Use host automation rather than MIDI to control plugin parameters

Use host automation rather than MIDI to control plugin parameters

If you’re trying to control a plugin parameter directly from your physical hardware, you may be tempted to use the audio plugin’s MIDI mechanism, possibly because that’s all that was available to you before you started using Gig Performer.

However if you’re using Gig Performer, you will generally want to avoid direct MIDI control of plugin parameters and you should always use the plugin’s host automation support and associate plugin parameters with Gig Performer widgets.

Overloud TH-U parameters associated with widgets in Gig Performer

           A – Gig Performer widgets, B – parameters exposed to Gig Performer, C – the TH-U’s SDriveOne pedal

If your goal is to control a plugin parameter from a slider or knob on a physical controller, you will do this by associating a Gig Performer widget with the desired plugin parameter and associating your physical slider or knob with the Gig Performer widget.

There are many benefits to this more modern approach to controlling parameters:

1. Change MIDI controllers without having to reprogram them
If you have to use a different controller unexpectedly and you didn’t use host automation, you’re going to either have to learn how to reprogram that controller to send out the CC messages that your plugins expect (and who has time to do that during sound check on a tour?) or you’re going to have to relearn all the MIDI events for every single plugin in your gig. Some plugins don’t even let you learn new values and are just hardcoded to specific CC values!
If you used host automation and particularly if you also used the Rig Manager, you can simply relearn the names in Rig Manager using whatever the controller sends out.

2. Parameters display
Widgets associated with plugin parameters via host automation are able to display the associated parameters no matter how they get changed.

3. Troubleshooting and general overview
You can see immediately that widgets (and hence parameters) are responding to your physical controllers, very useful for diagnosis. Also, being able to see the initial widget positions when you switch to a rackspace lets you know exactly how your plugins are configured.

4. Widget scaling
Widgets can be scaled so as to map the entire range of your physical control to a different range (even inverted) that is applied to the plugin parameter. Controlling two widgets with one inverted lets you trivially implement cross-fading, among many other effects. Most plugins don’t support scaling of individual parameters directly when using MIDI.

5. Widget grouping
Widgets can be grouped so you can control multiple parameters of multiple plugins from a single CC message and you still get the benefit of individual scaling. To do this using MIDI CC messages directly, you would have to configure all those parameters manually to use the same CC message and then you have a problem when you later want to use different physical controls to manage those parameters individually.

6. Remote control
Widgets can also be controlled remotely via OSC so that you can remotely control Gig Performer using applications on your tablet such as Lemur, OSCAR, TouchOSC or Open Stage Control.

Quite honestly, I’m not sure there are any benefits to controlling plugins directly via MIDI, the only time you might do this is if the plugin itself doesn’t support host automation, something that’s very rare these days.

If you have any questions or want to check out other tips, please see this community thread.

Related topics:

 – Widgets and host automation (User Manual)
 – How to control Omnisphere parameters from Gig Performer?
 – How to control Keyscape parameters from Gig Performer?
 – How to rapidly assign plugin parameters to widgets? 
 – Getting started template (Gig and Rackspace files)
 – Rackspaces vs Program Changes

Scaling Curves

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.