Mackie Control Configuration

Overview

The Mackie Control action can control five distinct sections with reference to the layout of a real Mackie Control Universal Pro:

  • Transport (green)
  • Channels strips including LCD (red). Up to 8 devices can be defined; extenders have only the channel strip section.
  • Time display (yellow)
  • Mode/assignment display (white)
  • The "master section" - i.e. the "daw specific" section of the Mackie Control that can have different layouts depending on lexan overlays (blue)

Please note:
When the plugin is installed and the very first button is created, you must select the layout you want to use (i.e. which daw you will control) and which midi ports to use. If needed you can change these settings later, but assuming that these settings hardly ever change (i.e. you always connect to the same daw with the same midi ports), the settings are tucked away under the Layout and Midi ports arrow at the bottom of the editor area. From this point on, these settings are used whenever a new button is created. (Please see the end of this page for more details on layouts and midi ports)

Section

Select which section of the Mackie Control you want the button to interact with. The selected section will control which functions that will be available in the Functions menu.

Section - Channel Strips

Each channel strip holds buttons, a fader, a V-pot, and an LCD. The master channel only has a fader since that's all in the master section on a real Mackie device.

The Selected Channel strip is like an ordinary channel strip, but instead of a Select option, there are two options to move the selected channel up or down.

The Select Next/Previous Channel will, of course, move the channel selection up or down. The Mackie bank will shift with the selected channel if the channel otherwise would end up outside the channels known to the Mackie device. If you have multiple Mackie devices defined in the plugin, it is absolutely vital that the plugin knows in what order the devices are controlling the channels. The plugin presumes that the device order is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (i.e., device 1 controls the first eight channels, device 2 the next eight, and so on); if your configuration is something else, you need to tell the plugin in what order the devices should be handled. Please check the FAQ page for instructions on how to do that.

Buttons that change channel selection have an extra option to deselect the currently selected channel before selecting the new one. Some daws treat channel selection as "add this channel to the group of selected channels;" if you instead want to have single channels selected, you can check this checkbox.

Some notes about the "Selected channel" strip:
A real Mackie Control device has 8 channel strips plus the master channel, and you can switch banks to change which 8 channels in the mixer will be controlled by the 8 channels on the device. There is no channel strip for "selected channel" on the device, and in the communication protocol, there are no commands directed at "selected channel". So how can the plugin have a "Selected channel" strip?

The Mackie Control protocol is extremely chatty, and the DAW constantly keeps the device/plugin updated with the state of all mixer functions for the 8 assigned tracks. The plugin saves all this information in the background and can locate which of the 8 tracks is selected by looking at the state of the "Select" switch.

When you assign a button to, e.g., the Solo function for the selected channel, the plugin will in real-time associate that button (and its state) with the solo function for whatever channel is currently selected in the DAW mixer.

Be aware that the Mackie Control protocol only enables the device/plugin to control the mixer channels currently assigned to a Mackie Control device. If you in the mixer have a channel selected not among the channels currently controlled by a Mackie Control device, the plugin has no knowledge of that channel. From the plugin's point of view, none of the known channels is selected. In such a case, the state for the buttons assigned to the "Selected channel" is reset, and any attempt to press such a button will result in a yellow warning triangle (since the plugin is unable to control a channel that is outside of the channels assigned to a Mackie Control device).

If you have multiple Mackie Control devices defined for the plugin, the "Selected channel" will span all channels covered by the Mackie devices. If you, e.g., have three Mackie Control devices in the plugin, the "Selected channel" buttons will work if any of the 24 covered channels is selected in the daw. The "Selected channel" buttons will always send/receive using the midi ports defined for the currently selected channel; if, e.g., a "Selected channel" button is defined using Mackie Control device 1 and the currently active channel is within device 3, the "Selected channel" button will ignore the port settings for device 1 and instead use the port settings for device 3.

Section - Time display

The button will display all or parts of the Mackie Control time display. By default the button does not react when pressed, but with the checkbox Switch SMTPE/Beats when pressed you can change this behavior.

The Mackie Control has a dedicated button used to switch between the two time formats (SMPTE time or beats) on the time display. This function can be assigned to a separate Stream Deck button if you whish, but you can also make any (or all) time display buttons have this functionality.

Section - Mode/assignment display

The button will display the Mackie Control mode/assignment display. This two-character display is used to display the current device mode. The daw controls whether or not this display will have any content and, if so, what it is.

The button has no press action; it is for display only.

