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Behind the scenes of the new Fast Track C-series interfaces (Part 5)

Only published comments... Oct 25 2011, 12:00 AM by Leo Der Stepanians


Multi-Button and Transport Controls


Fast Track C400 and C600 feature an innovative new feature called the Multi Button.  This easily programmable button makes repetitive tasks (like capturing the perfect solo) a snap.


When we were observing customers in their home studios, we noticed something: certain studio tasks can be really repetitive. For example, how many times have you found yourself going through the following three-step process while recording a verse (or chorus, bridge, solo, etc.):


1. Record

2. Stop

3. Jump back to the beginning of the verse?


Repeat, repeat, and repeat… until you capture the perfect take!


Most of the Fast Track Pro and Ultra users we met tended to work alone in their studios and as we observed them going through this (sometimes hours long) loop, we could see them having to constantly switch gears from “artist mode” to “engineer mode” and back. Worse yet, we could see users fumbling around with a mouse or using keyboard shortcuts while awkwardly holding (or completely putting down) their instruments as they set up to record another take. We thought there has to be a better way…


I called meetings with Chris (electrical engineer), Jason (software engineer), and Peter (firmware engineer) we came up with a one-button solution that would solve all these repetitive tasks: the Multi Button was born!


The thought behind this button was that all DAW programs (and even most non-music programs) have ASCII keyboard shortcuts like “Ctrl+S” (to save) or “Ctrl+Z” (undo). What if we created a single button that users can easily program to send an ASCII key command that they want? Now, what if that button had eight “steps” and could send out up to eight different ASCII keystrokes each time it is tapped? That’s exactly what we ended up creating.


With the Multi Button, you are free to program any sequence of keystrokes (up to eight steps) in order to simplify repetitive processes. For example, if you find yourself doing the record/stop/jump-to-locator sequence a lot, you can easily program the Multi Button to carry out those three commands. This lets you carry out that sequences without having to use a mouse or remember keyboard shortcuts. Better yet, your brain doesn’t have to switch back and forth between “artist” and “engineer” modes, so you can stay in the creative zone and focus on your music.


Fast Track C600 features a Multi button and these handy Transport Controls.  You can use them as transport controls or easily reassign them control nearly any function you frequently use in your DAW.


Since the Fast Track C600 is a physically larger product, we were able to add some Transport Control buttons as well. Like the Multi Button, the Transport Control buttons send out ASCII keystrokes. The only difference between the Transport Control and Multi buttons is that the Transport Control buttons have one “step.” The cool thing about the Transport Control buttons is that you don’t have to use them as transport controls at all. Personally, I use them to do things like switching the metronome click on or off and to jump to marker points throughout a song. Film editors might want to reassign these buttons to set things like “In” and “Out” points for an edit. I know a photographer that reassigned these buttons to help him navigate his favorite image editing application more quickly. The possibilities are endless!


We’re pretty proud of this feature. It’s simple, easy to program, and really helps customers stay in the creative zone. It’s another example of “transparent” technology that gets out of your way and lets you focus on what is important: your music.


By the way, if you haven’t already, please check out the new Fast Track C-Series assignable controls video below and C-Series product pages for further details about these products.






PS: Continue on to Part 6 of this series.




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About Leo Der Stepanians

As a Senior Product Manager at Avid, I’m responsible for designing and managing M-Audio branded interfaces including the Fast Track and ProFire lines. I’m a composer at heart and I’m proud to say that I began my career many years ago at the very bottom: as an runner at various studios around Southern California! Later on, I was later hired as a Technical Writer (I’ve written documentation for Alesis, Numark, Akai, M-Audio and Avid) before finally becoming a product manager.

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