AudioFuse 16Rig MIDI mapping improvements

I was trying out the MIDI mapping feature in the AudioFuse 16Rig today. It’s a nice idea, but I found some limitations with it that could be improved to make it more useful. Hopefully, the mods can use their ability to flag feature requests for Arturia on this thread, but I’m also interested to hear if there are other 16Rig users who have used a MIDI controller with it with more success. Any tips would be appreciated.

Support for MIDI from the computer host

Unfortunately, the mixer MIDI mapping doesn’t seem to work at all if the MIDI is sent from the computer to the USB-C port on the 16Rig. It only supports MIDI from the DIN inputs or the USB MIDI port on the front.

This is particularly disappointing for me, as I was hoping to build a custom Max for Live device to better integrate the 16Rig mixer into my Ableton Live workflow. It doesn’t look like this is currently possible.

I also wanted to configure the Ableton Push controller’s user mode to control the 16Rig mixer. Unfortunately, MIDI controllers connected to the USB MIDI port on the 16Rig don’t appear as devices on the connected computer, and devices connected to the computer can’t control the 16Rig mixer with MIDI, even with the computer set up to route MIDI from the controller to the 16Rig. So I can’t do this, either, unless I connect an additional MIDI cable from the Push to the 16Rig.

Even using Arturia’s own MiniLab 3 is inconvenient in this way. I was able to control the mixer when it’s plugged into the 16Rig USB MIDI port, but configuring the MIDI mappings for the controls on the MiniLab 3 requires reconnecting it to the computer so that MIDI Control Center can see it.

If you connect the controller to a USB Hub port on the 16RIg, then the computer sees it but the 16Rig does not.

CC vs. Notes

AudioFuse Control Center lets you map each control to either a MIDI note number or a MIDI CC number. Some of these combinations don’t make much sense to me.

Most of the controls are level controls for each channel, its aux sends, and the master aux return and mix levels, which only really make sense as CCs. When you set them to use MIDI notes they use the velocity of the keypress to set the level. It’s hard for me to imagine why someone would want this configuration. Even worse, when you use the Factory Reset feature for the MIDI mappings, it sets all of the controls to use MIDI note numbers, which is not how it actually came preconfigured from the factory. Originally, the level controls were all set to CCs. I guess that’s a bug, but it’s an annoying one, because there’s no way to get back to the actual original configuration other than by manually reconfiguring each control.

On the other hand, the previous/next bank buttons don’t really make sense as CCs, only as key presses. It would make sense to use an encoder to scroll through the banks, but since the mapping can only be configured as seperate previous and next buttons, there’s no way to set one encoder CC to control both. If you do map an encoder to previous, for example, turning it in either direction will make the bank control move back. If you try to map the same encoder to next, it will remove the mapping from previous. You’d have to use different encoders for next and previous, which would be pretty strange.

Finally, there are the mute and solo toggle buttons. It makes sense to use a MIDI note to toggle these. It would also make sense to use a MIDI CC value to set their state absolutely, for example by saying that CC values 0-63 turn it off and 64-127 turn it on. That’s not how it actually works, though. Instead, any time it receives a CC message, it toggles the state. That means that there’s no way to send a message that will always force a channel to mute, regardless of whether it’s currently muted or not. There’s also no way for a controller to query whether a channel is currently muted to work around this, which brings me to…

Bidirectional Communication

Many mixer controllers support bidirectional DAW control protocols such as Mackie HUI/MCU that allow the controller to receive the state of the mixer as well as control it. This is essential for features such as motorised faders, but also useful for mute/solo lights on the control surface. Unfortunately, the 16Rig doesn’t seem to support anything like this, which limits the level of integration a controller can provide. It also means that you often have to check the mixer GUI in AFCC to see how things are currently set, at which point maybe it’s easier to just use the mouse.

Clearly, the AFCC GUI does use some kind of bidirectional communication with the hardware over the USB-C connection to show and update its state, but this doesn’t seem to be documented in a way that anyone else could use it.

Other missing features

Some minor other things that would be nice to have.

  • Controlling the cue mixer (seems like a big omission, since a cue mix might be most useful to a performer who is not sitting at the mixing desk)
  • Controlling input and output gain settings
  • Preset selection
  • Support for fader banks with more than 8 channels, such as PreSonus FaderPort 16

I hope Arturia can look at improving some of these things in the future.

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