Step-By-Step Guide for using the Remote Control Editor to customize your own plugin parameter layout for the following hardware:
Mackie Control MCU
Avid System 5 MC
Avid Artist Series
Cm Motor Mix
and also any other third parties hardware system that supports Mackie Control Mode (or Protocol) in the plugin editting area/section.
It is assumed that by this point, you have set up your supported hardware controller well with Cubase/Nuendo, meaning that you have successfully connected your device with the DAW via the device setup menu for usual operation. For more details about how to set up your hardware with the DAW, please refer to the appropriate info/manual page accordingly, as this guide only covers some tips on how to bring the most out of your RCE for your VST plugin control experience on your hardware.
Ok, I will try my best to explain the topic as easy as possible here and hope that I won’t be bringing the convoluted stuff this time, which I allegedly did In any case, if there’s any unclear section, please feel free to ask or write me.
1. To make things simple and easy to understand, let’s create an empty project with a single audio track. Then insert a VST plugin (let’s say the MultibandCompressor plugin from the default Steinberg plugin set) into the 3rd slot of the insert section at the channel inspector, as an example.
2. Now, regardless of which hardware from the above list that you have, there is a standard and well-defined way to “browse” or go to the insert plugin section of the mentioned audio channel on your hardware controller (and I hope you know how to do this ). At this point, one should see 8 insert slots available for the instant access on the hardware, where the 3rd one has been loaded with the MultibandComp in our example.
3. Enter the plugin control layer of the 3rd slot (MultibandComp) by pressing the knobtop or any other corresponding function or page button dedicated for this (depending on the standard of your own HW), one should see that part of the multibandComp parameters are listed along the encoder knobs of your device, for instance, the top 8 encoders of the MCU device. Alright, up to this point, this is where/how we control those VST things since the HW integration introduced many years ago for the listed devices…
(Something worth mentioning here is that, such hardware-based focus-oriented workflow in different function layers like Channel EQ, Channel Inserts, Sends, etc are not available on the generic remotes in general, as it requires some extra MIDI specifications that are only offered by protocols such as Mackie Control, EuCon, etc)
4. For all VST plugins delivered by Steinberg, a well-thought layout of the underlying parameters has been predefined from factory, thus one should usually get the usable/important controls directly on the first page upon accomplishing step 3 above. But what if you have a 3rd-parties plugins or the pre-defined layout by Steinberg does not fit your actual use case or workflow? Let’s say, the order or the naming of the MultibandComp parameters that you see on your hardware does not appear to be optimal enough…
5. Now, by staying at where you are on your hardware (the parameter control layer of MultibandComp, I will use MBC from now on). Open the so-called Remote Control Editor from the MBC plugin window via mouse (you usually only need to prepare once for each plugin if the param order is less satisfied )
6. If I’m not mistaken, you should see the following parameters order for Page 1 by default (from left to right, for 8 cells Standard Layout)
Now, you could…
Hide or Remove a particular parameter
- Let’s say you already have the insert slot bypass somewhere at the top layer… and the Bypass (delivered by default) is an unnecessary duplicate here that you would like to remove…
- simply activate the “Learn mode” by clicking the “L” button near the top-right corner.
- Then, click on the knob of the 3rd cell in page 1 (in this case the cell with the “Bypass” parameter) to get the focus on the corresponding knob encoder on the RCE GUI, one should see the blue line covering the GUI knob area indicating the focus. By pressing “Backspace” or “delete” at this point, one can remove the assignment of the current virtual HW control.
- By pressing “Apply” button at the top-right corner of RCE, one should see the change applied immediately to your hardware… Meaning the physical knob encoder that previously controlling the “bypass” function is now empty/idle.
Rearrange a particular parameter (or the whole page)
- One could also drag and drop a particular cell to replace (exchange or copy) it onto another cell in any page. Simply left-click on the empty area within a cell in RCE (that is any area outside the knob or switches GUI), while holding it and dragging it to your desired location of the targetted cell.
