DonGeppert Contributor - Level 2 2018-10-19

2018-10-19

X-Touch controller question

I have an XRi8, I run the PA live while playing guitar in the band, changing fader levels quickly and safely for FOH and Monitors is treacherous with a track pad on the computer.

Thinking about an X-Touch controller? Looks like it will do the job but expensive for just basic fader control. Also ... I NEED tor backing tracks into the XR18 via USB from the computer. The X-Touch also needs to connect via USB to the computer. I am thinking a two USB slot laptop would do both devises ...... yes/no? I know the X-Control has a USB hub but would prefer going direct USB on both devices to the computer.

Also, any suggestions for an alternative reliable way to do external fader control on the XR18???

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Contributor - Level 2

Re: X-Touch controller question

Don Geppert;153997 wrote:
Through all this I am now thinking, for the FOH anyways, ... I might just do this ...... analog, simple, balanced, eloquent .... I have one on my desktop for my monitors ... works perfect !!! FOH master level on a pot. Easy Peezy (technical term).

TC Electronic Level Pilot


So you'd have a static mix and use this to adjust the final FOH volume? I guess that works in theory, but you're missing something fundamental about live sound:
Stage and Audience sound so much different - especially with monitors but even without - that you can't mix one from the other position. You can't hear FOH accurately from stage, nor can you hear the monitors accurately from the FOH mixing position. (you can hear that the monitors are drowning out the PA, but you can't tell much more than that)

If you're getting complaints about being too loud, it's probably not the volume, but a bad mix that you can't even hear. The wrong tonal balance is literally painful at a surprisingly low level, while a good blend can blow the speakers before anyone notices how loud it really is.

It doesn't work either, to get a long cord and play your instrument from the audience's position, because the direct sound from the instrument throws you off by that much. (and if it's mic'ed, it may be impossible to get the "correct" settings anyway at that position because of feedback)

Get a dedicated FOH Engineer for at least a few gigs, and give him permission to mess up everything to get a decent universal mix. It'll sound a bit squashed and lifeless, kinda like a radio mix, but at least it won't be painful to your audience.

Or keep a full-time FOH Engineer to "ride the mood" and actually enhance the exciting or slow parts, while also accounting for the audience in each particular moment as well.
Contributor - Level 2

Re: X-Touch controller question

Thanks Rex .... I think The X-Touch mini is the way I am going to try first. It definitely the cheapest solution.

Will report back to let those which are interested know how it goes.
Contributor - Level 3

Re: X-Touch controller question

However remember that the X Touch Mini is USB only so would still have to go via a computer or USB-MIDI converter. Whereas the Compact does have DIN MIDI I/O as well as USB.
Contributor - Level 2

Re: X-Touch controller question

Richard ... to clarify ... does the X-Touch mini HAVE to go into directly into the XR18? Currently I run two laptops, one directly directly in to the XR18 via USB to play the backing tracks, and one running the X-Air software by wifi. IF the X-Touch mini HAS to go directly into the XR18 I am in trouble unless ... perhaps it can go in to either one of the two laptops?
Contributor - Level 3

Re: X-Touch controller question

Sorry what I am saying is that the X Touch Mini only has a USB output but to directly control the XR18 from a MIDI hardware control normally the way into the XR is via the DIN MIDI sockets. However I believe that providing you can connect the Mini into a spare USB port on the laptop then that can be used to route out the control signals from the Mini to the XR18. See Rex Beckett's link in his post. Other hardware controllers with a MIDI DIN port can be connected directly to the XR18 but not the Mini.
Contributor - Level 2

Re: X-Touch controller question

Don Geppert;154030 wrote:
Richard ... to clarify ... does the X-Touch mini HAVE to go into directly into the XR18? Currently I run two laptops, one directly directly in to the XR18 via USB to play the backing tracks, and one running the X-Air software by wifi. IF the X-Touch mini HAS to go directly into the XR18 I am in trouble unless ... perhaps it can go in to either one of the two laptops?


There's a bit more going on here than Plug-and-Play, passing "signals" through an assumed-universal electronic "language".

First off, there is no universal electronic "language". There are thousands, if you can even call them that. Plug-and-Play only works when the engineers have spent that much effort to make the "languages" match, and there's no way they can cover everything. If you want A to talk to B, then at some level, you're assuming the role of "engineer", which requires an engineer's understanding do to it well. This is not a set of arbitrary rules, but a real understanding that can be used to derive the rules on your own.

So, in support of that understanding:

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is not a "dumb wire" like you might be used to with analog audio or even some old-school computer peripherals. You're probably used to having inputs and outputs with information flowing in one direction, but USB is bidirectional on the same wire. It's always bidirectional as a fundamental part of how it works and why it's *universal*.

To avoid collisions, there is a single master ("Host" as it's called for USB) that talks to a bunch of slaves ("Devices"). No device can talk to another device, but only to the host, and a host can only talk to devices, not to another host. The one exception to that is USB On-The-Go, or OTG, which makes an OTG host capable of either function. (smartphones, for example)

There are also a variety of "languages" that are "spoken" on USB. These include data storage, audio, user interface, and many, many more. These "languages" only have enough "vocabulary" to perform their specific functions and no more. No possibility to translate; it just doesn't work...at least not directly. The closest you can come is to fool each device into thinking that it's performing its designed function while a "thing-in-the-middle" plays the illusionist role. This could include two USB hosts that talk to each other in some other way than USB, or a host and a device that again talk to each other in some other way than USB, or two devices with a non-USB connection.

So for your example:

Most of the X-Air series (and the X32 too) has a USB host that only knows "the data storage language". It's not actually audio at that point, nor does it understand audio. It reads and writes files, and the interpretation of those files into audio is done inside the host. But the XR18 specifically doesn't have that. Instead, it has a USB device that only knows "the audio language". So you can plug it into a PC and use it as a sound card, but it doesn't do anything else.

The X-Touch series has a USB device that only knows "the MIDI language". It's interesting but understandable that it doesn't use "the user interface language" because, although it *is* a user interface, it's really designed to talk to PC programs that already use MIDI. But either way, the mixer still doesn't understand it: the XR18 because you'd have two devices, and two devices don't talk at all; and the rest of the X-Air series (and X32) because their hosts don't understand that "language".



So you need a "thing-in-the-middle" of some kind. And because none of these mixers take control commands on USB (see above), you'll also need a different way to make the final connection. Fortunately, there are a few options:

- USB->MIDI converter. Following a link that was posted earlier in this thread, it's basically a USB host that uses "the MIDI language" and simply relays the MIDI information to/from a set of standard MIDI ports. That's all it does. No translation, just a verbatim copy from one wire to another.
The mixer does take control commands on MIDI, and the Touch Mini can be programmed to match the specific "dialect" that the mixer has. You'd have 4 wires connected to this converter: MIDI In, MIDI Out, Power, and USB.

- PC software. Following another link, this is roughly the same concept as the MIDI converter, except that the PC can use the Open Sound Control (OSC) "language" over the network, just like the official app does. The PC could be a laptop, a Pi, or anything else that has a full-spec USB host (understands all prescribed "languages"), a network connection (Enet or WiFi), and the capability to run the software.



As a side-note, the full X-Touch can use a direct network connection to the mixer, but it's (annoyingly for me) not OSC. It's basically a dumb terminal that is micromanaged by the mixer, using a different "language" that was invented by Mackie for this purpose and became popular. Not that that really matters for a satisfied user, but it makes it seem less likely to correct some odd quirks, as those corrections have to be done in a seemingly unrelated piece of firmware.
Contributor - Level 2

Re: X-Touch controller question

Aaron .... thank you for your long and informative explanation.