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Topic: Best encoder for DAW mixer (Read 551 times) previous topic - next topic

pajczur

Welcome,
I would like to ask you for help in selecting an encoder for audio MIDI supposes. I am quite a beginner and hobbyist.
I want my encoder to be able to map various sliders on DAW mixer. And I want to be able to change mapping on the workflow.

That's why I prefer encoders instead regular potentiometers.

I need two encoders and I imagine they should have the following features:

1) jump-free - or with option to switch between smooth or jumping operation.

2) All I need is the functionality of an ordinary incremental encoder, but I want as many impulses per one turn as possible. There are incremental encoders with 128 impulses per turn, but they are little bit too expensive. That is why I wonder if some absolute or magnetic encoder would be better? But the magnetic ones I found only those for self-construction. Would you recommend something ready-made? By the way I do not know what is the difference between a magnetic and an absolute encoder? Is it a completely different kind or just a different pulse counting mechanism, which can be both absolute and incremental?

3) I also want every encoder to have a button. This is not necessary, but very desirable.

If anyone could help me to find such product that would be great.

For any help great thanks in advance.

Best regards

Grumpy_Mike

#1
Sep 03, 2020, 06:48 am Last Edit: Sep 03, 2020, 06:52 am by Grumpy_Mike
There are two types of rotary encoder absolute, and incremental. The absolute one has a binary output on N pins with each pin giving a unique value. For 128 positions this is very popular
https://uk.farnell.com/bourns/eaw0j-b24-ae0128l/encoder-rotary-128pos-8-bit/dp/9358234?st=absolute%20rotary%20encoder

The output bit pattern is not a simple increasing binary count so you have to use some software to convert the output bit pattern into an increasing binary count suitable for sending to a MIDI controller.

The incremental encoder gives pulses that your software has to count.

A magnetic encoder can be incremental or absolute, but the position is taken from the orientation of a special type of magnet placed about 1mm from the surface. I do not know of any ready assembled housings that use a magnetic encoder. They are very free rotating system with no clicks and so are not easy to use as a hand operated control.

pajczur

Hello Grumpy_Mike,
great thanks for your answer and help.
So it looks like I need basic absolute encoder.
That one which you linked looks great, but the only issue is it looks like it is without push button.

I've just googled for something similar but with push button, but found nothing.
It seems imposible. I know a lot of devices which have mounted smooth rotating encoders with button. Even very old devices.

So I can't understand why it is so hard for me to find such encoder.
Maybe my google skills are poor :)

If you could give me any link to such encoder I would be very appretiate.

Grumpy_Mike

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I know a lot of devices which have mounted smooth rotating encoders with button. Even very old devices.
But all these devices are incremental encoders, not absolute ones.

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So I can't understand why it is so hard for me to find such encoder.
The thing you have to understand is that hobby electronics lives off the coat-tails of industry. So for a part to exist it has to be practical to make and someone must want it in large quantities.
A mechanic absolute encoder has eight contacts that move over a PCB track, maybe it is hard to make that robust enough with a push switch. Or maybe no one wants it at the price they can make it for. With the right hardware and display an incremental encoder can look like an absolute one.

I never liked the push buttons anyway, as I always seem to move it the the next location when I push them.

pajczur

Hello Grumpy_Mike,
great thanks for yur exhaustive answer. It sounds reasonable.

So in that case I ask last thing   :)

Maybe you could recommend any model of incremental encoder for DAW mixer controlling?

So I think it should have as many impulses as possible per revolution. I can imagine it is the best if it rotating smoothly, without jumping.

O course the best would be standard analog potentiometers. But due to fact I want one knob to be responsible for many sliders in my DAW it should be with automation built in (I mean motorized slider) but it's too expensive. That's why I am so insisted on encoder instead potentiometer.

Grumpy_Mike

#5
Sep 06, 2020, 06:51 am Last Edit: Sep 06, 2020, 06:52 am by Grumpy_Mike
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Maybe you could recommend any model of incremental encoder for DAW mixer controlling?
That is tricky because you have conflicting requirements. First off you want to be able to move it quickly, and second you don't want to spend too much money.

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So I think it should have as many impulses as possible per revolution.
Correct.
Although if they are coming in faster than you can ship them out then you might have to implement some sort of software that outputs the pulses as fast as MIDI will allow and buffer the changes.

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I can imagine it is the best if it rotating smoothly, without jumping.
Not sure what you mean here? I suspect you mean using an encoder without clicks, if you do that is not going to give you jumps because you are still incrementing as fast as you turn the knob.

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But due to fact I want one knob to be responsible for many sliders in my DAW it should be with automation built in (I mean motorized slider) but it's too expensive.
Well these were not as expensive as I thought they would be.

Pot 1
Pot 2
I used them to make a motorised slider bank with LEDs for a disabled person to do essentially the same thing. This was just one part of a whole bunch of accessible controls she could use to make interaction with Ableton easier for her.


