Today I want to show you a cool gizmo I recently threw together. It’s not complete, but just close enough to show off a bit. As my studio has morphed over the years, I have finally settled on a “recording in the round” approach where my primary instruments surround me, mics are properly set, and I quickly switch between instruments using a mix of Whirlwind switchers and Focusrite soft mixer routing.
It’s not uncommon for me to record a short set of looping bars on guitar, then flip to a bass, or mandolin, lead, etc. This optimized writing/recording method has come at a cost though. I’m now farther away from the studio desk than I have ever been before. Trying to stop, start, rewind, or switch tracks is at best a form of studio yoga, especially if you are trying to keep an acoustic instrument in the mic sweet spot.
I realized I needed a true remote control for my DAW. I didn’t want to have to relocate my Faderport between recording and mixing sessions. I also didn’t want to use a mouse where I would be straining my eyes to see little buttons on the screen from halfway across the room. These are similar problems that drummers and vocalists have in their personal studios. When you are in a vocal booth, or behind the kit, how do you hit record, stop, etc from another room?
Looking around the Internet I found a common solution: remote desktop tools. Here’s a YouTube user showing this specifically with Studio One. These are all fine and good but you really need a decent sized screen since they often show the complete desktop. The larger the screen, the larger the device. The smaller the screen, the more zooming/panning you do than actual productive clicks. After some more digging I started finding that quite a few live mixers, and some DAWs, have apps to control their software functions. Presonus even has one… but it’s for their live mixer, not their DAW line. I had hit a dead end.
I decided to roll my own. That application ran on my Windows tablet and communicated with the DAW sending commands for the various functions. It worked well but was too inflexible and clunky.
This worked rather well but since this was a tablet running a full OS I had interference, tablet placement issues, and fan noise. I ultimately thought long and hard about what functionality I would need and decided to create my own remote control that I could access from any device, configure at will, and run on a solid state device. I knew that meant web based.
Here’s a screen grab of the result running on my Galaxy Note 3.
and an iPhone…
and a Chrome browser on a laptop just for kicks…
and the list goes on…
This is a pure HTML/CSS/JQuery solution. It loads in any device that has a web browser and communicates back to the DAW machine running Windows to issue commands to Studio One. I’ve mapped many of the functions and continue to tweak as I go. I can manage all the standard transport controls but I can also mute, solo, arm, and switch tracks. I can even issue viewport zoom controls if I need a closer look from across the room.
Here’s a quick video showing some of the remote features in action:
I’m still in the final development stages and am adding options to support additional DAWs along with editing capabilities for additional commands. Once I complete it I’ll have a little more to post on this great little utility!