrate my hardware synth (a Novation Peak) tightly into Cubase 12. Therefore, I create a midi device in the midi device manager and created the parameters cutoff frequency and resonance and corresponding controls in the device panel. Now, I can turn those with the mouse and that works as expected!

However, when I right.click any of those controls and try to learn the parameter with a midi remote control (encoder on my novation laugh control XL), it does not work as it should. I do see the controls move for recorded automations. But I cannot record automations with the dial nor does the synth react the control in any way.

How can I assign hardware midi controllers to those controls on the device panels?

So, nobody answering seems to suggest that the midi device panels is one of those parts that hasn’t gotten the necessary love and attention by the developers (maybe the users, first) and is pretty much abandoned? But I do wonder: why is there an option to learn parameters of a midi device with the newly introduced midi remote API and it simply doesn’t work? Is that just not fully implemented, yet, but on the way of becoming realized?

You describe how you have been able to create a device panel and can turn the controls with the mouse to alter parameters on the synth … this is what MIDI Device Panels are intended to do, they control external equipment (and VST parameters) … but you seem to want to also do it the other way around, control the Device Panel parameters with an external MIDI controller. Is that correct?

Yes, you are right in what I am trying to do. However, you are wrong in that this is not supposed to be working this way. Take a look at the screenshot: you can see a scarce midi device panel I created opened up. When you right-click any of the controls you see the function “assign to midi remote” (in German). So, it is obviously something that SHOULD work. Otherwise, that option popping up with a right click wouldn’t make any sense …

Below, you can also see how the cutoff and resonance parameters from peak are already assigned to two encoders from novation launch control. Another indicator, that it should work! But as I said: in spite of the parameter successfully being learned, turning those encoders does not do anything visually on the midi device panel or send the proper midi to Peak.

To me, this looks like this feature was planed to be released with Cubase 12, but not fully implemented and dropped due to prioritizing. I would like to know from Steinberg: will this be fixed any time soon?

MIDI Device Panels (around since SX3, I think) are, as I understand them, only intended to be the contoller, rather than to be controlled from elsewhere. I think of them as a way to add a GUI to an external device, with the advantage of being able to store the state of the external device as part of the Cubase project.

The documentation for the new MIDI Remote feature does indicate that it should be possible to map to any Cubase control, so I wonder if the 20-year-old code of MIDI Device Panels is the problem here.

Perhaps the developer might comment on this after the holiday period.

1 Like

I think they were even in Cubase VST, from 1995 or so…

Yes, I think that is the reason I never used them. A control GUI in Cubase that can automate parameters should be automatable with hardware controls. Recording a cutoff filter with the mouse just isn’t how I want to do this … IMO this was (next to the complicated midi device builder) the reason that not many people seem to have used those device panels. It was definitively the reason I stopped looking into them when I started using Cubase (I have been a Logic user until Cubase 6).

But this option seemed exciting to me! With that feature working (and maybe some improvement of the midi device builder/manager (some things are really unintuitive and hard to wrap your head around) this could be another cool reason to use Cubase! I hate al of the hardware synth control plugins I used so far! Having a tight integration of hardware in Cubase would be a great deal to me!

AFAIK the midi remote is currently not able to control external midi hardware. It’s primarily made to control the DAW. It may be extended in the future to control external midi hardware. In theory it should be possible and doable, but currently the midi remote doesn’t even have control over Midi-tracks.

However there are great solutions for your problem, like this one: Novation Peak and Summit Editor VST and Standalone – Ctrlr
Since this is not treated like a midi device panel and is a vst-plug-in inside Cubase, it should be easy to do, what you are looking for.

Thanks, u-man! But - as I said: I do not like using plugins for my hardware synths. Every developer does things differently and I found myself often troubleshooting with these plugins or loosing my editing work. It killed the workflow for me! I mainly used sound tower plugins so far and - as you might guess - would not recommend them! It may very well be that the mentioned Peak VST is a lot better.

However, I want one solution that will work with all synths I have and will always work without having to pay for potential upgrades. That is why I will wait for Steinberg to extend functionality of the midi remote (also in other regards) and fix this problem with the midi device panels.

Like I said, I don’t think that there is currently any other way to achieve something like you want.
To be fair, you should not forget at what time the midi device option was invented. A time where midi controllers where expensive and also mostly dedicated hardware controllers. So at that time, people where happy to control their hardware with a mouse.
I agree that it seems odd NOW, that you don’t have a option to map a midi device panel via midi-learn to a midi-controller.

On the other side, my provided solution doesn’t cost you a single cent nor it will you cost money in the future. I am using four different ctrl-VST s since years without any problems, including the Peak VST.

I definitely appreciate your input! Ctrlr ist a project I remember checking out some years ago, but had forgotten it existed. Thanks for that!

I know that what I want doesn’t work, now. - hence the post here! I am hopin Steinberg is going to fix it, though.

In the meantime: how do you use the Ctrlr VST? Is it possible to use it together with external instruments in Cubase? I really don’t want to loose the ability to have my hardware synth be one channel with audio and midi included. That is why the midi device panel would be the icing on the cake! But this Ctrlr would be a separate VST track with that plugin loaded. So, I would need another audio channel with activated monitoring to get audio, right? How do you handle that?

