Avoid controlling plugin parameters directly from your MIDI controller

Jan 30, 2021 | Gig Performer Blog, Tips

Many Gig Performer users coming from older applications often try to bypass widgets and instead use the plugin’s built-in MIDI learn facility to map a plugin parameter directly to a physical knob or slider on a keyboard or control surface.

There are several small problems with this and several  serious “gotchyas” with which to be concerned.

Small problems

  • Plugins from different manufacturers use different approaches (do you right-click on a parameter, do you go to a separate mapping section, menus are different, etc)
  • Some plugins don’t even support MIDI learn in the first place
  • Functionality such as scaling, constraints (defining min/max values for example), customized resets and control of multiple parameters may be difficult or more likely not available



  • You can’t control the same plugin parameter from different physical controls unless the plugin itself can support responding to multiple different MIDI messages, which is very rare (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a plugin that does that). For example, suppose you want to control the cutoff filter of your “Moog” from knobs on two different keyboards. You’ll have to arrange for both keyboards to use the same CC value for that knob, which then restricts you because you won’t be able easily distinguish them in other scenarios if you depend on plugin MIDI learn.
  • If your keyboard fails and you have to use a different one, you will not want to be sitting at sound check frantically looking for a manual to figure out how to reconfigure that keyboard to send out the same CC messages as the broken one did (trust me, I’ve been there – that was one of the motivations for our Rig Manager feature)
  • If you’re touring or doing festivals where the controllers are part of a backline, you’re going to have the same problem – you’re either going to have figure out how to reprogram the controller or you’re going to have to visit every plugin and relearn the MIDI messages — AND you have to remember which plugin parameters you’re actually needing to control — all while under pressure of sound check or you have 5 minutes before you start!


Use widgets instead

Widgets are your friend. Really.

Widgets and their advantages and benefits in Gig Performer

Yeah, it takes a little bit of thinking to deal with the slight paradigm shift and indirection but by using widgets as your intermediary, you can avoid all of the problems above because Gig Performer’s Rig Manager lets you reconfigure MIDI associations incredibly quickly, even in the situation where you only have a few minutes.

And of course you also get many other benefits such as individual scaling, customized reset values, grouping to control multiple parameters and so forth.

It’s really worth taking the time to understand how to use widgets and the Rig Manager.


Related topics:
Use host automation rather than MIDI to control plugin parameters
Rackspaces vs. Program Changes
How to rapidly assign plugin parameters to widgets (with video)
Migrating slowly from other audio plugin hosts to Gig Performer