Question about transport control and external MIDI controllers

Hi all, I'm just getting started with external MIDI-controller mapping and I have a question. I've searched this forum but didn't see the answer anywhere, apologies if this has been answered somewhere else.

I have a small Roland controller keyboard (A- 300PRO) and have until recently only ever used it for playing keys into NS2, which works great. But I realised I have never used all the twisty knobs and faders for anything, so I started looking in to how to map them into NS2. So far I've had a fair bit of success with mapping Obsidian controller knobs and mixer faders/panpots etc, so I understand the general workflow.

Question : is it possible to map the transport controls of NS2 (start/stop/Record) onto the relevant buttons on my MIDI controller? In other words, is there a MIDI-message that corresponds to Start/Stop etc and if so, how do I connect NS2 to recognise when my external controller button with that MIDI message is pressed?

So far I've been unable to make this work, and if it's simply not a feature that NS2 supports, I would love to know - then I will save a lot of time by not needing to search the internet and manuals and trying loads of things to try to make it work..... ;-)

Thanks in advance! I realise that MIDI control maps can get really complicated so I hold my breath for a simple solution.....

Or does nobody really find this feature useful anyway?

PS is there a definitive list of what can be mapped with a MIDI controller and what cannot? eg is it possible to map the parameters of audio effects in the mixer onto the twisty knobs of my external device? (for recording automation sweeps etc) or for switching between instruments forwards/backwards in the tracklist in NS2 (eg play one synth and use a button on my controller to move to the next synth in NS2)


  • No, unfortunately you can’t map transport controls.

  • edited November 2021

    Heeeey @Stiksi that is actually excellent news as I will now NOT spend hours and hours trying to make it work ;)B)=)
    Thanks for the quick reply!

    I'm still open to hearing from anyone about what else can or can't be mapped - just curious how much I can use my external controller and what for.

  • What you CAN do is use another app / device with transport control mapped and use Ableton Link start / stop functionality to start and stop NS. But it’s not really the same thing.

  • @bobheads If you still want to spend hours trying something that may not work then you could take a look at:

    It is most certainly a hack but in theory will do what you want.

  • @MisplacedDevelopment Thanks so much for the link! I got all excited as this is exactly the kind of thing I do like to spend hours on. unfortunately I couldn’t get it to work with my Roland MIDI controller yet. I can ‘see’ the controller through the accessibility settings and assign the gesture and all that stuff, but it seems that the iPad recognizes the keyboard as a MIDI controller and then expects only musical notes as messages. And even setting a musical note to be a Start/Stop tap in the relevant corner (for NS2) doesn’t seem to register on the iPad properly. Sooooooo....... I might yet spend some more hours on it ;-)
    But I might also let it go. Not entirely sure what I gain from this feature anyway, my iPad screen is always just right there for tapping anyway 😂😂

    Thanks again.

  • oh wow IT WORKS!

    After some trial and error and a few tweaks I have successfully controlled the transport (play/stop) using my MIDI controller keyboard. Here are the additional problems/solutions I met after looking at the instructions on @MisplacedDevelopment 's link above.

    1. at first, I couldn't add more than one switch - solved
    2. Making changes didn't seem to do anything when I was testing and trying
    3. I couldn't map the actual buttons, only MIDI notes - solved (workaround)

    1. When I added the second switch I tried choosing 'Tap' again (as in the instructions) but that just wrote over the previous switch I'd made - leaving me always with just one switch. So I chose one of the other options ('Move next', I think) and then in the Recipe I could still add a custom gesture as explained, the same way as before. This way I could add more than one switch and add them both to the same Recipe. (The recipe is 'NS2-Roland controller' and each switch corresponds to an iPad gesture which in turn corresponds to something I want to do in NS2 - eg tapping the Play button)
    2. I had to disable the Switch Control main setting and then re-enable it each time I changed something in the switches (While testing and setting up) - otherwise my new changes wouldn't work. Fair enough. I also had to choose my Recipe as the 'Launch recipe'.
    3. Workaround: I mapped the lowest MIDI notes possible (C -2, C# -2, D-2) which are so low that I'll never ever play music on them, even with a bass sound. They are freakin low notes ;) . Then I used the software for my Roland controller (which allows you to make custom control maps) to map those MIDI notes onto the transport buttons of the controller (ie the transport buttons now send MIDI messages of those notes). It bloody worked, I couldn't believe it!
    4. NB when using the iPad to detect the controller, I played the keyboard notes as listed above - rather than pushing the buttons where I would finally end up mapping to - that way the iPad Switch is already mapped to the relevant MIDI note.

    I dunno, it's a bit fiddly and quirky to set up but it definitely can work. How exciting! So far I have only mapped two buttons (play and stop) ( the stop button also works as a back/return button in NS2 anyway - two taps.) - and I will probably also map Record. It's potentially nice to have the ability to press play and stop and record from my controller if I'm also using that to play keys and/or record automation for sliders etc.

    If anyone has any questions or wants to know more, let me know. I'm no expert but I can confirm that it's possible B)B)B) stoked!! Thanks @MisplacedDevelopment !!

  • PS It's pretty fiddly to get the custom gesture right but you only have to do it once and then you have the recipe for ever ;-)

  • Glad it worked! I got it working for whatever it was I was trying to automate but then stopped using it as I seem to recall it took a bit of effort to turn everything on and off. I'm sure I read that iOS 15 now has per-app assistive features so this may have helped alleviate that problem.

    I do remember using little numbered pieces of paper to target the different points to press as the thing I wanted to automate was rather convoluted and so took a few attempts to get it right. There is (or was) also a limit on the number of steps you could record.

  • Woa. That is a pretty amazing hack. I had no idea. Thanks for the link @MisplacedDevelopment and big thanks for the detailed follow up @bobheads.

  • Update : after getting a Behringer X-Touch Compact for xmas =)B) , here's my report about what I've been able to achieve (and not achieve) with it in NS2:
    Mapping faders and pan pots : yes, for 16 tracks
    Using the above Switch Control hack to use the following control buttons:
    Play - stop - record - loop on/off(a more complicated switch, collection of taps, but it worked B) )
    Using the A/B mode buttons to switch the 8 physical fader and panpot controllers to tracks 1-8 or 9-16

    And I have had to implement the following to make it work

    • all buttons are sending MIDI notes, so I've used the Behringer in MIDI mode, and used the mapping software* to put those notes only on MIDI channel 16 and turned off MIDI channel 16 on all my NS2 tracks except MainMix, which is not connected to an instrument and therefore doesnt make a sound when a MIDI note arrives. Otherwise using the Behringer buttons makes a note sound across all channels!! :) (* a total drag, the Behringer controller mapping software is only available on Windows, so I had to use my bootcamp windows on my mac to do this!)
    • all NS2 tracks need to be set to 'receive MIDI always' instead of 'when selected', otherwise the faders only talk to one track at a time, which doesn't really work for mixing purposes. So now that all tracks receive MIDI all the time, I had to do the previous step to separate out some note button messages to channel 16. I dunno, it got complicated but it worked out in the end!

    Last comment - the Behringer has motorised faders which receive info but only in 'Mackie mode', which works with the iPad on Auria Pro but not on NS2. So although I can use the Behringer to enter fader and panpot information into NS2, and record automation that way, the physical faders and pots do not reflect that when playing anything back - they don't move in respect to automation etc. So in effect the controller doesnt remember anything, and I need to remember that when I'm going into an existing project with the physical faders all set to zero on the Behringer. It's all a bit of a workaround really, so I'll see how much I actually use it or not.

    That's all from me - happy new year!

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