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-   -   Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard (http://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=408307)

Ellis Beckwith 02-01-2020 01:09 PM

Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard
I've been working with PT for a couple of years now using just a mouse and keyboard, plus a faderport for a transport. I just got a new iPad and downloaded the Avid Control app. The Control app is cool, but I don't see how I can do anything I'm currently doing faster or better with it. Over the past couple of years I've tried several different control surfaces including the Artist Mix and even a Slate Raven. I found all of them to be more complicated and slow to use than just clicking with the mouse.

I see a lot of people on this forum have been using the S3 and now the S1 to control PT and I'm wondering...

Are they really more convenient / faster then the mouse / keyboard or are some folks just not comfortable with the mouse?

Lynn Gršber 02-01-2020 01:17 PM

Re: Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard
The potential for speed with a surface is there. Most people coming from a mouse and keyboard cant get through the initial slow down it takes to "learn" a surface. If you can get through it, the workflow is so much more immersive IMO.

It really is about how you want to work. People mix hits with a mouse and keyboard, some with surfaces. Some people have 80k controllers right in front of them that just follow whatever they do with a mouse and keyboard. haha

docric 02-01-2020 05:07 PM

Re: Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard

Originally Posted by Ellis Beckwith (Post 2552938)
... are they really more convenient / faster then the mouse / keyboard or are some folks just not comfortable with the mouse?

Obviously, I can only comment on my own experience, but having 8 faders + a master fader (Dock + S1), along w/Control app, and well thought out mapping of h/w soft keys & touch screen soft keys, Iím working much faster than I was w/ only kybd/mouse. Just the addition of the Dock & Ctrl app was a serious speed boost once Iíd mapped out my key workflows/shortcuts to the surface.

Iím comfortable w/shortcuts & mouse use, but feel that my current workflow feels quite a bit more natural. But Iím an old guy w/ analog console roots. And, it did take me a good month of being painfully inefficient before things started to come together.

Iíd echo what Lynne said: in the end itís about how you want your work to get done.

basehead617 02-01-2020 06:45 PM

Re: Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard
Like it or not there is an aesthetic aspect to everything we do in life and engineering audio is no different. If it feels and looks more beautiful to you to work on a surface, it will be a more enjoyable experience even if it's not less time technically than doing it on a keyboard and mouse.

That said, you absolutely cannot move multiple (non-VCA'd) faders at once different amounts with a mouse, faders are probably the biggest reason for a surface.

The argument for a surface is less clear cut vs a touch screen but I think most people agree the tactile feel is objectively better. It comes with the downside of being not quite as configurable. As modular and configurable as e.g. an S6 is, you can't just click something and make the faders get replaced with another set of knobs, etc.

Ellis Beckwith 02-01-2020 06:55 PM

Re: Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard
This is the way I'm approaching the question.

Take for instance a simple task like adding a plugin to a slot. I read the S3 user guide, and to do this takes 7 steps:

Select track
Press encoder
Press config switch
Press channel control encoder for chosen slot
Press channel control encoder under plugin
Press channel control encoder under plugin type
Press channel control encoder under desired plugin

With a mouse it takes 3 steps:

click insert slot in track
Click on plugin type in list
click on plugin

I realize that many complicated tasks can require moving and clicking around with the mouse, and that they can be incorporated in to one soft key on the Control app, but fortunately my workflow doesn't require many complex operations.

I didn't grow up on a large format console like many here have. and having used the mouse and keyboard for computer operation for more than 3 decades, the mouse is as comfortable in my right hand as the steering wheel on my car is. I get where folks are coming from - if cars suddenly started being controlled solely by playstation controllers, I'd want a wheel controller to feel comfortable.

Just seeking a compelling reason to sped $$$$ to accomplish tasks I already have the equipment to do.

basehead617 02-01-2020 07:30 PM

Re: Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard
You’ve chosen something to compare to (choosing a plugin) that will always be faster by mouse, yes.

Most surface workflows aren’t instantiating new plugins at all - for example the S6 cannot do it, period (unless it’s your default eq or dynamics). So many people work with templates these days.

I think in music production it’s much more likely that someone will be choosing amongst a wide array of instrument and processing plugins which could be different each time, and i assume most people use the mouse and look at the monitor for that.

I like to not look at the monitor and use the mouse at all when possible, speed isn’t of the utmost importance to me.

The larger surfaces will be much better for speed than an S1 setup since you inherently are banking and attentioning almost everything specifically to fit into fewer physical controls.

ramonetl 02-01-2020 07:40 PM

Re: Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard
I personally like the S1\Artist idea because I found that i missed the tactile feel of my consoles when mixing etc. Its a nice compromise and I like having a better meter view. I currently have an S1 and a dock and I need to put the time into the dock to more effectively use it but the S1 is great when I work and it kind of is like having a mini console. I plan to one day add a second one. If you are unsure you can always pick one up from someplace that has a good return policy to play with it and decide. I paired mine with a cheap ipad 32gb. I would love the ipad pro but that is just not justifiable to spend that money for essentially a meter view. Now if you already have one then you can dual purpose it. :)

its2loud 02-02-2020 07:08 AM

Re: Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard

Originally Posted by Ellis Beckwith (Post 2552938)

Are they really more convenient / faster then the mouse / keyboard or are some folks just not comfortable with the mouse?

Ellis, do you play piano or guitar, or any musical instrument? If so, would you rather play the real thing or a virtual version of that instrument? Ever try to play Bach on a virtual piano? You canít, not with any feel anyway an youíll be missing notes everywhere.

Well, the same holds true for consoles and faders. Tactile surfaces allow you to feel the sound. Also, last I checked I have 10 fingers. That means I can adjust comfortably 8 independent faders at once. (Thumbs donĒt count since mine arenít long enough to reach comfortably). Try doing that with a mouse.

If you want to learn to play, you need to have the instrument.

Ellis Beckwith 02-02-2020 01:09 PM

Re: Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard

I would agree that once production has gotten to the final balancing of track levels, having hands on faders is the ideal way to mix. However, having read thru the manuals for the S1 / S3 / C|24, all editing, inserting, routing, etc. seems clumsier than point and click.( Although the C|24 seems to have less levels to work thru to accomplish a task).

The problem I'm having with the newest generation of control surfaces is that in the pursuit of a smaller footprint commands that appear to take just one or two button clicks now require navigating thru several layers to get to the end result. In that light, the C|24 is starting to look pretty good to me.

I do play piano, guitar, drums, and a long time ago saxophone, and yes I do not feel I can play those instruments competently virtually.

Thanks for your comments. I'm enjoying this discussion.

Meads 02-02-2020 01:32 PM

Re: Control Surface v. Mouse and Keyboard
I started my career on a huge Harrison MPC console. When I went freelancing using mostly my own setup I worked exclusively with keyboard and mouse.
Over the years I went through several controllers, right now I have a C24 and an S3+Dock at my two workstations.
I still do most of my work with mouse and keyboard. The surfaces are mostly used in recording sessions for soloing, muting and adjusting levels for me and the talent. Or when I'm in the last mixing stages to ride VCAs for final adjustments.

My 2 cents - if you're not missing anything in your day to day, you probably won't need nor use a control surface. The learning curve is steep and old habits die (or are replaced) hard. They sure can be handy if you dedicate yourself to learning how to use them, but why would you do that, if there's no compelling reason?
You don't seem to mind working with keyboard and mouse, and neither you should. Nothing wrong with not using a controller if you're comfortable.

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