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Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in able

Postby Patch77 » 01 Oct 2013, 11:35

First time post here.

I just dusted off my nord lead 2 original not 2x (no usb). Im wanting to use it as a midi controller as well as the onboard synth.
The problem I'm having is that note and velocity is sending fine to either DAW but I'd like to be able to use the pitch bend stick and mod wheel to send to ableton or logic to control you guessed it pitch bend and modulation! Neither DAW seem to be receiving any data via the midi cable/interface just note and velocity.

Its been a long while since I had to bother with cc messages etc as Ive mostly been using vst etc and a digital piano with midi for keys but I like the nord keys better and the pitch stick and mod wheel would be very handy to be able to use without fuss plus the added benefit that the nord takes up alot less space than the piano and my virus ti sits ontop of the nord like it was make to.

So if any one could be of any help Id appreciate it.
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Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in able


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Re: Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in

Postby mjbrands » 01 Oct 2013, 18:16

Hello and welcome to the forum. You'll find people here are generally very friendly (and helpful).

The NL2X should (and does :D) work fine as a controller for Ableton Live. Below I'll describe one way of using your NL2X from Ableton Live 8 (or 9).

Step 0: Plug in two MIDI cables between your MIDI interface and the NL2x

One cable goes from the MIDI OUT port on your NL2X to the MIDI IN port of the interface and the other goes from the MIDI OUT port of your MIDI interface to the MIDI IN port of your NL2X.

You likely already had this connected correctly.

Step 1: Turn off Local Control on the NL2X

You have to do this every time you start your NL2X (and this is a good thing, which I'll come back to in a minute).

When you normally press a key on your NL2X, it sends a MIDI message out the MIDI OUT port and it sends another copy of the same MIDI message the the sound engine in the. When the sound engine receives a MIDI messages (either from the keyboard or from the MIDI IN port), it processes this messages and makes sound, etc. However, when you turn Local Control off, you instruct the NL2X to no longer send a copy of this message to the sound engine.

This setting is great if you want to use the NL2X as a controller for your DAW as well as have the DAW use the sounds of your NL2X. In a way it is like chopping your NL2X in two halves; the keyboard (and front panel) and the sound engine. The keyboard controls the DAW and the DAW controls the sound engine. You can then, for example, play a piano sound in Ableton using the keyboard while you have Ableton send pre-recorded MIDI data to the NL2X's sound engine (a bass line maybe?).

Now I mentioned that it was a good thing Local Control defaults back to on once you turn your NL2X off. If you have Local Control turned off and don't have your DAW running, pressing a key on the NL2X won't do a thing! The NL2X sends a MIDI message to the MIDI interface, but since the DAW isn't running, the message doesn't get processed and nothing gets sent back to the sound engine of the NL2X. In a sense, it will appear as if the NL2X is broken. Now imagine how many NL2X-es Nord would've gotten back if someone unknowingly disabled Local Control (and it didn't default back to off).

You can find more info on turning Local Control on and off on page 66 of the manual.

Step 2: Set up MIDI in Ableton Live

I suggest setting up the MIDI setting for your MIDI interface as shown below, at least as a starting point.

Image

First, change the settings in the rectangle (1). For the input, make sure Track and Remote are turned on. Track means Live will read note data from that input and on what Remote does I'll explain later (you could leave if off for now).

The Takeover Mode (2) is an interesting setting. I suggest leaving it at Pickup (the default in Live 8, although Live 9 seems to use None as the default) for now. What this does is change the way Live reacts controller information it receives via MIDI; as such, it applies mostly to the Remote option mentioned above. Your Virus has a similar setting; when set at pickup, you need to cross the current setting of a control when you turn a knob before the knob actually starts to have effect. When Live is waiting for you to cross that current setting, the bar at the bottom of the window will turn yellow and Live will tell you it is waiting for pickup on a specific control. You can also set it to Value Scaling, which I'll not explain here. Suffice it to say that the best setting depends on your personal preferences - try both settings when you start using the NL2X to control stuff.

