Reason SSL Mixer Hardware Controller

This forum is for discussing Propellerhead's music software. Questions, answers, ideas, and opinions... all apply.
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DParris
Posts: 11
Joined: 09 May 2019

Post 09 May 2019

Brand new member here. I registered just so I could take part in this incredible discussion.
Allison et al., what amazing work. Sign me up for a controller when they're ready! I'd also looove to do some testing when you get to that stage.
Eager to see what kind of progress you're making.

kaom
Posts: 1
Joined: 10 May 2019

Post 10 May 2019

Hello OP!
Long time Reason user here and REALLY interested in your idea

I echo the previous post/comment as I've joined specifically to find out more and get the latest updates

Hello to any ex reasonstation heads from bitd 🙏

Bart Bee
Posts: 1
Joined: 12 May 2019

Post 13 May 2019

Just finished reading all 14 pages of this thread....wow!

Like many here I am really excited about this project.

A little bit about me:

I am an end user and have limited skills regarding the back end tech that is going into this, although having read the posts, I can appreciate the focus that is going into making modules "feel" good and have quality with regards to reliability. I have been using Reason since Version 3 and was initially attracted to the platform because it didn't crash and was "fun" to use.
I work as a Sound Recordist in Film and TV and also have a project studio where I do Sound Post Production for Film (Nuendo) and also Music Production (Reason)
I've always used controllers with software having trained and worked on large consoles throughout my career. Currently I use a Mackie Control, Nektar Panorama 4 and a BCR200 in my setup. I would instantly swap out the Mackie and BCR for a Modular based controller system which worked with Reason (and even Nuendo, which could probably happen with a modular based approach!).

As an End User here are the things that have stood out to me in this discussion so far:

Steering Clear of intergrating an Audio Interface. YES. No need to incorporate audio into a software controller system. Most users already have their audio solutions worked out.

Going Modular. YES. Good quality affordable modules that can be built up over time to customise a studio/workspace is the way to go. Reason has a Modular feel to it so having Modular controllers just makes sense to me.

Not using the Mouse while Mixing "Rule". Yes. The only way to Begin and End a project like this. It's a big call to achieve this outcome but not impossible. To that end, a few things that have not been discussed (unless I missed it), that apply specifically to mixing are:
1. Routing audio tracks to subgroups. A task that occurs frequently in mix sessions with a lot of tracks.
2. Grouping Channels to adjust grouped track levels together. Available now in Reason, which can really enhance workflow.
3. Colouring Tracks. In large sessions a crucial way of staying organised.

Where to put the meters? I'm a fan of having meters on the bridge so keeping the fader and meter modules separate is the way I would go. In fact I think we should have a track routing function in the fader module rather than a meter???

Getting the Channel Strip done. YES. The obvious place to start to achieve a controller based workflow...however many users will want to control and tweak inserted Effects, RE's and VST's during mixdown. Assuming that the "developers" build modules for their favourite devices, having a way to navigate to inserted devices and recognising them needs to be considered. (maybe some dialogue with PH will be required to make that happen).

Alison: You are an absolute legend for doing this project and I realise that you have other priorities in your life, (as we all have), but please keep going with this.

I actually think the business case for this project is compelling and if done properly, modular controllers for Reason (and other DAWs) is a no brainer and would be very successful.

I would contribute to a crowd funded project like this.

Bart.

jjrh
Posts: 5
Joined: 19 May 2019

Post 19 May 2019

amcjen wrote:
17 Jan 2019
Interesting ideas. I’ve not seen motorized knobs either—as I believe it to be a cost issue still. To put it in perspective, really nice ALPs non-indented endless rotary encoders with push-button capabilities are around $1 each, though I found a surplus location that had them for $0.20, so I bought 500 of them. :)
They have motorised knobs but aren't cheap (if you want lot's of them) https://www.mouser.ca/ProductDetail/ALP ... 4TDNOKXQ==
$14 in qt1, $10 in qt1000. Bourns makes some too that aren't any cheaper.
Even if price isn't a issue you then run into space and power issues.

Only thing I like about potentiometer's over encoders is they have a lot more variety in resistance and the hard stop at the end is nice for certain uses. Also the taper stuff is nice but that can of course be done in software.

