Topic: Dance the Logic, TotalMix, Melodyne jig.

Is the Mackie Control Universal (MCU) protocol standardised ?

I note that RME Fireface Totalmix software declared MCU compatible has similar issues to that of Melodyne Studio when trying to interface with Alphatrack hardware. There is limited success at coordinating buttons of the Alphatrack hardware with software controls using the any of the provided drivers.

It is pleasing and interesting to note that Logic 8 functions extremely well with Alphatrack with obvious good understanding and cooperation between the Logic 8 protocols and those of Alphatrack hardware.  (With lots of midnight oil obviously burnt to ensure the success of said software and hardware combination.)   Logic 8 has MCU and Logic Control protocols built into the software.  The latter Logic Control an offshoot of the original Mackie protocol I am led to believe.

Celemony's Melodyne Studio and RME's Totalmix softwares declare that they are Mackie Control compatible yet do not respond to Alphatrack hardware without dedicated drivers that translate Alphatrack hardware controller actions into the appropriate Mackie Control data.

In the light of all the effort coordinating Logic with the MCU/LC  protocol why won't Alphatrack's Logic, Live (MCU), Final Cut Pro (MCU) and Soundtrack Pro (MCU)  drive any Mackie Control compatible interface ?

Is MCU standardised and a recognised documented protocol ? 
Is the MCU protocol being 'defaced' by different software manufacturers ? 

Assuming that MCU has standardised calling procedures as well as  observing that considerable effort has already been applied to the MCU and Logic 8/Alphatrack exercise:
   Wouldn't a generic editor capable of mapping all the Alphatrack permutation of buttons to appropriate intended MCU parameters be a solution for all current and future MCU compatible softwares ?

Re: Dance the Logic, TotalMix, Melodyne jig.

Hi Tony,

Actually this is a very good question. And one that throws a lot of folks because at first glance the answer seems so obvious. We get asked all of the time how come we don't just add a generic Mackie Control mode. Unfortunately it is actually much more complicated than it may appear. There really is no such thing. Here's the condensed version of why that is.

First, yes, the Mackie Control protocol is a 'standardized' set of commands. This is true for HUI, and Logic Control as well. That command set reflects all of the communication required to send and receive data to ALL of the faders, buttons, knobs, LEDs, displays, etc, on an actual MCU. Including modifier keys to increase the functionality of the entire unit and this gets to be a long list.

Now for the problem. Each different software app may, and in fact does, use those controls however they best see fit. This means that while there is a standard set of messages, there is no standard to how they are applied. This is also why Mackie offers a number of overlays for the MCU depending on what software you are using. For example, the "Read Automation" button in Pro Tools is the "Click" button in Digital Performer, is the "New Audio Track" button in SONAR, etc. With a few exceptions, like Play and Stop, there is just no common pattern. This gets further complicated when you figure in the modifier keys.

Now to add another curve ball. Remember, the AT doesn't have anywhere near the number of faders, buttons, etc that an actual MCU has. Which ones do we choose? We can't replicate everything. And because every app rearranges the commands we can't even be sure to have a few of them right unless we write a specific driver mode for every single application. Ouch! That's a lot of research and coding for us, and also a big part of the reason why we freely publish the AT's MIDI spec.

Many applications have chosen to write their own command set for AT, or TranzPort, right into their programs. It's much easier for them because they already know the command set that they can support and all of the best user 'tricks' that they can show off. Since we can't be an expert on >30 DAW apps it is much harder for us and invariably results in a flood of user requests to change this feature or that because they aren't the best ways to do something. Or we missed some great feature altogether that is unique to that program.

So while we have done a few very basic ones, you can see that it is actually a much bigger challenge than it seems at first. This is also why we happily send units to companies who would like to add support for our products. And if I am not mistaken, we did send an AT to the Melodyne folks a while back.

Did I say this was going to be the condensed version? Oops.


Re: Dance the Logic, TotalMix, Melodyne jig.