You can leave the controller boxes at the top empty. Live doesn't include a control definition for an NL2X - theoretically someone could create one which might make for better integration with Live, but since the NL2X doesn't have a display which can be controlled remotely, it wouldn't be that useful.

A note on MIDI clocks: I'm assuming you want Live to generate the MIDI clock, not the NL2X. This is why Sync is off for the input and on for the output; this causes Live to use its own clock (= it is not listening for one on the MIDI input) and to send MIDI clock data via the output port (since Sync is on for that one). If you don't want Live to send a MIDI clock to a specific MIDI port, turn Sync off for the output port. If you want Live to use the clock of an external MIDI instrument, turn Sync on for the input port and make sure you turn Sync off for the output port.

Step 3: Setting up the NL2X in Ableton Live

If you haven't done so already, give each slot its own MIDI channel in the MIDI settings of the NL2X. Make sure they differ from the Global MIDI channel. I suggest setting the Global MIDI channel to 1 (may be the default) and the slots to MIDI channel 2 thru 5.

Now a bit I'm not completely certain on: if you send MIDI data to the Global MIDI channel of the NL2X, I think it will use the settings of the slot buttons (which slot is active and/or enabled) to determine which slots actually play. I'm not completely sure this actually happens; I know it does for the Stage 2, but maybe it worked differently on the NL2X. I'm to lazy to really consult the manual on this and I'm sure you'll forgive me. :P

Image

The best way to control an external MIDI instrument via Ableton Live is (surprise surprise!) the External Instrument device, which you can find under Live Devices. Strangely, they seem to have placed it under the Instrument category in Live 9. Same difference though.

Drag an External Instrument to an existing track or drop it to the right of the tracks to create a new one. This is shown as 1 in the image above. Now make sure you can see the settings of the External Instrument device; you may need to switch to the Device view at the bottom right of the Live window, as it may be showing Clip or Track view.

Set the MIDI settings in the rectangle (2); these settings determine how Live communicates with your external MIDI device. Choose the correct MIDI interface (your's will likely have a different name) and the right MIDI channel. The right MIDI channel might be the NL2X's Global MIDI channel (probably channel 1) to start with, but you can also set it to the MIDI channel of a specific slot.

Next, choose the right audio inputs in the Audio From (3) box. If you're lucky enough to have an audio interface with plenty of audio inputs, you could give every slot on the NL2X its own output and you would probably select a mono input here. If you are mixing the output of multiple slots on a single output (the default setup of the NL2X) and you are using multiple external devices, make sure only one of these devices is recording from the same audio input. If you don't, the volume for the audio coming from that specific input may double (since Live sees it twice) and, depending on the audio interface(s) used, you may have phasing issues that sound bad.

Lastly, you may want to change the hardware latency (4). Live will auto-correct latency caused by the audio interface, but it does not know about latency introduced by the MIDI interface or by the MIDI instrument itself. Leave it at 0 for now - if you find your NL2X is playing late in relation to (mostly) soft synths, you may want to try increasing this number (say to 5-10 millisec). Especially with percussive-type sounds this latency might be an issue, but generally it isn't (unless you have a really crappy MIDI interface). Alternatively, if you have a really crappy audio interface that lies and reports the wrong latency numbers to Live, you can increase the latency for that audio interface. However, do that in the Audio section of the Live settings, so it will apply to the whole interface.

Step 4: Automation

Unless you tell Ableton Live what to do with it, it has no idea what it needs to do incoming pitchbend, modulation and other MIDI controller information.

In general DAWs use automation to control all kinds of parameters; you can record this automation, or draw it in your DAW. You may have seen faders move about on a professional mixer in a studio; this is a very clear (physical) example of automation.

When we selected the External Instrument device, we in a way got some free goodies that tell Live what to do with incoming MIDI controller data. But I am getting ahead of myself here.