I'd be curious to hear what encoders you tested and if you found any that had stiff turning resistance. What motorised fader did you choose were you able to find a inexpensive option? Cheapest I found last time I looked was $25.

jjrh
Posts: 5
Joined: 19 May 2019

Post 01 Jun 2019

amcjen,
Do you have code, schematics/EDA files posted anywhere or do you have interested in doing this as a open hardware/software project?
I would be interested in hacking on something like this myself.

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wendylou
Posts: 193
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Location: Saint Joseph, MO

Post 08 Jun 2019

Allison, hope all is well with you. Any updates on the project?
If you pull this off, you'll be the new Nektar for Reason! :puf_smile:
:PUF_balance: http://www.galxygirl.com •• :reason: user since 2002

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amcjen
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Post 11 Jun 2019

Hi everyone!

So first, I just learned recently that the tool I use to keep track of forums on my phone (Tapatalk) somehow logged me out of Reasontalk a couple months ago and I have not been getting any notifications of posts on this thread! I'm SO sorry! I tried logging back into Reasontalk via Tapatalk but it's not working. Will take it up with the site owners. In the meantime I turned on email notifications for any posts to this thread, so I won't be out of the loop anymore. Dang it, sorry about that! (And thank you Holly for nudging me over text of the continued interest on this idea!)

Anyhow, so, back to this project. I'm going to be a little transparent here, b/c I personally don't like when people talk a big game when it comes to projects, but don't actually communicate--let alone deliver--on said ideas.

I think the last time I posted, I was recovering from a motorcycle accident and was wheelchair bound and all that. That was last August when that happened. Since then, I've been working my day job running a tech startup, and it too has been having its ups and downs. Life happens, all that stuff, blah blah blah, right?

And here's the transparency part. This project is at a crossroads and has a couple of paths forward from where it stands today. The reason it's at a crossroads is that there is still a ton of work needed to make this production-ready. I'm confident we can support almost everything that has been requested here (except for things that are absolutely limited by Prop's Remote protocol, such as no track color info available to hardware controllers, automated track arm, etc). So outside those things, I'm confident the technical requirements are feasible.

What I'm not confident on is how to make this a sustainable project. Lots and lots of projects like this are unsuccessful, and it's usually due to not thinking through from the start on how to make an ambitious undertaking able to support itself. Doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be wildly expensive or profitable even--but it does need to a) inspire those individuals who design, build, and maintain the product, b) able to pay for things like support, a little marketing, and other feedback loops necessary for a product to evolve, and c) serve a large enough market that it's not asking a ridiculous price from a tiny few--we call this Total Addressable Market (TAM) in the startup world. Very small TAMs require very wealthy customers--and exclude the product from the majority of people who may want to use it.

So, given these constraints on making this project sustainable--and I say sustainable, because I'm personally not interested in profitability, per se--more I'm interested in making this project stand on its own legs and a community and ecosystem to evolve around it--built and supported by a cadre of passionate individuals who use this platform to better express their creative outlets.

If we make this project open-source, we solve (c) above, no margin needed, sell at cost, but (b) is then not addressed. I'm sure some of you have dealt with the challenge of some open-source projects in getting support and updates in a reasonable time. I've crowdfunded open-source hardware in my past--it certainly comes at a cost somewhere. For us with that project, we bore the costs and paid for it with raising traditional venture money. So open-source isn't free, if you want to do it well IMO.

If we make this project a for-profit product, then (b) is addressed, but (c) gets tricky, because it will likely be too expensive for some people, and indirectly will be unaffordable/unvailable to those in (a). That sucks.

This is why I'm really leaning towards the modular approach. Not because it's necessarily more affordable. It isn't, and is in fact much more expensive long-term than an all-in-one solution b/c of all the interconnect support needed between modules. If you don't believe me, compare modular synth prices vs an all-in-ones. Dollar for dollar the standalone synths will crush the modulars. But here's the kicker--you can start your modular journey with just a couple hundred bucks (a chassis and an oscillator to start, for instance). Sure, it doesn't do much, but you can buy a new module every month when you get paid, and begin to evolve it as your creative endeavors mature.

This is the way forward I believe--not because modularity is more efficient--it's not. But you know what else isn't efficient? Evolution. Yet that's how we all got here today to be able to collaborate together on an internet forum about music making, and that's what it's all about after all. :)

This project is something I still would like to see happen. It's evolving, and that takes time. I hit a roadblock with the above dilemma for the past year or so--not certain that Propellerheads would add the needed features to Remote anytime soon--not sure the Reason TAM was big enough to sustain, and not sure I wanted to make it open-source for the concerns listed above.

