Author Topic: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer  (Read 6543 times)

Artur D'Assumpção

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Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« on: November 06, 2013, 09:28:25 PM »
Guys,

It's a good a idea to start the discussion on the prerequisites for the new SSLMixed computer. This is important to discuss at this stage because there might be certain requisites that will later have influence on hardware and software design decisions.

Some of the major-topics I think are important to be discussed at this stage (among others) are:

LIST LAST UPDATED: 10/11/2013

  • Overall solution requisites (macro features)
            - 100% open solution (hardware + software) -  MANDATORY
            - Low manufacturing costs  -  MANDATORY
            - Support for SSL 4000/5000/6000 consoles (E, G and G+)  - MANDATORY
            - Support non-moving (vca) and moving fader (ultimation) consoles  - MANDATORY
            - Keep fader automation status button support - MANDATORY
            - Replace completely the old SSL computer  - MANDATORY
            - Based on 100% new hardware (don't use old parts) - MANDATORY
            - Full/partial SSL keyboard support (besides transport)UNSUPPORTED
            - Support legacy monitorUNSUPPORTED

           - Support 100% autonomous system -  MANDATORY
           - Support client assisted system (ex: DAW support, etc.) - MANDATORY

            - Windows and OS X Support - MANDATORY
            - IOS Support (tablet support) - SHOULD
            - Android Support (tablet support) - SHOULD

  • Hardware specific requisites:
            - Low power consumption - MANDATORY
            - Noiseless (no fans) - MANDATORY
            - Small form factor - SHOULD
            - No need to preform console modifications/customizing - MANDATORY
     
  • I/O connections specific requisites
            - Interface with the SSL through the same flat cables - MANDATORY
            - Network support (TCP/IP) - MANDATORY
            - Support for external monitor - SHOULD
       
            - Support MTC MANDATORY

  • Software specific requisites
            - Comprehensive VCA + automation support - MANDATORY
            - Comprehensive total recall support - MANDATORY
            - Transport support - MANDATORY
            - Console surface status support - MANDATORY
            - Console modes support (MIX, RECORD, REPLAY, etc.) - MANDATORY

            - DAW Integration - MANDATORY
            - DAW Transport support - MANDATORY
            - DAW Automation support  - OPTIONAL
            - DAW Control (VCA to DAW / DAW to VCA) - OPTIONAL

            - Client side (laptop/desktop) configuration and management -  MANDATORY
            - Client side (laptop/desktop) live session management support -  MANDATORY
            - Comprehensive Project management -  MANDATORY
            - Console live debugging and calibration features - MANDATORY

            - Multi-client support -  MANDATORY
            - Channel live monitor and VCA control support via remote devide (ex: tablet device) -  OPTIONAL
            - Support multi-display (over TCP/IP) -  OPTIONAL

This is totally open for discussion, so lets discuss and define what we really want to do for this project. I will be filling the requisites while these are becoming defined in the next days. :D

Cheers,

Artur
« Last Edit: November 10, 2013, 10:29:30 AM by Artur D'Assumpção »



marcmozart

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2013, 09:39:15 PM »
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Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2013, 09:54:38 PM »
I'll go ahead and post some ideas I have to start the discussion:

* It should replace totally the current computer

The old computer hardware is getting very old and very difficult to find and EXPENSIVE!!! So any solution that uses any piece of the old hardware will be limited from the start, it wouldn't be a solution for all SSL users (there are users which don't even have a computer today), could pose challenges to integrate with a modern platform, specially if we're aiming to a low power consumption and small form factor solution and could also prevent the development of new features.
 
* Should connect trough existent flat cables and without needing any console modifications

This would be nice to have, a 100% plug and play solution.

* Should be small form factor

A small solution would be totally pervasive in the studio and wouldn't need to occupy rack spaces.

* Should be small low consumption and zero noise

* Should fully support automation
* Should fully support total recall like feature
* Should fully support the transport
* Should support moving and non-moving faders
* Should provide DAW integration

* Should be remotely controllable (via desktop application or tablet)

All SSLMixed computer features would be controllable via a controller application.

