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Blades

Presonus Faderport 8 in use in Cakewalk by Bandlab

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Not really sure where this would go, but from the choices I have, it seems that this is the most appropriate:

I have a number of projects that I'm still working on in Cakewalk by Bandlab, so I wanted to see how my Presonuns Faderport 8 would work there.  I created a Blog post about it and thought it might be a useful overview for some people who might be considering a control surface like this one, especially considering how it might work in a non-Presonus DAW like Cakewalk.
 
Please check it out here: https://www.blades.technology/music/daws-sonar-and-studio-one/presonus-faderport-8-with-cakewalk-by-bandlab

Edited by Blades
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Thanks for posting this. Intersting to watch. 

I am still using my low tech x-touch mini that azslow3 helped create a profile for. Works great. 

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Personally I find the X Touch to be more suitable for Cakewalk simply because it runs on the Mackie MCU protocol, and the Presonus FaderPort is physically configured for HUI protocol. Originally specifically designed by Avid for use with Pro Tools, it has since been adapted for use to gain market share for Avid to enter the wider world of Windows users. Avid and Pro Tools entered the world of Windows PCs users late in the game. It wasn't until Avid bought M Audio for their rock solid M-Power drivers technology did Pro Tools users enjoy any even close stability on Windows PCs.

 And so although HUI protocol is very good in it's own right, it's just not as opensource or  advanced as MCU for Windows PCs or a wide range of DAWs. It wouldn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that the Presonus FaderPort should automatically support Studio One much better that it would support Cakewalk, especially being Cakewalk has built in support for the much more common industry standardized MCU.

 I have no idea if FaderPort supports MCU, but I do know it doesn't have enough buttons on to fully support all that MCU does.

I do know if I switch my X Touch from MCU to HUI, I have great control with Pro Tools, but I have such very limited DAW control over SONAR, the Main (9th) fader is rendered useless and simply disconnects, so I never bothered to try to program it, or ever tried it out with CbB.

 The major differences being MCU recognizing traditional tracks and buss routing as would be found on any mixing console, hence the addition of the 9th or "Main" fader on the control surfaces, giving you hand on access to both Tracks and Main buss fader section of the mixer without switching banks. Standardized automation, navigation between Fader "banks" "channels", and scrolling, and universal transport controls, and "Modifier" buttons that can be customized to be used to control anything your heart desires if you want to get really serious.

 MCU also provides for 6 universal encoder assignment buttons to instantly switch control to a channel's FX bin to gain access to EQ, sends, plugins, and another button to instantly switch control surface to control softsynth instruments parameters.

HUI protocol control surfaces don't specifically support the differences between track FX bin, and need to sacrifice control over certain DAW function accessibility to gain control over others.

And being HUI doesn't recognize the difference between tracks and buss sections of a console it only has 8 faders, therefore continues to move the buss faders back to the last in line every time a new track is added. And so you would have to manually switch banks to gain access to your buss for any projects that contain more then 8 tracks.

These differences aren't really that big of a deal because you should be able to gain access to any control parameter by creating your own MIDI mapping, but can get a bit confusing in the heat of things, for guys like me anyway, who are used to traditional straight forward universal mixer and DAW control.

 

So GOOD LUCK! You may be the first FaderPort authority here in the Cakewalk forums if you can figure out how to get it to do what you want it to. I'd be willing to bet you could if ya keep fighting the good fight! It's all about understanding MIDI and how the Faderport handles MIDI. 😕

Edited by Steev

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1 hour ago, Steev said:

Personally I find the X Touch to be more suitable for Cakewalk simply because it runs on the Mackie MCU protocol, and the Presonus FaderPort is physically configured for HUI protocol. 

Actually the FaderPort 8 supports both MCU and HUI. You can open the FaderPort 8 in a dedicated Sonar mode by holding down a "Sonar" button during power-up. I've been using it with both CbB and Studio One; although the integration with Studio One is tighter, it does what other MCUs do with Sonar. Whether compatibility will be further developed for integration with specific CbB functions is anyone's guess. However with CbB now free and with no official BandLab hardware controller, it seems to me there's an opportunity for PreSonus to "own" the Sonar controller space if they want to, and more importantly, if they have the resources. Hardware controllers remain a relatively small market. 

The FaderPort 8 manual has an entire section devoted to using it with Sonar.  There's also an undocumented function...don't recall what it is offhand, I'll have to look at my notes. I was going to write a Sound on Sound column about using the FaderPort 8/16 with Sonar, but the manual covered everything so it didn't seem necessary.

