14bit MIDI controllers with REAL high res encoders

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s0lo
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14bit MIDI controllers with REAL high res encoders

Post by s0lo » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:06 pm

I have the BCF2000. Configured it to send 14bit MIDI CC (MSB/LSB). BUT the control is actually not very fine. It's still course. The LSB moves up and down in steps like 16 when I tweak very slowly. And when I tweak quick, the steps are even much higher, almost like 7bit

I've read about the FaderFox stuff, but after a few readings, it seams to be the same story. Not sure though, any one used it?

I can use the rotary encoders for fine tweaks but frankly these are not useful for things like a quick smooth cutoff sweap. You'd have to turn and turn for very long time to reach a desired value.

I can enable smoothing, but then what's the point of 14bit.

Any better options?

BTW this is for a piece of software I'm developing so even deeply technical info is welcome here.
Last edited by s0lo on Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by rean1mator » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:28 pm

what about the midifighter twister if you just need encoders.

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Post by s0lo » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:07 pm

rean1mator wrote:what about the midifighter twister if you just need encoders.
hmm, some one here says it's actually low res with only a slight difference.
http://forum.djtechtools.com/showthread.php?t=93860

Not sure again. A bit vague info.

Seams a bit strange that even with the few options we have, they're not actually as hi-res as expected.

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Post by Panason » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:17 am

Welcome to the retarded world of MIDI hardware.
DAW control surfaces that use the Mackie Control protocol have hi-res faders and I believe they have the same high resolution as MIDI pitch benders.

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Post by s0lo » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:41 pm

Panason wrote:Welcome to the retarded world of MIDI hardware.
DAW control surfaces that use the Mackie Control protocol have hi-res faders and I believe they have the same high resolution as MIDI pitch benders.
Any particular one you know of that has it?

zeit

Post by zeit » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:30 pm

Hopefully someone with a Faderfox UC4 can chime in and let you know if it can do what you are needing....

When I receive mine I'll let you know... :tu:

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Post by s0lo » Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:55 pm

Thanks,

I just tried a few synths that I know send 14 bit MIDI today. Novation Basstation 2 sends 14-bit on the cutoff knob but it's only 255 steps (like LSB steps of 64)!!. Tried the Moog slim phaty. Sends in like LSB steps of 32. Suprisingly the slim phaty does'nt seam to loose resolution when tweaking fast which makes it much smoother than the behringer in quick tweaks. But still can hear the steps on fine tweaks.

I thought the Roland System 1 sends 14bit, but it didn't when I tried it.
Last edited by s0lo on Fri Dec 14, 2018 4:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Panason » Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:26 pm

s0lo wrote:
Panason wrote:Welcome to the retarded world of MIDI hardware.
DAW control surfaces that use the Mackie Control protocol have hi-res faders and I believe they have the same high resolution as MIDI pitch benders.
Any particular one you know of that has it?
Well the Mackie Control def has it and I 'm pretty sure the Behringer X-touch does also, at 1/3 of the price. :razz: You may want to check both versions of that as the cheaper version is also a programmable MIDI controller but IDK if it has the same resolution.

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Post by widdly » Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:46 pm

I think it is a mechanical problem.

For potentiometers, how finely can you turn a knob? You are expecting 16384 values over a 270 degree turn which I think is physically impossible for a normal sized knob and our fingers. It might make sense for a multi-turn pot. Would you expect 16384 midi messages if you turned the knob from fully CCW to fully CW?

How many rotations would you expect from a rotary encoder to give you the full 14 bit range? Normal rotary encoders will give 12 steps per rotation. Without any smarts that is going to give ~1400 rotations to cover the range. You could implement some time based processing on the encoders output to differentiate slow changes and fast changes to vary the step size and cover the range.

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Post by jakobprogsch » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:09 pm

While you couldn't precisely select these 16k values with a pot you can potentially still hear the "aliasing" issues you get from having less while sweeping it. Our perception is really good at detecting small relative changes such as stepping instead of smoothly sweeping through a range. Even if we couldn't discern these steps individually if they were interrupted by silence.

