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Hi folks,

Sorry, I've been rather quiet. I'm supposed to be working on some big end-of-semester projects right now, but I made the mistake of taking a break to mess with a little music. I made some useful discoveries with my DAW, but naturally, because I use FL Studio, it's one step forward, two steps back. Frankly, for all that I like about FL, I'm getting tired of the idiosyncrasies that stop up my workflow and never seem to get fixed.

I'm far away from my main rig right now, otherwise I would just test this out with the free Reaper demo... But, while it's all fresh in my my mind, what I'd like to know from Reaper users is this:

If you set up a multitimbral plugin (like Kontakt) and set up multiple instruments inside it, you probably have some kind of utility plugin that allows you to route and control each instrument individually (in FL, this is called MIDI Out). When you use this, do the parameters you've linked to your hardware controller stay? That is, when you switch between the instruments routed out of Kontakt, does your modwheel (or any other hardware fader or knob you've linked to the software) do what you want it to do for that specific instrument? Because in FL, it doesn't; you have to manually link them to the desired instrument over and over again each time you switch. Otherwise, you can accidentally end up with modwheel automation for your violins on your flute track. There's an option called "omni" that makes your selections global, which seems to mostly resolve this issue, but only if all you're using is Kontakt+MIDI Out in your project. If you want to throw in a single instance of a synth or something else, it totally breaks how the modwheel or any other knob you've assigned works, effectively breaking the instrument itself.

Is it just me, or does this seem stupid? Or is this how it really is in DAW-land? I'm not quite ready to jump ship yet, but I'm willing to start making a little time to learn a new DAW if it means improved workflow.
(12-09-2020, 03:33 AM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]If you set up a multitimbral plugin (like Kontakt) and set up multiple instruments inside it, you probably have some kind of utility plugin that allows you to route and control each instrument individually (in FL, this is called MIDI Out). When you use this, do the parameters you've linked to your hardware controller stay? That is, when you switch between the instruments routed out of Kontakt, does your modwheel (or any other hardware fader or knob you've linked to the software) do what you want it to do for that specific instrument? Because in FL, it doesn't; you have to manually link them to the desired instrument over and over again each time you switch. Otherwise, you can accidentally end up with modwheel automation for your violins on your flute track. There's an option called "omni" that makes your selections global, which seems to mostly resolve this issue, but only if all you're using is Kontakt+MIDI Out in your project. If you want to throw in a single instance of a synth or something else, it totally breaks how the modwheel or any other knob you've assigned works, effectively breaking the instrument itself.

Is it just me, or does this seem stupid? Or is this how it really is in DAW-land? I'm not quite ready to jump ship yet, but I'm willing to start making a little time to learn a new DAW if it means improved workflow.

Wow. Yes, that does seem very stupid. And no, I'm not aware of any other DAW that does it that way. In Reaper you don't even need any special plugin to handle these things. You load an instance of Kontakt (or whatever multitimbral VSTi), set up output channels and 16 midi channels and you're ready to rock. Whatever you have on each of the 16 midi tracks has its own controller assignments etc. Programming of hardware controls is handled per plugin instance, i.e. you can map and automate pretty much anything that the plugin reports as assignable to the DAW. Not all things can be mapped to midi CC's of course, but still.

I would definitely recommend switching to a different DAW. I have recently started using Reaper 6 after several years on v4.76 and I couldn't be happier.
Yeah, that's fairly rare for most modern DAWs!

I think Ardour/Mixbus does a similar thing; if you record MIDI data from your controller, say on Channel 1, it stays on channel 1. You have to re-route the data with a plugin to another channel. Sonar, Reaper, and most other DAWs (heck, even Finale) I've used just let you pick the channel in the track settings and it will automatically take the data in the track and move it to whatever channel out you assign, which is indeed much less painful. That said, Ardour/Mixbus has always struck me as more of an audio-centric DAW than a virtual orchestration/MIDI-centric DAW, while Reaper picks no sides and really can be whatever you want it to.
Thanks guys! In reality, it's not the best use of my limited music time to try to make a cold-turkey switch to a new DAW right now. And I'm sure I'll still use FL for certain things, even when I do make the switch--I'm just very comfortable with it, and it has some nice features I still really like. The fact its, though, that even with the workarounds I've managed to find, I've still come to a point where my development is clearly going to start being hindered by FL's limitations. They provide lifetime free updates, but sometimes it seems like it takes forever for them to get to things; and when they do make changes or improvements, they do them in a really "Image-Line" sort of way that is rigid and not quite what you asked for (and that apparently just creates more weird issues).

Frankly I've been waiting for the better part of a decade for them to take steps toward adjusting these kinds of things, and I haven't been terribly impressed with how they're going about it: Enough people complain in the forum; Image-Line reps insist such changes would be impossible; five years later, they release something that ALMOST does what you want; repeat. This happened recently with time signatures. They finally acknowledged that musicians might change time signatures in a track, but they implemented it in such a way that you have to adjust it in the Playlist as well as in each individual track. Who has the patience to add markers to EVERY TRACK? Even in simpler projects (i.e., not VO), this seems like a tedious and unnecessary waste of time. Computers can invent faces of people who don't exist without any human intervention. I see no reason why they can't make time signature changes globally in a DAW...

I don't mean to rant; it just feels like I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that FL Studio was and is developed by people who are not musicians.
I'm just speculating, but that sounds very much like FL is based on old/messy/badly maintained code that makes it hard or even impossible to implement new features or make radical changes to the way it works. I've seen it before in other programs and this situation...

(12-09-2020, 02:47 PM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]Enough people complain in the forum; Image-Line reps insist such changes would be impossible; five years later, they release something that ALMOST does what you want; repeat.

