Last modified 2023-10-22.
Time to read: 4 minutes.
I purchased an RME Advanced Remote Control (ARCUSB) to control talkback and cueing. Once I plugged it into the USB port on the back of my RME UFX III, it worked immediately.
ARC USB Defaults
The RME ARC USB is immediately useful without any setup. Out of the box, it can:
- Control the volume of speakers A and B (if present).
- Reduce the volume (dim) of speakers A and B (if present).
- Control talkback (if talkback is set up).
- Control cueing (if cueing is set up on Phones 3).
Cueing a Submix
This section explains what cueing is and how it can help make better audio recordings.
Sending A Submix To A Video Camera
I turn off the studio speakers when recording live music in the studio. Everyone in the studio uses headphones to listen to a different submix tailored for their needs. Submixes generally include feeds from studio microphones, instruments plugged into the RME audio interface, and backing tracks.
A separate submix is sent to the camera’s external microphone jack. This means that when recording video, a high-quality submix is directly captured on the video. To do this, I connect outputs 7&8 of my UFX III to my Sony A7iii camera’s external microphone jack.
Never assume that a submix is properly set up without checking it. That is the main purpose of cueing: to temporarily listen to a submix before recording.
TotalMix allows any output submix channel to be deemed as a headphone. Yes, you could actually attach headphones to the hardware output in question; however, designating an output to be virtual headphones allows that output to be used for cueing purposes.
If this abstract concept sounds confusing or complicated, I will show you how and why this is helpful later in this article. Hopefully after you finish reading this article the concept will seem practical and less abstract.
ARC USB Setup
You can view and edit the ARC USB settings by from TotalMix. Select menu items Options / ARC & Key Commands...:
... and the following dialog will appear:
ARC & Key Command Settings
The upper Function Keys (Device) section in the above image relates to the following 4 buttons on the front of the RME UFX III. These buttons can have their functions reassigned by the above TotalMix dialog.
The lower Function Keys section in the ARC & Key Command Settings image above allows you to use your computer’s function keys F4 to F8 to control TotalMix, but only when TotalMix is the currently active application. These are not global function keys, unfortunately.
OBS Studio allows for the definition of global hot keys, by setting File / Settings / Advanced / Hotkey Focus Behavior to Never disable hotkeys. MusicBee also allows for the definition of global hot keys, by defining new hotkeys using Ctrl-O / Hotkeys. Hopefully a future version of TotalMix will include this feature.
ReDefining ARC USB Button Actions
The RME ARC USB button assignments are shown on the dialog tab labeled ARC USB Settings. Oddly, the ARC USB buttons are called ‘Keys’ in the dialog. Factory settings are as follows:
I changed the action associated with the two left-most buttons on the top row because I often adjust the gain on those two microphones.
Now when I want to adjust the gain for my Neumann U87 Ai microphone on channel 12, I just press the second button from the left on the top row, and it lights up to tell me that I can now use the rotary dial to change the gain. Pressing that button a second time turns off the light, which signifies that the gain has now been set, and the rotary dial reverts to its default purpose.
Working With ARC USB Limitations
Convenience often comes at the expense of generality. ARC USB can only cue phones 1 to 4, and cannot cue any other outputs. Never fear, this limitation can be easily overcome.
Because I wanted to use ARC USB to enable cueing for the outputs 7&8, and ARC USB’s button 9 is factory predefined for cueing virtual Phones 3, I assigned (aliased) output 7&8 to virtual phone jack 3. To do this, I used Assign ▼ / Phones 3 / AN 7/8.
To verify the cueing worked, I pressed the little wrench icon for the Sony A7iii output (aka Phones 3, aka AN 7/8). This displayed the Settings for that submix. The TotalMix Control Room area now looked as shown in the image below.
Now when I pressed the ARC USB’s left-most button on the bottom row (button #9), TotalMix changed the dark green dark green CUE button for the Sony A7iii output to bright green (CUE), and I was able to listen to that submix. Pressing button #9 on the ARC USB again turned of cueing, and the CUE button in TotalMix reverted to its usual appearance to reflect the change.