How To: Unifying I/O Names in Digital Performer and Pro Audio Control - EMusician

How To: Unifying I/O Names in Digital Performer and Pro Audio Control

Speed your workflow in the Web app for MOTU’s newest interfaces
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If you’ve been using any of MOTU’s latest interfaces with the included Pro Audio Control Web app, you know how powerful and flexible the combination is. When used with your DAW, the Web app’s versatile routing and huge virtual mixer let you, among other things, track large ensembles and overdub with up to seven different stereo cue mixes output from the interface to musicians’ headphones.

Unfortunately, there’s a wrinkle: Straight out of the box, Pro Audio Control’s USBinput names (From Computer 1, From Computer 2, and so on)—also used for its mixer’s corresponding input channels— don’t match the default names the app publishes for track outputs in Digital Performer. When the singer asks you for less kick drum in his headphones, which From Computer fader do you lower in the app’s mixer?

It would be a lot simpler and more intuitive if you could make your tracks’ output names in DP match the input names showing in Pro Audio Control’s mixer (as well as in its Routing matrix). In this article, I’ll show you how to do just that.

DIFFERENT NAMES BY DEFAULT

It’s important to note that Pro Audio Control automatically publishes names for track outputs in DP, and these track output names are by default determined, in part, by which input channel they are routed to in the Web app’s virtual mixer. When using my MOTU 8D digital interface, the Web app automatically routes all its hardware inputs to the first available input channels in its virtual mixer. So, for example, if I have only three of the 8D’s four pairs of 2-channel digital (AES/EBU and S/PDIF) hardware inputs enabled in the Web app, they are automatically routed to the app’s mixer channels 1 through 6. DP routes its tracks (via USB) to the Web app’s next available channels in sequential order. (AVB sources go to channels after DP.)

Fig. 1. The names of track outputs in DP
 (shown in the upper half of this composite
 view) and inputs to the MOTU Pro Audio
 Control Web app’s virtual mixer (lower half)
 are different by default. (These two screen
 captures were taken at different times.)

Fig. 1. The names of track outputs in DP  (shown in the upper half of this composite  view) and inputs to the MOTU Pro Audio  Control Web app’s virtual mixer (lower half)  are different by default. (These two screen  captures were taken at different times.)

In my example, the first track (listed at the top) in DP’s Tracks window is automatically routed to the Web app’s seventh input channel (DP output named Mix In 7), the second track goes to the eighth input channel (DP output Mix In 8) and so on. Unfortunately, the Web app’s inputs for those same DP tracks are respectively named From Computer 1, From Computer 2 etc. (instead of Mix In 7, Mix In 8, etc.) in both the app’s Routing and Mixing (virtual mixer) panes (see Figure 1).

Because the Web app publishes names in DP and not vice versa, the way to get the names of DP’s outputs and the Web app’s inputs to match is to edit in the Web app. There are two possible ways to go here: Create generic I/O names that will always match for any conceivable project, or create a custom template tailored to (and that will only work for) a consistently used recording setup. I’ll show you how to do both.

A UNIVERSAL SOLUTION

Fig. 2. As names are retyped in the From
 Computer (USB) input bank in the Web
 app’s Routing tab (shown in the top half of
 this view), the names in the Output column
 in DP’s Tracks window (bottom half) update
 to match the retyped names.

Fig. 2. As names are retyped in the From  Computer (USB) input bank in the Web  app’s Routing tab (shown in the top half of  this view), the names in the Output column  in DP’s Tracks window (bottom half) update  to match the retyped names.

To make the I/O names always match no matter what type of project (music production, post-production, etc.) and tracks (vocals, instruments, dialog, foley) are involved, first open the Routing tab in the Web app. In the I/O routing grid that appears, inputs to the Web app are listed at the head of columns across the top. The From Computer (USB) input bank lists all inputs coming from DP (From Computer 1, From Computer 2, and so on). Click on From Computer 1, retype the name, and press Return on your keyboard. The input’s “new” name (exactly the same as the original) becomes highlighted to indicate it’s been edited (see Figure 2). As you re-type the name for each From Computer input in turn, you’ll notice the names of outputs in DP’s Tracks window will update to match the retyped names in the Web app’s Routing tab precisely. For example, in Figure 2 the kick drum’s output in DP (formerly Mix In 8) becomes From Computer 2, which is exactly what the kick’s input in the Web app’s Routing tab—and the kick’s mixer channel in the app—are named. All the names match.

CREATE A CUSTOM TEMPLATE

Fig. 3: In this custom template,
 the names for each input in
 the Web app’s From Computer
 (USB) input bank (top left in
 this view) have been edited
 to match those for the corresponding
 instrument tracks
 (sub, kick, snare and so on) in
 DP. The same names are automatically
 assigned to input
 channels in the Web app’s virtual
 mixer (bottom half of this
 view). The names in the Output
 column in DP’s Tracks window
 (top right) match the names in
 the Web app’s Routing tab, except
 that trailing numbers have
 been arbitrarily added in DP.

Fig. 3: In this custom template,  the names for each input in  the Web app’s From Computer  (USB) input bank (top left in  this view) have been edited  to match those for the corresponding  instrument tracks  (sub, kick, snare and so on) in  DP. The same names are automatically  assigned to input  channels in the Web app’s virtual  mixer (bottom half of this  view). The names in the Output  column in DP’s Tracks window  (top right) match the names in  the Web app’s Routing tab, except  that trailing numbers have  been arbitrarily added in DP.

If you consistently record the same type and number of instruments and vocals in every one of your projects, you may wish to create a custom template in which each fader in the Web app’s mixer is named after its source (bass, vocals and so on) for even faster identification. To do this, edit the From Computer input names in the Web app’s Routing tab so that, from left to right, they match the track names listed in DP’s Tracks window from top to bottom (see Figure 3). As you edit each From Computer name in the Web app to respectively read sub, kick, snare, hat, and so on, you’ll see the corresponding names in the Output column in DP’s Tracks window change essentially to match the new names. The only difference will be the Output names in DP will also have a trailing number added (1, 2, 3 and so on) that indicates the tracks’ sequential order in the Web app’s USB-input bank.

Fig. 4: Names in the Outputs tab for DP’s Bundles window
 (bottom half of this view) are edited to remove trailing
 numbers in the Output column in DP’s Tracks window
 (top half).

Fig. 4: Names in the Outputs tab for DP’s Bundles window  (bottom half of this view) are edited to remove trailing  numbers in the Output column in DP’s Tracks window  (top half).

You can delete the trailing numbers by editing each output’s name in the left-hand column of DP’s Bundles window (under its Outputs tab; see Figure 4). But it’s probably not worth the trouble, as the trailing numbers will be automatically restored in other DP projects you load. What’s important is that the names for instrument and vocal tracks’ outputs in DP are easily and quickly recognized in the Web app’s Routing tab and mixer input channels—speeding your workflow. Naming the Web app’s inputs (and therefore DP’s track outputs) after specific instruments and vocals has one major drawback: The names will be applied across all existing Routing presets for the Web app (including custom presets you’ve saved), overwriting the previous names they used. If you should suddenly land a post-production project, for instance, your dialog tracks’ outputs will automatically be named kick, snare and so on, which makes absolutely no sense. For this reason, I prefer to name all USB inputs for the Web app From Computer [#] as in the universal solution I proposed above. No matter what kind of project comes your way, you’ll have an intuitive setup that works like a charm.