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  • Writer's pictureKate Brunotts

The Complete Guide To Controlla XYZ: What Is Controlla XYZ and How Does It Work

Updated: May 10, 2022

We may be a bit biased, but we think Controlla XYZ is the bee's knees. Controlla XYZ makes it easy for you to transform your sound by mapping any parameter in your DAW to your phone for free. This way, you can make subtle or dramatic automation sequences with a literal flick of the wrist.

The innovative tool gives producers a leg up amongst the crowd, so it’s definitely worth a try if you’re searching for something to take your beats to the next level. We’ll break down exactly how you can set up Controlla XYZ in your DAW and share a couple of ways you can start incorporating this powerful tool into your production workflow below.

What Is Controlla XYZ?

Controlla XYZ turns your phone into a MPE controller, making it easy for you to automate anything and everything by moving your phone. It’s compatible with any DAW that supports MIDI learn/CC mapping like Ableton Live, Logic, FL studio, or Reason.

Best of all, Controlla XYZ is free. You can currently join private alpha mode to get a download link to the app and start incorporating it into your productions. The best way to understand how Controlla works is to use it yourself, but take a look at this live vocal automation to get a sense of the possibilities of this app:

How To Set Up Controlla XYZ

Getting started with Controlla XYZ is as easy as can be. Here's a step by step guide for how to start playing with this powerful tool.

1. Download the App

Start by downloading the app through the private alpha link. You can use the code provided to you via email to unlock the application in Test Flight.

2. Gather Everything Your Need

While you don't need much to use Controlla XYZ, you will need a USB-C to lightning cable to connect your phone to your computer. Also, keep the lights on while producing! Controlla XYZ uses camera based position detection so it works best with some ambient light.

3. Enable Your Phone

Plug your iPhone (X or later) into your Mac (> OS 10). Go into Audio Midi Set up and select "enable" underneath your phone.

Unfortunately, due to restrictions from Apple, you must repeat this step every time you plug in your device. Yeah, we hate it too.

4. Set It Up in Your DAW

Open up your DAW and make sure your iPhone is enabled under your DAW's MIDI preferences.

5. Map Away!

Here's where the fun part comes in! Go ahead and map any parameters you'd like to the knobs on Controlla XYZ. Here are some basic guidelines for Ableton and Logic: Ableton: Command + M toggles "MIDI Learn" mode. Once you are in MIDI Learn mode you can click any parameter you want to control in Ableton, then manually drag the slider on the Controlla XYZ app for the dimension you want to link it to.

Logic: 1. Turn the knob you want to link in Logic

2. Click “Logic Pro” in the top left, then click “Learn Assignment for ____”

3. Slide the slider for which direction you want to map on the Controlla XYZ app

6. Start Using Controlla!

Once you’ve successfully linked Controlla XYZ with parameters in your DAW, it’s time to start getting funky. When you’re ready, simply hold down your finger on the displayed box to modulate. While pressing down, move your phone according to your desired sound.

Note that you can move your phone from left to right, front to back, and up and down to trigger any of the linked parameters in Controlla XYZ. We’ve also implemented minimum and maximum points on each of the sliders so that you can easily set limits on each parameter. The lock function keeps a knob in place in case you only want to modulate a particular knob at any point.

You can also use the invert function to essentially switch your minimum and maximum limits set by the sliders of each knob. Each CC knob can be mapped to a different parameter, so feel free to switch the CC number and load up another effect. You can also change the size of the room you're modulating within by zooming in or out with your fingers. Reset the orientation of Controlla XYZ simply by tapping on the box.

Controlla XYZ enables you to record automation as you would with any other MIDI controller. If you don't know where to start, try modulating effect groups like:

- EQ High Cut Freq, Distortion Wet, Chorus Wet

- Reverb Wet, Reverb Distance, Tremolo Rate

- Arpeggiator Rate, Arpeggiator Pattern, Arpeggiator Swing

There's no one right way to play! Experiment as much as you want with Controlla XYZ to produce some truly unique sounds.

Benefits of Using Controlla XYZ

If you’re not convinced just yet, here are a couple of key points that sum up some of the best things Controlla XYZ has to offer. With a tool made by music producers for music producers, the sky’s the limit.

  • It’s incredibly portable. What other MIDI controller do you constantly have with you? The answer probably doesn’t exist, which is why Controlla XYZ is so powerful. Whether you’re on tour, in transit, or just don’t feel like breaking out your full set up (trust us, we’ve been there), Controlla XYZ allows you to automate in real time using your smartphone. Enjoy mapping just about anything in your DAW and automating it by moving your phone left to right, up and down, or forwards and backwards.

  • It gives you a leg up over other producers. One of the most difficult things about electronic music production is creating automation and instruments that sound truly organic. Controlla XYZ makes your life easier by acting as an instrument in its own rite, allowing you to create truly organic automation that translates directly into your digital creations.

  • It’s free. There’s no price barrier so there’s virtually no reason not to try it out.

  • The possibilities are endless. Our team works tirelessly to continue adding features to Controlla to help you build better beats intuitively. Hopping on board not only gives you a chance to experiment with the tool’s already impressive features, but also gives you access to future features that are sure to enhance your productions in an innovative way.

3 Ways To Use Controlla XYZ

To get you started, here are three model ways for you to start incorporating Controlla XYZ into your beats. Feel free to use these as a starting point, but remember that there’s no one right way to use the app. Get creative and start experimenting!

1. Making Transitions That Stand Out

Oftentimes, pop songs or songs in general can become pretty stale since a lot of the sonic information is repeated throughout the entire song. Luckily, Controlla XYZ makes it easy to create some ear candy and interest by creating transitions throughout your track.

Here’s a quick demo:

2. Create Organic Automation

One of the most powerful features of Controlla is the ability to create organic automation in your tracks. Simply map as many parameters as you’d like to the three knobs, hold to modulate, and press record.

Take a look at what we’re talking about:

3. Build Out Remixes In A Flash

Controlla is also great for DJ’s, who want to experiment quickly using different effects before bouncing them into their sets. You can create a quick remix just playing around with Controlla XYZ’s automation capabilities.

Take a listen here:

At the end of the day, the beauty of Controlla XYZ is that you can use it to your liking. You can map just about anything to the digital knobs, making it easy for you to create a unique, polished sound in the style of your choosing. Hopefully, this guide will help you start exploring Controlla XYZ’s endless possibilities.

Have you started using Controlla XYZ? What’s your favorite thing to map it to? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

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