After more than a year of relatively trusty service and a country-spanning tour, my BCD2000 has finally become too flaky for performances. I’ve been looking at the various DJ-style midi controller options, and was down to about 5 options when I was asked to play a set on short notice at a relatively big festival this weekend. So I made a snap decision and picked up a Numark Total Control, choosing this over the NuVJ because it has a couple of extra sliders and knobs.

NuVJ Glamour Shot
This is a NuVJ, my second choice MIDI controller from Numark

As a class-compliant USB MIDI device it installed fine. I loaded my VJ software of choice, Resolume, mapped the jog wheels to scratch video, and scratched.

The video went bonkers.

A couple of moments looking at the MIDI messages in MIDI-OX told me why – the Total Control jogwheels use a bizarre schema for their endless encoder messages. All the MIDI controllers I’ve encountered in the past have used the same format for endless encoders, rotating clockwise will send out a stream of, (to paraphrase the machines) “+1″ messages. Counterclockwise gives “-1″. Spin your jogwheel or knob faster, and it sends out more messages per second. The Total Control, however, changes its message depending on how fast the wheel is spinning, so an increasingly quick movement would look like “+1 +1 +2 +3 +5 +7 +7 +8″ etc. Even more bizarrely, the values seem the reverse of what they should be, so a clockwise movement gives negative values.

So I took the controller back to the store, along with my Macbook to road test any alternatives. The guys were happy to swap my Total Control for a NuVJ, whose jogwheel behaved much better when tested with Resolume. It was still backwards, but it wasn’t causing the playhead to jitter all over the place.

I should have done a little more testing though, because it turns out that all of the knobs on this device work the same way. The only piece of software which recognizes them correctly is the version of Arkaos bundled with the NuVJ. Ableton Live does an ok job with the general knobs, and the jog wheels work ok moving clockwise, but counterclockwise has the live controls snapping backwards at 5 times the speed of forward movements.

So, sadly, I’m back at the same position I was in 17 months ago, sitting with a well made and reasonably priced controller, which will require hours of hacking and re-mapping to complete simple tasks.

Is anyone else in CDMLand in a similar situation? Or better still, have been in a similar situation and discovered a quick and elegant solution?

  • yermo

    my opinion is if you go for reasonably priced things you'll often get angry at yourself (for buying crap) sooner then you get angry to the device (or software) itself.

    so go for your biggest dream.

    have you thought about 2x xone:1d?

  • Chris Hahn

    Bummer. What about the Vestax VCI-100?

  • http://www.freejays.be Jonas

    When I was looking for a midi controller for my visuals. My friends put together a birthay fund for it. They suggested the NuVj, but after a bit of research i found that it wouldn't be quite as compatible with resolume as one would think.

    So looking in the slightly-higher price range, I found the perfect controller. For the last couple of months I've been performing with te VMX VJ from Codanova, and it has been good to me. Very good actually. If you get the chance to try one. Be sure to get your hands on it.

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  • k3no

    I got the numark total control a little over a week ago, and straight out of the box 4 of the buttons were not working,customer support has been abismal and I have a gig on saturday…Good times !

  • inasilentway

    Build your own via MIDIbox! You will have to put in a lot more work than you would buying one, but when you're done it will do exactly what you want it to do and be exactly as tough as you build it to be.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    Yermo: Unfortunately this isn't a cheap piece of gear, it costs exactly double what I paid for my BCD2000, but its MIDI scheme is even worse!

    Chris: I've been looking at the Vestax, and the MAudio Xponent as well. I may pick up either of these in the long run, but I'll definitely be testing their MIDI message setups first.

  • http://www.numark.com Chris Roman

    Hi Jaymis,

    Seems like you got into the special limited mode we had to create for Native Instruments to work with this. I'd love to talk with you more since our engineering team put a lot of work into this to offer various more advanced modes, since all DJ software seems to work differently.

