Friday 6 June 2014

Tascam FireOne hardware buttons and GarageBand

Another blatant Google-troll here but hopefully it'll help someone else out there.

As mentioned elsewhere I use a Tascam FireOne Firewire Audio Interface when I make music with GarageBand, and it works pretty well.
Side note for even more karma: There are times when it doesn't work well (particularly on OSX Mavericks) and I humbly present my fixes which seem to work - mostly variations on the classic "turn it back off and back on again" trick:
  • Mac doesn't "see" the FireOne - Check Thunderbolt-to-Firewire adaptor is snug, unplug-replug.
  • Mac sees FireOne, FireOne seems dead - Unplug-replug.
  • Mac sees FireOne, FireOne lights and meters working, no sound - Mash both PHANTOM buttons at the same time. This seems to (probably not by design!) cause a hardware soft-ish reset and audio should ensue.

But I digress. One of the nice things about the FireOne is the hardware control surface it offers. Now ideally you're running Pro Tools or some other very nice, very expensive DAW where the FireOne's buttons Just Work but if, like me, your needs are actually met quite nicely by GarageBand (not to mention its price), then you'll be wanting to get those buttons going in GB. Because they most certainly don't by default.

Sadly, you won't be able to map all the FireOne's buttons to GB functions, but the most important ones can be done. Firstly, download GarageRemote, a very simple, but nicely done System Preferences extension thingy. Install it, and turn on its "Listener" functionality so it can do its thing. Then, you'll need to customise the MIDI message mapping as follows:

I diagnosed the MIDI messages that the FireOne sends by using the free Snoize MIDI Monitor utility. Here's the full list, in case you want to tune your setup:
FireOne Hardware ControlMIDI Message Bytes
<<90 5B 7F
>>90 5C 7F
[]90 5D 7F
>90 5E 7F
O90 5F 7F
F190 36 7F
F290 37 7F
F390 38 7F
F490 39 7F
F590 3A 7F
F690 3B 7F
F790 3C 7F
F890 3D 7F
Jogwheel CW (Slowest)90 3C 01
Jogwheel CW (Slow)90 3C 02
Jogwheel CW (Medium)90 3C 03
Jogwheel CW (Fast)90 3C 04
Jogwheel CW (Fastest)90 3C 05
Jogwheel CCW (Slowest)90 3C 41
Jogwheel CCW (Slow)90 3C 42
Jogwheel CCW (Medium)90 3C 43
Jogwheel CCW (Fast)90 3C 44
Jogwheel CCW (Fastest)90 3C 45
SHIFT (on its own)90 46 7F
Weirdly, using SHIFT + other keys doesn't actually change the MIDI message that is sent, making it pretty useless for our purposes. I'd sure love to get my hands on that GarageRemote source code and support more buttons!

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