Section - Daw Functions

The functions available when Daw Functions have been selected in the Section dropdown are unique for each Daw, and the set of functions is controlled by the Layout dropdown (see below).

The functions are defined in separate files; one for each available Daw. Each function is defined with a reference to which physical button on the Mackie it emulates, the text displayed in the Functions dropdown and the behavior of the button (Push, Toggle or Hold).

Some buttons on the Mackie are affected by modifiers, e.g. Shift. These modifier buttons are available and can be assigned to a Stream Deck button, but in many cases the definition files include special entries where a Stream Deck button will all the work to be "modified" itself - i.e. it will automatically press Shift, send its own code and then release Shift.

The definition files bundled with the plugin are not tested and verified with all daws - they are at best created as templates that need to be verified and (most probably) adjusted to work as good as possible with the various daws. If there are functions that don't do what you expect them to do you can create "personal" versions of the definition files where you can modify and test the functionality. Please see the Layout Definitions page for more details.

Channel strip buttons - Track name

In the communication between the DAW and the plugin, there is no command from the DAW that says, "this is the track name for channel x". The DAW may show track names on the LCD strip, but how, when, and where they are displayed varies among DAWs.

Track name can be displayed in the upper or the lower row on the LCD strip...or not at all. Due to size restrictions on the LCD strip, the DAW will display a 6 character abbreviation of the actual track name. (You do not need to have a button defined for the LCD strip itself - the plugin keeps track :-) of the LCD strip content in the background.)

For each button associated with a channel, you can decide if that button should attempt to display the track name by mirroring the upper or lower row from the LCD strip. The position, size, font, and color for the track name on the button are controlled by the normal title properties in the Stream Deck editor. Please be aware that the plugin has no way of knowing if the selected LCD row actually contains a track name - it simply displays what's shown there.

Function - switch

Switches either toggle a function (e.g., Solo) or trigger an action (e.g., Play).

  • Switches in the transport and master sections have no additional settings to configure.
  • Switches in the channel strips have the option to display information from the LCD strip for the channel.
  • Switches that cause a channel switch have an additional option to send a deselect command for the currently selected channel before switching to the new channel. Some daws (e.g., Reaper) treat a "select channel" command as "add this channel to the current selection," resulting in multiple channels being selected. If you don't want this behavior, you can check this box to have the daw select only the new channel.

Function - fader

The configuration of faders is quite extensive, and is described separately on Fader configuration page.

Function - V-pot or scrub wheel

When a V-pot or scrub wheel is selected a number of additional fields are available to define how the button should react when used and how the state should be displayed.

Field Description
Rotation speed While the button is pressed, commands are sent to signal V-pot rotation. This slider affects the frequency with which these commands are sent, thereby controlling the speed with which the V-pot is turned. Fast will move the V-pot the full span (e.g. pan all left to all right) in about .5 seconds while slow do the same thing in about 10 seconds, giving you better control in small movements.
Rotation direction Select if a pressed button should turn the V-pot clockwise, counterclockwise (i.e., increase or decrease the value of the target), or if it should be possible to switch direction by double-pressing the button. When Both ways is selected, the Time field is available to define the timing for the double press. If the button is pressed twice within this time (milliseconds), the button will switch direction. Set the time so that you can comfortably change direction without getting unintentional changes of direction when presses are misinterpreted as double-presses.
Show direction Select if direction indicators should be displayed on the button. Please note that indicators will be visible only if a designed display is selected, and the selected design have such indicators defined (which is optional).
  • On knob - an indicator is displayed on the knob, and is rotated along with the knob.
  • On background - a fixed indicator is displayed on the background.
State display Select if and how you want to have the V-pot state visually displayed on the button. No state display, just a number a predefined graphic design, or your own design.

Due to limitations in the Stream Deck software, special care must be taken for how to define button images in various cases. If graphic representation is selected, the button image must not be selected in the in the normal icon selection in the editor. Please see the Icon Definitions page for more details.

You can select the design of the V-pot from a set of built-in designs, a predefined custom design or by selecting background/state images manually.

The initial release of the Mackie Control action enabled custom graphics where the selection "My own..." allowed you to select a background image and folder for state images (see below). The plugin version 2.2 introduced the V-pot functionality in the Control Change action, which required a different way to create state images and a different way to select a predefined custom design.

You now have the option to select custom designs either by specifying background/state images as before or by choosing an XML file that defines a custom design in the new format.