    Numark

  • http://discodirt.10pm.org M-.-n

    If it is the same as NuVJ, the jogs send incremental midi control rather than normal ones… i.e in positive direction it send +1,+2 (depending on the speed) and in negative it send (+127,+126,…). This is standard midi but not supported on all apps. Maybe that's why the video goes nuts.

    For example, in live, you have to proceed as follow:

    1- Map the control to the jog wheel.

    2- you will see in the bottom status window a pop up allowing to select the mode for the controler and choose: Relative (lin. 2's Comp.)

    Midi standards are unfortunately very 'relaxed' and most softwares doesn't implement all of them because it's a pain in the butt.

    At least you can try NuVJ now :)

  • http://www.zacislost.blogspot.com Zac

    Buy two USB Griffin Powermates …

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  • http://myspace.com/fuckerlover Time Squid

    Well after a ton of research on the subject Ive decided that the best thing for me to do is to get two trigger fingers and chain them together and mod them into one complete housing…. does anyone think it possible?

  • http://n/a Mik

    Oright boys and girls, very new to this game.

    After several messy sessions with friends decks I've decided to get something to allow me to mix up my mp3s at home and at parties.

    Up till now I've been taken by the BCD2000 until I more recently discovered this site and the several alternatives available.

    Could one of the several more experienced people on this site please answer the follwoing question:

    If you have £150, what do you buy?

    PS) If saving the extra 50 bones or so is worth it then please say so but don't go to mental, as i said, I'm a first timer so not really up for going all out, especially as my skills prob don't merit it.

    Thanks,

    Mik

  • Don

    I got a NuVJ to control Ableton with – it works pretty well, actually. However, this "Total Control" – well, I didn't know it existed, frankly.

    In any case, I used BOME's midi translator to get past some stupid decisions that Ableton's makers made (namely, only being able to assign nudge, loop, and most other track-controls to a GLOBAL setting, rather than per channel – the solution? Run the NuVJ —> Bome's (have bome take the midi signal and translate it to a key sequence) —> MidiYOKE —> assign the input in ableton to MidiYOKE1.

    You then set up things like loops, etc to one key (let's say nudge forward is "Q", backward is "Z") then assign a key to the track status indicator in CH1 (ex "A") and CH2 (ex. "B"). In BOME's, set the button press MIDI to translate to the key sequence "AQ" to nudge Ch1's track forward, or "AZ" to nudge back, etc. and so on….

  • Don

    "but counterclockwise has the live controls snapping backwards at 5 times the speed of forward movements."

    As someone else stated, this is the result of the wrong setting of "RElative, Signed Bit". USe the Relative (lin. 2’s Comp.). Presto, working jogs.

  • Sentient

    If I follow this thread correct.. It still looks like one should steer away from using Numark products with Resolume (or any other Non-Numark/Arkaos software).

    And the other contenders with a similar feature set are:

    VMX VJ from Codanova

    2x xone:1d

    M-Audio Xponent

    Vestax VCI-100

    BCD2000

    Any others those outside the Numark realm should consider?

  • Sentient

    Should the Total control be avoided in preference to the NuVJ?

    I'm now looking at controlling VDMX with either of these or the BCD3000 … but the latter does indeed scare me a little.

    I know theres better out there.. but these are within my price point and can double as MP3 mixers.. which I'd like to have a play with.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    @Sentient: Those Numark products aren't too bad, but you may need to use a 3rd party translator such as Bome's Midi Translator to get the midi from the Numark or BCD2000 acting correctly. I don't have experience with the Xone, Xponent or Vestax though, so not sure. The best option is to take your computer in to the music store and have a proper try, setting up all the different functions on the controller with your host software.

    Now you mention VDMX as well. The issues are different here: VDMX currently doesn't support "endless" midi. I've just had a chat with David from Vidvox, and he says that endless midi support will be added "perhaps in the not too distant future", so you won't be able to use jog-wheels (or any other control which spins endlessly) without some kind of clever midi translation.

    That said, I think the BCD2000/3000 are excellent devices, and some of the best value for money. They're quirky, and I haven't tried them with Mac, but the bang-for-buck on them is fantastic.

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