Record a new clip for the NL2X track (or whatever name you gave the track the External Instrument is in) and press some keys, use the pitch stick and modwheel and maybe turn some knobs. Once you recorded a small clip, make sure the Envelope window visible. You may need to click on the E, as shown by arrow 1. How have a look at the information in the rectangle (2) - you may want to click on the drop-down box at the top.

It will show you all the automation information that Live recorded for you. In my case, I had a Yamaha SY99 connected which has a pitchbend and two mod wheels (CC1 and CC13). Since I have Pitchbend selected, it shows me the envelope for this automation (the clipped sine wave to the right).

Image

You can then edit or delete this information.

This was pretty easy, since the External Instrument device set up this stuff so Live knew what to do with it. When using built-in Live devices or AU/VST plugins, it is a bit more complex; more on this in the next step.

Since the External Instrument device takes MIDI as its input, you can use MIDI Effect devices to do interesting things with the incoming MIDI. For example, you could use a MIDI Scale effect to force incoming notes to be in a particular scale.

Step 5: Using your NL2X as a controller for Ableton Live

The stuff discussed above all works if you haven't got Remote enabled for the MIDI input (see step 2). However, for the stuff in this step you need to have Remote enabled so Live knows you want to use your NL2X as a remote control surface.

When configure Live to use your NL2X as a controller, you can use controls on your NL2X to control all kinds of things in Live. Of course, you can also still use your NL2X to play on as shown in step 4.

Image

Fancy controllers (like those from Novation of M-Audio or Ableton's Push controller) have functionality where they integrate very tightly with Live. Point at a parameter in Live and the display on the device will show you what parameter you're about to change.

With the NL2X it isn't as fancy as this, but at least it sounds much better than those controllers, especially considering those don't make any sound. In the case of the NL2X, you will use the MIDI Learn functionality to set up which control on the NL2X controls what in Live.

To start mapping MIDI controls to Live controls, click on the MIDI button at the top right (1). Large parts of the screen will now turn blue; these areas indicate controls which you can control via MIDI. Now click on the volume for the master track (2) and move the mod wheel. You should see a new line appear in the list of MIDI mappings on the left. Now do the same for the pan control of the master track (3) and move the pitch stick. Click the MIDI button a second time to leave MIDI learn mode.

Now move the pitch stick and the mod wheel and notice how they control the volume and panning of the master track. Nifty, isn't it.

Note that not every control on the NL2X sends MIDI when you use it; the volume knob is a prime example of this. If a control does not send MIDI, it also means you can't control it via MIDI.

Go back to MIDI learn made and try some things. You can, for example, use keys to start/stop a recording, use a button to toggle a setting, etc. You can also modify the ranges in the MIDI mappings window on the left. For example, you might want to give a control a range of 25% to 100% instead of just 0 to 100%.

Lastly, have a look at the small boxes pointed out by the arrows labeled with a 4. The ones on the left show MIDI data sent by Live, while the ones on the right show MIDI data received by Live. The top one (yellow) blinks when MIDI note is received/sent, while the bottom one (orange) blinks when a MIDI clock message is sent or received. Ableton calls these MIDI indicators.




I hope this gives you a good explanation on how to set up your NL2X with Ableton Live.
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Re: Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in

Postby mjbrands » 01 Oct 2013, 18:42

Some bonus info: setting up MIDI learn with native Live devices and 3rd party plugins.

Setting up MIDI mappings for native Live devices is pretty obvious; click the MIDI button and all the parameters you can control turn blue. Pretty standard.

With external 3rd party plugins it is a bit different and I'll use the awesome Diva plugin (from U-he) as an example.

Create an instance of the Diva plugin (drag to the right of the tracks to create a new one). Then click the MIDI button (1) and you'll pretty much see the following:

Image

Since I clicked the MIDI button, so I am in MIDI learn mode, which explains all the blue. Note nothing in the plugin's UI is blue.

The rectangle shows the Diva device. Note how the small wrench icon is yellow, since the plugin's UI is active. If the UI is not showing, click the wrench icon (it should turn from grey to yellow).

