7 Steps to Cleaning Up Your “ACT” with Hardware

by Craig Anderton

ACT (Active Controller Technology; in SONAR) is a powerful protocol, and its complexity can be sufficiently daunting that some people never take advantage of it. However, one of the rarely-considered advantages of a powerful protocol is that it’s often powerful enough to be used in a more basic way. So if you’ve wanted to take advantage of ACT without having to reach for the aspirin, you’re in the right place.

The conventional approach to ACT is using templates that let you apply hands-on control to various instruments and effects. This usually implies having a dedicated controller, spending some time setting up assignments and creating templates, and so on. However, you can also treat ACT more like a “controller scratch pad” that’s easy, efficient, and works with just about any MIDI controller. It’s the ideal solution for when you simply want some hands-on control without having to venture very far into left-brain territory.

Step 1: Choose Your Controller

One of my favorite ACT controllers is Native Instruments’ discontinued Kore 2 controller. The industrial design is first-class, it’s built solidly, and there’s enough functionality for what we need. Another advantage is that when NI stopped supporting Kore, the eBay prices took a major tumble. Although the examples in this article are based on Kore, please note that the same principles apply to virtually any MIDI controller.

Step 2: Grab Your Software

Many controllers have dedicated drivers, so if needed, make sure you have the latest. NI still offers the 32/64-bit Kore 2 Controller Driver 3.0.0 and the latest NI Controller Editor, which you can download for free from their site. Follow the instructions when installing, or you’ll wonder why the controller doesn’t work.

(Note: With the Kore 2 controller, you may first be greeted with an unusable bright red display. No worries: Hit Kore 2’s F2 button, navigate to Set, hit Enter, and use the navigation buttons and data wheel to control the Contrast and Backlight parameter values.)

The Controller Editor for NI’s Kore lets you specify various characteristics of the Kore 2 controller. In this picture, a button is being assigned to output a trigger when pushed down.

Various controllers may have options—such as assigning buttons to a latch, toggle, or trigger mode. Many of them have editors; Kore 2’s is somewhat more sophisticated than many others, but again, the principles are the same. In the case of Kore you open the Editor, select Kore Controller 2 from the drop-down menu, and use the Edit button in the Templates tab to choose New. This creates a general purpose MIDI control template. (While you’re at it, I recommend assigning the eight main buttons associated with the pots to Trigger, and action on Down. For a shift button, assign the monitor [speaker icon] button to Gate, again with action on down. Go to the file menu, and save the configuration as “Sonar ACT.ncc.”)

Step 3: Set Up SONAR

Your controller communicates with SONAR via MIDI, so go to the Continue reading 7 Steps to Cleaning Up Your “ACT” with Hardware

MusicTech Focus Dedicates Latest Issue to SONAR

SONAR 8 FocusEverything you ever wanted to know about SONAR is now encased in a 132-page full-color guidebook! From cover to cover, this exclusive magazine is the most comprehensive guide to SONAR in print (besides SONAR 8! Power) – a must have whether you’re a SONAR user, or thinking of becoming one!

Packed with 100% SONAR content, this magazine features exclusive interviews with A-list SONAR users – from Shawn Clement to the world famous Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee – highlighting how they using SONAR 8.5 everyday for work. From tracking to mastering, this magazine is teeming with tips and tricks on SONAR’s expansive set of features including 17 SONAR workshops on Beatscape, Step Sequencer 2.0, Session Drummer 3, Z3TA+, Media Browser, Using ACT with your favorite controllers, Film Scoring, Recording Vocals and more! There’s also a FREE DVD packed full of video tutorials, loops, demos and tutorials. 

Don’t miss out on this exclusive help guide!

New V-Studio 700 E-Book Gives You A Closer Look

eBook-V-Studio-700Cakewalk announces today the availability of a new eBook by Scott R. Garrigus – author of the “SONAR Power!” Book Series – that will cover the ins and outs of the SONAR V-Studio 700 music production system. Cakewalk V-Studio 700: A Closer Look is a free electronic book discussing basic and advanced functions of the V-Studio 700 such as: Getting to Know the V-Studio 700, Recording with the V-Studio 700, Composing with the V-Studio 700, Editing with the V-Studio 700, Mixing with the V-Studio 700 and more.

The 40+-page eBook is an easy to read overview on how to get the most from the V-Studio 700, and comes with numerous screenshots, tips, and tricks in easy-to-digest chapters and call-out sections in the style of the …For Dummies line of tutorial books.  It’s available as a downloadable PDF, with embedded hotlinks for pursuing additional information on key topics.

