Regular readers of Pro Tools Expert will know that I use control surfaces with my current one being the Avid C|24. Mixing music with a mouse has never really floated my boat. Control surfaces stir my musical instincts in ways I find to be more creative and engaging when mixing. When I have to use a mouse in-conjunction with keyboard shortcuts I feel as though in some small way that I’m disconnected from the music. I personally prefer the feel and action of physical faders, rotary encoders and button presses in my control surface workflow over eternal mouse shuffles and clicks any day.
Touch Screen Alternatives
Over the past few years we have seen the introduction of countless DAW control apps on tablets and smart phones. I have tried nearly all the iOS apps that control Pro Tools and as good as many of these apps are they all, for me, fall short of being a suitable alternative or future replacement of control surfaces.
Think Touch Typing
In the 90s I was taught to touch type on a typewriter. Touch typing is all about feel. Place one index fingers on the F key and the other on J, feel the raised dots on those two keys and off you go. Keep your head upright so that you can read what you are typing (not looking at what your fingers are doing) whilst remembering finger reaches for getting optimal typing speed. I have always felt the technique of touch typing to be similar to working on a physical control surface. There is very little of "looking at what you are doing” when working on a control surface, as in looking at what your fingers are pressing.
For me the main problem with controlling Pro Tools with touch devices is this - there will always be a degree of having to look at the tablet or phone display every time you want to press a button or slide a fader. This is because the glass on touch devices have no tactile feel which for me means when I use touch apps I usually hit the wrong control as I'm used to not looking down to locate a control or encoder.
When I compose an email on my iPad I cannot believe how many silly spelling mistakes I make. When I compose an email on my MacBook the silly mistakes are few and far between as I'm relying on my touch typing skills. My touch typing skills are thrown out the window when I "type" on an iPad. Even though the keyboard layout is the same format on something like an iPad as a physical keyboard the experience of typing is not and will never be the same for me.
I suppose for me to one day fully embrace touch control apps for Pro Tools I first need to surrender my touch typing mindset.
- Does anyone feel the same about touch control apps for Pro Tools as I do, or is it just me?