Hello,

I started in modular ~Feb 2021. I'm now in the middle of planning a significant expansion to my already nice setup. Thanks to the many MG forum people who've shared such helpful advice along the way!!

Question: what are preferred modular to DAW solutions for sending CV and/or midi into a DAW? In my case, this is a Windows PC normally running Live 11 but with a few alternative DAW choices on hand (including Bitwig).

My ideal future use case would be as follows:
-- use my modular setup for a majority (70%+) of composition tasks on a song via some combination of complex sequencing plus jamming
-- send MIDI+CV into the DAW for recording to capture the foundational "score" parts of the song I'm writing
-- send select audio from modular into the DAW for recording to capture (a few but not all) key audio parts and performances
-- use what I've recorded into the DAW as the foundation of a song; use the DAW the rest of the way to finalize the composition / arrangement / production to the point of being mix-ready
-- throughout the process, being able to use my normal audio interface + monitor setup for monitoring
-- net net, this type of use case would get me away from the DAW-based compositional process which is very mouse and keyboard focused. I would love to be able to handle a lot of the scoring in the modular domain!

At this point, I DO know Expert Sleepers modules (such as ES-9 or ES-8) are regularly used for such tasks. What I DON'T know is what setups are preferred for Windows+DAW(Live) because to my knowledge I can use only one audio interface at a time in my DAW. What I'm concerned about is if I'm running an Expert Sleepers module, will I lose my ability to monitor audio across the entire DAW session (because ES would replace my normal interface in the "1 at a time" interface environment of Live on my PC)?

If you know of good modular-to-DAW solutions that will work on a PC please let me know! And again thanks for the many contributors who've offered me advice recently and over past months.

Much appreciated!

Nicholas


Addendum:
-- a bunch of the Expert Sleepers units might be candidates, but I'm not sure about the "1 at a time" interface issue noted above. Maybe what Expert Sleepers mean by "interface" is not the same as what live means when selecting my RME UFX as the single "interface"...
-- when it comes to trigger / gate to MIDI, it looks like there are some options including Doepfer, Ladik, VPME
-- CV to MIDI there are some other options. ADDAC 222/221 could be usable? Befaco VCMC and/or CV thing? Delptronics CV to MIDI ("coming soon")?

So those are some of the candidates I've seen so far. But as the note says above, I would LOVE to hear suggestions from people who have succeeded with this kind of connection into DAWs for songwriting (or similar) purposes. Obviously there's a lot that could go wrong, and anything less than a solid and low-latency connection would be a recipe for frustration.

Thanks for any suggestions you may have!


Here's what I'm up to:

I use an Antelope Orion32 for the 'heavy lifting' via USB. But I also use a MOTU 828 mkii for CV Tools via Firewire 400. You just have to set up the routings for these properly in whatever software your machine uses for audio multitrack routing.

But yeah, you can run multiple interfaces PROVIDED your DAW and audio routing software can deal with this properly. With Ableton, the DAW certainly doesn't have a problem with that. This is actually a bit similar to the issues one sees when adding an ADAT Lightpipe interface to another interface, then letting the machine know about the new/extra channels. And in fact, depending on what DAW interface you're using, that strategy might be the right one here; you could use one of Expert Sleepers' Lightpipe-equipped modules for that.


Hi,
In the Hemisphere Suite firmware for Ornament and crime there is an app called Captain Midi.
With it the module become a 4 cv to midi and 4 midi to cv interface.

Have a nice day.


Thanks for the input above @Lugia and @klodifokan.

Maybe this is not as tricky as I thought it would be? I'm still chewing on the topics at hand, while searching for modules that might fit my need and be in stock. Expert Sleepers modules likely would work for me (esp the Lightpipe versions ES3&6) but stock is out on that stuff.

I am still wondering, assuming you get CV into the DAW, then what? Route / process it with Silent Way plugins? Certainly I'll find more info via additional Google & Youtube searches. But if anyone who's already running this in DAW has comments, I'm very happy to hear them!


Hi,
There is a video from Omri Cohen explaining how to use ES-9 with VCV RACK.
https://m.

I don't use any daw but maybe there is useful informations in this video for you.

Cheers


The MOTU828 has been a great solution for me so far...I have successfully used CV Tools with it and just recently found another cool use where I take audio out from Ableton into my Hydrasynth desktop as a ring modulation source...granted I have just played around with that and not really composed anything with it, but it is cool to run some crazy Serum sound out into my Hydrasynth and ring modulate with some of the crazy waves available. My Hydrasynth audio then runs out into my modular where I can do other stuff with it...FX Aid XL has been fun to use with it too :)

JB


Ha! You've discovered some of the other voodoo that an outboard DC-coupled interface allows!

