Helpful Reply[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT

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azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/11/30 15:05:00 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby SF_Green 2018/01/21 18:30:40
If you have done ACT map in the editor and even see it is working in software, you are done with ACT mapping. The rest has absolutely nothing to do with ACT.
 
We should clarify the meaning of words before we continue. ACT is ONLY about mapping plug-in parameters to virtual controls. There is only one another "thing" which has ACT name in it, "ACT MIDI" Sonar control surface plug-in. It is just a part of name. There are "ACT MIDI", "Generic Surface", "A-Pro", "VS-700", "AZ Controller", etc plug-ins which can work throw ACT (all of them! May be the only exception is "Mackie Control"). But only one of them has "ACT" word in its name.
 
So, you write "Sonar's ACT Controller's properties". I guess you mean "A-Pro" plug-in properties (you see "A-PRO" label in the window). "ACT MIDI" has no "software controls" to operate. I repeat, "A-Pro" plug-in can work with ACT, but it is not "ACT MIDI" plug-in. Also the window is the interface for this plug-in. Like VST window, it is NOT a part of "Sonar properties".
 
So, if all previous guess are correct, you can let say move a knob in "A-Pro" window and that changes some parameter but corresponding hardware control is not moving it. Is that right? Can you control something from hardware at all? I mean transport, volume?
 
"map 0...19" are build-in A-Pro (hardware) maps. The plug-in ("A-Pro") tries to switch A-Pro hardware to map 19 on startup. It also tries to map everything (NOT ACT, it maps hardware controls to MIDI messages). For that to work, it is very important to have correct "Output" port specified for "A-Pro" plug-in in Sonar Control Surfaces preferences dialog. Common symptoms that is not working right is significant delay (~10 sec) when you start Sonar/Load project (that is what I get if I add the plug-in because I have no A-Pro hardware). That means the plug-in is unable to communicate with hardware correctly. That does not immediately means there is no reaction from hardware, in case the "Input" configuration is correct, knobs, faders, buttons, keys are working. But that is clear indication something is wrong with outgoing communication (just wrong port selected, incompatible firmware in device, etc.).

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micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/11/30 17:44:44 (permalink)
Understand the definition.
Sonar's ACT Controller's properties == "ACT MIDI Controller-1".  Properties means I open that windows/interface page where it has mapping layout.  I did this just to see how the ACT mapping is outside of A-PRO-1, and it does map corresponding to the ACT Editor. This verified that ACT is done correctly and so ACT Editor done its job and save, close.
For clarification from this point:
A-PRO-1 == the Virtual Controller
APro == the hardware
 
I start Sonar, select A-PRO-1 as controller:
With APro's ACT hardware button on (by default when you start Sonar) APro does work for transport and all the default Sonar controls.  I added a soft synth and I can play sound with the keyboard. So midi is setup. 
This is where the issue begin:
Bring the soft synth into focus, the mapping in the A-PRO-1 is not what laid out in ACT Editor.  It's still default to whatever and although the APro works, it operates on some parameters that I don't want, worst, it assigned button to Resonate Frequency, for example.  This is what we all want right? to control the parameters we use.
So this is my question:  how do you get the A-PRO-1 to map to what I have mapped? and then how do you get that to the APro hardware?
The only way I know to map the ACT to A-PRO-1 to the hardware is to do the ACT Learn.  I did this (many times by now) and saved off the config.  The APro pads don't seems to work right as most of the time it can't learn, but the knobs an sliders do work.  But this way Sonar saves this in sonaract.xml, which is zero'ed if you use ACT Editor again.
Hope it makes sense.
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azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/11/30 19:48:23 (permalink)
Ok, my bad. I have not checked how it works for a while...
 
So the editor does not work starting from some (I do not know which) Sonar 2015 update.
Also Sonar now always save generic xml file at the end, at least when sonaract.xml is emptied.
EDIT: it was too late yesterday... I have to investigate more from where it comes.
 
What I have found myself (still) working is manual editing of generic XML file (with zeroed sonaract.xml). With small addition: all parameter names must be capitalized to have any effect.
 
I will contact MarKo for possible editor fix and update my documentation for manual editing.
post edited by azslow3 - 2015/12/01 06:04:31

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#33
micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/11/30 20:31:20 (permalink)
I'm on X3e so no updates for awhile now. I'm the kind that stick to what works and very leery of 'updates'. 
So are you saying that A-PRO-1 should automatically 'load' the right mapping (if it's working)?
If Sonar saves something in the generic.xml file, I edit a map with ACT Editor without launching sonar, save it and then launch Sonar, at this point the only generic.xml is the one last updated by ACT Editor.  Then I launch Sonar, even in this case the A-PRO-1 still gets the 'bad' mapping from somewhere.  Which leads me to suspect that this is the A-Pro hardware's build in map for Sonar, and it loads up to the A-PRO-1 when the hardware's ACT button is enable.
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azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/01 06:17:21 (permalink)
It was really late yesterday...No changes between version. It is just that something else influence the mapping process. It is either plug-in and/or its position in generic.xml and/or particular parameters. I have to dig into that to understand.
 