But several of you on here (and my dear friend Holly) have convinced me that this effort is still worthwhile to attempt--only because I do fundamentally believe it has the ability to bring a new dimension to our music making. Hands-on is so visceral--why should we treat our mixing any differently than we treat our guitars or keyboards or drums or accordions?

I am expecting some additional time to allocate to getting the first prototype done the second half of this year. I would also like to do some customer validation (things around appetite for purchasing, desired modules, price sensitivity, etc) as well to ensure this project will be sustainable. I would love your help with those asks--likely to be done through surveys and/or informal interviews with me via phone or video. This customer discovery validation and product/market fit are essential to maximize the success of this project.

A long post for sure, but I believe it's warranted given the continued interest in this project and my extended absence.

Let's get this party started :)

delineation
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Joined: 21 May 2019

Post 11 Jun 2019

I joined reasontalk because of this thread, and it is what it is. I'm on a forum for the car that I drive as well, so in my mind i see this on the same level as someone starting a restoration project, an engine rebuild, etc. I'll say the same thing here that I do there, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!! I've seen where people have had to sell their 75% finished rebuilt car because of unexpected life situations. What you are working on by all means IS a commodity. All of us will survive if this dream falls short of reality, though I can promise we all hope to see it though. I wish I had the tech skills to join the fight, but I'm just a user with operational skills, a driver, if you will. I think the appeal of Reason from the start has been the real world look and most likely had an influence on the the way VST Plugins mostly resemble studio hardware. To see something like the controller your propose would be a dream come true for us. One final though, My dad used to play drums for Willie Nelson a long time ago. One time someone ask him (Willie), "What advice do you have for someone trying to make it in the music industry?" He answered, "Never give up, 'cause if you do, you'll never make it." So if you personally do deiced that this project has become to much, perhaps the collective can keep it going by not giving up on it either. Best wishes, and thanks for the inspiration. The Icon G2 will have to do for me for now.

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amcjen
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Post 11 Jun 2019

Thanks @delineation, I appreciate the kind words! I too am on a forum for the car I drive, for the bikes I ride, and for other activities and hobbies I enjoy. Amazing things happen when you can connect with others who are equally passionate and likeminded. I'm glad this forum exists as well, for exactly that reason.

And Willie Nelson--a perfect mantra to this effort. If it's good enough for Willie, it's good enough for me. :) (His Christmas album gets heavy rotation in our house during the holidays--love him!)

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amcjen
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Post 13 Jun 2019

jjrh wrote:
01 Jun 2019
amcjen,
Do you have code, schematics/EDA files posted anywhere or do you have interested in doing this as a open hardware/software project?
I would be interested in hacking on something like this myself.
I have a bunch of schematics/layout files started, but haven't posted them anywhere yet b/c of the reasons mentioned above. I may at some point, but want to get it in a basic working state first so I don't release half-assed completed modules--but the plan as of today is to release them as a CC-SA 4.0 open-source license eventually. Below are a couple screenshots of what the various modules are looking like as of today:

Fader module touch & OLED controller:
Screenshot 2019-06-13 13.39.33.png
Rotary encoder with LEDs:
Screenshot 2019-06-13 13.45.45.png
module brain:
Screenshot 2019-06-13 13.46.54.png
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

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diminished
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Joined: 15 Dec 2018

Post 13 Jun 2019

Tonic Brain? <3
When it comes to circuitry I'm a total noob, but just watching this thread is amazing. Hats off to you, Allison!

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amcjen
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Post 14 Jun 2019

diminished wrote:
13 Jun 2019
Tonic Brain? <3
When it comes to circuitry I'm a total noob, but just watching this thread is amazing. Hats off to you, Allison!
Haha! It all just comes down to collections of components at the end of the day I suppose. Not unlike a super sophisticated Combinator. :)

The brain is about 1" (25mm) square, and handles all messages sent and received by a module. Every module has a brain, and the goal is to make it reeeeeally reliable, and reeeeeally inexpensive, since every module needs one. Being so small and simple will hopefully keep this in the single digit cost.

delineation
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Joined: 21 May 2019

Post 15 Jun 2019

Shower thought: What if we ripped out the "brain" of a Nektar and put it in the body of an Icon Prox, or G2,? You know, for.....research purposes? -Slap some SSL paint on it? Also, does the Nektar use Mackie Control, or something else?

