Reason SSL Mixer Hardware Controller

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dioxide
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Post 21 Mar 2018

The project looked interesting and yes it's a shame that it has been shelved. But good news on the mixer controller project! I look forward to seeing what happens next :D

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O1B
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Post 21 Mar 2018

A most excellent Thread.

To see such a fledgling attempt at Top Flight is just the Best.
And, by your own hand. SO cool.

Thanks for sharing your work.

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amcjen
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Post 21 Mar 2018

Thank you both. Can’t win ‘em all, and it was super ambitious—but back at the project at hand, I’m very excited to get back into hardware controller land.

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wendylou
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Post 21 Mar 2018

Wow, this is going to be great. As much as screens and mice do the job, there is something about real, tactile controls. Years ago, I had an tour of the former Jimmy Jam and Terry Louis studios in Edina, MN that McCalley Audio had purchased. There were like 5 or 6 studios in that huge building, all with mixing consoles. They were in the process of selling off the gear, as the studio business just wasn't what it used to be. Dick McCalley remarked: "Pushing a mouse today does the same thing as that console fader". True, but it doesn't feel the same! I'm not sure why, but given the choice, I'd much rather have real controls to work with. Why is that?

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selig
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Post 21 Mar 2018

wendylou wrote:
21 Mar 2018
Wow, this is going to be great. As much as screens and mice do the job, there is something about real, tactile controls. Years ago, I had an tour of the former Jimmy Jam and Terry Louis studios in Edina, MN that McCalley Audio had purchased. There were like 5 or 6 studios in that huge building, all with mixing consoles. They were in the process of selling off the gear, as the studio business just wasn't what it used to be. Dick McCalley remarked: "Pushing a mouse today does the same thing as that console fader". True, but it doesn't feel the same! I'm not sure why, but given the choice, I'd much rather have real controls to work with. Why is that?
I can jump in and give you MY reasons for liking to work that way…
For one, it's how I learned. My analogy is that you can input notes to a sequencer in (at least) two ways: from a mouse, or from a keyboard. If you learned to play a keyboard, it will be faster to use that approach. But if not, using a mouse may be quicker (especially if you don't have or can't afford a keyboard).

But additionally, there are a few reasons I like to use faders. One is that you can move more than one at once. A bigger reason is that you can learn EXACTLY how much to move them to get a predictable amount of gain change, similar to how a guitarist knows exactly far to bend a string to get a semitone pitch change. It's muscle memory, basically. You can also do all of this without looking at the faders, something a mouse or a touch screen cannot do. Another example - bumping up/down a note or word or phrase, and bringing it right back again (multiple times if necessary), or any intricate fader move common for vocal rides. You can just do it all in one or two passes rather than drawing in points on the screen and selecting them to move a section up/down in level, something that you sometimes have to mess with, listen, mess with, listen, a few times before it sounds right.

For just about ANY other mixing task I'm just as happy with a mouse: EQ, dynamics, reverb etc., no problem with a mouse! But I guess that since mixing is first about levels and balances, it's just so much faster to grab a bunch of faders and literally "shape" your mix. Then there's the occasional special process where faders are a must, like when I've recorded a vocal freeze on multiple tracks (each track being one note in the scale), and then need to "play" the faders to create the chords/melodies of those tracks - turns out totally different than just sampling one note and playing it on a keyboard (or drawing in notes, for that matter!).

I think that may be why I've never been drawn to just one motorized fader - or even 8 for that matter. I need 16-24 to really get in the groove and "mix". It really is true that the mixer can become your "instrument" as a mix engineer.

Would be very interested in hearing what others have to say!
Selig Audio, LLC

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amcjen
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Post 17 Apr 2018

A quick update. Lots of work completed on the "Module Brain". This is the part of each module that handles all the logic, communication, and peripherals. The board is laid out and schematic complete, and exported to Autodesk Fusion for mechanicals.

https://a360.co/2vmyC8f

Pretty slick, less than 1.5" long and less than 0.75" wide. One USB port for programming/debugging (but you'll probably never use it), and two other vertical ones that TonicNet uses for its high-speed control bus. USB ports and the USB physical spec turns out to be just perfect (and affordable) for the protocol we want to run on it, so all good!

I'll send this off to PCB fab and then can test the brain to see how all works. In the meantime back to the fader module. One really great thing is that I sourced a new TFT LCD display for each fader module that is double the resolution at the same size, so it should be really nice and clear for listing channel names, channel colors, and all that good stuff.