But have you tried during generic.xml editing change parameter names to capital? In all my tests, that worked always. Note that after that change, the changes in the ACT Editor are also working. Also with which particular plug-in you are testing? It is really so that for many plug-ins I have tested the editor worked without tricks, but now I have found some for which capitalization is required.
 
There is no A-PRO internal ACT map. There can be "non ACT map", but I have not seen any hint it exists for A-Pro (exists for Mackie Control for example).
ACT works the following way "Knob 1" -> "ACT Knob 1". That mapping is done by A-Pro and it can be changed (right click on the knob to see "Exlcude..." options). "ACT Knob 1" -> "Plug-in parameter (for example Freq.)". That is done by Sonar, plug-in has no influence on that. That mapping comes from xml files, but there are processed "smart" way, combined with number of controls on particular controller to generate final mapping you see. And here something does not work as expected, at least in some situations. Capitalizing parameter names indicate that particular mapping was "ACT Learned", and so has priority over automatic detection (lower case names).
 
With act.xml not zero, there is yet another level of mapping for particular controller, so it distinguish "ACT Knob 1 (ACT MIDI)" and "ACT Knob 1 (A-Pro)". Which makes situation tracing more complicated.
 
It can also be that these XMLs get corrupted and so can no longer be parsed correctly. So the information after problematic place in the file is no longer used, reverting some configurations to autodetection default when you start Sonar. Sonar then save that "new" mapping, unfortunately still with problematic point. I have not understood that process yet, the corruption is normally not in XML structure but in parameter names (different cases for names, some strange characters and for sure something I do not know yet in addition).

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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/01 08:25:56 (permalink)
I think I have found one possible source of that (and may be some other) problem. I mean the map you call "build in Sonar ACT map for A-PRO".
 
Move all other xml files from the configuration directory. I mean files *act.xml, *genericpluginparams.xml, where "*" is SONAR1, SONAR2.
 
Either capitalization of parameter names is still required or the editor will start to work with all plug-ins is still an option question, I am going to check this evening.
 
I have never used A-Pro or other standard old plug-ins. That is why while the problem was there for me as well, it was harder to hit. Real explanation is too long to put here, at least till we check my current guess is right.
 
EDIT: without other files, I see everything function fine with ACT Editor (for plug-ins I had problems before). Also I see desired mapping in APro plug-in, buttons inclusive.
 
NOTE: In default configuration, pads and buttons are excluded from ACT in all 4 banks. Can be changed by right clicking.
NOTE: Till "Map ACT identically..." is unchecked in options, only 8 ACT  knobs + sliders + buttons can be controlled, independent how many banks you define with ACT controls. When unchecked, you can control up to 4x more ACT controls (normally 3x to not scarify strip controls)
post edited by azslow3 - 2015/12/01 15:00:18

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micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/01 17:37:03 (permalink)
I have not tried capitalized the params name.  I did open the genericpluginparams.xml file and only with notepad so it's like trying to decode the U-Boat's Enigma machine!!! So I will defer this as last resort.  I will try moving everything else off that folder and only leave the genericpluginparams.xml there tonight.
 
So far I have mapped:
Pro Channel: EQ, Compressor, etc.  Thought I would start with something within Sonar first.  Using ACT Learn (touch a function and wiggle the hardware controller). This works quite well for the first time but at times it's 'stubborn' (won't map) if you want to re-assign something you already mapped. 
Oxford EQ.  Thought I would try an FX that I use a lot and with a high number of params.  This is where I started to have issue and started to search for solution.  Pads are defaulted to Sonar function and I can't assign to the plug-ins.  Knobs and faders mapped fine but at some point they reverted back to the initial random map.
Arturia Solina:  Before doing in ACT, I mapped this to the A-Pro via the A-Pro Editor without any issue.  Within ACT,  maps are all over the place and controller don;t work consistently.
The big one I want to do is NI B4, with all those draw bars. For this I will need to understand how to use the Bank to have more controller, but first thing first, let get the basic to work.
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azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/01 18:10:30 (permalink)
Have you noticed that I have edited my previous post?
 
micv
I have not tried capitalized the params name.  I did open the genericpluginparams.xml file and only with notepad so it's like trying to decode the U-Boat's Enigma machine!!! So I will defer this as last resort.  I will try moving everything else off that folder and only leave the genericpluginparams.xml there tonight.

If you do not do ACT Lean, you need sonaract.xml (zeroed!) as well. I have updated the test version of AZCtrl so it "beautify" genericpluginparams.xml the way notepad can work with it (was with Linux line ending style before).See my original link how to use that.
 
If you are going to use "ACT Learn", you need REAL (not zeroed) sonaract.xml. It will not work correctly otherwise. Note that you can not learn VST3 that way. And as you have noticed remapping is a nightmare.
 