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Catblack
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Post 15 Jun 2019

Hey Jen, I really appreciate the updates. I'd thought that by now I'd have gotten off the ground on the software project I was starting, which was a system for Remote in Reason to flexibly display what a midi controller is doing on screen. There was just a bit too much to learn and absorb (and my javascript isn't very strong.) Though I'd come up with a good architecture and technology path, and my initial tests were working. I might open this up in a new thread here and steward the project (open source) and make it happen still, if there's interest.

But in the meantime I've gotten into Eurorack, and then into building modules when I realized that I wasn't going to be able to afford to buy modules I wanted. So I've taught myself smd assembly and hot air reflow. It's been good when the kids finally get to sleep and I can just sit with the tweezers for a few hours. I'm at 8 or 9 modules done (and a few failures I haven't tried to troubleshoot.) So I'm used to looking at kicad or eagle or diptrace a little bit while I go.

So if you design something I'd love to put it in my build queue. Maybe help test -- and even help with the software side as I mentioned to you many months ago.

I don't know if it's been mentioned, but have you seen the 16n Fader Bank? It was designed for the Monome project, but has 16 outs for Eurorack, I2C, 2 flavors of Midi out... all controlled by a Teensy. I'll probably have one built in early August, I have this picture in my head of building a eurorack case with space enough underneath (and cables
routed up to a breakout panel) for it to slide underneath. But I think it's an interesting project in how flexible it is for different usecases.

Anyhow, got to get back to the kids!
If you ain't hip to the rare Housequake, shut up already.

Damn.

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wendylou
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Joined: 15 Jan 2015
Location: Saint Joseph, MO

Post 15 Jun 2019

amcjen wrote:
13 Jun 2019
Below are a couple screenshots of what the various modules are looking like as of today:
Wow, you certainly have the skills and knowledge for this. If you need any capital to pull this off, maybe some crowdfunding? I'm sure lot's of us would support your effort.

Wendy
:PUF_balance: http://www.galxygirl.com •• :reason: user since 2002

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amcjen
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Post 21 Jun 2019

delineation wrote:
15 Jun 2019
Shower thought: What if we ripped out the "brain" of a Nektar and put it in the body of an Icon Prox, or G2,? You know, for.....research purposes? -Slap some SSL paint on it? Also, does the Nektar use Mackie Control, or something else?
You know, I too had dreamed about that and really like the idea. I even went so far to buy a Nektar P1 after already having a P4 bc I wanted to gut the latter and make a Panorama Tonic module. What it does, it does really well. Just need the screen, the eight knobs, and the transport underneath. (And conversion to USB MIDI out back).

I like the idea. And if enough people started buying Panoramas to hack, maybe Nektar would release a commercial Panorama module. Would be amazing.

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amcjen
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Post 21 Jun 2019

Catblack wrote:
15 Jun 2019
Hey Jen, I really appreciate the updates.
You’re welcome! (And my username is super misleading, my name is Allison, not Jen. Jennings is my last name. :) )
Catblack wrote:
15 Jun 2019
I might open this up in a new thread here and steward the project (open source) and make it happen still, if there's interest.
I’d like to see this exist for sure.
Catblack wrote:
15 Jun 2019
But in the meantime I've gotten into Eurorack, and then into building modules when I realized that I wasn't going to be able to afford to buy modules I wanted. So I've taught myself smd assembly and hot air reflow. It's been good when the kids finally get to sleep and I can just sit with the tweezers for a few hours. I'm at 8 or 9 modules done (and a few failures I haven't tried to troubleshoot.) So I'm used to looking at kicad or eagle or diptrace a little bit while I go.

So if you design something I'd love to put it in my build queue. Maybe help test -- and even help with the software side as I mentioned to you many months ago.
Ah definitely! This is similar to how I started my HW design journey—I wanted something that didn’t exist or was too expensive. So started grabbing schematics online and trying my hand at Eagle.