Officially, the FaderPort 8 MCU mode supports Logic, Cubase, Nuendo, Sonar, and Ableton Live; the HUI mode supports Pro Tools.

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@Craig Anderton

 Yes I did just watch the Demo video, and I should have been more specific on the MCU physical layout configuration of the unit itself. While having a "Main" buss fader is a certainly plus, it does little help for multi buss mix setups. However the X Touch, like the Mackie have dedicated buttons to instantly switch back and forth between track and buss control if need be, as an option, not a condition.

 And also like the Mackie, the X Touch is expandable with extender units in groups of 8 faders each. A very easy and inexpensive way to upgrade

 And while I have great respect for Presonus products, their lack of buttons, and knobs for continuous controllers is a bit too menu based or non intuitive for lack of better words.

 For instance first time I sat down in front of their Studio Live digital mixer I found myself having to rely heavily on the manual and struggling through menu after menu to find out how to set it up the way I wanted. Where as with the Behringer X32 I found it to be intuitively laid out like any other studio console and so intuitively laid out I  didn't need a manual at all to get it up and running in record time.

 I'm not saying Studio Live console is lacking in performance or it's Big Channel isn't a wonderful thing, it just relies too much on multi function controllers as in lacking dedicated knobs and buttons, yes it can be done once you know what menu to switch to, it's just not intuitive.

Well on the Plus side for the FaderPort 8 it at least HAS a manual detailing use for SONAR where Behringer provides nothing more then a quick start guide to get it up and running, which is typical of Behringer who didn't even bother to provide a SONAR overlay..

 But intuitively... The FaderPort 8 looks the way a HUI DAW controller looks like. At first sight Pro Tools came to mind as the FaderPort 8 being a reasonably priced DAW controller to knock Avid out of the batter's box of fairly unreasonably price  points.. I needed to either read the manual or watch the Demo video to find out if it even supported MCU, which is very typical of Presonus. 

 I'm thinking the FaderPort 8 would indeed be a wonderful alternative replacement controller for Pro Tools to retire my aging dinosaur Digi 03 before she dies. I certainly got my money's worth out of that old friend.. 

Right out of the box FaderPort 8 looks to be a much more powerful and less expensive alternative to Avid's Artist Mix which doesn't even include a transport control section, sold separately of course with the addition of a Pro Tools Dock, and on and on and on and on with the Avid Pro Tools money pit vortex, LoL

 Yeah, I'm thinking in my experience at least, Presonus has always been much more Mac friendly and supportive of all things Apple.

 But Behringer tends to lead in all things Windows and Android, the X Touch is an ergonomic clone of Mackie channel strips are pretty much laid out like Cakewalk's channel strips, providing easy well laid out access to their own dedicated faders, buttons, and knobs, and LED signal meter bridge. And being each channel has it's own dedicated fader select, mute, solo, record buttons, meter bridge, and pan knob/continuous controllers, it provides for much more tactile flexibility then a FaderPort 8's ergonomic HUI design. And isn't that what  DAW controllers are really all about?

It has a much better and well laid out control section very similar to the Mackie, everything is labeled the same as a Mackie with a nice big scroll wheel with a comfortable finger detent on top positioned for speed scrolling very ergonomically, conveniently and comfortably and intuitively shaped and located at the bottom right hand corner of the control surface, very easy to find without even looking for it and impossible to miss with it's bright purple led ring around it's knob/wheel. All related functions have dedicated independent buttons for fader and channel bank selection zoom, and scrub on/off are within a fingers reach without ever having to let go of the wheel, clearly lit and color coded to let you clearly see and know their status. Very intuitive, pretty much where you would find a scroll wheel on a Tascam, SSL, and even a Zoom digital mixers or DAW controllers.

The FaderPort 8's scroll wheel is small and very inconveniently and uncomfortably located in the center of the control panel.. Pretty much EXACTLY where nobody would expect it to be or what it should even look like a wheel.

But it does kind of look nice there in a big KNOB in the center sort of way, there just no detent for one finger operation, no where to rest your palm without fear of accidently pressing a button that might do something you might not want done.

 I'm thinking the good folks at Presonus never spent much time scrolling or scrubbing through editing sessions.