* Should be multi-client  (several simultaneous clients can connect to the computer)

This feature would allow for scenarios were the laptop is the main controller station but you could also interact (only view or view and control) at the same time with one or more tablets/desktops.

More ideas to come...
« Last Edit: November 07, 2013, 10:25:09 PM by Artur D'Assumpção »

Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2013, 09:55:40 PM »

perfectsnd

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2013, 09:59:43 PM »
>>
You guys are really picking my brains here! A couple of thoughts…

These are the components/products/features I think we need to come up with:

VCA TO DAW and DAW to VCA
- turning VCA-Fader Voltages into data that ANY DAW can read, preferable via TCIP
and vice versa of course:
- turning DAW controller data into VCA Voltages

TOTAL RECALL to DAW
- sending Total Recall Data into a DAW by using a Control Surface Protocol
- designing a AU / VST / AAX GUI that receives the total recall data and allows us to use the PlugIn Library Functions of a DAW to store full channels as plug-in patches, so the user can build a library of his favorite channel settings.

Obviously with these features we DO NOT NEED to invent any recorder for the automation as everybody is using their favorite DAW for this purpose. It would also allow people to control their DAW tracks with the VCA Faders, pretty much like on a Duality. My point is, why invent another recorder, when there are thousands out there and everybody already has their favorite one. Same for the Total Recall Data. Let us just NOT write another library software - Logic Pro, for example, is excellent at this, and all we need to do is write a DAW plug-in (with no audio functions or audio passing thru) that receives the controller data. The DAW user could also put our Plug-in at the end of his DAW plug-in chain and store the Recall at EXACTLY the place where the Console Channel is in his audio chain.

These would be an essential "extra" to keep the "feel" of the console:
- Interface for the build in Computer Keyboards, Funtion Keys, Transport etc. (both E and G-Series compatible) which - again - translates to a Control Surface Protocol.

I guess my main point is, let's ONLY develop what is needed and not come up with any redundant stuff.
« Last Edit: Today at 10:19:24 PM by marcmozart »
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Re: the e/g computer - actually a direct to disc recording system
« Reply #3 on: Today at 10:37:56 PM »

    Quote

anything can be done :)
it's just a matter of time

due to the footprint of the ribbons the box will have a certain size anyway
if there's a way to output voltages with a beagle board or sthg similar without the need of sample&hold circuits that would be awesome!
maybe we could use an lcd controller? i think these use s&h on every dot

i totally agree Marc!

Quote from: marcmozart on Today at 10:16:22 PM

    I guess my main point is, let's ONLY develop what is needed and not come up with any redundant stuff.



TOTAL RECALL to DAW:
i did some packet sniffing on digidesigns pro control (ethernet) which would be ideal for pro tools
it would make already large sessions into extremely large ones, though
« Last Edit: Today at 10:42:19 PM by Konnektor »

marcmozart

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2013, 10:00:24 PM »
TOTAL RECALL to DAW:
i did some packet sniffing on digidesigns pro control (ethernet) which would be ideal for pro tools
it would make already large sessions into extremely large ones, though

Eucon could certainly do the job as a Protocol to interface with most DAWs. Not sure what a license would cost. What other alternatives are out there? HUI (shows age now I think), what is the protocol SSL is using on the Duality?
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perfectsnd

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2013, 10:05:06 PM »
The person or company we should be contacting is Adafruit (http://www.adafruit.com/about/). This is right up there alley.  The company was started to promote DIY electronics and spur on the youth of today to get involved in electronics and engineering. 

Adafruit sells all the parts we need and the can work on customization.  It would be worth a call over there especially if you are talking about making the parts available as DIY kind of a kit. They are all over the Raspberry PI computer and the interfacing parts that go with it.

Here is a summary from the about.

Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor "Ladyada" Fried. Her goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Over the last 6 years Adafruit has grown to over 45 employees in the heart of NYC. Adafruit has expanded offerings to include tools, equipment and electronics that Limor personally selects, tests and approves before going in to the Adafruit store. Limor was the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED magazine and was recently awarded Entrepreneur magazine's Entrepreneur of the year. For all press inquires, click here.


Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2013, 10:15:55 PM »
A personally agree with DAW integration at the possible extent, but at the same time I don't think we should delegate the core control to a DAW plugin, for several limitations.

I would prefer to see a standalone app where I could configure every aspect of the computer and control automation, total recall and maybe new features there. This would be good since it would support every case scenario (people are still using tape) and integrate easily with several DAWs without having to rewrite complex plugins.

In the DAW side i think we also shouldn't flood a plugin with infinite features, sometimes the simple solution will be the best one.
For instance the Duality A-FADA feature is a nice idea on paper but in reality a poor one.

The idea is interesting but in practice it is time consuming to setup and a user ends up using directly the legacy way of SSL automation. My overall impression on this matter:

* Minute correction automation moves are nice to have a pencil tool, making the automation inside protools perfect for that
* broad and musical are much nicer to do directly on the surface and specially if you're not looking at a screen and having to mouse click

So I think both realities are valid and work together, each one shining on each application.

But it would be definitively doable to integrate a DAW with this main application. The automation can be chained and locked to the DAW automation.

Cheers,

Artur

marcmozart

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2013, 10:17:40 PM »
These are the components/products/features I think we need to come up with:

VCA TO DAW and DAW to VCA
- turning VCA-Fader Voltages into data that ANY DAW can read, preferable via TCIP
and vice versa of course:
- turning DAW controller data into VCA Voltages

TOTAL RECALL to DAW
- sending Total Recall Data into a DAW by using a Control Surface Protocol
- designing a AU / VST / AAX GUI that receives the total recall data and allows us to use the PlugIn Library Functions of a DAW to store full channels as plug-in patches, so the user can build a library of his favorite channel settings.

Obviously with these features we DO NOT NEED to invent any recorder for the automation as everybody is using their favorite DAW for this purpose. It would also allow people to control their DAW tracks with the VCA Faders, pretty much like on a Duality. My point is, why invent another recorder, when there are thousands out there and everybody already has their favorite one. Same for the Total Recall Data. Let us just NOT write another library software - Logic Pro, for example, is excellent at this, and all we need to do is write a DAW plug-in (with no audio functions or audio passing thru) that receives the controller data. The DAW user could also put our Plug-in at the end of his DAW plug-in chain and store the Recall at EXACTLY the place where the Console Channel is in his audio chain.

These would be an essential "extra" to keep the "feel" of the console:
- Interface for the build in Computer Keyboards, Funtion Keys, Transport etc. (both E and G-Series compatible) which - again - translates to a Control Surface Protocol.

I guess my main point is, let's ONLY develop what is needed and not come up with any redundant stuff.
1992 SSL 4048 G-Series
Mix Engineer Blog
http://www.mixedbymarcmozart.com

Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2013, 10:19:07 PM »
The person or company we should be contacting is Adafruit (http://www.adafruit.com/about/). This is right up there alley.  The company was started to promote DIY electronics and spur on the youth of today to get involved in electronics and engineering. 

Adafruit sells all the parts we need and the can work on customization.  It would be worth a call over there especially if you are talking about making the parts available as DIY kind of a kit. They are all over the Raspberry PI computer and the interfacing parts that go with it.

Here is a summary from the about.

Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT engineer, Limor "Ladyada" Fried. Her goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Over the last 6 years Adafruit has grown to over 45 employees in the heart of NYC. Adafruit has expanded offerings to include tools, equipment and electronics that Limor personally selects, tests and approves before going in to the Adafruit store. Limor was the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED magazine and was recently awarded Entrepreneur magazine's Entrepreneur of the year. For all press inquires, click here.

