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Mastering MODX: Using the DAW Remote Feature in Cubase

Header-MODX-OS25
Set up your Yamaha MODX as a DAW remote for Cubase!
MODX OS v2.5 adds powerful DAW remote control of Cubase, Logic, Ableton Live and ProTools. This article covers basic set up in Cubase.

Want to check out the Tech Talk on MODX DAW Remote Features? Check it out below:


What you will need:

Connection and Setup


Connect your MODX to the computer via USB and launch Cubase. If you see a dialog asking which audio interface you will be using, select MODX. Once Cubase launches you will see a project screen. Cubase includes a template called “Yamaha MODX multi channel recording” under the “Recording” selection:

MODXRemote1

This sets up a project containing:
  • 16 MIDI Tracks
  • 10 Stereo Audio Channels (8 for individual inputs and 2 stereo inputs)
  • 1 Sysex track for any system exclusive data
  • The MODX Connect VST component.
Launching this project starts you off with a screen that essentially looks like this. I moved all the MIDI tracks to the top and renamed them from “MIDI” to Part Instrument names. The MODX Connect VST component is connected and I recalled the Performance “DUB Kit Drum & Bass" from MODX:

MODXRemote2


Set Up MODX as a Cubase Remote

Under the “Studio” menu select “Open Studio Setup:

MODXRemote3
This is where overall MIDI, audio, video and remote settings are configured within Cubase. Starting at the top of the list under the MIDI folder is “MIDI Port Setup”. Open that up and ensure that only “MODX Port1” is selected in the “In ALL MIDI Inputs” box:

MODXRemote4

A quick explanation of MODX USB MIDI Ports:
  • MODX Port1 is where MIDI communication for recording (note data, control data, etc.) and MODX Connect communication occurs.
  • MODX Port2 is exclusively set up for DAW remote communication.
  • MODX Port3 is used as a MIDI Thru Port (MIDI data received over Port 3 via the [USB TO HOST] port is re-transmitted to an external MIDI device connected via a standard MIDI cable to the MODX MIDI OUT terminal)
    • A note about MODX Port3: This is a great way to connect another instrument to the MODX MIDI OUT for even more sound
In the same Studio Set Up window click on “Remote Devices” and touch the “+” icon at the top of the menu and select “Mackie Control”:

MODXRemote5

The MODX DAW Remote function is based on the tried and true Mackie Control protocol and this is the reason it is selected.

Once Mackie Control is selected a list of User Commands appears on the right. The [SCENE] buttons on MODX become Function buttons that can be configured in in this window for a wide range of customization options. In the graphic below I have configured these buttons for MIDI editing options:

MODXRemote6
These can easily be reconfigured for different workflow needs like audio recording, mixing or mastering.

Cubase is now configured. Touch the “Apply” button and press “OK” to return to the main Cubase Project window. Now let’s explore the DAW remote set up on MODX.

MODX Remote


In OS v2.5 Performances now have a “Remote” tab that appears in the bottom left corner of the Performance Home screen:

MODXRemote7

Under “Remote/Settings” on MODX, make sure you have “Cubase” Selected under DAW and leave the MIDI I/O Ch. To “Ch.1”:

MODXRemote8
The Remote Mode has several modes for different workflows:

Track: This is the Mode used for mixing and editing multiple tracks in Cubase. In Track Mode the MODX Rotary Encoders control Pan Position, the Faders control track level and the Scene buttons address the custom User Commands set up in Cubase (above). Below is the Track Mode screen on MODX and a screen shot of the corresponding Cubase Project with the MIDI tracks named:

MODXRemote9

When connected to Cubase the front panel controls of the MODX correspond to DAW functions:

MODXRemote10

In Cubase I can view the mixer under “Studio/Mix Console” or by pressing F3 on the computer keyboard (I can also set up one of the [SCENE] buttons on MODX to open the mixer too. The Faders and Rotary Encoders on MODX correspond to the mixer in Cubase. Pressing the [PART SELECT MUTE/SOLO] the button on the right-hand side of MODX brings up a pop up in the touchscreen that allows you to directly select tracks, mute tracks, solo tracks or arm them for recording. You also have the option to navigate between groups of eight tracks with the “Track Group” controls:

MODXRemote11

Plugin: When the Plugin Mode is selected the Rotary Encoders, Faders and [SCENE] buttons send controller data for controlling virtual instruments and effects:

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Touching on “Control2” at the top of the screen allows you to configure MIDI control change (CC) messages for other physical controls like [ASSIGN1/2] buttons, Foot Controllers, Foot Switch and more:

MODXRemote13

It’s easy to set this up in Cubase using the “Learn CC” feature. “Learn CC” lets you assign controllers by selecting a virtual instrument or effect parameter and right-click that parameter. The example below shows this with the Retrologue 2 virtual analog synthesizer in Cubase. In this instance I have right-clicked (or Control+Click) on the Filter Cutoff, selected “Learn CC”. I can then move any of the available controls on MODX to set that to adjust Retrologue2 Filter Cutoff level:

MODXRemote14

Note that you can easily reconfigure that control with the “Forget CC” and you can set minimum and maximum values in the virtual instrument to fine tune that control. These set ups are Project specific in Cubase. If you want to set up a Plugin control for a specific virtual instrument or VST effect just create a Cubase template with the controls set up for your workflow.

Transport: MODX is a musical instrument so the new Remote feature in OS v2.5 includes a Transport Mode allowing simultaneous control of both MODX and Cubase transport functions. Only the physical transport controls on MODX are active for Cubase; the other panel controls function the same. This is useful for recording changes in real-time to Cubase like Scene switching, Super Knob motions and so on:

Transport

Additional Remote Mode Features

A few other features are important to point out in the Remote screen:

MODXRemote16

Local: At the bottom of the Screen is “Local” for Local Control on or off. This is a nice shortcut when you are working with a DAW because you don’t have to go to Utility to address this important function.

Use for Remote “Cursor” and “Dial”: There are times when you want to use the Cursor and Dial controls on MODX to control the DAW or to control MODX. When the Cursor and Dial buttons in the Remote screen are on (as in the graphic above) they will control Cubase. The MODX Dial moves the timeline in Cubase and the Cursor controls (the up/down/left/right buttons below the dial) move between Cubase tracks and select individual MIDI or audio recordings.

Track: The Track arrows select groups of eight tracks in Cubase in the same way as the MODX Part [MUTE]/[SOLO] buttons on the far right.

The new Remote feature makes MODX an even bigger part of your music production system. Although this article is about using the feature with Cubase, users of other DAWs should find the information here relevant. For other DAWs not listed in in MODX Settings: If your DAW has Mackie Control functionality, set it up with MODX connected via USB (using the Yamaha Steinberg USB Driver) and select “MODX Port 2” and use the “Cubase” DAW setup.

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