How to leverage other DAWs’ proprietary plugins from Gig Performer

How to leverage other DAWs’ proprietary plugins from Gig Performer

Introduction

Many DAWs come with their own collection of proprietary plugins. As an end user, I generally never use proprietary plugins because doing so locks one into a particular eco-system and also makes it difficult to collaborate with other musicians who have a different DAW.

Nevertheless, with most DAWs, it can be done and generally just requires a little bit of preparation. Conceptually, we are going to view the DAW as if it was a physical external multi-timbral hardware synth. We will send MIDI messages into it from Gig Performer and we will receive the audio generated by the DAW back into Gig Performer.

In this blog article I will demonstrate how to do this using Apple’s Logic Pro using virtual audio drivers. I will explain the purpose behind each aspect of the setup so that if you are using a different DAW, you will be able to find the equivalent mechanisms to achieve the same goals. If you are on a Mac, you will also want to download the free Blackhole virtual audio driver. If you are trying to do this on a DAW that runs on Windows, then you will need download and install both a virtual audio driver and a virtual MIDI driver. (Mac OS X already includes a virtual MIDI driver, known as IAC)

Incidentally, if you have an audio interface that has some spare I/O channels, you don’t need to use a virtual audio driver. Instead you could just route the output of your DAW into the input of Gig Performer using some patch cables or by creating a submix, if your audio interface has its own firmware mixer.

Note, if, rather than controlling Logic plugins from Gig Performer in a live situation, you are more interested in recording Gig Performer into your DAW, please see this blog article, which essentially describes the same process, only in reverse.

The techniques described below should work with most if not all other DAWs such as Ableton Live, Digital Performer, Cubase, FL Studio or ProTools but you may need to consult the documentation of your particular DAW to see how to select different audio interfaces and so on.

NB: please note that we cannot provide individual support to users on this topic – the information here is solely for guidance to show how it can be done. We encourage you to visit our support forums to ask specific questions.

In the tutorial below, I assume you know how to perform basic Logic Pro X operations so I’m not going to include explanations on how to create channel strips, tracks or insert plugins, etc.

Setup (MIDI)

*) Open your Audio MIDI Setup application and press CMD-2 to show the MIDI Studio window.

MIDI Studio, IAC Driver

*) Double-click on the IAC Driver icon to open up the IAC Driver Properties dialog

Mac, IAC Driver Properties dialog

*) If there are no ports listed, press the + sign (1) to add a new port.

*) Check the Device is online (2)

Setup (Audio)

*) Download and install the Blackhole virtual audio driver

*) Press CMD-1 to show Audio Devices

*) You should see the Blackhole virtual audio interface as one of the entries

Mac Audio Device, Blackhole virtual audio interface

Configure Logic Pro

Configure MIDI

*) Deselect all MIDI input ports except the IAC port. This is a really important step. The reason we do this is because we do not want Logic to receive any inputs directly from your keyboards or other controllers. We only want Logic to receive MIDI events that are sent from Gig Performer. After starting Logic Pro, open the Preferences window, click on MIDI and then on Inputs, then unselect all inputs except the IAC Driver IAC Bus 1 and then close the Preferences window. (NB, if you see more than one IAC driver listed, make sure you select the white one rather than any of the grayed out entries).

Logic Pro X Preferences, MIDI Inputs, IAC Driver IAC Bus 1

*) Open the preferences window again and click Recording and then click on Recording Project Settings…

Logic Pro X Preferences, Recording, Overlapping Track Recordings

This will open a new dialog where you should check Auto demix by channel if multitrack recording. The purpose of this is to make sure that each MIDI channel targets a separate track in Logic. Otherwise, all instruments in Logic will play at the same time.

Logic Pro X Preferences, Recording, Auto demix by channel if multitrack recording

Configure audio

We are going arrange for all channel strips to send their audio out through the Blackhole interface.

*) Open the preferences window again, select Audio, then Devices and then select Blackhole 16ch as the output device. Also (mostly to avoid confusion), select None for the input device. Set the buffer size to 128. Click Apply changes and then close the Preferences window.