This sort of thing is why I went with it. Instead of having the CV I/O as a device-dedicated setup, using an external interface in this way is much more fluid. And given that Ableton WILL allow multiple types of streams to the 828 via CV Tools along with the easy (and CHEAP) implementation of more I/O channels...well, hey, it kinda sells itself! And with the right adjustments to CV Tools allowing compatibility to...well, pretty much anything that'll take CVs...it's possible to have those scalings present whenever you call them up.


Thanks guys! I'm still chewing on what options are best for me and available. Looks like ES3/5/6 are my preferred options presently as they could route into my existing interface options and by physically pretty easy to manage (vs. lots of re-patching in hidden corners of the studio). Yes making a more "networked" studio to bounce audio & CV around my various devices (like jb61264 going into Hydrasynth) would be great; makes me wonder how much I/O I will actually need!

I'll take a moment to bake into the thread some other helpful resources I've found on this question (in case anyone else refers back to this thread for info).
-- Sweetwater's list of DC-coupled interfaces: https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/which-audio-interfaces-are-dc-coupled/ ... lots of options including the MOTU devices mentioned above
-- Expert Sleeper's list of interface modules and expanders: https://www.expert-sleepers.co.uk/moduleoverview.html
-- other options (mentioned above and consolidated here): Ornament & Crime, ADDAC 222/221, Befaco VCMC & CV Thing. Many basic "gate to MIDI" options from Doepfer, Ladik, VPME
-- Loopop on Midi to CV and back:
-- Divkid on Midi to CV and back:


Hi Nicholas,

I forgot a useful module to convert cv to midi.
The Tesseract Modular Sweet Sixteen (mk1 or mk2).
With it you can send 16 cv to midi.
Midi channel freely assignable with the web based editor.
You can't do midi to cv with it.

Cheers


Thanks again for all the ideas and recommendations above guys!

Update: after a lot of looking I found ES-3 & ES-6 available (from 2 different vendors). I think that will be a strong solution for me because:
-- lightpipe (ADAT) I/O to my interface will spare me the "2 interfaces" issue noted above, and I have spare ADAT lanes on my interface to use for that. It should be a tight integration
-- I don't need a ton of I/O between the modular and DAW, I'm hoping ES-3&6 will be enough, but I could add some more "to modular" I/O with ES-5 and expanders if needed. The "to Daw" signal maxes out at 8 channels with ES-6 and its expander. I imagine I could get a 2nd pair of ES-3&6 if I really really needed more I/O, assuming I had the ADAT lanes to spare.
-- I like that ES is a premier brand in this space. I'm hoping by going with a trusted provider that I will have no stability / synch problems.
-- Motu828 (mentioned above) seemed like another plausible solution. But ES-3&6 costs less and has fewer hard to access (rear panel) connections for my particular setup. So I would consider that going forward if really needing more I/O, but for now ES-3&6 seems like a better pick for me.

I may be back with more questions / comments. One thing I've not figured out yet (and haven't tried because my modules haven't all arrived yet) is how to synchronize DAW & modular transport / clocking? Let's say I'm sending transport "play/stop" signals from my DAW, and clock from my DAW. That goes to modular, gets my clock/sequencer chain going. Then modular is sending audio, CV and gate back into DAW for recording. I'm hoping to synch/slave that all so that it's not a total chaos and mess; and so I don't have a ton of cleanup to do on the recordings in the DAW (e.g. if a lot of recorded tracks ended up off the metrical grid due to lack of clock&transport synch). Of course, suggestions on these points would be welcomed.


hi Nick

I use an es8 as an audio interface and I use an audio track with an impulse that was on the make noise site to send clock (impulse on every 16th note) and send that out to Pams (Pams is set up so that run is start/stopped by the incoming clock) - works for me

Utility modules are the inexpensive, dull polish that makes the expensive, shiny modules actually shine!!!


I would check out Expert Sleepers ES-9 (as stated above) for CV and audio in and out of Ableton. But it will become your audio interface in Windows.

Befaco's CV Thing or VCMC both look nice for converting CV to MIDI.


Thanks guys!

Good to see you back on MG Jim. I have PNW so the synch setup you mentioned is something I could do. I’ll try that when my new stuff arrives!

Ronin, ES-9 would be my go to choice if i weren’t for the “it will become your interface in Windows” issue. As I want to keep my interface setup as is, using ES-3&6 via ADAT seems like a great option. That is what I’m going for! I’m also adding CV Thing to do more basic MIDI so for example I can go modular to other hardware without having to involve a DAW.

All of this is very exciting, I hope it works well (eg stable and synched). I’m very excited at the prospect of having my control signals and scoring more networked. “Studio as instrument”…. Very very excited as this should help me get more use / joy out of some less used hardware I’ve had. Networking more of it to make “one big howling thing” should be a blast.


Good to see you back on MG Jim.

Utility modules are the inexpensive, dull polish that makes the expensive, shiny modules actually shine!!!