Tip1: by pressing “CTRL” or “Alt” during drag and drop operation, you gain the possibility in exchanging two cells or duplicating the same parameter onto another cell.
Tip2: One can do the same with the complete page by dragging and dropping the page body.
NOTE: this can be done in either both Learn mode or normal mode.
Rename a particular parameter
- Let’s say “Threshold1” is too long to fit in your MCU LED display.
- On the RCE, double-click on the label part of the 4th cell of page 1 (namely the Threshold1 parameter cell) and name it as “Thd1” and confirm it with “Enter”. Then click on the “Apply” button near the Top-Right corner of the RCE. Now, you should see that the name is updated accordingly on your MCU device’s LED section too… (The same applies to all other supported HW)
Note: Depending on the availability of your HW, most devices only have one LED display for each knob encoder, while some high-end counterparts could provide up to three different length on different control sections, for instance, the Avid System5-MC. For the common case where you only have one single LED display for each knob encoder, please use the “Main Label” for the rename step.
Tip: The “Main Label” is also the top label you see on each cell block in the RCE page.
Define the LED ring behavior based on the parameter charateristic
- Many listed HW supports various LED ring mode on each Knob encoder to indicate the functionality or characteristic of the corresponding Knob encoder (or the underlying parameter) more intuitively. For instance, one would usually expect the center-hooked gauge metering for a “Pan” parameter, while a left to right increment ring gauge for a “Gain” parameter, etc.
- Depending on the availability of your HW, you can specifically define the LED ring behavior of each knob (cell) for better user experience on your HW. In practice, this does not change the behavior of the knob encoder itself but the look and feel of it.
Customize your own layout from scratch
- Practically, it is also very convenient to redefine the whole layout right from scratch. Simply reset the whole thing via the “Reset All” button. Remove the excessive pages down to the last one.
- Then, activate the Learn mode by pressing the “L” button
- In learn mode, left click on the knob (or switch if applicable) of any cell to get the focus (blue line covering the control area), then go and click on the intended parameter switch or dial on your VST plugin GUI, one will assign the clicked parameter directly to the focused knob/switch in RCE.
- Alternatively, one could also double-click on the corresponding cell knob (or switch) during the “Learn mode” to get a pop-up tree list for assigning the intended parameter similar to the channel quick control assignment workflow.
Another good example:
Let’s say you only need the threshold and ratio parameters of each band but nothing else ever in your work, which in this case made up 8 parameters in total that you would like to use frequently.
Then, one could practically assign the pairs from each band onto the first page and remove the rest (assuming that the engineer never uses the rest of the parameter in the future ever again). In this case, one can assign the following parameters from left to right in page 1:
Then, remove the rest of the secondary pages (by pressing the “-” button near the edge of the page). Once done, press “Apply” and there you go… the hardware will only provide the one and only page (a knob encoder row on the HW) with your most favorite parameters each time you access the plugin editting layer.
Not to be confused with MIDI learn for the generic remote setup, the “Learn” mode in RCE is similar to the one in the channel quick control block, which allows you to learn and assign the VST plugin parameter under your mouse click to the focused knob or switch of any cell in RCE.
For choosing the right layout in RCE for your HW, please refer to this table: https://www.steinberg.net/forum/download/file.php?id=4132
Note that if your hardware controller is not listed on the table, but emulates Mackie Control mode that allows you to control insert strip and VST plugins from the surface. Please see your device as “Mackie Control device” and use the “Standard Layout” for your MC-compatible device.
- Once you got the particular plugin editing layer active on your hardware. Any change made on the RCE for that particular plugin will be reflected on the fly to your hardware whenever “Apply” is triggered.
So, in general, you only have to set up once for each VST plugin that does not deliver a meaningful parameter order initially for the VST plugin editing on your HW.
Hope that this helps. Thanks!