Rethinking Cantabile

As much as I love C3, I still think there’s room for improvement.
In my opinion the interface has become to complicated to work with and we should need more simplification or overview. When I come back after a while to C3 I always have to go find out how things are connected and that shouldn’t be the case.
Is there a way to simplify things?

The way to control presets:

  • We could use some macro buttons?
    A button that can be attached to various actions or plugins and assigned to a controller per preset (or per plugin?) I see other live hosts have this function (i’m not gonna name :wink: ) and it would be valuable?
    Or can it be done now already in C3?

  • a best practises guide or template for new setups (I know everybody has their own way and Brad made some lovely videos, but still it’s not clear and very complicated to have a consistent workflow. How can we improve this?

Visual view of the signal midi and audio flow in a chart?

  • A visual flow chart manager would be handy, where you can see the audio/midi connections in and out and drag them to connect.

I made a little drawing, but it’s only an idea to improve. See also the placement of other buttons/leds.

  • seamless song switching should be an option also. I know there’s a problem with the buffering of plugins, but maybe work with different audio streams so C3 can switch between 2 ?

  • option to preload only 5 upcoming presets, that way startup loading time is decreased

Don’t get me wrong, I really LOVE C3, it’s very very powerful, but it has become a complicated workhorse.
Can you guys help me sort this out or bring some ideas to it?
Not to stress out Brad of course :slight_smile:

Yes. We have all made it that way. And there are many good reasons that it has become such a great workhorse.

With the many desires the users asked for, and were granted (including you and me) it was bound to be more complicated. Even I have a mostly open mind about changes, but your drawing complicates the screen beyond what I want to see, especially while in the middle of performance.

Glad you are not going to name it after the “drama” it caused. Other live hosts are NOT Cantabile. I really don’t want pretty GUI’s that demand more resources. If I want to use a DAW, I will use that. If I want to use another host with a pretty screen, I will choose to use that much less powerful host.

Some may want that, but I left other hosts because I don’t like them, or use them.

There have been several times I wanted to only load one set, instead of the whole performance, but I really love all my pre-loaded racks being available, and not taking time to load later in a set.


I’m slightly confused. You started your post with the complaint that the interface is too complicated, but then followed it with requests for more buttons.

The only positive suggestion I can find is to make it easier to trace a signal. The only solution I could think of that wouldn’t create an entirely unnecessary and difficult to implement interface (graphic flow chart, cough cough) would some kind of highlighting scheme. Ctrl click a plug in, rack or input and have C3 trace the signal chains back to hardware input and forward to hardware output, highlighting all affected items.

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You want flexibility but you also want consistency. This is really down to you, as the user. Brad provides several approaches to a given outcome and how you manage the process determines how easy it is to come back to it, 3 months later, and work out what you did.

Cantabile allows a very simple setup which handles a few plug ins without any problem - but if your setup is going to evolve, you need to look how the simplest approach scales up. That’s what users like @Torsten have done. Takes more work to up front, but the rewards in managing a complex setup can’t be underestimated.
The use of such approaches, comprehensive notes (which are very well handled in C3) and colors should allow the office to remain well organized and flexible.
If you want macros, you could use 3rd party offerings even now, to see how such things could benefit you.
Could you give examples of 3 macros which would make like easier for you today?


Thx guys,
Ade, some macros for me would be the 9 sliders of my keyboard that I can point to specific vst plugins parameters. as for now ex. cc71 at that slider is always freq. Yes I know you can redirect it in the settings of CC also. Yes, you can do allot with external plugins I know that :wink:

Sorry, my screendesign is not as it should be, it’s just an idea.

Hm, yeah I see your points.
Well, let’s just say C3 get’s very complicated in my setup, even dough it’s a simple setup and I think many new users have this problem also?

I’m still struggling with the states also, can’t get it working right for example the background racks, the volume keeps resetting for that certain plugin.

Don’t really know how to clarify this…
Maybe there should be a dummy mode for me and an expert mode :stuck_out_tongue:

I think this is a crucial point, Sven. But here’s a question - How much time do you spend during a live show putting a mouse onto a specific synth control? I assume you have controllers from your various hardware devices? If you have 64 macros on your screen, how are you getting to them?

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I have set up a rack that does this for the fader banks on my MPK261. It has one MIDI input and 24 MIDI outputs, named A1-A8, B1-B8 and C1-C8. Inside the rack it takes the MIDI CC messages from those faders and sends them out as CC0 to whichever output is appropriate.

I also set up my various racks with separate MIDI inputs for the various rack controls that all work on CC0. This lets me custom wire fader controls directly to rack functions on the output of the Faders rack. I’ve also made a Knobs rack and a Buttons rack that do the same thing.


Isn’t that what all those unused Custom buttons at the bottom of your screenshot are for? :slight_smile:


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Exactly what I was thinking, but didn’t say. I use them a lot.

The problem isn’t just about buffering audio streams, it’s about what you do with plugins that are used in two consecutive songs, that might require reloading samples, or in many cases, chopping off sustained notes / reverb tails when their patches are changed. This is a shortcoming of most plugins that Cantabile can’t really do anything about. It’s an especially complicated problem. Of course, Cantabile could have duplicate plugins (and sample sets…) loaded for each song, so there’s no re-use of plugins, but then this would bring its own drawbacks - huge initial load time, and huge memory usage. Bottom line - it’s something Brad has been thinking about good solutions for for years, and every approach brings undesirable consequences.

This is an approach used by some other hosts, and the Muse Receptor, but the main problem is that it requires loading of plugins/samples in the background, potentially while you’re performing. The likelihood of spikes in disk access and so on bring the risk of causing glitches in your performance. Then there are the plugins that bring up a dialog when loaded, or worse, a licensing message that won’t go away (and halt further loading) until you click it (I’ve had XPand!2 do this to me on numerous occasions). It was maybe the best approach a few years ago, when we didn’t have enough RAM for everything, but these days, with Cantabile’s clever re-use of plugins and sample sets across songs, and the relative cheapness of RAM and SSDs, pre-loading a full setlist feels like a far more solid approach.



100% with Neil on this.
What this comes down to is that the Cantabile solutions exist in the here and now. It’s whether the end user is prepared to invest in the most solid solution rather than have the software perform gymnastics in a live situation.