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Jesse Wolfe

How to Get M-Audio Hammer PRO 88 or Oxygen Series Keyboard to Control Cakewalk

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Hello All -

I recently got a new M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro keyboard, and finally got it to control Cakewalk's faders, sliders, and transport.   I thought I'd share with other M-Audio gear owners as I didn't see all this information in one single place. I do owe a lot of my success to several posts on this thread over in Instruments & Effects. Note that although the various M-Audio keyboards have slightly different control surfaces, the internals are basically the same. I took all my instructions from various posts about the Oxygen 25, 49, and 61.

What you Need

  1. Cakewalk Installed and working at a basic level with your Hammer or Oxygen keyboard via USB or MIDI DIN and a MIDI card in your computer.
  2. Have read the basic User guide and know about DAW vs PRESET mode and how to interact with the keyboard.
  3. Create a project with 8 or more tracks, and have it open. You don't even need particular instruments assigned - can just be an empty audio or MIDI track.
  4. Record something for a few bars so that you can play with the transport controls once they're hooked up.

How to Get the Mojo

  1. On your Keyboard,
    1. Press and hold the DAW button
    2. Turn the rotary encoder slowly until you see the BITWIG DAW preset show up. 
    3. Click the Encoder knob to select it.  BITWIG uses the Mackie protocol for communication with the DAW, out of the box.
       
  2. In Cakewalk
    1. Go to Edit -> Preferences or just hit P to open the preferences.
    2. Click on Control Surfaces, on the left, under MIDI
    3. Click the ugly yellow plus icon in the upper right (Add New Controller/Surface)
    4. From the Controller/Surface dropdown menu, pick the last one, Mackie Control
    5. For Input Port, pick MIDIIN3 (your keyboard name here) if you're on a PC, and Mackie/HUI if you are on a Mac. For instance, I have a Hammer Pro 88 so the option I pick is MIDIIN 3 (Hammer Pro 88).
    6. For Output port you can select --None-- since your keyboard does not have motorized faders and can't really change based on incoming data from Cakewalk.
    7. Click OK to save it.
    8. Click the WAI (Where Am I) checkbox on your new control surface and pick your favorite color.
    9. Close your preferences dialog.
    10. Go into Console mode or another mode where you can see the controls for each track.
    11. You should see tracks 1-8 have a thinnish bar at the very bottom in the color you selected, with a number in it. These numbers correspond to the faders and rotaries on your "mackie" keyboard.
       
  3. Back on the Keyboard
    1. Move sliders in turn, 1-8. Each should control the fader.
    2. Fiddle with the 8 rotaries. They should sync up with your PAN virtual rotary in Cakewalk and animate it. 
    3. Press the PLAY button on the keyboard. It should start Cakewalk at wherever your NOW pointer is.
    4. Press STOP to stop it.
    5. Press the MODE/GLOBAL button once so that the red REC light lights up 
    6. Now all the buttons beneath each slider will arm/disarm the corresponding track for Record
    7. Press MODE/GLOBAL twice so that the MUTE light is lit (I am not sure if SELECT does anything). Now all the buttons will selectively mute each track.
    8. Press MODE/GLOBAL again so that the SOLO light is lit. Now all the buttons will selectively SOLO each track.

Oh, so sad. I need more than 8 tracks. I guess this Mackie thing is not for me. NO WAY! Check THIS out -

  1. Add a few more tracks beyond 8 in Cakewalk.
  2. On the Keyboard, on the top row in central section.. you should see two buttons separated by the word BANK. The one on left is PREV (<) and the one on the right is NEXT (>). Click the "Next Bank" button (>).
  3. Look at Cakewalk and shed a tear of joy  :,-) The colored WAI stripes at the bottom of the 8 tracks that had the color stripe have moved to the right as far as they could, so that fader 8 now is controlling your last track, or track 16 if you had that many. Now your faders and rotaries talk to THOSE tracks. You can add more tracks and use your Bank Prev and Next buttons to "move" your virtual Mackie back and forth through your tracks, letting you use your faders and knobs to control any track.  I went up to 66 tracks and just stopped trying.  Since the board has four "banks" I thought it might stop at 32 or maybe 64, but it just kept going (even though the keyboard display halts at Bank 4). If anyone hits a maximum, please add a comment.

