Old 03-21-2020, 04:08 PM   #1
DarkStar
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Default Q: MIDI Controllers for VSTI sound selection?

Several (sample-based) VSTis have a Live mode, where Songs and Instruments can be selected using MIDI Program Change Messages. For example: SampleTank 4:

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Live Mode lets you assign Multis and individual Instruments to MIDI Program Change numbers. Multis and Instruments can be grouped into Songs
where all of the sample data for each Song is pre-loaded for faster switching during live performance. Songs can also be assigned to a MIDI Program Change number, and a collection of Songs can be stored as a Set List.
Can you recommend a MIDI controller, with loads of buttons, that can be programmed to send PC messages? I am thinking of a Launchpad-type approach with buttons in the first column selecting a song, and buttons in the subsequent columns selecting the Instrument
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Old 03-24-2020, 04:18 AM   #2
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... bump ?
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Old 03-24-2020, 04:50 AM   #3
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maybe you'd get a better response in the MIDI hardware forum.
launchpad seems like a good option but i don't have one so can't really comment.
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Old 03-24-2020, 05:06 PM   #4
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Most midi controllers can be configured/mapped to send specific bank/program selections via any given button--the problem arises when you want to scroll thru or browse presets via program change. Using translation plugins like pizMIDI's MIDIProgramChange will allow you to map either a knob or fader to move through presets via program change, but with potentially 128 values, it may be difficult to stop on the one you want.

An alternative (and the way I'm currently doing it) is to use that same plugin but map it to 2 buttons on a controller so that one button is "increment" and the other "decrement." Of course, with 128 potential values, stepping one by one also has drawbacks, but it's my favored method of the moment until I hear of a better alternative, or until MIDI 2.0 is developed and becomes affordable to mere mortals.

For VSTi's that don't support program change natively, you can save each of their presets as a Reaper FX preset and use "link to MIDI program change" in Reaper's FX settings to achieve the same type of browse function. Yes, it's a pain in the ass, and yes, you'll have to do it all over again if the VSTi manufacturer updates versions to something significantly different.

Another alternative is to invest in a dedicated hardware/software combo like Arturia's Analog Lab/Keylab combo or the Native Instruments controllers with NI VSTi's. These use proprietary methods of preset browsing rather than program change, but they offer features like filtering preset lists (basses/pads/leads/pianos, etc). However, if you use another vendor's VSTi, you're back to the methods described above.

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Old 03-24-2020, 06:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by billybuck View Post
An alternative (and the way I'm currently doing it) is to use that same plugin but map it to 2 buttons on a controller so that one button is "increment" and the other "decrement." Of course, with 128 potential values, stepping one by one also has drawbacks, but it's my favored method of the moment until I hear of a better alternative, or until MIDI 2.0 is developed and becomes affordable to mere mortals.
You could use two more buttons, this time doing e.g. +16 -16, or +8 -8
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Old 03-24-2020, 06:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by DarkStar View Post
Can you recommend a MIDI controller, with loads of buttons, that can be programmed to send PC messages? I am thinking of a Launchpad-type approach with buttons in the first column selecting a song, and buttons in the subsequent columns selecting the Instrument
Which os? You want to use it without a computer or are computers allowed?

If with computers why not taking a normal qwerty, or more fancy rgb qwerty, having enough buttons I guess, then triggering any midi using sendmidi* command line, for any os there are qwerty to script triggering tools, for Windows there is AutoHotkey, for linux there is xbindkeys. This is what I would use in simplest and most elegant form. I hope this helps my friend. Good luck.

* https://github.com/gbevin/SendMIDI
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Old 03-24-2020, 06:29 PM   #7
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From what I have heard, Nektar and Kontrol have the best integration with Reaper, but with Kontrol MK2 you have to install ReaKontrol first, and Kontrol doesn't have faders or pads if you need those.

I'm not an expert though and I'm trying to decide which to buy myself.

I have no idea about Arturia's integration, except I've heard that it doesn't integrate with Reaper by default as well as Nektar does, but does have faders.

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Old 03-25-2020, 03:13 AM   #8
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Thank you guys.

Many controllers can be programmed to send Notes of CCs but that it not what I'm looking for. Programming PC messages onto buttons seems rarer. For example, as far as I can tell, LaunchPads cannot send PC messages.

What I am looking for is a controller that can be programmed to send specific Program Change messages with ease. For example:
Button A sends PC# 010
Button B sends PC# 020
Button C sends PC# 011
Button D sends PC# 012
Button E sends PC# 021
Button F sends PC# 022
Button G sends PC# 023
Button H sends PC# 024

And so on. Perhaps up to 32 different PC messages. And with the ability to load different "banks" of assignments.

You could imagine using it to select Reaper presets in plug-ins.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:24 AM   #9
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I use an XTouch Compact -> https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=213568#5
In fact with Midi Preprocessing, I do a two-layer setup allowing for selectiung 64 patches with 4*8 = 32 appropriate buttons (including the 8 tipö rotary pushes), while the other Buttons are used for special purpose such as keyboard select and layer select.