Now we'll map the frequency cut-off knob in the plugin to the frequency cut-off knob on the NL2X. To do this, click on the button in the UI and then turn the frequency knob on the NL2X. A new MIDI mapping will appear in the MIDI mappings window (not shown) and the control will also be added to the device. If you now leave MIDI learn mode, the knob on the NL2X will control the knob in the plugin.

I've noticed this does not always work with all plugins, so here is a different way to accomplish this.

Image

Make sure you are not in MIDI learn mode and that the plugin's UI is showing (click the wrench if needed). Now click on the Configure button near the top right of the Diva device. The text in the device will now change and tell you to click on the control in the plugin's UI you wish to map. Click on the control and it will be added to the device, just like with the previous method. Now you can go to MIDI learn mode again and instead of clicking the control in the plugin's UI, click on the control in the device window (frequency in the screenshot showing the Diva UI).

Note that while you can map a single control on the NL2X to multiple controls in Live (possibly with their own limits), you cannot get it to change function based on the plugin you're currently using. For example, if you map the frequency cut-off knob on the NL2X to the cut-off control of plugin A and plugin B (instance would probably be a better term, A and B could be two instances of the same plugin), you cannot select which plugin gets controlled by selecting it.

With a more fancy controller you would be able to do this. Also, more fancy controllers are generally able to automatically map the most used controls. Novation has Automap and M-Audio HyperControl, but they're fairly similar (presonally I prefer the Novation way of doing things though). The Ableton Push controller is of course also very well integrated with Ableton.

Since you have the Virus sitting on top of the NL2X, you could also set that up to control some settings in Live (for example a different plugin). The way you would set that up is pretty similar to how you did it with the NL2X. The Virus also allows you to define a kind of control schemes to control other MIDI devices and that could be used for controlling Live, but it is probably easier to just use MIDI learn. However, if you wanted to, you could set up the Virus so you could use it to program/control another synth, such as a Roland MKS-50 which is the rack version of the Roland Alpha Juno.

If you are using the Total Integration stuff for Live (which is pretty nice, if you like soft synths), this might cause issues with using MIDI learn (only for the Virus' controls though).
mjbrands
 

Re: Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in

Postby mjbrands » 01 Oct 2013, 18:46

Btw. if you have Max for Live, the following might be interesting to check out: http://www.djtechtools.com/2012/02/16/m ... r-ableton/
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Re: Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in

Postby Patch77 » 02 Oct 2013, 09:41

:yourock:
Wow thanks MJ thats awesome I didnt expect a reply let alone a full tutorial!

You are a full fledged champion bro.

Cheers :thanks:
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Re: Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in

Postby mjbrands » 02 Oct 2013, 18:25

I would appreciate some feedback on how applicable this info was for you, if you had to do things differently, etc. I might as well turn this (and some other post) into a how-to for Logic, Live and Reason.
mjbrands
 

Re: Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in

Postby burkowitz » 18 Nov 2013, 19:24

Hi I have a NL2 and have been trying to use it with MIDI + Ableton 9. (I have had success mapping the controls to things in ableton, but right now i am trying to figure out how to automate the nords synth engine itself) I have figured out how to get it to record and send midi notes but I seem to be have a problem with the CC Automation.

when I have local set to off, using the knobs on the front panel doesn't have any effect on the synth sound, but it causes the in/out midi indicators in live to light up, and I can record CC automation. With Local set to off and the PROG/CTRL option beside it set to C-Off, I can once again use the controls to modify the synths sounds but the midi information is no longer being sent. If I record CC automation under that MIDI CTRL Tab, I haven't found anyway to get those automations recorded to actually effect the sound of the synth.

It seems like somethings wrong here.. with local off shoudn't I still be able to edit and automate control changes? I am new at this but my understanding is that the MIDI data goes first to the DAW to be recorded, and then back out to the synth to actually effect the sound you hear. It seems like only the MIDI note data is making it back to the synth, not the control changes.