About the Master Fader

For some reason, the BITWIG setting does NOT let you use your ninth fader on the keyboard to control your Master Fader. That's a little sad because that one is really handy when doing mixing. Fortunately, there is a workaround - ACT to the rescue. Here's how to add in the Master Slider.  I have seen some posters suggest you need to use the M-Audio Preset Editor for your keyboard to achieve that.  And at first, I would agree with them. However, I got it to work without getting down to that level. Besides, it seems there is a bug in that software that once you download the BITWIG preset and change anything on it and attempt to upload it under a different patch name, your rotaries only give you 180 degrees of action on your pan, not the 300-some degrees that the physical rotary provides. I have opened a ticket with M-Audio to look into this. Fortunately, we don't need it!

Here's how to get the Master Fader working:

In Cakewalk,

  1. Open Preferences
  2. Go under Control Surfaces again
  3. Click the yellow plus in the upper right (New Controller/Surface)
  4. Select ACT MIDI Controller (should be the default)
  5. Select the MIDIIN 3 (<your controller name here>) port for hte input port
  6. Select NONE for the output port.
  7. Click OK to save the controller
  8. I would not select the WAI checkbox in this case, as you won't be controlling anything else but the Master, but all the global tracks will get WAI'd like Metronome and Preview.
  9. Go under Utilities menu along the top, and at the bottom you should see ACT MIDI Controller -1. Select it.
  10. You now have the ACT dialog up.  You should see a matrix of green boxes with various things in it. 
  11. Click the Bus radio button at the bottom, under "Control Group"
  12. Click the first green box in the second row of boxes (S1). It will now show Midi Learn.. in the box.
  13. On the keyboard, move slider 9 up or down.
  14. You should see the number change in the box as you move the slider.
  15. Type a name up in the box, maybe just call it Master Slider and save it. Just in case :)
  16. Now you got Master Slider. :)

What You Don't Get

So this setup is not perfect, but as far as I could tell from other threads, this is about as far as you can push automation on M-Audio keyboard controllers. I could not get the Loop button to work. You could probably use the Preset Editor to get that working, but not until M-Audio fixes the bug that ruins your rotary synchronization.

I hope this was helpful.

Cheers & Happy Remote Controlling...

Jesse

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Great write up @Jesse Wolfe! It may seem easy, but in fact it is quite complex to get the controller section of these to work nicely with Cakewalk. As you may know, I have spent a lot of time getting my Oxygen Pro 61 to work nice with Cakewalk. Luckily for me it ended up being a complete success but with a lot of trial and error. Here are some remarks I have after reading your post:

  • Don't hold your breath waiting for M-Audio to respond. I did put in a ticket about a month ago and the only response I received was a survey to rate my interaction with support. Of course I took the survey and gave them the lowest mark on everything and added in the comments that I had never received a response. I never got feedback from the survey either! It seems everything is in place to receive support inquiries, down to the survey emails, but no humans behind to respond.
  • I also found that the Bitwig preset would get you the closest to perfection in their list of preset AND that if you copied it  would not be the same as the original! But I still ended up creating my own to get more things working. But since you need to choose which preset to use when you configure the controller and that 'UserDaw' doesn't exist then, you can NEVER have it as the default. Arghh! (that was my question to support)
  • Although there is everything available under the hood in Cakewalk, the GUI that is provided does not give complete access to the underlying functionality. I hope that the devs have some time some day to improve that. The only solution for me was to install the AZ Controller Plugin that opens up all the available functionality, albeit with a not very intuitive user interface. But when I finally got the hang of it, I could do anything that I wanted.
  • I was able with it to get PAN control perfect. The knobs on the controller give 100% rotation of the pan in Cakewalk and when the knob is centered, the PAN in Cakewalk is always centered. I could never get that working correctly with other means.
  • I also like the fact that I was able to get the select knob, the one labeled 'push to enter' to move the WAI focus one track at a time. The bank buttons move the WAI by 8 tracks, but that is not always optimal. So with the select knob moving the 8 WAI tracks one track to the right or left I can focus exactly on the tracks I want to work with.
  • Personally, I wanted to control the output volume rather than the master fader, but with the Cakewalk plugin I could only chose left or right output fader. AZ Controller enabled me to control both output faders, left and right, with fader 9 on the controller.

I do think that what you ended up doing is very close to perfect using the default and easier to use interface. This should probably suffice and be much easier for most people to work with.

One thing you didn't mention is the use of the preset mode to control plugins. It also works pretty well using a second controller plugin, the ACT MIDI Controller plugin, for these. Then using the ACT learn function you can get it to learn a plugin's control and control them using the M-Audio control section.