 Having previously owned a Mackie I had no trouble setting it up for SONAR, however newbies should find it rather frustrating to say the least., however that should also certainly hold true for FaderPort 8 newbies too.

 And as a member of the Cakewalk Forum, I am one of many here who can not only provide a printable Cakewalk template for an X Touch, I am also one of many that can provide support in detail for both the Mackie Universal DAW Controller and the nearly identical X Touch for any newbies.

 I was also quite skeptical about downgrading to Behringer from Mackie, and most likely wouldn't if it wasn't for zZounds.com 45 day no questions asked 100%  return policy. But my skepticism was un founded, the X Touch has solid build quality and was actually an upgrade considering all the extra connectivity and future expandability of ethernet port, and 2 extra USB ports, as well as 5 pin MIDI PORT and 2x "1/4 foot controller jacks. Fader Port 8 only has 1 x1/4" foot controller and no USB or 5 pin MIDI port.

 But what I find seriously lacking deal breaker is the lack of dedicated knobs and buttons, it only one knob for panning all channels, and the one button that can "Arm ALL Tracks" is simply an accident waiting to happen.

 I feel it's a little over the top of unnecessary, but I'm pretty confident that if someone codes out the Cakewalk ProChannel to support MCU protocol, Mackie and or Behringer will indeed own Cakewalk as a marriage made in DAW Controller Heaven..

And oh, one more little detail that shouldn't make any difference as a deciding factor, the X Touch retails for about $40 (us) less then the FaderPort 8.

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Steev , that's quite a lot of detail and far deeper than I dug. A few points from here... 

1. I bought it to control studio one

2. I wanted to get Some use out of it in Cakewalk

3. I had a bcf2000 before and on either studio one or cakewalk, this is a major step up. 

4. I agree about the knob vs wheel.  I had/have a contour shuttle that really liked for its spring based Ring for shuttling around. Unfortunately no longer natively supported in cakewalk so controls are iffy. 

4b. Surprisingly, the scroll support in mcu mode in Cakewalk is better, allowing for setting the wheel to move per beat where it is only per measure in studio one. 

4c. Likewise, the ff and rw in studio one is much more granular and not as obviously attached to things like beats or measures, so it has mostly replaced the spring ring for me in studio one.  Takes getting used to but it works pretty well. 

I will dig in a little deeper to see if I can find such things as you pointed out.  For example, the bcf2000 supported channel vs bus mode in mcu mode, so it seems there might be a way to make that happen. 

Thanks for your Comments!

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Quick follow-up after reviewing the manual.  I am not sure why it is stated this way, but the section of the Faderport 8 called "mix management" where the Bus/Output would be controlled in Studio One says that for Sonar (MCU):

"These views are not available in Sonar. However, there are several useful functions mapped to these buttons in Sonar:"

And then describes those.

However, in the same section for the Logic (MCU) it shows that the Bus button shows busses only.

Interesting, since both are listed as MCU and considering that the BCF2000 in MCU mode with Sonar DID allow for the bus switch.  I'm not sure why that would have been skipped in this implementation.  Maybe it's a firmware thing?  Maybe I'm looking at an older manual, as I'm not in front of the DAW at the moment, I can't see if this is so or not.

More later.

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Yeah, nothing makes sense, Bandlab is getting weird on me again, and my balls itch. But all is cool 'cause my bills are paid...…..

 That being said, make the best of what you got, and I'm think'in that's a Presonus thingy that's not going to work the way you want it to. I'm not trying to dis anything or any body, I'm saying make the best of what you got.

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The biggest problem I've had with MCU and Sonar is after switching to control buses, it's difficult to get back to controlling tracks. This happened with the SSL Nucleus and other MCU-compatible devices, including the FP8. I could just be doing something wrong...

In my studio, the FP8 replaced two Avid Artist Series controllers. Although the FP8 doesn't do 16 channels, I love the compact size - the small footprint is a big deal for me. It sits to the right of my keyboard/mouse, and Maschine Mk3 sits to the left. 

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Or how about some picture of your studio setup Craig.  How about a SOS article about your studio set up. Doesn't have to be CbB specific. I bet a lot of us would like to see your Cave.

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Well it's more of a post-production suite than a studio, but here's what the main part looks like. You'll probably recognize the DAW :)  Since this was taken, the keyboard controller got upgraded to a Native Instruments S49; the Maschine is now Maschine Mk3, and is to the left of the mouse/keyboard.