You're talking about the guys of Raspberry Pi right? I used a lot this fantastic board and share its spirit. But I believe i've found an equivalent but more powerful/complete solution for a base for use. I will post about it soon.  But just to spice your curiosity check this out:

http://beagleboard.org/products/beaglebone%20black

Cheers,

Artur

perfectsnd

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2013, 10:22:04 PM »
I mention Adafruit because they have a full compliment of part and support engineers that could help with the creation of the AD/DA cards which seems like that will be the most challenging part. I think they could be a huge resource.  It wouldn't hurt to chat with them especially since this a community type of project and that is right in their wheelhouse. 

marcmozart

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2013, 10:28:52 PM »
You got me - I agree you do not always want to look at the DAW screen. However, did I tell you I just ordered a small 5" screen that will connect as a second monitor to my DAW. It will go into the centre section, replacing the old SSL display.

Since I also have the Alan Smart 2Tools which basically makes my Transport on the SSL work, I will control basic DAW functions from my console.

Just as a side-note.

A personally agree with DAW integration at the possible extent, but at the same time I don't think we should delegate the core control to a DAW plugin, for several limitations.

I would prefer to see a standalone app where I could configure every aspect of the computer and control automation, total recall and maybe new features there. This would be good since it would support every case scenario (people are still using tape) and integrate easily with several DAWs without having to rewrite complex plugins.

In the DAW side i think we also shouldn't flood a plugin with infinite features, sometimes the simple solution will be the best one.
For instance the Duality A-FADA feature is a nice idea on paper but in reality a poor one.
1992 SSL 4048 G-Series
Mix Engineer Blog
http://www.mixedbymarcmozart.com

Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2013, 10:31:52 PM »
I think every solution and extra people thinking about it would be nice!

Yes I believe the magic trick will be on the extra logic (including AD/DA circuits) that will have to be developed. Scan them to see what they can provide. I will eventually need someone to manufacture these cards when they are developed.

The BeagleBone Black board seemed really powerful and perfect for our needs:

AM335x 1GHz ARM® Cortex-A8
512MB DDR3 RAM
2GB 8-bit eMMC on-board flash storage
3D graphics accelerator
NEON floating-point accelerator
2x PRU 32-bit microcontrollers
USB client for power & communications
USB host
Ethernet 10/100
HDMI
2x 46 pin headers (Insane amount of I/O that we can use to connect our special purpose hardware)

I'll really have to find 30mins to write a post only about this.

Cheers,

Artur

Artur D'Assumpção

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2013, 10:34:32 PM »
I think all those features will come with time and are good to save on our "ideas" list. We will eventually have to prioritize because in terms of software this will be an insane amount of work trust me. So at start we need to work on a solid foundation and build our way up.


You got me - I agree you do not always want to look at the DAW screen. However, did I tell you I just ordered a small 5" screen that will connect as a second monitor to my DAW. It will go into the centre section, replacing the old SSL display.

Since I also have the Alan Smart 2Tools which basically makes my Transport on the SSL work, I will control basic DAW functions from my console.

Just as a side-note.

A personally agree with DAW integration at the possible extent, but at the same time I don't think we should delegate the core control to a DAW plugin, for several limitations.

I would prefer to see a standalone app where I could configure every aspect of the computer and control automation, total recall and maybe new features there. This would be good since it would support every case scenario (people are still using tape) and integrate easily with several DAWs without having to rewrite complex plugins.

In the DAW side i think we also shouldn't flood a plugin with infinite features, sometimes the simple solution will be the best one.
For instance the Duality A-FADA feature is a nice idea on paper but in reality a poor one.

marcmozart

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Re: Prerequisites specification list for the SSLMixed computer
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2013, 10:46:52 PM »
I love the website http://www.adafruit.com - great resource!!

I mention Adafruit because they have a full compliment of part and support engineers that could help with the creation of the AD/DA cards which seems like that will be the most challenging part. I think they could be a huge resource.  It wouldn't hurt to chat with them especially since this a community type of project and that is right in their wheelhouse.
1992 SSL 4048 G-Series
Mix Engineer Blog
http://www.mixedbymarcmozart.com