So far I have mapped:
Pro Channel: EQ, Compressor, etc.  Thought I would start with something within Sonar first.  Using ACT Learn (touch a function and wiggle the hardware controller). This works quite well for the first time but at times it's 'stubborn' (won't map) if you want to re-assign something you already mapped. 
Oxford EQ.  Thought I would try an FX that I use a lot and with a high number of params.  This is where I started to have issue and started to search for solution.

So, go ACT Editor or manual way. You will save time and nerves.
 

  Pads are defaulted to Sonar function and I can't assign to the plug-ins.

See my first "Note".
 

  Knobs and faders mapped fine but at some point they reverted back to the initial random map.
Arturia Solina:  Before doing in ACT, I mapped this to the A-Pro via the A-Pro Editor without any issue.  Within ACT,  maps are all over the place and controller don;t work consistently.

Hard to achieve if you do not have correct sonaract.xml, no chance if that is VST3.
 

The big one I want to do is NI B4, with all those draw bars. For this I will need to understand how to use the Bank to have more controller, but first thing first, let get the basic to work.

See my second "Note".

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#38
micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/02 00:34:34 (permalink)
The para names do show up or the pads, but not for the faders but has no function.
Moving the all files out and leave only genericpluginparams.xml and zero'ed sonaract.xml doesn't make any difference.  Those files has mapping for ProChannel and BreVerb and other Sonar plug-ins so it shouldn't interfere.
Manual capitalize doesn't do anything either.
More sure what and when but it's now more 'broken'.  Pads are sending values on/off/0%/100% randomly.  Fader for volume suppose to do db are now also do %.  Moving fader or button on the virtual A-PRO-1 produce no functionality.
Forget the hardware for now, the virtual A-PRO-1 can't control anything on the synth any more.  Revert back to the previous state (where I left off yesterday) everything is working but of course the hardware control all the wrong function, back to square 0.
 
Time to take a deep breath and revisit the basic:
1) The files are under $user\App Data\Roaming\Cakewalk\ right? seems like this is a temp directory, but ACT Editor did its thing here so it should be right.
2) genericpluginparams.xml maps control type -- para name --para index
3) sonaract.xml maps para name -- para index --Surface Control ID
Then what maps the Surface Control ID to the hardware?   How can ACT maps to hardware without the sonaract.xml file?
 
btw on another note, The Apro has 4 bank buttons, how do you configure the bank button to have access to 3 more set of controllers?
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azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/02 04:56:12 (permalink)
All these XMLs are not influencing the Volume control from faders (I mean strip volume control).
About 4 banks I have already answered (you should uncheck one option).
sonaract.xml is YET ANOTHER mapping file. For some reason, I get it corrupted faster then other one. In fact since it was corrupted before I have started to understand the whole structure, I was thinking for long time it is not used at all.
 
Well constructed genericpluginparams.xml should work. Unfortunately, there is no indication from Sonar when it is not well constructed. I suggest you take a deep breath and do the sequence one more time:
1. Configure A-Pro plug-in for ACT banks / ACT pads as you want (I mean options and "Exclude from"). Exit Sonar.
2. Move away other XMLs, except zeroed sonaract.xml and good genericpluginparams.xml (may be even remove it to regenerate).
3. Open sonar, focus all plug-ins you want ACT control (just click on plugin in FX bin, nothing else). Exit Sonar.
4. Start ACT Editor, start Sonar, add AZCtrl and open its property window. Set ACT Editor follow AZ Ctrl.
5. Clicking on plug-ins select then in ACT Editor. Map parameters. Press "Save". Also confirm saving if ACT Editor asks in addition.  Exit Sonar. Press "Save" in ACT Editor one more time. Close it.
6. Restart Sonar to use the mapping.

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azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/02 05:05:32 (permalink)
And yet another option... we can organize TeamVeiwer session and sort all than in an hour.
Alternatively send me the XML produced after step (3) and after (5).

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#41
micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/02 10:06:37 (permalink)
azslow3
About 4 banks I have already answered (you should uncheck one option).

If I understand correctly, in the virtual A-PRO-1 I unchecked something like  "not include pads/button in ACT" which makes the pads and controller available for mapping.  But that still one set of 8 knobs/Sliders/Pads.  What I want to do, if possible, is to hit Bank 2 or 3, or 4 button and have another set of 8 to map to something else.
Since mapping outside of ACT does work, I'm taking a break from ACT and just trying to map the Hammond B4 plug-ins directly to the hardware so I can have some fun. In the A-PRO Editor (Roland) I don't see anyway of setting up 4 banks.
Also in ACT Editor I don't recall seeing 32 count for each type of controller.
 
