Valued Contributor - Level 1

Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

I have a regular small sound job that I handle with an XR12 controlled from a 10" Android tablet running Mixing Station X Air Pro. The only challenge with this job is that I get very little time for get-in and get-out so any problems in setting up could be disastrous. I carry a spare 7" tablet, backup access point and an OTG adaptor for wired Ethernet but I don't have much time for trouble-shooting.

I have long thought it would be good to have basic control via MIDI in case I lost my normal user interface but I did not want a large and/or expensive controller. I did want the controller to have feedback for mute states and fader levels. I have achieved this using the XTouch Mini.

The XTouch Mini, in common with most small and reasonably priced controllers, is a USB MIDI device and the XR12 requires DIN MIDI. This can be resolved, though, with a USB/DIN MIDI converter. The Kenton MIDI USB Host would work but is rather expensive. The HobbyTronics MIDI USB-DIN Converter is much lower cost but looks a little fragile (*) so would need to be repackaged for life on the road. I took the low-cost route by using HobbyTronics USB Host Mini (preloaded with MIDI firmware) plus a HobbyTronics MIDI Breakout. These two boards are mounted in a small box along with a connector for 5Vdc power. The converter and controller only draw about 100mA so I can run it for over twelve hours from a 2000mAh phone powerbank if there is no convenient power outlet or spare USB-A port.

Using the XTouch Editor, I have programmed eight encoders and eight buttons to control the faders and mutes for the critical channels and buses using the published MIDI messages. The encoder LED rings and mute LEDs follow the XR state when controlled by both the MIDI board and the normal network UI. When first turned on, though, the XTouch does not reflect the state of the XR. The quick solution to this is to load an XR snapshot which gives instant synchronization so I programmed one of the spare XTouch buttons to load my default snapshot. As another handy shortcut, I use the encoder press functions to set default fader levels for their respective channels/buses. This is another way to get the faders synchronized without loading a snapshot.

So I have achieved what I set out to do: I can take control of the basic mute and fader functions of the XR if my tablet and/or network fail. I hope that I don't need this capability but it's in the mixer's gig-bag just in case.

(*) HobbyTronics have improved this product. It should not now need repackaging. See HobbyTronics USB/Midi Converter.
RexBeckett Valued Contributor - Level 1 2017-02-25

2017-02-25

Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

I have a regular small sound job that I handle with an XR12 controlled from a 10" Android tablet running Mixing Station X Air Pro. The only challenge with this job is that I get very little time for get-in and get-out so any problems in setting up could be disastrous. I carry a spare 7" tablet, backup access point and an OTG adaptor for wired Ethernet but I don't have much time for trouble-shooting.

I have long thought it would be good to have basic control via MIDI in case I lost my normal user interface but I did not want a large and/or expensive controller. I did want the controller to have feedback for mute states and fader levels. I have achieved this using the XTouch Mini.

The XTouch Mini, in common with most small and reasonably priced controllers, is a USB MIDI device and the XR12 requires DIN MIDI. This can be resolved, though, with a USB/DIN MIDI converter. The Kenton MIDI USB Host would work but is rather expensive. The HobbyTronics MIDI USB-DIN Converter is much lower cost but looks a little fragile (*) so would need to be repackaged for life on the road. I took the low-cost route by using HobbyTronics USB Host Mini (preloaded with MIDI firmware) plus a HobbyTronics MIDI Breakout. These two boards are mounted in a small box along with a connector for 5Vdc power. The converter and controller only draw about 100mA so I can run it for over twelve hours from a 2000mAh phone powerbank if there is no convenient power outlet or spare USB-A port.

Using the XTouch Editor, I have programmed eight encoders and eight buttons to control the faders and mutes for the critical channels and buses using the published MIDI messages. The encoder LED rings and mute LEDs follow the XR state when controlled by both the MIDI board and the normal network UI. When first turned on, though, the XTouch does not reflect the state of the XR. The quick solution to this is to load an XR snapshot which gives instant synchronization so I programmed one of the spare XTouch buttons to load my default snapshot. As another handy shortcut, I use the encoder press functions to set default fader levels for their respective channels/buses. This is another way to get the faders synchronized without loading a snapshot.

So I have achieved what I set out to do: I can take control of the basic mute and fader functions of the XR if my tablet and/or network fail. I hope that I don't need this capability but it's in the mixer's gig-bag just in case.

(*) HobbyTronics have improved this product. It should not now need repackaging. See HobbyTronics USB/Midi Converter.