Its a pity they are one way only. Requesting the values of the controllers of the hardware is not possible. So if one saves a snapshot and send it back later the sound is different. The parameters you did not change are send back with de default ones. I also tried Ctrlr but it turned out spending more time programming than making music.

First I want to apologize for thinking the Peak panel is for free. To my surprise, I saw that the panel indeed costs 7€. I did not remember that i paid for it.

There is nothing to fix. It is a feature request, since the functions you want, never existed before and therefore there is no „bug“ to fix. You have a higher chance, if you tag your thread with „feature request“.

It’s the main purpose of a Ctrlr VST to work together with a external instrument inside of Cubase. I use the Ctrlr VST as a replacement of the midi track for my external synth. I don’t use audio tracks for external gear, only in rare cases.

This is something that really depends on many factors. First there is the hardware itself. Is the hardware able to do what you request here? The hardware needs to be able to send a dump on a patch basis to support „snapshots“. Not every synth is capable of doing this.

Then there is the midi device panel and the code for it. Many panels support only a portion of what is possible. Most of them miss for example the performance modes of synths.

Thankfully the Ctrlr VST I use, are working very well. If you need snapshots, you could do them manually (if nothing else works) by saving the current patch to another place.

Depending on the complexity of a synth, it might be a time consuming process to program a Ctrlr VST, but you would need to do it only once, which is absolutely ok for me.

That is wrong, though. You can well see in my screenshot that the right-click on the encoder offers the option to learn that control with a midi remote control. The same is true for the midi remote surface that shows me cutoff and resonance. So, call it what you want! But when a feature exists in the GUI and just doesn’t work, that is hardly a feature request. It is rather requesting them to finish a job they obviously started, but haven’t finished. Closer to a bug report IMO …

If you (a) assign to each soft knob on the device panel a specific MIDI CC# and (b) ensure your hardware sends to Cubase that MIDI CC#, the soft knobs should reflect your control actions on the hardware, and the MIDI messages sent from the hardware should record as MIDI part automation (which can be converted to track automation via Functions > Extract MIDI Automation). No extra mapping is required.

Thanks Aivaras! I am going to test this and hope it will do what you say it does. If the midi CC (and hopefully also NRPNs etc) directed to the track of the hardware instrument will move the controls, that would be pretty good to me, already! Being able to use the midi remote for automation would still be a welcome addition, but this would be pretty good, already.

I just have some doubts, as I think I already tried that out some years ago and it did not work. But I will surely test it, as you said it would work. Let’s see …

You were indeed right: Now I can control the resonance of Peak with the resonance encoder. Setting Peak “local off” this would absolutely work just using midi instead of automation.

It seems to work with all of the encoders and buttons of the Peak to control the, which I expected. However, it just works with simple CCs on the midi device panel. In my example, cutoff is a parameter with 250 steps and is being controlled with two CCs (RPN or NRPN - I cannot remember right now). But it doesn’t help having a midi device panel with this …

The expected way for this to work would be:

  1. Press record moving the encoders or moving the midi device panel encoders and this would record midi CC, NRPN and whatever the synth is outputting.
  2. Automating the midi devices panels via mouse or midi remote and this sends the midi CC to the device.

None of these two options work fully, which is weird and looks like some abandoned (or unfinished) project. Steinberg: if would be really good to fix this. I am not claiming all other DAWs do have a good hardware control system. However, Cubase looks like it has one, but as soon as you dig into it you realize nothing is really as good as it could be … which is really frustrating! I would in my eyes be much more meaningful to fix and complete a feature set like this one instead of just adding more.

Please consider that! Thanks!

I did wonder why you weren’t doing this at the outset – using the Launch Control as the input to a MIDI track that has its output routed to the Peak, no need for either Device Panels or Cubase’s MIDI Remote, just oldskool MIDI.

One example of where I use a Device Panel is for a preamp which is in a rack, and physically out of reach from where I sit. For convenience, I have a Device Panel with only the most-often tweaked controls defined. This allows me to adjust these control with the mouse while listening to what’s coming into Cubase in audio from that preamp.

If another person wants to make adjustments to that preamp to their own personal taste, the preamp also sends the CC’s which are recorded onto the MIDI track alongside the audio from the preamp. In that case, the controls on the Device Panel also move to follow the physical adjustments made using the knobs on the preamp.

It also works with MIDI sysex. You may need to look into that for more advanced control. I use both CC and sysex in my device panels.

Can you tell me how?

As a test I have configured Cutoff and Resonance as shown in my screenshot. As per the midi implementation listed in the manual (which obviously cannot be changed), Resonance sending and receiving CC 79. Resonance works from the midi device panel and it also moves when I turn the encoder. Cutoff on the other hand works with a pair of CCs (29 and 61). I must have set it up correctly in the the midi device panel, because the filter is correctly applied to the sound when I turn the panel control by mouse! However, this panel encoder does not move when I turn the actual encoder on the device. Is that possible somehow?