Criteria 1

Context & Background:

In the music industry, every artist, producer and sound engineer uses a Digital Audio Workstation (also known as DAW) in their daily workflow. A DAW is a software used for audio production which is designed to record, edit, mix and master audio files digitally. DAWs typically consist of main features which are the following:

  • Multitrack Recording¬†

  • Virtual Instrument plugins¬†
  • Audio Editing Tools
  • MIDI Sequencing
  • Mixing Console

  • Audio Effect Plugins (FX)

  • Automation

  • Audio Export

A DAW allows you to produce music, perform live, compose music and BGM for a film, record podcasts, audio post-production, live recording, mix/master audio and more. DAWs prices can range from a one-time fee to heavy annual subscriptions for example Pro Tools, Logic Pro X and Cubase.

Some DAWs offer the feature of integrating hardware to the software such as EUCON controllers and MIDI controllers also known as Control Surfaces. The most popular DAW controllers used in the industry are the AVID S1 Control Surface, Solid State Logic SSL UF8 and Presonus Faderport.

Problem & Solution:

Many DAW/MIDI Controllers are not cost efficient and a lot of functions which beginners and intermediate engineers do not require it. An average controller cost varies from $400 to $3500 depending on the features they require and their budget. For example, the AVID S1 Control Surface costs $2079 or the SSL UF8 costs $1949 both from Store DJ as of 19th May 2024. As most sound engineers would have the basic idea with the fundamental requirements of a control surface, the solution is that you can build your own DAW Controller with a very low budget of approximately $200-$300. The controllers you purchase for that price range usually have 40mm slide potentiometers with a few rotary potentiometers that are very compact and are not industrial standard.

Design Brief:

The controller will be in an enclosure which is similar to the SSL UF8. This system will have 8x 100mm faders with 10x knobs and 8x toggle switches all run with the help of an Elegoo (Mega2560) board. It will feature 8 channels to be able to mix along with being able to change VCAs. Home-artists and enthusiasts who would want to record and mix using a DAW Controller may not have that much of a budget to go to a professional studio and compose the music, therefore this project would be beneficial for them.

Influencing Factors:

The enclosure will be built using aluminium even though plastic is a good insulator, it will not last long due to its material and it could potentially melt from the heat of the system. The wires would need to be made sure that they are not exposed to the aluminium enclosure so that no electrocutions happen. This will be done by using wires which have a rubber coating for insulation.

IPO Cycle:

Input: Users turning Knobs and Faders

Process: Converts analogue information to MIDI

Output: MIDI Signals to DAW through USB

Evaluation Criteria

  • Does the DAW Controller work with multiple DAW Softwares?
  • Has the final product (physical product excluding coding) been completed by Tuesday 16th July 2024?
  • Has the controller been made with a budget of $175?
  • Has the project prototype been completed by 9th May 2024?
  • Will the end customer be happy with the purchase of the product for the price of $200-$300?
  • Can it run without an external power-source?
  • Does the product work with Logic Pro?
  • Would I be able to code the Arduino?

  • Does it meet the dimensions of L x W x H 290mm x 240mm x 50mm?
  • Is the product under 1kg so that it is portable to take everywhere?

  • Does it have rubber feet to be able to stay still on a desk?

  • Does it meet the stability of the SSL UF8?

  • Does it meet the function of mixing with faders and knobs?

  • Is it user-friendly and customisable?