Another reassuring detailed response to questions I've raised so far.

Thanks for that answer, it has helped clarify why your 'plug-in' driver is required for specific softwares and highlights reasons for good communication within the industry as well as with MIDI messaging.

Re: Dance the Logic, TotalMix, Melodyne jig.

Yes, unfortunately there are just so many variables in this area that every company has gone off and done their own thing.

Another thing that we are beginning to see  more often with some apps is MIDI 'Learn' mode. They have a built in command set that the user can pair up to any controllers MIDI I/O. This can also work well for both parties. The key is for the app to also provide feedback to the controller for display, LED's and fader motor, to the same address.


Re: Dance the Logic, TotalMix, Melodyne jig.

This is from an old post I made here that's about the RME TotalMix. I saved it as a PDF so it kinda copies over weird.....but hey what the hell. At least another post from the crash made it back. ;>)

From: Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
Registered: 2007-04-25

I just thought I'd let people know how some of the controls work with RME's Totalmix application.
In order to use this "Enable MIDI Control" under the Options drop down menu must be checked and
under Options\Preferences the MIDI Controller set to the Alphatrack.
1. Rewind and Fastforward moves the hi-lited MIDI channel control (It shows 8 hi-lited)
forwards or backwards by one channel.
2. The AT fader will control the first fader of the 8 hi-lited for MIDI control but if you have
the Option "Link Faders" checked it will control the first 2 of Totalmix. Unfortunately
the "Link Faders" Option only works with the faders of Totalmix and not the mute,pan or
solo buttons.
3. Mute controls the mute of the first channel hi-lited for MIDI control in Totalmix.
4. Solo controls the solo of the first channel hi-lited for MIDI control in Totalmix.
5. Stop activates the "Dim" button in Totalmix.
6. Play activates the "Talkback" button in Totalmix.
7. F1 through F4 move through "Presets" 1-4.
8. PAN turns the "Mono" button on and off in Totalmix.
9. EQ turns the "Master Mute" in Totalmix on and off.
10. PLUG-IN turns the "Master Solo" in Totalmix on and off.
11. The 3 encoders will control the "Pan" of the first 3 channels hi-lited for MIDI control
and pushing them will make the "Pan" go to center in Totalmix.
12. Last but not least is the send button. This one was kinda weird. Depending on which set
of channels are hi-lited for MIDI control in Totalmix (ie, Input,Playback or Output) it
would bank up then over. To give you an example (this is with a Multiface II) I
Fastforward till say Analog Hardware Outs 7-8,SPDIF L&R, and ADAT 1-4 are hi-lited. If
you press the "Send" button once it will hi-lite the 8 channels directly above it
If you press it again it will hi-lite the 8 channels directly above those (Input).
If you press it one last time it will hi-lite the first 8 channels (Input)
Make sure you if your using the AT with another APP that you have the Totalmix Option "DeActivate MIDI in Background" checked so the
controls will only control Totalmix when it is in focus.
I hope I explained it well enough. Maybe down the road the guys at Frontier could make it work Totally with Totalmix. ;>)
Last edited by ROCKINROG (2007-04-28 15:55:46)
Cheers, Roger R Cunningham
Wired Audio & Video Installations

Re: Dance the Logic, TotalMix, Melodyne jig.

Thanks for the detail on the Totalmix RockinRog.  I confirm your observations using a 'trial by firewire' method to discover the magic.

Totalmix on my Mac is not always activated by Alphatrack when the 'Deactivate MIDI in background' is selected and a return is made to Totalmix from Logic 8.  However, I can't be sure if that isn't an issue with Totalmix. 

Not being able to quickly select individual channels in Totalmix I have shelved Alphatrack's use until a Totalmix driver materialises.

Now if only there was an Alphatrack 'User's MIDI Macro Editor' acting as translator/remapper to outgoing MIDI messages from the individual AlphaTrack hardware controls to peripherals based on the 'Mackie Control' protocol.