Getting modular to work with your DAW doesn’t have to be daunting at all. The initial thought of setup might get your socks in a knot but it’s actually quite simple. Even getting midi signals and automation from the DAW to the control voltage(CV’s) inputs on your filters is really very simple. With the right MIDI interfacing modules you can also add velocity, polyphony, aftertouch and time-sync aka Midi Beat Clock (or just Midi Clock). Just to be sure that it is not midi timecode (or MTC) and is out of the scope of this tutorial. We are just going to be using midi clock for bpm information in this article. First things first, getting audio into the computer for recording is number one.
Start by running the outputs of the modular rig using cables with 3.5mm mono patch one end to an unbalanced line input on your interface. Try not to use microphone inputs or XLR inputs as they are mainly designed for the low input signals of microphones. FIX HERE!!! Make sure you start with the gain on your preamps all the way down because the line level from you modular gear will most likely be pretty hot already. Adjust the modular rig so you are just hitting the yellows on your meters. This will give you some headroom for when you open up the filters or hit the feedback hard.
Fire up your favourite DAW and using an audio track, set your inputs on the audio track to the inputs on your interface and start monitoring them. You may have to record arm or click a listening/monitor enable button. There you have it. You can overdub and play into your session already.
But what about timing, MIDI, and matching filter rates, bpm’s and other cools stuff? Well it’s even easier than you think. A MIDI to CV interface is all you need.
Audio Junki stocks a few solutions, each with their own individual features and workflow. Mutable Instruments offers Yarns. A twelve hp module with a built-in arpeggiator, sequencer and digital oscillators like Saw, Triangle and Sine. Yarns has midi cable inputs and outputs and setup is exclusively using the encoder on the front making it independent of the need for a PC or tablet.
For USB midi class compliance and PC and iOS integration, Endorphin.es offers the Shuttle Control, used on it’s flagship Shuttle System and can either run as a midi device or host with preset configuration via an internet capable browser. Whilst it doesn’t have an arpeggiator like Yarns, the usb connectivity more than opens up sequencing opportunities.
Once connected midi should work without hassle. As long as your keyboard or midi device is setup properly to send CC(control change) events you should be able to connect CC to the modules CV outputs. Use a standard Midi track without an instrument(VST or AU Synth) in your daw and ensure the midi output is set to your output connected to the module. Sending sequenced CC from your DAW’s workflow is normally clip/region dependant. You will have to read the manual of your DAW to find out how to add CC automation.
If you have a clock module to send clock info to sequencers or LFO’s you will need MIDI Clock info from the DAW. This is normally off by default just incase it is conflicts with another device. Same thing here, you will have to dive into your manual to turn it on. Whilst perusing through the options you may find MTC(Midi Timecode). This isn’t it and won’t work. Don’t even bother trying…it’s mainly for synchronising sequencers and/or DAW’s and video together on a timeline or Timecode. Midi Beat or Midi clock is what you are after.
We will get deeper into controlling clock signals using MIDI clock to control LFO speeds, sequencer modules, triggers, and effects synchronization in the next article.
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