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Posted (edited)

Hi @Jacques Boileau! Thanks for your helpful reply.  I presented my support case to them like a software test case that is failing (I'm a software developer by trade) and that seemed to have worked. I got an email back the next day and he said that he "will be absolutely certain to forward this information to the appropriate channels!"  But who knows. I am not holding my breath. :)

I did not quite follow about "never have it as the default." You mean the USERDAW preset? I didn't realize that first choice was a lock-down. Maybe the Oxygen 61 is different than the Hammer 88 Pro. My default on keyboard start up now is a custom preset I uploaded with the Preset Editor. I cannot remember how I got it that way.  I would prefer to have it so that BITWIG would be selected on every power-up.

Side bar: I wonder if you edit BITWIG from the keyboard itself and save it into the user daw preset, if it would be intact. Did you happen to try that?

Nice to hear your experience with the AZ Controller Plugin. Moving the 8 tracks one at a time looks like it could be handy.  Is there a way to share settings on that plugin? I think having both could be very useful... use Next/Prev Bank to zoom out to your 100th track (you know for the major motion picture soundtrack) and then the Encoder knob to fine tune into the 8 adjacent tracks you really want to play with. I agree, probably controlling your output faders with Fader 9 is more useful than the Master fader.  Looks like a rendezvous with AZ Controller is imminent.

Thanks for mentioning ACT and Plugin control. ACT is a whole other layer worthy of its own tutorial. I think also worth mentioning that you could, in DAW mode, have your keyboard pads invoke DAW commands via an ACT layer. Right now my keyboard is 90 degrees from my desk/monitor so I'm not in a position to go mouse free just yet.

Edited by Jesse Wolfe
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2 minutes ago, Jesse Wolfe said:

Hi @Jacques Boileau! Thanks for your helpful reply.  I presented my support case to them like a software test case that is failing (I'm a software developer by trade) and that seemed to have worked. I got an email back the next day and he said that he "will be absolutely certain to forward this information to the appropriate channels!"  But who knows. I am not holding my breath. :)

I did not quite follow about "never have it as the default." You mean the USERDAW preset? I didn't realize that first choice was a lock-down. Maybe the Oxygen 61 is different than the Hammer 88 Pro. My default on keyboard start up now is a custom preset I uploaded with the Preset Editor. I cannot remember how I got it that way.  I would prefer to have it so that BITWIG would be selected on every power-up.

Side bar: I wonder if you edit BITWIG from the keyboard itself and save it into the user daw preset, if it would be intact. Did you happen to try that?

Nice to hear your experience with the AZ Controller Plugin. Moving the 8 tracks one at a time looks like it could be handy.  Is there a way to share settings on that plugin? I think having both could be very useful... use Next/Prev Bank to zoom out to your 100th track (you know for the major motion picture soundtrack) and then the Encoder knob to fine tune into the 8 adjacent tracks you really want to play with.

Thanks for mentioning ACT and Plugin control. ACT is a whole other layer worthy of its own tutorial. I think also worth mentioning that you could, in DAW mode, have your keyboard pads invoke DAW commands via an ACT layer. Right now my keyboard is 90 degrees from my desk/monitor so I'm not in a position to go mouse free just yet.

Yes, USERDAW can never be the default! You always have to select it after every power on. At least on the Oxygen Pro. The default DAW preset is selected on the first power on or when resetting the controller. But then the USERDAW does not exist yet! 🙄I think that is quite shortsighted on M-Audio's part.

I needed to change the bitwig preset a bit to get some functionality I needed with AZ Controller. You can read about it here and you can find my preset there.

I do believe that I ran into the problem of copying DAW presets to the USERDAW and it then didn't behave the same. But it has been a while and can't remember the details.

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Hi Jesse,
I'm having a hard time setting up my Hammer 88 Pro (so, same to yours) to work properly with Cakewalk. I'll try to follow your instructions and see how they work for me. Fingers crossed, and thanks for your contribution. Thanks to Blacque Jacque Shellacque 😄 as well!
Do you think you could use the Preset Editor to save the preset file on your computer and share it here? That would be quite helpful.

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Look for forum member Aszlow who has written a plug-in/driver that is far superior to what is available through ACT etc. 

He is a long time Cakewalk user and has developed this over a period of several years. 
 

It’s highly recommended. 

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Posted (edited)

Yes, I think I've read about this here, some time ago. Might be time to pay more attention to it. Thanks.

Edited by Grebz

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Hi @Grebz-  You might have missed this, from my original post:

Quote

I got it to work without getting down to that level. Besides, it seems there is a bug in that software that once you download the BITWIG preset and change anything on it and attempt to upload it under a different patch name, your rotaries only give you 180 degrees of action on your pan, not the 300-some degrees that the physical rotary provides. I have opened a ticket with M-Audio to look into this. 

ASZlow's plugin is useful but it's got a steep learning curve. I'm not serious enough about DAW interaction to head down that road, personally but I have read that others have had success with it.

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