Cakewalk V-Studio 700: A Closer Look is available as a free download in PDF format at http://www.cakewalk.com/media/Ebook/vs700.asp.

All Eyes On Cakewalk’s A-PRO Series Controllers

APro_SeriesElectronic Musician caught a glimspe of the new A-PRO Series MIDI Controllers at the NAMM Show 2010. In this video, Cakewalk’s Alex Westner shows off the velocity-sensitive keys as well as the assignable sliders, knobs, pads and transport controls featured on each controller. The A-PRO Series controllers will be available for purchase in April this year.

Sonic State Gets First Look at A-PRO Series

Sonic State was first on the scene at the NAMM Show this weekend to get an exclusive look at the new USB Keyboard Controllers. Brandon Ryan demos the 49-key controller, the A-500 PRO, along side SONAR 8.5’s Session Drummer 3 virtual instrument.

Whether you’re using SONAR, Logic, Ableton Live, Cubase, Digital Performer, Garage Band, or Pro Tools, these keyboards and the included Production Plus Pack instruments are Mac and PC compatible. If you’re using SONAR, exclusive Active Controller Technology keeps you in the flow and focused on your music. If you’re using another DAW, the keyboards ship with a variety of built-in control maps designed to get you using the A-PRO as a control surface quickly.

Blog Critics Calls The V-Studio 100 A One Stop Shop!

VS-100-Front-Top-ReflectionThere was a time when building a studio meant that you needed a lot of space and a lot of equipment. Today, depending on your needs, there are plenty of ways to create a working music studio without exhausting space and money. T. Michael Testi explains that with the V-Studio 100, you can record, edit, mix and master your tracks with one space-saving device. Not only it is expandable but the V-Studio 100 is flexible, integrating nicely with all major DAWs on Mac and PC.

“Through the Mackie Control Support you can use (the V-Studio 100 with) other DAW software to handle the load. When you are in Active Controller Technology (ACT) mode you will have more advanced control with the SONAR software. All you have to do is press the ACT button and you will be able to control the parameters of plug-ins that support the ACT function.”

Continue reading Blog Critics Calls The V-Studio 100 A One Stop Shop!

Configuring the ACT MIDI Controller Plug-in

Setting up Active Controller Technology (ACT) with your software through the ACT MIDI Controller plug-in requires 6 basic steps. This tip will take you through 6 essential steps:

– Enabling the correct MIDI input driver for your controller/surface.

– Enabling the ACT MIDI Controller plug-in in the Controllers/Surfaces dialog.

– Loading the correct preset in the control panel of your hardware controller/surface.

– Opening the ACT MIDI Controller property page, selecting the name of your controller/surface in the Presets window, and enabling the Active Controller Technology Enable button.

– This step is optional if your controller/surface has a preset in the ACT MIDI Controller property page (not optional if your controller/ surface doesn’t have a preset): Mapping knobs and sliders on your controller/surface to cells in the ACT MIDI Controller property page.

– Optional: Mapping the cells in the ACT MIDI Controller property page to various parameters in your effect and synth plug-ins.

Watch the More Reasons to Love SONAR- ACT Part 1 & 2 tutorials

Use our Step by Step Guide to Configure ACT with your MIDI controller

Create & Share Your Music Fast with Music Creator 5

Cakewalk introduces Music Creator 5, the newest version of our leading home music-making software. With its brand new look and feel, Music Creator 5 is everything you need to start making music fast – offering a host of new features and a streamlined user interface.  Simple recording, editing, mixing, great-sounding instruments, and tons of effects – it’s all here in one package… all for less than the price of four CDs!

New Features Include:

•A simplified user interface that puts the controls at your fingertips. All you have to do is focus on making music

•Active Controller Technology (ACT)™ – connect a MIDI keyboard to your PC and automatically control your mix, effects or virtual instruments with its knobs and sliders

•Cakewalk Sound Center™ – an exclusive, easy-to-use tool that combines 150 different instrument sounds from our award-winning professional instruments, Rapture & Dimension Pro

•IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube X-GEAR™ – a built-in virtual guitar amp, plug directly into your computer for great sounding guitar parts

•Add your own soundtrack to your home movies and other digital video files – including .MOV, .WMV, .MPEG – before you upload it to YouTube, MySpace and Facebook

•Burn CDs with Music Creator’s integrated CD Burner and share your music online with Cakewalk Publisher

•And much more…

For More Information:

See the Music Creator 5 press release

ALSO please visit the Music Creator 5 web pages