Logic Pro X Preferences, Audio, Devices

Note: you could have selected the aggregate device that we created earlier. However, if you do that, when you are selecting output ports for audio in Logic for each channel, you will need to make sure you use the correct offset since your physical interface outputs will be first.

Create some channel strips/tracks

For this example, I created two Software Instrument tracks, and inserted plugins into each of them. Now, here are the critical steps. The default MIDI Channel for every track is set to All. You need to change this and select single channels for each track, So set the first track to MIDI Channel 1 and the second track to MIDI Channel 2. This means that incoming MIDI events on channel 1 will go only to the first track and incoming MIDI events on channel 2 will go only to the second track.

Finally, make sure you record-enable both tracks (or alternatively, enable input monitoring).

At this point, Logic is now configured to respond to incoming MIDI events coming from the IAC MIDI port and sending audio into the Blackhole audio interface

Configure to respond to incoming MIDI events coming from the IAC MIDI port and sending audio into the Blackhole audio interface

Phew! We’re done configuring Logic Pro – now, on to Gig Performer

Configure audio devices

*) Open Gig Performer options and click on Audio I/O

Gig Performer Options, Audio I/O, select Input and Output Device, Audio buffer size and Apply Settings

Select your physical audio interface as your output audio device (mine is a Scarlett 18i20 USB) and select the BlackHole 16ch as the input audio device. Click Apply Settings and close the options window.

The audio generated from the soft synths in Logic will be available to Gig Performer though this port.

Setup a basic rackspace with MIDI routing to test everything

When you create a new rackspace, there will be a default Midi In port called MIDI In (OMNI). You cannot use this port. This is because the MIDI In (OMNI) port receives input from all your ports, including the IAC port. So when we send MIDI events out to Logic Pro using an IAC port in Gig Performer (we’ll see how to do this in a minute), we do not want those events to come back into Gig Performer.

So right-click on the MIDI In (Omni) port, select Change MIDI Input Device and then select your keyboard. In the example here, my keyboard is a Roland A-88 using Port 1.

Gig Performer, Change MIDI In (OMNI) Input Device, use A-88MK2 Port 1

When you’re done, you can right-click on the block again, this time select Caption… and rename the block to something more relevant. I called mine Roland A-88

Gig Performer MIDI block, Roland A-88

Create a Midi Out block

Now we want to route incoming MIDI events from the keyboard to the soft synth on Track 1 in Logic. Remember that that track will respond to events arriving on MIDI channel 1.

Press CMD-P to open the quick plugin finder and type “midi out” into the Filter field

You will see a list of all available MIDI Out devices, including the IAC Driver. Select that one and click the Insert button

Quick Plugin Finder, route MIDI events from the keyboard to the soft synth on Track 1 in Logic

You should now see a new MIDI Out block below the MIDI input block. Any MIDI events sent into that block will travel over the virtual IAC port, directly into Logic.

Click the orange port and drag a connection to the new MIDI output block

Connect Roland A-88 to MIDI Out (IAC Driver IAC Bus 1) in Gig Performer

Now, if you play some notes on your keyboard, you should see the meters in Logic flashing as you play. However, you still won’t be able to hear anything.

Audio connection

(Make sure your amplifier volume is low the first time you do this – just in case!)

Remember that any audio generated by Logic is sent into the first two channels of the Blackhole virtual audio device. From Gig Performer’s perspective, such audio will arrive at the Blackhole Audio In block in Gig Performer. Since we just want to listen to that audio, just connect the first two audio channels together.

Connect the first two audio channels together (Audio In, BlackHole 16ch - Audio Out, Scarlett 18i20 USB), we want to listen to audio

Now, when you play your keyboard, you should see Logic meters flashing and you should be able to hear the audio from Logic.

At this point, you should be hearing whatever software instrument you inserted into the first track in Logic.

So how do you listen to the second track?

Double-click on the MIDI Out block in Gig Performer to open its plugin editor. Change the MIDI Channel to 2 and make sure that Map all incoming MIDI to this channel is checked (by default it should be)

Double-click on the MIDI Out block in Gig Performer to open its plugin editor. Change the MIDI Channel to 2, check Map all incoming MIDI to this channel

Now play notes again and you should hear whatever plugin you inserted into the second track in Logic.