You choose a predefined custom design by clicking the "Add design" button and selecting the XML file that defines the design. (Please see Custom V-pot images V2 for details). The chosen design will be used for the current button and is added to the dropdown for easy access when configuring other buttons.
Background image This parameter is not available when a predefined design is selected as State display.
Select the file with the background image you want to use for the button. Please see the Icon Definitions page for more details.
State images folder This parameter is only available when My own... is selected as State display.
Select the folder with the state images you want to use for the button. You definitely want to see the Icon Definitions page for more details on this one :-)
Function - Scribble strip LCD

The button will display the part of the scribble strip LCD that belongs to the selected channel strip. By default the button does not react when pressed, but with the checkbox Switch Name/Value when pressed you can change this behavior.

The Mackie Control has a dedicated button used to switch between the two parameter display formats (either the parameter name or value is shown) on the LCD. This function can be assigned to a separate Stream Deck button if you whish, but you can also make any (or all) LCD buttons have this functionality.

Layout

The right side of a physical Mackie Control contain switches that can be assigned to daw specific functions. The Mackie has printed labels for these buttons but there are lexan overlays that can be placed on the Mackie to display labels for specific daws.

The functions/labels printed on the Mackie are available when you select the Generic layout in the dropdown while functions/labels from lexan overlays are used when you select a daw in the dropdown.

Some buttons on the Mackie are affected by modifiers, e.g. Shift. These modifier buttons are available and can be assigned to a Stream Deck button, but in many cases the layout definitions include special entries where a Stream Deck button will all the work to be "modified" itself - i.e. it will automatically press Shift, send its own code and then release Shift.


The layouts are defined in separate files; one for each available Daw, and the Layout dropdown is populated based on the files the plugin can locate. When you select a layout in the dropdown it will affect the button you are editing (not other existing buttons), and the selected layout will be set as the default layout for new buttons created after that.

Each function is in the layout file defined with a reference to which physical button on the Mackie it emulates, the text displayed in the Functions dropdown and the behavior of the button (Push, Toggle or Hold). The layout files bundled with the plugin are not tested and verified with all daws - they are at best created as templates that need to be verified and (most probably) adjusted to work as good as possible with the various daws.

If there are functions that doesn't do what you expect them to do you can create "personal" versions of the layout files where you can modify and test the functionality. Please see the Layout Definitions page for more details.


Device and Midi ports

The plugin can act as eight individual Mackie Control devices. For each device, the midi ports are common to all buttons defined for that device. When you select a device, the ports will be set accordingly. If you change the midi ports, the new values will be used for all buttons defined for that device. Two devices cannot use the same midi ports; when selecting midi ports for one device, midi ports used by other devices are shown reddish and are disabled in the midi port dropdown lists.

The default configuration is to have the first device as a main device and the other devices as extenders (having the channel strips only). From the plugin's point of view, it does not matter if a device is set as a main device or an extender; all functions are available, and the same commands are sent to the daw regardless of if the device is a main device or an extender. The daw might object, however, if a device set as an extender sends commands valid only for a main device (the daw sends "device query" commands to determine what kind of devices there are, in which case the plugin will respond being a main device or an extender). If you need to change the type for a specific device, please have a look at the FAQ.

Please note that you activate a Mackie device by assigning midi ports to it. Once a Mackie device is activated, it will work in the background, monitoring the midi port for incoming messages and keeping track of the state of all controllers. You don't need to have any buttons connected to a specific device, it will still work in the background (which, e.g., is required for the Selected channel buttons work across multiple devices even if you don't want to have other buttons for the devices).

Tip: Active Mackie devices (i.e., with defined midi ports) will try to connect to the midi ports, monitor incoming messages and keep track of the state of all buttons, faders, pots, and LCDs for that device. This uses system resources in your computer; negligible, but still unnecessary if it isn't needed. If you have defined a Mackie device in the plugin that is no longer needed, you can disable the device by selecting "No MIDI Input/No MIDI Output" for that device.

Please note that the Mackie Control protocol requires that the midi ports used in the communication are exclusively dedicated to the Mackie Control - no other devices or plugins should use the same midi ports. In the DAW, the used Midi ports must not be connected to anything other than the Mackie Control receiver. If you also have a real Mackie Control, it must have midi ports of its own. For this reason, the plugin does not allow different Mackie units (main device and extenders) to use the same midi ports.
A note to Cubase/Nuendo users: For some reason, Steinberg has decided to handle the list of Mackie Control devices in reversed order. If you define multiple Mackie Control devices in the Studio Setup, the last device in the list will act as the main device (and handle the first eight channels), while the first device in the list will act as the last extender (and handle the last eight channels)