Sunday, April 25, 2010

No, it's their fault...

OK - so I got my modular synth setup (bragging to commence Real Soon Now), as well as a MOTU 828 and Volta. This should allow me to use the eight analog ins and outs as voltage control for the modular - meaning that I have a bunch of virtual modules that save me both space and money for the future. I oughta have eight virtual modules, but right now I have six. How's that?

Well, the MOTU 828 has eight analog ins/outs along with a dedicated main output (for your DAW audio out) and dedicated mic/instrument ins (to connect your gear). This should leave all eight analog ins/outs available for Volta - but in the case of Logic, it does not. Logic has a bone-headed system where it assumes that the first two outputs are going to be your monitoring outputs, and auto-names them as "Stereo Outs". It also routes any tracks assigned to the "Stereo Outs" to the master output - which can go anywhere you like (thanks to the I/O Assignments Preference). It's stupid, because it means that Logic basically prevents the use of the first two analog outputs if you are using other outputs for the mains.

Now, this could all be OK if MOTU allowed you to reorder the inputs and outputs as they are seen by Core Audio. Alas, no such thing. Their setup application (which looks like it was made for OS 9...) doesn't help much, and the interface's outputs are presented to Core Audio in alphabetical order.

So... Apple's Logic is boned because it assumes that audio interface I/O #1 and #2 are the best options for default stereo input and output (true in every case except MOTU). MOTU is boned because they decided that analog 1/2 are the best first option for outputs (despite the fact that they have a dedicated Main output). In Googling this issue, everyone that has talked to either companies gets a finger-point to the other.

Who could make the easier fix? Hell, it doesn't matter. All anyone has to do is spend five minutes:

- Apple: make is so that the Stereo Output label represents the Stereo output value in the Preferences, and leave the "first two" outputs alone.

- MOTU: add an option to the Setup program that allows me to set the Main 1-2 as the first element in the Core Audio output list (like the Mic/Inst input is the first in the input list). Or better yet, just give me a patchbay (like Digi was able to do about 10 years ago).

In either case, I think both sides are bone-headed. But in the end, it should probably be MOTU's fix to be made, since they were willing to sell me Volta (which makes the problem apparent) and the 828 (which is an otherwise outstanding interface). I spent $900 for the pair, and I was thinking that the combo represented 8 modules for $112.50 each - a nice price. Instead, I'm getting 6 modules for $150, which it a bit less enticing and rather underwhelming in quantity.

But in the end it is just the fact that they whole system's workflow is screwed by this problem, and I'd just like it fixed, please.


So, it turns out to be a labeling thing in Logic, and you can work around it - as long as you are willing to ignore the labels things are given. Logic and Volta are not best friends, leading to gems like this (from the Volta manual): "Press the "+" button on its channel strip. This will create an aux track with the first multi output pair from Volta (Volta 3-4) as its input". So the labeling of Volta 3-4 is actually output 1 and 2 in the plugin, causing a lot of the confusion.

Also, there is the "stereo output" thing. In Logic Preferences, you define the "Stereo" outputs - in the case of a MOTU 828 MK3, that is outputs 9 & 10 (the Main Outs). However, during track creation, you have to ignore the "Stereo Outputs" label, which is always assigned to the first two outputs - no matter which ones they are. The answer is to just always assign audio outputs to outputs 9 & 10, go ahead and use the labeled "Stereo Outputs" as analog 1-2, and don't worry about it.

Oh yeah, one more thing. If you are using Volta, just don't ever, ever use the Master volume control. It inexplicably turns the volume down on all subbed outputs, which means that it will turn down the "volume" of Volta (i.e., turn down the output voltages), which will drive you system insane.



  1. Maybe you'll be getting that other 828 sooner rather than later.


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