Do you know that the volume on each channel is a 14 bit control function using two CC messages, one for the most significant 7 bits and an other for the least?

Sorry I have no specific recommendations for what you are after.

pajczur

Hello Grumpy_Mike !!!

Great thanks for all your support.

Grumpy_Mike

Just had a thought. Why do you want a push switch on the encoder that controls the parameter value? Think about how you want it it operate, you want the parameter to track the rotation. You don't even need one on the encoder that selects what channel the controller is going to alter.

pajczur

#8
Sep 08, 2020, 10:23 am Last Edit: Sep 08, 2020, 10:28 am by pajczur
Just had a thought. Why do you want a push switch on the encoder that controls the parameter value? Think about how you want it it operate, you want the parameter to track the rotation. You don't even need one on the encoder that selects what channel the controller is going to alter.
Hello,
thanks for that question :)

As I said the push button is not necessary.
But I like it because my dream is to configure push button to work in that way:

1) I hover mouse coursor over fader parameter which I want to control
2) then click encoder's push button automaticaly does bunch of operations:
 a) launch Control Assignment in Logic Pro X;
 b) activate "learn";
 c) make some micro move (pretending it's mouse) on fader (to indicate which fader I want to control);
 d) get initial (current) value of fader and set the same value on my encoder;
 e) send encoder impulses - to learn Logic Pro X which MIDI controller I want to use (which is in that case my encoder);
 f) unactivate "learning"
 g) close Control Assignment.


As you see I just want to simplify MIDI controller linking process.
Of course I am still not sure if it's possible, that's why all those questions.

To be honest on other forums (for Logic Pro users) I asked much more questions :)
For example I still can't solve point d). I have no idea how to get from Logic Pro to Arduino the initial current value from Logic Pro's fader.

In Logic Pro there is only option to set MIDI Input. But there is no option to set MIDI Output.
There is only option to sending faders MIDI messages through some Mackie Control standard protocol, or other supported. But it works only for Logic Pro mixer or transport bar. But it doesn't work for third party plugins parameters.

So at that stage I am little bit confused, and I am almost give up, and thinking to buy some Behringer cheap and ready to use controller.

Of course already I was considering to buy some ready to use MIDI surface controller. But at first I thought it would be nice and fun to make it by myself with Arduino and on the occasion develope my skills in programming and electronic. And at second I don't like all those market controller with tones of options, buttons, sliders etc. I just need two knobs. That's it.

Of course there are on the market single fader MIDI controllers, but they are all very expensive for me and I am even not sure if they work as I expect. And as I told on the beggining I thought it is easy and fun to do that by myself :)

Grumpy_Mike

I don't have Logic Pro, I "only" have Ableton but I have not used that much either.
 
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d) get initial (current) value of fader and set the same value on my encoder;
I had the same sort of problem with the motorised sliders, we needed them to be updated when you changed the sets in Ableton. There was no way of doing this from Ableton but fortunately it allows external MSP functions and one of these sent the fader values out over MIDI when the set was changed. We could pick this up and move the sliders to the previously set position.

If your controller were the only thing setting these controllers it would be easy, just have all the last values sent in the memory and you could pick up from there. But if you have something else setting these controllers as well you would have to route this to your controller as well to update the last value sent from that controller.

pajczur

Grumpy_Mike !!!
Great thanks. It looks very interestng.

Could you give me link to any explanation of using those external MSP functions in Ableton? And which function allows to sent the fader values out over MIDI when the set is changed?

It would be easier for me to find any analogous subjects for Logic Pro.

Now when I use google with "Logic Pro MSP" I get some subjects about Midi Enviroment Transformer.
I know how to use that Midi Enviroment and it works for me as I expect. But this is pain in the ass to configure it everytime I want to control any CC.

So I hope MPS functions about which you are talking are something easier and more proper for my purposes.

Best regards

Grumpy_Mike

#11
Sep 09, 2020, 07:26 am Last Edit: Sep 09, 2020, 07:28 am by Grumpy_Mike
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Could you give me link to any explanation of using those external MSP functions in Ableton?
We used "LiveGrabber Max for Live devices". You can search for this term but the main page is at:-
https://sonicbloom.net/en/livegrabber-to-sendreceive-osc-in-ableton-live/
It is mainly designed for interfacing OSC messages into Ableton.

This is a suite of six MAX applications, we used GrabberSender. We used some code written in the Processing language to take these OSC messages and translate them into MIDI then send them on to a Teensy 3.6 by USB serial.

This is the block diagram of the whole system which is called The Nashesizer after the disabled woman we created it for, sound artist Gemma Nash. You can see it is quite a complex system mainly due to the fact of the difficulty of getting messages out of Ableton.



If you search all the software is opensource on line. A colleague of mine handled the Ableton side.

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