...sends up a whole bunch of red flags for me. The telltale signs of software that needs a major ground-up rewrite. Anyway, should you decide to migrate to Reaper I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. I've been using the program for almost 12 years now and while I can't claim to know it inside out (it does many, many things, and there's a multitude of features that I simply have no use for and thus haven't bothered to learn), I certainly know it well enough.
(12-09-2020, 04:07 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]I'm just speculating, but that sounds very much like FL is based on old/messy/badly maintained code that makes it hard or even impossible to implement new features or make radical changes to the way it works. I've seen it before in other programs and this situation...

(12-09-2020, 02:47 PM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]Enough people complain in the forum; Image-Line reps insist such changes would be impossible; five years later, they release something that ALMOST does what you want; repeat.

...sends up a whole bunch of red flags for me. The telltale signs of software that needs a major ground-up rewrite. Anyway, should you decide to migrate to Reaper I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you might have. I've been using the program for almost 12 years now and while I can't claim to know it inside out (it does many, many things, and there's a multitude of features that I simply have no use for and thus haven't bothered to learn), I certainly know it well enough.

Thanks! I think it's a definite thing, but it will be a slow process so that I don't have to stop making music. I spend like two years working on a master template and finally got it to a place where I can make some tunes again. I'm not looking for another lengthy technical project any time soon. I'll do it alongside being productive so it's fun. In fact, I really want to first take advantage of the ability to record audio in a way that isn't clip-based and silly...

I even convinced a friend to buy FL so we could more easily collaborate on a synth project (which actually was still a good idea; although, now I feel bad about it).

You're probably right about FL needing a revamp, now that I think of it. Some of the "updates" we get seem out of the blue, like no one asked for them. Like, "now you can fry an egg with this auto-tune plugin!" or something stupid along those lines (not really, but you get the point). Recently they released a $50 transient processor. I didn't want to pay that much, so I just found a freeware one somewhere else.

Anyway, I'll get back to homework now. But I'm actually feeling excited about this, heh!
OK, so the experiment has begun. I'd appreciate any tips and tricks regarding linking MIDI and controlling instruments independently from multitimbral instances of Kontakt. I used a video to figure out how to get an instance of Kontakt routed to the mixer and whatnot in a clear, organized fashion. Adding a second instance of Kontakt seems to confuse things, though. MIDI channel 1 ends up playing both Channel 1s from each instance of Kontakt simultaneously. Since I have several more than two Kontakt instances in my template, I'd need to figure out how to adjust this. I tried to use different MIDI buses, but that doesn't seem to do anything. I'm sure there are some other ways to do this, though. I generally don't like to switch between MIDI channels via the keyboard controller anyway. That seems to be what's limiting me. In FL, you'd have separate MIDI ports for each instance so that each 16 channel set would not overlap with one another. I'm guessing there are a few ways to go about it in Reaper.

That, and maybe some explanation of how to route internal CCs for individual instruments and link them to the controller would be useful info. The Reacontrol or whatever it's called is pretty much analogous to FL's MIDI Out utility; so I get the basic structure of how it all works so far. I'll keep checking out the Reaper forums and videos as I have time. Just figured I'd drop these questions here for good measure.

On first glance (disregarding a previous experience about two years ago on a friend's Macbook), Reaper is really nice to look at and actually quite intuitive. I like the way you can show/hide tracks with that dot graph doodad. Loads up quick and smooth, too. No frills!
I'll be off to bed shortly so I'll need to save a longer response for tomorrow. Let me just address this:

(12-13-2020, 07:57 PM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]OK, so the experiment has begun. I'd appreciate any tips and tricks regarding linking MIDI and controlling instruments independently from multitimbral instances of Kontakt. I used a video to figure out how to get an instance of Kontakt routed to the mixer and whatnot in a clear, organized fashion. Adding a second instance of Kontakt seems to confuse things, though. MIDI channel 1 ends up playing both Channel 1s from each instance of Kontakt simultaneously. Since I have several more than two Kontakt instances in my template, I'd need to figure out how to adjust this.

That's probably because VSTi tracks are armed for recording by default. If you right click on a track and choose "Automatic record-arm when track selected", it will only arm itself if it's selected.
(12-13-2020, 09:24 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]That's probably because VSTi tracks are armed for recording by default. If you right click on a track and choose "Automatic record-arm when track selected", it will only arm itself if it's selected.

Ah, that was a big help, thanks! I found a better MIDI utility than Reacontrol, too (I think it's just MIDI Mapper or something. I'd have to look). I was able to start linking various instrument specific CCs and have them act the way I want them to, so far anyway. Still working with it, but it's coming along nicely. I'm always a little weirded out by how the modwheel (CC1) is just sort of taken for granted by some software. I'm so used to mapping it in FL...
(12-14-2020, 03:30 PM)Nayrb Wrote: [ -> ]Ah, that was a big help, thanks! I found a better MIDI utility than Reacontrol, too (I think it's just MIDI Mapper or something. I'd have to look). I was able to start linking various instrument specific CCs and have them act the way I want them to, so far anyway. Still working with it, but it's coming along nicely.

As long as you're using software instruments, you don't even need ReaControlMIDI, I think that's mainly meant for hardware or the odd VSTi that doesn't reveal its mappable controls to Reaper. If you click the "Param" button at the top of the effects window, you will see a menu with all the parameters you can bind to automation, hardware controllers etc. What you're looking for is the "Learn" submenu. Don't forget though that some instruments even offer this functionality built in, often by right clicking a knob or whatever, choosing "learn" or similar and then just moving the hardware control you want to use.
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