I will do the sequence you lay out tonight.  btw in all my previous tests, I never did use AZCtrl.  Perhaps I misunderstood that ACT Editor can work without AZCtrl.
Again really appreciate you hanging in here with me.
 



post edited by micv - 2015/12/02 10:32:35
#42
azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/02 11:46:47 (permalink)
For APro plug-in configuration (somehow my Notes once more):
 
  • You enable particular controls in particular bank (separately for each bank) for ACT by:
    1. selecting corresponding banks (4 buttons in the plug-in left top corner)
    2. right click some control and uncheck "Exclude...", either just one control or the whole control type, for example all pads
  • You enable ACT enabled controls in different banks affect different ACT parameter by:
    1. opening options dialog ( button toward right top corner in the plug-in window)
    2. setting corresponding option there
A-Pro editor works with hardware assignments. It has 0-19 presets, in which each control can send different MIDI messages. 0 is temporarily, 19 is used for A-Pro plug-in. So it make sense to configure 1-18.
What you see as Banks in APro plug-in is "software banks". Hardware controls are still sending the same MIDI messages in all 4 banks, but the plug-in interpret them differently.
 
ACT Editor can be used without AZCtrl. And it has limitation to map 8 sliders, 24 knobs and 16 buttons. But I think it is simpler to start with such limitation, if I get it right, you have no success at all at the moment.
 
During configuration phase, AZCtrl it good to have installed and configured in Sonar with "None" as Input/Output for several purpose:
  • ACT Editor can use its interface to follow plug-in/parameter changes in Sonar. While plug-in is easy to select in the drop box, some parameters have really cryptic names and are hard to find in the list. With "follow" option, you can just move something in the VST interface and the editor will highlight corresponding parameter.
  • If you do manual editing and want to find which name has some control in VST (as I have mentioned, it is not always trivial), you can use the Overview tab which shows last changed parameter (that is the text used by ACT Editor as well)
  • you can "prepare" genericpluginparams.xml for editing with windows Notepad (from "Tweak current configuration..." in the Options Tab). That operation can also fix some problems in that XML file.
  • you can see current ACT mapping for up to 300 controls (ACT tab). The mapping is the same for all surfaces in case sonaract.xml is zeroed (and NOT the same otherwise, what you have already experienced at the beginning since SONARX1act.xml files are also interpreted as sonaract.xml, giving that magic "build in" mapping even after you have changed something by editor or manually).
  • you can reproduce A-Pro plug-in by configuring AZCtrl. Or make your device work with completely different logic, including fancy definitions. For example, you can create 32 banks instead of 4, ask Fader 1 to always control HF gain in particular EQ instance on bus "Vocals" when you recording, while controlling "Drums" volume when playing and "ACT Fader 67" when the transport is stopped... But that use case is outside or this thread format
 

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#43
micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/03 10:56:31 (permalink)
Ground control to Major azslow3, we have lift off
Got it to work with a synth and a Fx plug-ins. 
First I deleted the genericpluginparams.xml file and followed your 6 steps.  I only 'focus' a the two plug-ins that I was testing so the xml fie is small so I can observe the context.  Sonar re-generated the file and all parameters are in lower case.  In my limited testing, I found that the order which you open/close ACT Editor and Sonar doesn't seems to matter.  I didn't not configure AZCtrl in/out to none as I missed that in your post until now, so I had it at the same port as the A-PRO -1.
What really helps for troubleshooting is the AZCtrl displays the midi and the controller values as you're hitting the hardware so you can see exactly what's going in the from the hardware to the plug-ins.
I still need to take it all in and trying to understand more.
I believe that the issues I had were likely due to:
1) A 'corrupted' genericpluginparams.xml or more likely that Sonar has inherent issue of processing 'ACT Learned' parameters.
2) Bugs/crappy A-PRO plug-in.  After I got things to work, I select the A-PRO-1 interface and although the mapping is correct, the pads still not working consistently as it still displaying/sending on/off/0%/100% as you click the virtual pads, and then stuck/frozen. The hardware behaves exactly as the virtual plug-ins.  This got me confused before as I though it might be the mapping.  With the AZCtrl as interface everything works fine. 
-----------
I still need to play with the Bank setting.  My though is to use Bank3 and Bank4 to control Synth (exclude the transport button L1-L8) and leave Bank1 and 2 for default Sonar mapping. I noticed that the rotaries goes from R1 to R20 when I switch from Bank3 to Bank4, expecting R10. In ACT Editor I think that rotaries are sequential R1-32 so I still need to work on the second set of controller.
 
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azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/03 15:54:53 (permalink)
micv
Ground control to Major azslow3, we have lift off


 
Sonar re-generated the file and all parameters are in lower case.

That is ok, upper case means "ACT Learned" and it takes preference over lower case, if there are several configuration files. Since we have removed other files, there should be no difference. Lets keep it lower, that way you will see if you (by mistake) ACT learned something.
 
In my limited testing, I found that the order which you open/close ACT Editor and Sonar doesn't seems to matter.

Normally it does not. But they independently work with the same file, so in case of troubles (and you had some) it is better to be consequent.
 

I didn't not configure AZCtrl in/out to none as I missed that in your post until now, so I had it at the same port as the A-PRO -1.