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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

Cool! I've been looking for a cheap hardwired control surface for a church where I installed an XR16 and this might be the solution. BTW you can also plug the XTouch mini directly into one of your tablets with an OTG cable to control the mixing station app. In that configuration the XTouch will reflect the state of the mixer when powered on and you have the advantage of carrying physical controls with you if you mount the XTouch and the tablet to something like a clipboard/cutting board with velcro.
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Valued Contributor - Level 1

Re: Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

Seth Hopper;117625 wrote:
BTW you can also plug the XTouch mini directly into one of your tablets with an OTG cable to control the mixing station app. In that configuration the XTouch will reflect the state of the mixer when powered on and you have the advantage of carrying physical controls with you if you mount the XTouch and the tablet to something like a clipboard/cutting board with velcro.

I've tried that with a nanoKontrol2 but, not having motorized faders, it needed manual resetting of each channel. I think the XTouch Mini would do a better job.

I'm experimenting with using a small Arduino board between the USB Host and the DIN output. This translates MMC messages from the XTouch to X OSC ones for the X Air. So now I can synchronize the XTouch without loading a snapshot by requesting a mididump. This makes it feasible to use the second layer. Sadly the XTouch Mini doesn't send any message when the layer is changed so synchronization requires a button push but it's usable.

I've also implemented translations for the USB player controls: Stop, Play, Pause, Record and selection of a default wav file. The X-Air doesn't, sadly, send any replies to X OSC messages so I cannot indicate the player state on the transport buttons.
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

Of course, none of these mini controllers (such as the nanokontrol or X-Touch Mini) has motorized faders. But they all work pretty well controlling basic functions of the XR Mixers if you have a USB host board (like the Hobbytronics) to "convert" USB MIDI to 5-pin DIN.

I used a nanokontrol for months and it worked great, especially if you want something as small as possible. Currently, I use an Akai MidiMix, which is the best of the compact MIDI control mixers that I've tried.
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

Rex Beckett;117660 wrote:
I've also implemented translations for the USB player controls: Stop, Play, Pause, Record and selection of a default wav file. The X-Air doesn't, sadly, send any replies to X OSC messages so I cannot indicate the player state on the transport buttons.

Is this done through the arduino or can you program sysex messages into the Xtouch mini?
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Valued Contributor - Level 1

Re: Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

John Baker;117678 wrote:
Of course, none of these mini controllers (such as the nanokontrol or X-Touch Mini) has motorized faders. But they all work pretty well controlling basic functions of the XR Mixers if you have a USB host board (like the Hobbytronics) to "convert" USB MIDI to 5-pin DIN.

No, motorized faders are not likely to be fitted to inexpensive mini controllers. Rotary encoders with LED rings are almost as good, though. They make it possible to have physical controls in addition to soft ones and keep them all in sync.
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Valued Contributor - Level 1

Re: Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

Seth Hopper;117679 wrote:
Is this done through the arduino or can you program sysex messages into the Xtouch mini?

The only SysEx messages that can be programmed into the Xtouch Mini are MMC with nine possible commands. I am using the Arduino to translate these into X OSC for the X Air.

I doubt that any manufacturer is going to put much SysEx capability into a low-cost, compact controller - most users don't need it.

I did consider using a Midi Solutions Event Processor to handle the mapping but it's quite expensive. The Arduino was a simple and very low cost addition to the USB/DIN converter.
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

Rex Beckett;117682 wrote:
The only SysEx messages that can be programmed into the Xtouch Mini are MMC with nine possible commands. I am using the Arduino to translate these into X OSC for the X Air.

Gotcha. Configuring a layout in mixing station with a record button on the main screen has helped them record church services easier so maybe I'll focus on the USB-MIDI conversion for now. Thanks for the info
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Valued Contributor - Level 1

Re: Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

I've noticed that the XTouch Mini sends Bank Select messages preceding a Program Change. It sends the programmed LSB value to controller 0 and MSB to controller 32. On the X-Air, controller 0 is channel 1 fader and controller 32 is DCA1.

This means that these two controls get unexpected level changes just prior to a snapshot being loaded through a Program Change request. In most cases that would go unnoticed but it could cause problems if snapshots with partial scope are used to make on-the-fly adjustments.

I've added logic to suppress the unwanted CC 0/32 messages in my Arduino translator code.
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Contributor - Level 2

Re: Controlling an XR12 via MIDI using an XTouch Mini

I tried the same setup, but using the X32 instead of one of the X-Air mixers. I'm using the USB-Midi converter from hobbytronics:

http://www.hobbytronics.co.uk/audio-midi/usb-midi-converter

This doesn't work as expected. I can control faders and mute buttons on the X32 using the knobs and buttons on the mini, but the mini does not reflect the state of the X32. Or rather, it does for mute buttons, but not for faders. If I move a fader on the X32 the encoder led rings on the mini are not updated. As a result, if a fader is moved to let's say -5 dB on the X32 and the mini still had the fader on -20 dB it will move the fader back to -20 dB when turning the knob, before changing it!

Seems to me that somehow the CC values for faders sent by the X32 are not correctly processed by the mini. For mute buttons this works fine though.

Anyone who can shed a light on this?