Woo!
Allison

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dioxide
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Post 17 Apr 2018

This is great! Keep up the good work :D

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taddx
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Post 17 Apr 2018

Damn this is all very exciting.. keep up your great work!

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fieldframe
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Post 17 Apr 2018

Interesting choice of USB to connect the modules! The way you're envisioning the architecture, will the modules be enumerable by the host individually, or will the thing that holds the modules together abstract that away, enumerating as a single interface?
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normen
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Post 17 Apr 2018

That looks really neat, I like the form factor too.

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amcjen
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Post 18 Apr 2018

fieldframe wrote:Interesting choice of USB to connect the modules! The way you're envisioning the architecture, will the modules be enumerable by the host individually, or will the thing that holds the modules together abstract that away, enumerating as a single interface?
Great question. The latter, simply because it could get into the many dozens of modules for a good size control surface and if all those were USB it could get unwieldy.

Though the modules will each have a brain, they’ll only communicate with the controller via this TonicNet protocol (which, as mentioned, will use a USB physical interface but is not USB). This will let the controller enumerate all the modules in a chassis and the controller has the USB port that plugs into the computer.

Once the controller and fader modules are complete, we’ll be ready for Remote coding and work. Looking forward to collaboration on that with a few people on this thread!

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friday
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Post 18 Apr 2018

can't wait to buy or build one.... :-)

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candybag
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Post 18 Apr 2018

Wow, this is just too awesome. I've never been fond of using the SSL-mixer in Reason apart from LPF/HPF/volume automation, but reading all this just makes me wanna marry it.

I'd buy this straight away! Loving the modular route also, makes alot of sense for production scaling!
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wendylou
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Post 18 Apr 2018

So glad this is really being designed and built. You're extremely gifted and brilliant Allison! :thumbs_up:

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amcjen
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Post 18 Apr 2018

candybag wrote:Wow, this is just too awesome. I've never been fond of using the SSL-mixer in Reason apart from LPF/HPF/volume automation, but reading all this just makes me wanna marry it.

I'd buy this straight away! Loving the modular route also, makes alot of sense for production scaling!
It’s interesting you say that, I feel the same way. I’ve always considered myself strange or something bc mixing on a screen with a mouse is just completely un-inspirational to me. I don’t mind editing tracks/fades/etc, but the actual mixing process... give me faders and knobs. :)

I’m hoping the SSL mixer becomes my new favorite “RE”. [emoji39]

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amcjen
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Post 18 Apr 2018

wendylou wrote:So glad this is really being designed and built. You're extremely gifted and brilliant Allison! :thumbs_up:
Thank you!

It’s not lost on me that I first brought this up like nine months ago. And, like most product ideas, you *think* you know what you’re building when you start. Then you talk to others who want to use it. And then it takes on a life of its own—a beautiful thing. That old adage “no initial product revision survives first touch with an actual user” is as true here as anywhere. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, thank you all for being patient! I’m hoping to lock in the fader module board layout shortly, then will make the panel for it (3D printed first, then CNC milled out of aluminum.). At that point it will look like a real thing, not just circuit board and words on a forum. :)

- Allie


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geremix
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Post 22 Apr 2018

Allison, you are the best! This project is asome and you are making it real!!

Is there any way we as a community or I as an individual can help you with something?

Thanks for doing this [emoji1316]


Music producer from Uruguay.
Reason lover.
www.byGeremix.com

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Psuper
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Post 22 Apr 2018

I'm all in on this as well, I hope it becomes a reality I'll snap it up.
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marcuswitt
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Post 03 May 2018

Just to mention this neat one:

http://makeproaudio.com

That’s a brilliant concept in my opinion - not only because of its modular nature. Could be a potential candidate to function as a hardware controller for Reason’s Main Mixer.

BTW: That thing is developed in Germany by the founder of Creamware (some of you may remember the Creamware Scope system for Windows PC).

jjtguitar
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Joined: 08 May 2018

Post 10 May 2018

I performed a Google search earlier in the week about the possibilty of a custom "knob per function" hardware controller for the Reason mixer. Please imagine my delight when I found this post!!! I have just finished reading all 219 posts thus far. I agree, it's like a fascinating behind the scenes documentary about product development. Every little detail, every update, every discussion...wow! Most of it goes over my head, but I am just so impressed by the massed intelligence and experience people are bringing to this project. Thank you Allison for your original idea, for sharing it, and for letting it turn into this amazing project. I am definitely excited to see how it progresses! This is the most interesting and exciting thing I have found on the Internet in a LONG time!