If you plan to record/play MIDI with APro, I recommend to either reinsert it with "None" or check that A-Pro plug-in is listed AFTER AZCtrl in Sonar preferences. Otherwise controls will "leak" to the track/VSTi, producing really hard to understand results (like your VSTi is instantly silent, with everything looks normal... that is how I have spotted the bug for the first time).
 

I believe that the issues I had were likely due to:
1) A 'corrupted' genericpluginparams.xml or more likely that Sonar has inherent issue of processing 'ACT Learned' parameters.

+
 

2) Bugs/crappy A-PRO plug-in.  After I got things to work, I select the A-PRO-1 interface and although the mapping is correct, the pads still not working consistently as it still displaying/sending on/off/0%/100% as you click the virtual pads, and then stuck/frozen. The hardware behaves exactly as the virtual plug-ins.  This got me confused before as I though it might be the mapping.  With the AZCtrl as interface everything works fine. 

In short test I was able to reproduce that.
It looks like A-Pro plug-in does not like when the same parameter is assigned to several controls, especially pads. Note that not only duplicated control stop working (or showing 100%), other do that as well. You just have to
remove duplicated assignments (duplicated "paramindex") from XML. The simplest way is to do this manually,
"beautify" the XML with AZCtrl ("Options" tab, "Tweak current configuration...", "*Format genericpluginparams.xml")
and then edit it with Notepad.
 
I noticed that the rotaries goes from R1 to R20 when I switch from Bank3 to Bank4, expecting R10. In ACT Editor I think that rotaries are sequential R1-32 so I still need to work on the second set of controller.

Knobs are mapped to ACT controls in banks order. So in your example Bank3 Knobs are ACT Knobs 1-9, in Bank3 Knobs are ACT Knobs 10-19 (if you have ACT enabled all 9 knobs).
But Sonar has "intelligent" mapping strategy. To keep it short: from XML remove all parameters for which you do not have controls (or at least move them to the end of the list). I mean if you have only 16 ACT buttons (Bank3/Bank4 with 8 buttons each) but in XML there are 24 buttons mentioned before knobs, first 8 ACT Knobs will control what is listed for the last 8 buttons in XML. While I could understand the logic behind and how that was thought to be helpful, it works the same way as Communism: theory is good, but no one has managed to make it good in practice 
 
 

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#45
micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/03 16:55:00 (permalink)
azslow3
In short test I was able to reproduce that.
It looks like A-Pro plug-in does not like when the same parameter is assigned to several controls, especially pads. Note that not only duplicated control stop working (or showing 100%), other do that as well. You just have to
remove duplicated assignments (duplicated "paramindex") from XML. The simplest way is to do this manually,
"beautify" the XML with AZCtrl ("Options" tab, "Tweak current configuration...", "*Format genericpluginparams.xml")
and then edit it with Notepad

Is it b/c ACT Editor creates the duplicate?  As I do the mapping, the parameter is not 're-assigned' but rather assigned to a specified controller, so if such para is already mapped to some other controller would that cause a duplicate?  If so then should I first do a clear all and would ACT Editor then knows to unassigned thus prevent the duplicates?
Now that I have a taste of this excellent AZCtrl, can it be used as standalone or outside of Sonar?  So for live use of synth, for example, you'd have the same mapping and control.  To do this now I have to use the very limited A-PRO Editor and remap everything.
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azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/03 18:26:00 (permalink)
ACT Editor can create duplicates, in many cases that is desired effect. Just not for A-Pro. You can clear all assignments, then assign only what you are going to use. Without duplicates. That should do the trick. You can always check manually in XML.
 
AZCtrl works with Sonar only, it does all operations throw it (using Cakewalk Control Surface API, which A-Pro plug-in is using as well). If you need more than one synth, you use some VST host in any case. And some people use Sonar live. But I am definitively not an authority in that question (I am n00b home musician).
 
As I already wrote, AZCtrl can be used in place of A-Pro plug-in. My estimation: reading documentation and tutorials, withing 30 minutes you get basic setup ("Startup preset"), within 1-2 hours you can reconstruct ACT MIDI plug-in, and after 2-3 hours you should be able to completely reproduce what A-Pro plug-in is doing. But if with normal plug-ins at that point you start making music (since they do what they do and you can not change that), with AZCtrl you will start to adopt more and more functions. You was warned

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micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/04 00:06:19 (permalink)

If you plan to record/play MIDI with APro, I recommend to either reinsert it with "None" or check that A-Pro plug-in is listed AFTER AZCtrl in Sonar preferences.

Argg, didn't make much progress tonight!!  I recorded a synth track but the Midi CC is not recorded no matter what controller I selected or set AZCtrl to none.  Must be something simple I overlooked.
Did however successfully use ACT Editor with AZCtrl set to none and I was able to map 'visually' by selecting a function on the synth plugin and assign it to a controller.  Very cool and save my sanity.
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/04 04:12:52 (permalink)
micv
Argg, didn't make much progress tonight!!  I recorded a synth track but the Midi CC is not recorded no matter what controller I selected or set AZCtrl to none.  Must be something simple I overlooked.