That’s it!

OK – if you’ve made it this far, you should have a working configuration. You can now leverage all of Gig Performer’s capabilities to suit your needs.

Examples:

1) Layer both plugins together. Simply duplicate the MIDI Out block and set the MIDI Channel on one of them to 1 and to 2 on the other.

Gig Performer, Layer both plugins together, Roland A-88, MIDI Out - IAC Driver

2) Splits – Play one plugin on the lower half of your keyboard and the other plugin on the upper half of your keyboard.

First, just duplicate the Midi In plugin (associated with your keyboard)

Gig Performer, Make split configuration, Roland A-88, MIDI Out, IAC Driver

Then, double-click on each Midi In block (one at a time) and adjust the keyboard range that you want to use. Optionally adjust the Transpose

Double-click on each Midi In block (one at a time) and adjust the keyboard range and Transpose

3) Insert a reverb effect for the audio coming in from Logic

Gig Performer, insert a reverb effect for the audio coming in from Logic and going to Scarlet 18i20 USB

We’re done.

Hopefully, the information above will help you to get started using the plugins in your DAW from Gig Performer in a live situation.

Enjoy Gig Performer.



Scaling curves allow you to control the shape of the output of a widget or convert an incoming note velocity to a new velocity. Various predefined curves are available and they can be tweaked as necessary. You can also just draw your own curve as well to achieve the effect you require.

 

MIDI File Player Plugin


You can load up to 128 MIDI song files in a single plugin instance. Switch from one song to another, mute tracks and/or change their channel numbers. Tempo can be controlled by individual songs or you can use the global tempo and tap tempo to control the BPM interactively.

 

Favorites and Presets


Create a sound by placing and interconnecting your desired plugins, such as a synth, some effects and perhaps a mixer. Select them all and then save the selection as a named favorite. The favorite will subsequently show up in all plugin insert menus, making it easy for you to recreate that configuration whenever you need it again. This feature is also very powerful for creating your needed sounds on your studio computer and then transferring them to your touring laptop.

 

Probabilistic Sound Designer


Parameters you select in an open plugin are captured into the Probabilistic Sound Designer dialog window. When you click Randomize, you're only adjusting those selected parameters. Each entry in the PSD dialog has a curve but unlike widgets where the curve controls scaling, in the PSD the curves are used to define the probability of particular values being selected. Make sure the filter cutoff never gets too slow so as to block all sound. Perhaps adjust the max range of the VCA attack parameter so that the sound doesn't have too much delay. Constrain the octave ranges of the oscillators, perhaps ensuring that 1/3rd of the time we select 8' and 2/3rds of the time we select 4'. The possibilities are endless.

 

More Widgets


Numerous new widgets are included in Gig Performer - a new sustain pedal, plastic knobs, drum pads and more colored sliders. Shapes can be colored with different borders and fill colors and morphed from rectangular to circular. Your creativity is now the limit to creating fabulous front panels in Gig Performer.

 

MIDI Message Helper


Select MIDI devices by name. Choose the MIDI message type and adjust the appropriate parameters for the specific type

 

  

Layout management


Gig Performer supports arbitrary resizing. Layout your widgets the way you want - resize the main window and the widgets will grow or shrink as necessary to maintain the same interrelationships. No matter what size screen you have, your front panels will still be neat and usable.

 

Undo Support


If you move your widgets around and/or resize them, or even delete them by mistake, the Undo facility will correct your mistake. Minor moves to a widget by mistake will no longer spoil your design

 

Plugin Channel Count


Some plugins support a large number of outputs and they depend on the traditional channel strip to control how many ports should be available.   When you only need a stereo pair, it is convenient not to have a large horizontal block. In Gig Performer, the number of available ports  is controlled by the channel count override, which can be applied to individual plugins and will be remembered when the gigfile is reloaded or if the plugin is saved as a favorite.

 

Input muting and output fading


Rather than a single audio length tail, Gig Performer 4 gives you the ability to control input muting and output fading separately. Input muting controls how much time it takes for audio input to be silenced when you leave the rackspace. Output fading controls how much time will be taken for audio to fade out when you leave the rackspace.