As mentioned, once the boards get closer to being done, I plan to release them as open source, I think. Still a slight possibility I would not do that, for the reasons given in the long post above. We’ll see. But definitely interested in the specs being freely available and people making their own modules.
Catblack wrote:
15 Jun 2019
I don't know if it's been mentioned, but have you seen the 16n Fader Bank? It was designed for the Monome project, but has 16 outs for Eurorack, I2C, 2 flavors of Midi out... all controlled by a Teensy. I'll probably have one built in early August, I have this picture in my head of building a eurorack case with space enough underneath (and cables
routed up to a breakout panel) for it to slide underneath. But I think it's an interesting project in how flexible it is for different usecases.
I’ve not seen that, it’s very cool! I couldn’t tell, are those motorized faders?

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amcjen
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Joined: 14 Apr 2017

Post 21 Jun 2019

wendylou wrote:
15 Jun 2019
Wow, you certainly have the skills and knowledge for this. If you need any capital to pull this off, maybe some crowdfunding? I'm sure lot's of us would support your effort.
Thank you Wendy! I appreciate that very much. I will be putting together some questions for you all, and that would be most helpful in the short term. Once we figure out the right mix to make this happen, we’ll get into the crowdfunding ideas. :)

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amcjen
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Post 24 Jun 2019

Quick update--did some deep digging on the state of the project and built out a simple roadmap to get to a first prototype. First up, finishing up the brain module that will drive every other module, and build a test fixture to benchmark and test it. I'm also evaluating a new CANbus chipset (CANbus FD) that increases the max throughput from 1Mb/sec to 5Mb/sec. This is a really big bump, and should allow much less potential latency on the protocol line when managing sophisticated mixes with lots of controller data coming over USB.

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selig
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Post 25 Jun 2019

amcjen wrote:
24 Jun 2019
Quick update--did some deep digging on the state of the project and built out a simple roadmap to get to a first prototype. First up, finishing up the brain module that will drive every other module, and build a test fixture to benchmark and test it. I'm also evaluating a new CANbus chipset (CANbus FD) that increases the max throughput from 1Mb/sec to 5Mb/sec. This is a really big bump, and should allow much less potential latency on the protocol line when managing sophisticated mixes with lots of controller data coming over USB.
Damn, lots of things are happening! I really appreciate what you're doing here, I know this is no walk in the park.
Really exciting stuff - I'm ready to help in any way possible if/when you need it!
:)
Selig Audio, LLC

lowtom
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Joined: 29 Sep 2017

Post 25 Jun 2019

Just wow! I think Props should reach you and help with this project :)
:reason: :refill: :re:

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DParris
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Post 28 Jun 2019

selig wrote:
25 Jun 2019
amcjen wrote:
24 Jun 2019
Quick update--did some deep digging on the state of the project and built out a simple roadmap to get to a first prototype. First up, finishing up the brain module that will drive every other module, and build a test fixture to benchmark and test it. I'm also evaluating a new CANbus chipset (CANbus FD) that increases the max throughput from 1Mb/sec to 5Mb/sec. This is a really big bump, and should allow much less potential latency on the protocol line when managing sophisticated mixes with lots of controller data coming over USB.
Damn, lots of things are happening! I really appreciate what you're doing here, I know this is no walk in the park.
Really exciting stuff - I'm ready to help in any way possible if/when you need it!
:)
A couple folks have mentioned a potential collaboration between Allison and Propellerhead. But what about a collaboration between Allison and Selig? Don't you all just love the idea of Selig releasing some hardware?
"Designing Audio Devices Perfectly Within Reason." It's a match made in heaven! :D

xRwu8
Posts: 50
Joined: 27 Feb 2015

Post 28 Jun 2019

DParris wrote:
28 Jun 2019
A couple folks have mentioned a potential collaboration between Allison and Propellerhead. But what about a collaboration between Allison and Selig? Don't you all just love the idea of Selig releasing some hardware?
"Designing Audio Devices Perfectly Within Reason." It's a match made in heaven! :D
Yes!! :thumbup: :clap:
:reason: :recycle: :refill: :re: :rt:

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amcjen
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Post 02 Jul 2019

I mean--that would be pretty sweet wouldn't it Selig? 👍🙌

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Creativemind
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Location: Stoke-On-Trent, England, UK

Post 02 Jul 2019

Isn't the SSL mixer already a software emulation of SSL 9000k and if not, what about if Propellerhead update the SSL mixer, say up the send effects slots to 10 or something?
:reason:

Propellerhead Reason 10.4 / Cockus Reaper 5.978 / Cakewalk By Bandlab / Steinberg Cubase LE 5
http://soundcloud.com/creativemind75/iv ... soul-mix-3

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