When you use A-Pro plug-in, it blocks MIDI CC coming from the device since it interpret it into control changes. With ACT you can write track automations instead.

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micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/04 09:48:36 (permalink)

With ACT you can write track automations instead.

Do you mean turn on Sonar's ACT Learn button? I thought that the keyboard's ACT button somehow passes the message to the plug-ins and onto Sonar.
So then if I look in the Event Editor view I won't see any midi CC but these events is recorded in the Track Automation Lane?
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/04 11:47:13 (permalink)
No, I mean once Control Surface plug-in is using some control, for example some Knob, it informs Sonar about that so that MIDI is not leaking to MIDI tracks.
 
Let say your Knob1 is sending MIDI CC 7. A-Pro plug-in is "owning" it, it use it for whatever you configure in the plug-in. For example, Pan for Track 1 in one mode, ACT Knob 1 in other. Imagine you start recording some MIDI track and during that recording have decided to pan it full left. Do you expect that your VSTi start produce absolute silence then? I do not think so. But that is going to happened in case A-Pro plug-in will not block CC 7 since CC 7 is Volume in case it is delivered to VSTi.
 
Sonar supports Track automations. That can be volume, VSTi parameter and even CC. It does not matter how they are "created", with mouse on track or recorded from changing parameter in VSTi (by mouse or throw ACT).
 
Unfortunately, Control Surface API has no function to control CC automations. So in case you do not have corresponding to required CC plug-in parameter you can not use ACT to write automation for it.
 
In short, if you use A-Pro keyboard with A-Pro (or any other) plug-in, you can not record MIDI CC coming from its knobs/faders. You can only record automations for parameters which these knobs/faders control throw the plug-in.
 
Many controllers (not sure about A-Pro) are able to change "the mode" quickly, I mean they change hardware preset so that controls are sending another CCs. Since these CCs are not used in CS plug-in, they are delivered to MIDI tracks/VSTi. Also you do not normally need to reconfigure hardware preset for sending particular CC for particular VST since the mapping can be done within Sonar using MFX (MIDI FX) on related to VST MIDI track or using "Remove control" for CC Track automation. But in any case, you need some not intercepted by CS hardware control.
 
 

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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/04 13:06:12 (permalink)

Sonar supports Track automations. That can be volume, VSTi parameter and even CC. It does not matter how they are "created", with mouse on track or recorded from changing parameter in VSTi (by mouse or throw ACT).

I think I understand the concept but still unclear.  When I move a fader on the keyboard that mapped to the A-PRO plugin to control freq sweep, for example, I do see the corresponding virtual fader of the plugin moves and the freq do get sweep. When playing back the only thing recorded is the notes and velocities.
From reading the quote above, are you saying that if I use the mouse to move the fader on the A-PRO plug-in or the sweep knob on the virtual synth, those will get recorded on Track automation?  But do see those move when I use the keyboard knob.  Or are you saying that I need to enable the audio track automation, in this case the synth plug-in, and not the midi track?  Sorry I'm a bit slow today (or any day really). Perhaps can you give me a step by step.


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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/04 15:15:01 (permalink)
Normally only reading track automation is allowed ("R"), to write automation you should enable it ("W") (Track Inspector). If you just press on "W", any parameters you change will be recorded, including all track parameter (Volume, pan, etc) and all VST parameters. They will get separate automation lanes in the track view. But you also can enable automation writing for particular parameter. Add automation first (in the track view, click on "Clip"/"Automation"/<select the parameter you want>) and then open automation lanes, you will see separate "R" and "W" buttons for each automation.
 
Note, if there is no automations for the track and you open automation lanes, Volume automation will be added automatically. And it will have one value, to which your volume will always "jump". Do not forget to delete that value. The same for other automation parameters. Just closing automation lanes does not delete the data.
 
You can always temporarily disable automation reading for all or particular parameter. That is a good way to tune parameters without removing good automation already written, once you enable reading again, the value will be restored. If you have found good value and want "Save" it to automation, there is "Automation snapshot" (in the right click volume fader menu for example).
 
In general, Automations in Sonar are powerful but complex topic, check the documentation for future details.

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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/04 16:40:57 (permalink)
Thanks I got it now.  I'm very familiar with Audio Track automation for vol/pan/fx-send/etc. and Fx plug-ins parameters.  I have never used (didn't know that you can) it for vst instruments though.  For years I've always recorded the Midi message which can be edited in Piano Roll or Event Viewer so that was my thinking.  Always good to learn a few new tricks.  Would be interesting to see how many parameters are available for a synth though, can be a lot.
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2015/12/05 12:04:28 (permalink)
Audio track automation works reasonably well.  The obvious limitation is you can't export a midi file which contains all your performance 'envelopes'. If you want to record midi CC, you can do so outside of ACT as always.
In ACT is there a way to define a pad as 'latched'? So the pad would stay lid when it's on.  You can do this in the standalone A-PRO Editor but I can't find it anywhere in the A-PRO plug-in.
Anyway I will be off the grid for a week and hopefully still remember what I've learned when I'm back. Thx
 
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2016/01/13 23:42:46 (permalink)
As stated by the OP in this thread - and by Roland's marketing pages, ACT configuration should be straightforward. For me, not so much. I followed the basic instructions for configuring ACT - in preferences > control surfaces.
 