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selig
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Post 10 May 2018

marcuswitt wrote:
03 May 2018
Just to mention this neat one:

http://makeproaudio.com

That’s a brilliant concept in my opinion - not only because of its modular nature. Could be a potential candidate to function as a hardware controller for Reason’s Main Mixer.

BTW: That thing is developed in Germany by the founder of Creamware (some of you may remember the Creamware Scope system for Windows PC).
Looks like more of an all in one approach, including audio, mic preamps, A/D and D/A, DSP cards, etc. This is fine if you love their choices, but more often musicians already have much of this stuff lying around, and just need a way to control it all!

What Allison is doing is just the controller part, which in some ways has more potential since it can potentially control existing devices as well as software systems. It will likely be much cheaper as well, since there are far fewer parts and design involved.

But the modular concept is similar, which is a good sign IMO since it indicates Allison really is on to something here!
:)
Selig Audio, LLC

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normen
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Post 10 May 2018

selig wrote:
10 May 2018
Looks like more of an all in one approach, including audio, mic preamps, A/D and D/A, DSP cards, etc. This is fine if you love their choices, but more often musicians already have much of this stuff lying around, and just need a way to control it all!

What Allison is doing is just the controller part, which in some ways has more potential since it can potentially control existing devices as well as software systems. It will likely be much cheaper as well, since there are far fewer parts and design involved.

But the modular concept is similar, which is a good sign IMO since it indicates Allison really is on to something here!
:)
Well they do have those parts but to me it very much looks like a DIY thing overall, meaning you could put any circuitry in there. Maybe a useful synergy effect for European Reason hardware dabblers, could be a good source for frames, pots, faders etc :)

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marcuswitt
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Post 10 May 2018

normen wrote:
10 May 2018
selig wrote:
10 May 2018
Looks like more of an all in one approach, including audio, mic preamps, A/D and D/A, DSP cards, etc. This is fine if you love their choices, but more often musicians already have much of this stuff lying around, and just need a way to control it all!

What Allison is doing is just the controller part, which in some ways has more potential since it can potentially control existing devices as well as software systems. It will likely be much cheaper as well, since there are far fewer parts and design involved.

But the modular concept is similar, which is a good sign IMO since it indicates Allison really is on to something here!
:)
Well they do have those parts but to me it very much looks like a DIY thing overall, meaning you could put any circuitry in there. Maybe a useful synergy effect for European Reason hardware dabblers, could be a good source for frames, pots, faders etc :)
Hi Normen,

you're right, it's a kind of a LEGO-like DIY kit of modules that can be used as mixing controllers, mixing consoles, synthesizers, synthesizer controllers, etc.
In the following interview Frank Hund, the founder and owner of makeproaudio, is talking about it and is exemplary showing some of the already existing modules and kits, which will be available by Q4 2018. Sorry, non-German speakers... I think you must rely on YouTube's CC function to understand what he's saying.


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Ixus
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Post 10 May 2018

Not sure how I missed this thread but it looks very interesting indeed! I shall follow the development :)

Cheers!

jjtguitar
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Post 11 May 2018

amcjen wrote:
17 Oct 2017
One of the most helpful things right now might be to start thinking about what layouts you would prefer. Hacking around Photoshop isn’t the easiest but something like that may help to show what modules will be most important to address first.
I had a look at the Tonic Specifications v0.7 pdf, and while most of the details are WAY over my head, it is very exciting seeing this project move forward.

The part that I can sink into is the modules and looking at layouts. I would just like to confirm current sizing before I go gangbusters in SketchUp. Photoshop is good, but I prefer SketchUp for doing mockups, I like the simple 3D, it's great for working with accurate measurments, and the ability to "move" around a model helps me to really get an idea for what it might be like in real life.

A unit = 1.625 inches tall by 1.625 inches wide? And to double check, on page 14 of the Tonic Specifications document, a PH Input module would be one unit wide and two units high? And a PH Dynamics module would be one unit wide and four units high?

I will build up all the modules in SketchUp, and if people are interested I can share the project, which would give people a chance to easily mockup their own "dream" mixer solution.

Jonno

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