Edited by Craig Anderton
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That being said, make the best of what you got, and I'm think'in that's a Presonus thingy that's not going to work the way you want it to. I'm not trying to dis anything or any body, I'm saying make the best of what you got.

Sure Steev.  For whatever it's worth to you or anyone else who might be reading this thread:  I am quite happy with the Faderport 8 and the way that it works for ME.  I like how it has the level of control that it does in Studio One.  I set out to record this for folks who might be interested in it as a relatively inexpensive introduction to the  world of control surfaces, while still having a pretty decent amount of control over Studio One (or a little less of Cakewalk by Bandlab).

Maybe you have or maybe you haven't read my other threads, but I am using BOTH Studio One and Cakewalk at this point.  I am more happy with MANY of the functions of Studio One at this point, but wanted to make use of my new hardware in Cakewalk if possible.  It has surpassed my use of the BCF2000 (that I actually liked except that it was bereft of visuals to make it more easy-to-use).

By the way - here are a few shots of my "room", if you care 😜

Studio1.jpg

Studio2.jpg

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Also - I just found that (Craig is right): The BUS button on the Faderport 8 DOES work in Cakewalk, showing just the busses, but getting back to the tracks seems to be impossible.  I think I got it to work once by going back to Pan mode and then back to Track mode, but I haven't gotten it to work since.

Seems like a bug to me since the button doesn't do what the manual says, acts like it is going to work right in bus mode (even when new busses are added while in that mode) and then won't allow for a switch back to track mode, no matter what buttons are pressed.

 

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10 hours ago, Blades said:

Also - I just found that (Craig is right): The BUS button on the Faderport 8 DOES work in Cakewalk, showing just the busses, but getting back to the tracks seems to be impossible.  I think I got it to work once by going back to Pan mode and then back to Track mode, but I haven't gotten it to work since.

Seems like a bug to me since the button doesn't do what the manual says, acts like it is going to work right in bus mode (even when new busses are added while in that mode) and then won't allow for a switch back to track mode, no matter what buttons are pressed.

 

I believe I've had the same issue with the X Touch not switching back to track control so I wouldn't be too quick to lay blame on the FP 8. In my normal workflow I typically work out my mix before working on a buss mix so don't usually toggle back and forth. Just an old school rule of habit. I never try to master directly from a multi-track DAW mix either as the temptation is always too great to skip pass the buss and try fix some seemingly harmless little tweak on a channel can set off a domino effect of undesirable things happening to reverb or compressors in buss the mix.

Even though I've always found Presonus to be less then intuitive to navigate I have a lot of trust and deep respect for their innovation and how well their products get the job done and I'm seriously considering the FP 8 for Pro Tools now learning Craig replaced his Avid Artist series controllers with it. I do LOVE small myself, and that will leave me with more money and real-estate to afford a Softubes Console ONE which seems to be something I no longer want to live without sitting on the desk directly above the X Touch. But that's a whole other story.

 If I remember correctly, I believe the Buss problem/condition caused me to reboot my system a couple of times which is a PITA solution of the first order.

 But on the plus side that steered me to the Waves NLS plugin so now it's a simple matter of just opening the plugin and choosing between an SSL, EMI, or Neve preamps on the channels and I can toggle back and forth directly in the plugin get to summing mixers in the buss. And that was a solution that gave me some beautifully welcome side effects.

 Waves really did a bang up job on the NLS right down to modeling 32 separate channels on each of these legendary consoles, offering slightly different characteristic harmonic distortions that are actually "felt" more then "heard" that need to be experienced because there is really no way accurately describe it with words other then, if you want a 60's- 70's sound choose EMI, 80's to 90's vibe choose SSL, or Neve from there to beyond.. That's about as close as I can get, but is that really saying anything meaningful? That's like trying to explain what love is, or what The Beatles sounded like being played on a 45 rpm mono record from an old school RCA, Magnavox, or Victrola made of wood and vacuum tubes.

 And I also remember very well how horrified everyone was with the new sound of stereo records, many people hated it, just as many hated the sound of CDs when they replaced vinyl, and hated .mp3 which replaced CD as the new happy mediums.

 Sorry boys and girls, but contrary to popular beliefs, you cannot achieve that magic simply by cutting an album on vinyl.

 And what really amazes me about all these festination's of using and lusting after vintage gear is I don't know a single soul who started out recording to tape and pressing their music to vinyl that misses the process, or would ever even entertain the thought of reverting back to doing it in such a limited, long, tedious and bone chillingly and prohibitively expensive and unpredictable way.