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Post by widdly » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:29 pm

There would be stepping regardless of the resolution. The midi data rate is low enough that if you get 14bits from a control, you will not be able to send all the individual values over a sweep unless it is very slow. For example, sweeping CCW to CW would require 16384 x 6 byte messages, but the max midi data rate is 3125 bytes per second.


Avoiding that would require some smoothing on the software side to match the resolution of whatever it is controlling. When you receive a new value you ramp the old value to the new value a perceptually acceptable rate. Kind of like how portamento works.

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Post by jakobprogsch » Thu Dec 13, 2018 11:57 pm

Very slow changes are exactly where this matters though? If you quickly sweep the entire range then 7bit are probably perfectly fine. But if you move slowly through a sub range it might be relevant.

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Post by widdly » Fri Dec 14, 2018 12:49 am

Sure. I'm just giving some reasons why full range 14bit messages are not commonly sent for midi controllers.

Another issue to deal with is noise. The higher the bit depth, the more noise is an issue. If you are using a 14bit ADC to sample the potentiometer then the least significant bit is going to be tiny. If the noise floor is larger than this then LSB will be random.

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Post by s0lo » Fri Dec 14, 2018 3:56 am

hmm, most of this information is highly informative to me as I'm no means a hardware guy so I don't know most of these details.

I did doubt the 3125 b/s low rate of MIDI as one problem. But shouldn't that be solved by now with USB MIDI as it must be faster?

I do have smoothing already implemented and it works beautifully well even with 7 bit. The only thing is that smoothing will add just a tiny bit of lag. It can hardly be heard by any user but still I know about it, and when I tweak extremely quickly there is that very slight deference between that and the immediacy of analog pots. (Or may be I'm imagining)

This is probably a naive thought from me, but here it goes. Regarding the mechanical problem. Lets say we sample an analog offset generator at 44.1Khz / 32bit. As if we just plunged it into a DC coupled interface and samples from there in software. Wouldn't that be enough? If so, then I guess the problem is in the PRICE of things rather than the technology?

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Post by bhinton » Fri Dec 14, 2018 3:54 pm

See below re JOUE which is the closest I've found to a solution.

Someone asked about the UC4: while the encoders support 14-bit midi, they have too few steps per turn to make this practical, even if you enable acceleration.

Midi Fighter Twisters have the highest res encoders I know of (unless you count the Monome Arc which isn't really a midi controller) - seems to be about 100 steps per turn. But no acceleration. You could hack something together in Max or Bidule to get more range per turn at the expense of resolution - you'd be far from 14-bit, but I know in the past Ive done something in bidule that resulted in sweeping a full 14-bit range in 3 to 6 turns. AN improvement over 127 steps, but def not 14-bit. You can also create smoothing functions in Bidule or Max. Keeping mind that the res of the Midi Fighter Twister per turn is about 4 to 5x higher than a UC-4 even without processing.

Nothing against the UC4. I have two and they are great within their limits. Having internal takeover on the faders is a great feature.

Novation stuff: Automap can be used to set encoders on many units to different step resolutions, but again you are limited by the encoders' resolution per turn. The original keyboard-free nocturn seems a bit better than the SL series in this regard.

The BCR-2000 can do 14-bit but same issues as the UC4.
Some DJ controllers claim 14-bit faders but in reality they seem too be closer to 10bit (skipping values, same as the UC-3 when faders are set too 14-bit). Also the platters on some controllers are much higher res than encoders.
As for the X-touch, my memory is that when outputting midi it's just the usual 7-bits.

An outlier: the JOUE has 14-bit available for many of its modules, and it actually works! The fader strips especially. They aren't truly relative and no midi feedback, but choosing the pseudo-relative mode means wherever you place your finger on the strip will calibrate it to the last value, which is surprisingly effective. I'm thinking of getting a second JOUE strictly for the 14-bit midi implementation, but it's pretty expensive on a per-control basis, especially since you don't get banks or midi feedback. I much prefer it to Lemur/TouchOSC on an iPad - you can get 14-bit (or just use OSC) out of these but I just hate having to keep my eyes locked on the screen to switch controls.