 

Faster Plugin Finder


Instead of searching through menus of perhaps hundreds of plugins (you know who you are!), the Quick Plugin Finder makes it easy to find the plugin you need by simply typing partial strings. For example, as shown here, to find the Modartt Pianoteq 7 plugins, it's enough to type pia mod 7 (in any order, by the way)  to restrict the list of available plugins to those matching your query. The Quick Plugin Finder also knows about manufacturers, presets and favorites.

 

  

Touch Friendly Input


Any entry field can be changed by either dragging your mouse (or finger) up or down, or by using the large popup touchpad where you can just tap on the squares to enter a value. The large popup keypad also does validation so you can't enter an invalid value. You can also just tap the BPM field to pop up a larger view where you can quickly change tempo, tranpose, trigger Tap Tempo and enable Ableton Link, the last allowing you to synchronize Gig Performer with any other application that also supports Ableton Link.

 

New Tuner Display


The tuner view makes it easy for guitarists to quickly check and adjust their tuning. You can toggle into the tuner view from any other view and toggle right back as soon as you're done. All output will be silenced automatically while you're in tuning mode. You can adjust the concert reference pitch from its default of 440 Hz to suit your own needs. The tuner view fills the entire screen so you can easily see it from a distance.

 

GP Script Enhancements


GP Script adds new language improvements such as multiple initialization sections, initialization with declarations and enhanced callbacks. The WidgetValueChanged callback now supports multiple widgets. Sysex messages are now built-in with numerous supporting functions. String array handling is much faster. Integer bit manipulation is now built-in. A new global GigScript allows incoming MIDI messages to be modified and redirected on the fly. It also allows you to define keyboard macros for your computer keyboard to control Gig Performer itself. For complete information, please review the GP Script Language Manual available through the Help menu.

 

Scriptlets


Scriptlets make creating custom MIDI processors easy. You don't have to be a programmer to use them - you can just download scriptlets from our ever-growing collection on our website and drop them right into your rackspaces to use them. Use scriptlets for simple operations such as turning your single notes into chords, modifying, duplicating or converting one kind of message into another, automatic chord latching (AutoSustain), threshold detection, sysex manipulation... imagination is the limit.

 

Other Improvements


  • System Actions plugin
  • MIDI Out to OSC converter
  • Comment plugin
  • New GUI dialog to define MIDI events to send on song part change
  • MIDI Out blocks can automatically send multiple MIDI events
  • Open/close a plugin editor from a widget
  • Choose default startup view
  • Quick find for plugin parameters
  • Large collection of startup hints
  • OSC Patchbay mode
  • Plugins now default to stereo I/O
  • Dragging presets into the wiring view will automatically create the required plugin
  • Numerous other minor (but nice) usability and workflow enhancements

Numerous other enhancements and optimizations serve to make Gig Performer 4 a superb platform for performing artists.

 

Songs and Setlists


You can organize your rackspaces into songs and your songs into setlists and then just select the setlist you need for a show. Then simply cycle down through the parts, or use your control surface or a MIDI Guitar pedal controller to select individual parts directly.

 

Predictive Loading


Predictive Loading™ is an advanced feature that reduces your RAM and CPU resources by only loading rackspaces (or songs) as needed.

 

 

The Global Rackspace


The Global Rackspace can receive audio from whatever rackspace is currently active. Instead of inserting effects in every rackspace, simply insert them once in the Global Rackspace and all your local rackspaces will have access to them. The Global Rackspace can also send audio to the currently active rackspace. So you can insert a looper that receives audio directly from your guitar (say) and then send the looped audio to different effects in different rackspaces. If a particular instrument such as a piano or organ is needed everywhere (or almost everywhere), put it in the Global Rackspace.

 

   

Zoomable Wiring View


Gig Performer 4 provides a virtual view allowing you to spread out your blocks and connections to make them easier to see and manage, even if you have a very small screen. You can zoom in or out and you can use the Auto-Fit option to position your blocks to fit in the available space.