 Deciding which tracks should be best grouped together for overdubbing on  a 4, 8, or 16 track tape machine, and having to always consider compensating for signal to noise generation loss.. Having to work under the limitations of only getting 15 minutes of recorded music per reel of tape and creating detailed logs by hand on paper of what's recording to these tape and by who and when.

 I only know artists who look at it with fondness and nostalgia who have never done it before, who have never experienced the unexplainable emotions of witnessing a tape being eaten and destroyed when the brakes on the tape deck went out of sync. The hours and agony spent sitting with a razor knife and tape block praying you made the correct marks with a grease pen before cutting and splicing the tape back together. Or trying to dial in and get two compressors to play well with each other by strapping them both across a stereo buss, or having to decide which channel you want to use your only Teletronix LA2A on during a recording session or where the Neve 1066 would serve the best purpose.

 All of these issues are now a thing of the past with todays DAW technologies, and it doesn't really matter what DAW or hardware we us as long as we can LEARN how to make it do what we want it to do, and lose the mind set of insisting or assuming our software and hardware can or should do what we want it or expect it to do.

 Those sonic fingerprints that has always plagued different channel strips on all analog mixing consoles that we've all grown to love.

 And I use the term plagued different channel strips because that's exactly what happened. Being it's physically impossible to build to analog channel strips exactly and identically the same. And at no point in time and history did any electronic engineer purposely design any audio circuit based on coloration of harmonic distortion, their goal was always to try to eliminate it. And when they finally did with digital audio we all whined until they brought all the flaws back with reverse engineering and have done a GREAT JOB of it..

 But are we happy?? No of course not, we'll never be happy because we'll always want more and more,  more and more and  more and more.

 And having the ability to mix and match them together into one mix can really produce some fun and interesting results as well.

 

 That being said, I don't intentionally mean to insult anyone by pointing what I do or don't like about anything such as the FP 8 or the X Touch. I certainly wouldn't expect perfection from either or any DAW on any computer.

 I feel these types of discussions are great for helping us and others make better informed decisions, and even question the validity of "Brand" recognition and or loyalty.

 Anyone here still think "Chevrolet is the Heartbeat of America" is umm, well OK maybe a little insulting will do you some good.... My Chevy pickup is nice and everything, but it was made in Canada and I just replaced an exhaust manifold which was imported from Viet Nam which doesn't bother me in the least, what does is my Chevy Pickup is more like "The Heartbeat of the Oil Industry". But our Toyota Camry is made in America and it gets great gas mileage and has never needed any parts replaced. And Cakewalk is still made in America, Harmony Guitars are once again being made in America, and I'm thinking, despite much ado concerning localized popular opinions, globalization is indeed a wonderful thing.

 And oh, I thank GOD my Focusrite Scarlett 81i20 was built in China.. Having own 3 different British made cars, a Jaguar XJ6, an MG B, and a Triumph TR6 all of which I enjoyed very much until I had electrical problems which turned out to be a LOT more typical than I would have liked,  I MUST thank GOD my Focusrite Scarlett 81i20 was built in China..

 We can all get together very nicely if we all pull together as a team.

And as much as I love and trust my X Touch, I've learned to be very weary of indorsing many entry level Behringer products. Behringer will sell you a fairly decent sounding mixer with some very cool and impressive routing configurations for under $100. It's a piece of crap and not 100% reliable even on it's best day, but it'll work and Behringer never said it was or wasn't anything but a cheap entry level mixer. Just like their BFC series DAW controllers, I can get them to work, but it's kinda a hateful experience not getting lost with it due to it's lack of indicators, buttons, and controllers.

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14 minutes ago, Steev said:

Even though I've always found Presonus to be less then intuitive to navigate I have a lot of trust and deep respect for their innovation and how well their products get the job done and I'm seriously considering the FP 8 for Pro Tools now learning Craig replaced his Avid Artist series controllers with it. I do LOVE small myself...

However...the Artist Series is very Pro Tools-specific. I'm quite sure some of the functions it has have no equivalent with the FP8. One reason for ditching the Artist Series controllers was that after the most recent update, it seemed they were more about Pro Tools than compatibility with other DAWs. Because I use lots of different programs, I'd rather have a controller that gets me 80% of the way with all the programs rather than 100% of the way with only one of them.

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