If you can help me out with this I'd be so grateful! I have tried asking around a couple places already but haven't gotten any help yet.
Last edited by burkowitz on 18 Nov 2013, 19:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in

Postby mjbrands » 19 Nov 2013, 00:27

burkowitz wrote:It seems like somethings wrong here.. with local off shoudn't I still be able to edit and automate control changes? I am new at this but my understanding is that the MIDI data goes first to the DAW to be recorded, and then back out to the synth to actually effect the sound you hear. It seems like only the MIDI note data is making it back to the synth, not the control changes.

If you have Local Control set to Off, you can no longer control the 'synth engine' from the controls on the keyboard. This statement is not entirely true however; the controls you use send MIDI data and if that MIDI data is sent back to the Nord, you can again control the different aspects of the sound. If you start recording in Ableton and start twiddling knobs on the Nord, you should see Ableton starts recording specific CC data. If then play back what you recorded (make sure the MIDI data actually gets sent to the Nord), you should hear your knob twiddling have the intended effect.

This is of course not very direct; you record something and only hear the effect when you play it back. When using the Nord as a controller that would be fine, but for sound design or customizing sounds it is probably better to have Local Control on, because you immediately hear your edits have effect. What you could do is have Ableton send MIDI note data to the Nord, while you record your knob twiddling (and perhaps the audio) to new tracks.

When you disable the PROG ands CTRL options in the MIDI Settings, the Nord no longer sends program change messages (PROG) and controller messages (CTRL), though I think pitch bend and modulation are still sent. So if you have CTRL turned off and you have local control also turned off, I think you pretty much completely disable the knobs on the synth. They should send MIDI out the MIDI port anymore (since CTRL is off) and the also shouldn't get sent to the 'sound engine' (since Local Control is off). About that last bit I'm not completely sure though; it would be handy in some situations if you could just configure the keyboard to send MIDI out the MIDI port (Local Control off) yet could still use the knobs to modify the sound. It certainly seems more useful than completely disabling the knobs; you could easily test this of course, perhaps by modifying the filter cut-off or some other setting that is easy to hear.

Please let me know if my remarks are helpful at all. Maybe I could've phrased things in a different way.
Last edited by mjbrands on 19 Nov 2013, 00:28, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in

Postby burkowitz » 19 Nov 2013, 08:26

Ok thanks that is giving me a better understanding.

The main problem that I still have though is that if I edit or record CC data in ableton, it's not getting to my synth. I am confused about this because the midi notes are getting to my synth no problem, and I'm under the impression that if under my MIDI settings I have output: track=on that should be sending both midi note data as well as the CC messages to my synth.

mjbrands wrote: So if you have CTRL turned off and you have local control also turned off, I think you pretty much completely disable the knobs on the synth. They should send MIDI out the MIDI port anymore (since CTRL is off) and the also shouldn't get sent to the 'sound engine' (since Local Control is off)


actually I tried this and it actually works like this.. true if you just play it without midi being sent, its effectively dead with those settings. but with the midi track for the synth armed in ableton, you can play notes, and with CTRL off, you can actually use the controls again on the synth engine. But the controls are no longer sending CC messages to ableton. I'm not sure if I really understand what the use of having it set like this would be.

so trying to learn the limitations of live and the nord lead 2... you are saying that you can not record CC automation, while modeling the synth at the same time? because in local on the CC messages are not being sent out, and in local off the synth engine isn't being affected. Also it seems like with ableton you can't program MIDI CTRL envelopes in arrangement view, only in clip view, which seems limiting. I've heard that Logic is better for control of external synths, maybe that is something i should try out.

But yeah, if you could help me figure out why CC Data isn't making it from ableton to my synth it would be really helpful.. Thats seems to be the main problem I'm having.
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Re: Using original nord lead 2 keyboard as midi keyboard in

Postby burkowitz » 19 Nov 2013, 08:53

I was also wondering.. this limitation of not being able to model sounds and have the midi being sent out and recorded in a DAW at the same time.. is this a limitation that is common amongst all synths? or just some of them?
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