In Port: A-PRO 2
Out Port: A-PRO
ACT, WAI boxes: checked
WAI color: (why not?) green
 
In Utilities the named controller shows up. On the list of presets, I do not find a Roland A300. There is an entry for an Edirol 300/500/800 which is the predecessor of the Roland-branded board, but those presets do not work.

Just to verify, yes, I checked the "Active Controller Technology" checkbox in the lower left of the Utilities > Controller dialogue, and yes, I activated the blue "act" button in the upper right corner of the dialogue. And, yes, I activated the physical act button on the Roland board. It lights up orange.
 
I see evidence that something is happening. In Sonar LE, (which I installed before upgrading the Roland's kit DAW to Artist) I see pixels light up at the top and bottom of sliders when I push a controller button. In Artist, not much, but it does show the spinning wheel every few seconds when "act" is activated on the board - and the green WAI bands are present around the tracks. (remember, I picked green in the preferences dialogue)
 
The basic test I try is to use the transport buttons. Nothing. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I strongly believe the idea with ACT and transport buttons is that those buttons act as physical surrogates for the transport buttons in the DAW.

I can imagine other controls could be a mystery, so I stuck to the transport buttons for basic config testing. If they don't work out of the box with the provided DAW, as Roland suggested, I don't want to go further into configuring custom setups. Not yet.
 
Okay, so maybe I missed something. I did install A-Pro editor. I found Cakewalk Control Surface plugins on the Cakewalk site and used the provided .exe installer (Windows)

I checked that I had installed the A300 drivers from Rolands site. Check.
I found some A-Pro series preset control maps on the Roland downloads page. Nothing in there for Sonar.  I found the A-Pro Control Surface Plugin for Sonar on Roland's download page. Installed it.

I see a Shared Control Surfaces directory in my Program files > Cakewalk directory. I see an A-Pro .dll in there.

Not sure what I'm missing. I would expect to find Roland A-Pro presets among the long list of presets on the Utilities > ACT Midi Controller dialogue. 

It gets worse. I abandoned any interest in presets and ACT for a few days and just used my new board. And another board from another maker - with no DAW controllers.
 
When I turn off ACT on the Roland board, it no longer works for whatever soft synths I have installed. The other board continues to play songs, as it were, but whatever soft synth was listening to the Roland goes silent. Switch input to omni or the other board and the other board works. I usually have to shut down Sonar, and restart. I think one time or two I had to unplug the USB cable to the Roland board, restart Sonar and plug the Roland A-PRO in again before it would recognize keyboard notes again.
 
 I contacted both Roland and Cakewalk with my allowed 2,000 character support request, but it probably takes more than 24 hours for either for them to respond, which is how long it's been (well 20, but close enough - one business day)
 
This is not right. Could be something wrong with the board, but there's got to be a way to test that. I could start configuring the board with the A-Pro editor but I'm wary, not having first seen a stable configuration from the manufacturers who imply the board and DAW have at least some basic transport pairing with ACT.

I concur with earlier reports that the documentation is abysmal. I've seen references to .mid, .spp and .xml files as protocols for storing control configurations. I've seen references to a vast pool of information about Midi CC numbering conventions available via a google search. Closest I got to something relevant was that Sonar's transport buttons are somewhere between 58 and 63. For eight buttons. Six numbers. I'm not ready to start editing in A-Pro with not much more than that to start with.
 
Admittedly, I'm new to Midi but have more than a little programming and IT experience. Give me a reasonable starting place and I usually study, learn and explore my way into a technology, which I'm confident I can do with Midi control surfaces. In this case, the reasonable starting place - the safe configuration to which I can return if all else fails while I'm learning - is not there.
 
Any ideas?
 
 
 
 
post edited by binario - 2016/01/14 00:06:31
#56
azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2016/01/14 06:32:18 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby binario 2016/01/14 20:39:48
If you have "more than a little" programming and IT experience, then:
 
I think you understand the difference between programs (plug-ins) and data (presets). "ACT MIDI Controller" and "A-PRO" are different programs (plug-ins). You DO NOT NEED "ACT MIDI Controller" for your A-300. If you have it in utilities menu, remove it from Control Surfaces preferences in Sonar.
 
