I was exchanging some notes with my friend Mark Mosher about the Circuit, where I vented a little bit about the thing I dislike about the Novation Circuit: the eight knobs are 'Macro' knobs, and there is no consistency that I can discern from patch-to-patch on the synth voice presets. Since this is a completely software-hackable machine, I've been going through patches, reassigning the Macro knobs, and making it a lot more of my own machine.
So, in order to have consistency of use, you need to make decisions about the use of the knobs. I decided on 'families of control', meaning that each knob would be a control for a certain type of function. Here's what I'm using:
Row 1 (top):
Encoder 1: Oscillator modifier (detuning, waveshaping)
Encoder 2: Pitch modifier (portamento/glide, pitch LFO)
Encoder 3: Filter modifier (resonance, filter LFO, filter env amount)
Encoder 4: Output modifier (level LFO, chorus effect depth, phasor depth)
Row 2 (bottom):
Encoder 1: Envelope attacks (amp and filter)
Encoder 2: Envelope decays and releases (amp and filter)
Encoder 3: Filter Cutoff Frequency
Encoder 4: Level modifier (output mix, output level or sustain level)
In parentheses you see details and/or examples of the functions, and this breakdown helps me build some muscle memory in using the synth settings. Not that the bottom row is much more preset (envelopes and filter cutoff) than the top (modifiers in general), nevertheless, I test obsessively, and am finding this to consistently work well for me.
Macro knobs in general can be problematic; what do you do on your Circuit, Live Rack or other macro-filled devices to help you come to grips with their use?