See that thread for lots of details on how to get it running.

I use JSFXes for Midi preprocessing -> MidiToReaControlPath -> LiveConfigs for the gloabls patch selection with multiple tracks.

E.g. with Kontakt I use instrument collections that need Program Change messages for sound change and therefor I use SliderToMidiPS to generate those from LiveConfigs activity.

-Michael

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Old 03-25-2020, 07:26 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkStar View Post
What I am looking for is a controller that can be programmed to send specific Program Change messages with ease. For example:
Button A sends PC# 010
Button B sends PC# 020
Button C sends PC# 011
Button D sends PC# 012
Button E sends PC# 021
Button F sends PC# 022
Button G sends PC# 023
Button H sends PC# 024

And so on. Perhaps up to 32 different PC messages. And with the ability to load different "banks" of assignments.
I would think most newer MIDI controllers would be capable of sending specific PC numbers per button. I have an Arturia Keylab, a Novation Impulse 25, and an Akai MIDIMix, and all three of them come with software allowing you to customize most buttons to send either a midi note, a cc, or a pc value. (Some reserve a few buttons for DAW control via OSC, and those buttons usually can't be reprogrammed.) The only problem with mapping devices like that to specific PC's is they don't have that many buttons to choose from. You might be looking at something more like a Novation Launchkey that's all buttons, and make sure that its accompanying software allows them to be configured as pc values.

To control VSTi's, there are multiple freeware translator utility plugins like the one I previously mentioned that can convert incoming midi from any type of message (note/cc/pc) to any other type/value, so it wouldn't matter as much whether your controller supported it natively. Any button, pad, or key could theoretically be translated to a pc value.
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Old 03-26-2020, 12:21 AM   #11
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As a midi event conveter pizmidi midiConverter3 works very well.
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Old 03-27-2020, 04:27 AM   #12
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Thank you all for the suggestions.

I'll investigate LiveConfigs.

I am not sure that midiConverter3 would do the trick, unless the controller can be programmed for CC messages (or notes) with specific data values.
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Old 03-27-2020, 07:20 AM   #13
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Hi,
Or, just get miditranslator pro and go nuts!
Turns ANY midi message into another and way more. I used it to turn a hui csurf into an mcu. Small footprint CPU and memory wise and mine has NEVER crashed.
And if I can figure it out, anyone can. Best money I ever spent on sw.

Good luck DS.
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Old 03-27-2020, 08:24 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkStar View Post
I'll investigate LiveConfigs..
-> www.bschnell.de/LiveConfigs_1.pdf
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Old 03-27-2020, 10:37 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LugNut View Post
Turns ANY midi message into another and way more. .
Well, this oscii-bot can do as well. Other options: sendmidi, receivemidi, keykit.
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Old 06-29-2020, 08:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkStar View Post
Thank you all for the suggestions.

I'll investigate LiveConfigs.

I am not sure that midiConverter3 would do the trick, unless the controller can be programmed for CC messages (or notes) with specific data values.
Lemur or TouchOSC let you build your own controller interfaces, and they do program change.

Not the easiest devices to figure out, but they work once you do. The touch screen has it's advantages and disadvantages, but overall I like it.
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Old 06-29-2020, 10:19 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by revdrmaru View Post
Lemur or TouchOSC let you build your own controller interfaces, and they do program change.
AFAIK, they do OSC rather then Midi.

Integrating such in Reaper might be best done with the CSI extension rather than trying to do that manually - which seems very hard to do.

-Michael
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Old 06-29-2020, 10:23 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkStar View Post
I'll investigate LiveConfigs.I am not sure that midiConverter3 would do the trick, unless the controller can be programmed for CC messages (or notes) with specific data values.
The rather simple trick in Reaper is to receive th Midi stream from the Controller in a track, do some processing on the stream by appropriate JSFX plugins taken from ReaPack, and send the resulting CC messages to LiveConfigs by means of MidiToReaControlPath.

-Michael
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Old 06-30-2020, 10:50 PM   #19
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When you think about it, it's pretty ridiculous that we're here in 2020 debating which scripting language we should learn to achieve one of the most basic functions of software instruments. The ability to navigate presets in a standardized way should have been part of the VSTi specification from day one--certainly by the implementation of VST3. And the means to control that should be standard on every $99 MIDI controller that rolls off a production line.

Why is it that controls have become so granular that we can easily MIDI-map the knob that changes the predelay on a synth's reverb effect, but when it comes to changing the core sound, you have to navigate a labyrinth of does it or does it not support MIDI program change, or does it use a proprietary selection method, and does it expose that to the host? And if you're lucky and it does support program change, can you trick your controller with a custom script into actually controlling it?
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Old 07-01-2020, 03:11 AM   #20
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Some plugins (such as Kontakt) do internally feature Patch selection by means of receiving program change Midi messages.

Some Conrtollers do feature sending out program change messages.

But happily the world (especially with regard on Reaper) is much more versatile, than just such simple cases, and to manage this, the user in fact needs to take some effort.

-Michael
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