You need working "A-PRO" there, with correct input and output point to A-300 ports. To get it, you have to install:
a) the drive for A-300, from http://www.roland.com/support/by_product/a-300pro/updates_drivers/
(you have not specified your OS, select and install correct one, check the documentation to switch A300 into "advanced" mode with hardware switch on the device)
b) plug-in for Sonar, from the same page, "A-Pro Series Control Surface Plug-in for SONAR"
 
After that, in "Add" dialog for Control Surfaces in Sonar you should be able to see "A-PRO". After you have added it with correct ports, check it is not displayed in brackets in the list, otherwise you either do not get it with correct bitness (32/64) or some MS Runtime is incompatible. If everything is ok, you should get "A-PRO" in the Utilities menu which opens A-PRO specific interface.
 
If your ports are configured correctly and you switch on A300 before starting Sonar, transport buttons (and other controls) should work out of the box. If not, check Input and Output ports. The plug-in attempts to put A-300 into specific mode, if output port is incorrect it can not do this, leaving A300 with whatever settings you have in it and so nothing is working correctly.
 
Once basic staff like transport, volume, pan control is working you can move to plug-in parameters (VSTi, FXes) mapping. That (and ONLY that!) is tricky part with A-PRO (and other controllers). That is discussed in this thread and on my site. That involves .xml files editing when some of them are corrupted.
 
Inside "A-Pro" plug-in (NOT with Preset Control Map) you can configure what your controller does in Sonar. And you can save the result as Presets. You can then export/import such presets using Utilities/Cakewalk Plug-in Manager as ".spp" files.
 
Notes about the terminology:
* "ACT" is a generic name for Cakewalk Control Surface protocol. "ACT MIDI Controller", "Generic Surface", "A-PRO", "Mackie Control", etc. are all "ACT" plug-ins. But they are thought for different devices and have different functionality.
* "ACT Mapping" ("ACT Learn") is used for one part of "ACT" which is dynamic mapping between virtual controls inside plug-ins and automation parameters of VST.
* A300 can be used as a generic MIDI controller, so it has own "Presets" (and a editor for them). I guess they are saved as normal MIDI files (.mid). They have nothing to do with "Presets" of "A-PRO" plug-in in Sonar (.spp).

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#57
binario
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2016/01/14 20:28:56 (permalink)
Thanks Azslow, that cleared it up. When I first added the control surface in Preferences, I either did not notice the drop down menu on which Act MIDI Controller is the default, or maybe I connected it before I installed the Roland plugin and APro was not yet on the list. Either way, it's there now. The default Sonar controller mapping utility is now replaced with A-Pro, which opens a GUI that resembles the layout of the control surface.

Of course, it takes more than general programming knowledge to know A-Pro functionality is not a subset of ACT Midi Controller, that the A-Pro plugin is a different plugin than ACT MIDI Controller. As far as I still know, ACT is not a plugin, but part of the core Sonar technology that exposes control surface mapping to whatever plugin is active at the time, along with whatever developer-provided presets or user-generated mappings various plugins might allow.

After checking the Cakewalk documentation, I see that "ACT support is not available in SONAR LE" which is odd, because Roland ships Sonar LE with the board, and the board has a prominent ACT button. I would presume, then, that the Roland plugin configures the control surface without ACT and now better understand the original meaning of this thread - we can manually configure control surfaces to work with plugins or use ACT. I see the board controls the Sonar screen without the ACT button activated.


post edited by binario - 2016/01/14 20:55:55
#58
azslow3
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2016/01/15 02:58:42 (permalink)
As I have written already, at different places "ACT" has different meaning. Most of the time, people/documentation use it for "dynamic plug-in parameters mapping" (all related controls, even in Cakewalk own plug-ins, use it with that meaning as well!). From Sonar documentation:

Active Controller Technology (ACT) allows you to control whatever plug-in effect or soft synth currently has focus

 
Some people use it for "ACT MIDI Plug-in", because it is in the name of this plug-in and it has "ACT enable" button (for "dynamic mapping").
 
Another meaning is Control Surface "technology" for Cakewalk products in general.
 
Roland mention "ACT" with all meanings: as "a button", as the function of this button for A-PRO plug-in, as dynamic mapping used in A-PRO plug-in and just for the fact A-PRO plug-in is based on Cakewalk CS API.

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micv
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Re:[UPDATED] Configuring Your A-Pro to Work With/Without ACT 2016/01/16 12:02:59 (permalink)
binario
I would presume, then, that the Roland plugin configures the control surface without ACT and now better understand the original meaning of this thread - we can manually configure control surfaces to work with plugins or use ACT. I see the board controls the Sonar screen without the ACT button activated.

That is correct, it took me a few days to understand that when I went through this.
Without ACT way: Roland includes a 'stand alone' plugin.  This simply uses midi CC#.  You map midi CC# and then save the 'mapping' to file on the computer and load/save it to the keyboard. Apro has 18 users memory slots so you can save and recall from the keyboard.  The reason you see thing starts to work b/c some controller has the corresponding midi CC# with Sonar, most likely GM midi value, for example volume = CC#7.
When you get into ACT mapping that's when the real fun begins :-)
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