General > Control Surfaces/ACT

How to fix some compatibility with Launchkey 37?

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People tend to think MIDI controllers are "simple". They are not, especially when it comes to controlling DAWs.
It speaks "simple" protocol (MIDI), but when a rocket scientist speaks "English" and you understand "English", that does not mean you will understand him.
And probably you will be unable to construct a rocket after that conversation ;)

In "forward" direction the controller inform about user actions (like a button press or rotary position change), that is usually simple (at least for this controller).
In "feedback" direction things are a bit more complicated, I mean for example colors of pads.
Note that both sets of messages depends in which mode the controller is, f.e. in HUI what pads send depends from other keys, colors are fixed but display
(separate) solo/mute on/off, depending from current mode, knobs try to "mimic" endless encoders or faders and send corresponding messages (for encoders
the direction, not absolute value). Also note that HUI in general is using (N)RPN MIDI messages, these are sequences of CC messages with specific values.

But all that still was "simple". Real fun begins when you try to interpret incoming messages, and especially when you try to send something back into controller.
Here you need to select correct "destination" (f.e. the 3d track in WAI, solo) and change it (in case of solo, "toggle" the parameter). Also continuously monitor
DAW current state and form required messages when you want update indication on the device (in your case colors of pads and messages on display).

"Known" protocols (on top of MIDI) can help to hide all that complexity from users. So when controller speaks HUI, it knows what to send when the intention
is toggle solo and what to expect as current solo indication. And that information is known on the DAW side as well. That way device producers can implement
(a part of) HUI and don't care about its support in particular DAW. And DAWs can implement HUI  and don't care about particular controller.

When device is too far away from the device it tries to emulate (like Launchkey and Mackie HUI, not only the number of controls is drastically different, also
hardware types of controls are different), the combination just "somehow works". In practice it is drastically limited.

Another problem is that in particular DAW what HUI does is different. That is why for real Mackie units there are DAW specific overlays for most buttons.
Emulating hardware (Launchkey) just select some functionality they are able to mimic, normally taking only "major" DAWs into account.

Launchkey is designed for Ableton. Yes, it can work with other DAWs. But already chosen protocol, HUI, is an indication that is just an "extra feature".
Also it is by design performance controller, so you select one instrument and work with it. Eventually initiating recording, may be solo/mute neighbor tracks.
But that it, it is not designed to help with mixing nor editing (that is way more convenient to do with encoders, jogger and tons of buttons).


AZ Controller supports all MIDI events, in all combinations, including rather specific encodings.I mean AZ Controller can "understand" everything Launchcontrol sends (in any mode)
and can prepare any message Launchcontrol accept as feedback.
AZ Controller supports almost everything Cakewalk allows for Control Surfaces (the only exception is Cakewalk surround) and even a bit more. That is way less then Ableton
or REAPER expose, but that only Cakewalk can change/extend/fix.
There are complete instructions how to use AZ Controller "factory", with examples and tutorials apart from the manual.
You can find "native" protocol for Launchkey MK3 in the internet (search for Launchkey Programmers Reference Manual).
You have the device.

But now to the first statement. Are you ready to read and understand all that, and then apply the knowledge in practice, just to roll your own preset for this device?
A tip to answer that question... Do you think Focusrite(Novation) will not support additional 5-10 DAWs natively if that could be possible by paying for 1-2 hours to related (pro) developer?


Thanks a lot for your detailed response.

Although my understanding is fairly limited in terms of DAW controller, DAWs themselves and the various MIDI protocols. 

I wrote a small Yamaha TX7 librarian back in the 90s but the sysex protocol was quite simple and I don't remember any of it... ;)

I will take your suggestion and make music with my setup for now.   While using it I'll try to take notes of what I wish for to make my setup more efficient.  If it would save me more time than I would invest, perhaps I will work on this potential 'upgrade'.



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