MIdi controllers still for the most part suck to a shocking degree. I've been through dozens at this point.

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Post by s0lo » Sat Dec 15, 2018 6:34 am

I'll keep an eye on that JOUE. Will probably get it at some point if I don't find any other knoby alternative.

zeit

Post by zeit » Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:27 am

Thank you bhinton for detailed reply! That was a lot of good info on those controllers. In fact, seeing as the encoders on the UC-4 respond that way I think I'll hold off on getting a new one and look for one to come up used somewhere, got to save when I can. Might even go for a pc4 but the 4-digit-display and the addition of faders on the uc-4 is what I really want. Anyway, thanks again! The JOUE will go to the top of my 'in the future' wish list. :tu:

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:55 am

rean1mator wrote:what about the midifighter twister if you just need encoders.
HELLS yea.
bhinton wrote: ... Midi Fighter Twisters have the highest res encoders I know of (unless you count the Monome Arc which isn't really a midi controller) - seems to be about 100 steps per turn. ... Keeping mind that the res of the Midi Fighter Twister per turn is about 4 to 5x higher than a UC-4 even without processing.
I wonder ... so in the set up software if you reduce the effective range of one of the Twister's pots to (let's say) 10% of the destination's range, will that create a more fine control? You'd have a 270 degree sweep controlling only 10% of the destination's range. Or no?
bhinton wrote:MIdi controllers still for the most part suck to a shocking degree. I've been through dozens at this point.
And the worst part of it is that in 2019 (we're two weeks from 2019 folks) ... there is absolutely ZERO excuse for that.

To quote the intro from the TV show "Six Million Dollar Man" .....

"We have the technology, we can rebuild him"

WT-Absolute-F, Holmes? Que no? :despair: ... forgive my use of So East L.A. street slang ...
Never Quit, Die Falling Forward
5U PROJECT - (skip pages 4 through 6, boring junk) ... https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... highlight=

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Post by dumbledog » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:30 pm

widdly wrote:There would be stepping regardless of the resolution. The midi data rate is low enough that if you get 14bits from a control, you will not be able to send all the individual values over a sweep unless it is very slow. For example, sweeping CCW to CW would require 16384 x 6 byte messages, but the max midi data rate is 3125 bytes per second.


Avoiding that would require some smoothing on the software side to match the resolution of whatever it is controlling. When you receive a new value you ramp the old value to the new value a perceptually acceptable rate. Kind of like how portamento works.
Those Roland AIRA modules promised "millions" of steps of resolution for their four knobs, but I don't think they said exactly how precise they were, and they they don't transmit MIDI as far as I know, even over USB.

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Re: 14bit MIDI controllers with REAL high res encoders

Post by koen » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:35 pm

Hi, maybe a bit late to the party, but I’m currently developing a MIDI controller with 14 bits support (including the LSB’s, possibly even more (MIDI 2.0))
Did you eventually find something? I’d be very interested to know which one.

If not (or either way): What type of MIDI controller would you be looking in terms of functionality, design, looks, etc. That info would help me with mine :)

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Re: 14bit MIDI controllers with REAL high res encoders

Post by cackland » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:54 pm

koen wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:35 pm
What type of MIDI controller would you be looking in terms of functionality, design, looks, etc. That info would help me with mine :)
Don't you have a spec already in mind?

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Re: 14bit MIDI controllers with REAL high res encoders

Post by koen » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:06 pm

Yes I do but since I'm still in an early stage, any input is welcome. Not saying that I'm going to throw everything overboard but small changes are possible.

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Re: 14bit MIDI controllers with REAL high res encoders

Post by nthall » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:47 pm

I like the System 1 better as a controller than an instrument. I don't know what the resolution on it is either, but it feels really smooth. It could just be from the stiffer encoders.

I use Launch Control XLs with host boxes for CC messages on my old rack mount gear, and haven't had any issues. I doubt any of that old stuff would even benefit from the higher resolution though.

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