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DAW Control Surface opinions and comments

Discussion in 'Consoles / Control Surfaces' started by djmukilteo, Sep 3, 2009.

  1. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Looking for some experienced comments....
    I would like to know anyone's likes/dislikes using control surfaces with Cubase as well as control of VST Plugins for a PC platform...
    Any preference you have on Firewire or USB protocols....

    Some of the units out there I've looked into....

    Steinberg CC121
    Mackie MCU Pro, Extender Pro, Control C4
    NI Kore 2.1
    and any others I've missed or not aware of!

  2. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Hey there djmukilteo,
    I just ordered a reconditioned Mackie C4 Pro this morning after having stumbled across this in a search I did.


    I have heard that these are wonderful controllers, however I have had no experience with them personally. I guess I will be trying it out on my midi gear soon.
  3. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Hey there jammster:
    I really look forward to hearing your impressions when you get it setup.
    The C4 looks like the cats meow for doing hands on control of VSTi and effects in Cubase and was one of the units I was looking at to go along with the MCU unit.
    If you don't mind me asking...Do you already have a mixer/control system for your DAW or do you use mouse and keyboard and what's the plan on where the C4 will be used?
  4. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Looks like the Mackie MCU Pro Universal controller is out of stock everywhere!
    Does anyone know anything about the Mackie protocol? It seems to be used by other manufacturers..
    As an example...my Kore2.1 controller supposedly can use the Mackie protocol as a template but I haven't been able to figure how to make that work yet....
    Does anyone have any experience using Kore as a Cubase controller?
  5. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    hello- i use a mackie mcu. i have the older version. from what i undertsand there is no diff between the older version and the new one except the shiny new colour. i would pick one up off ebay if i were you and save several hundred bucks per unit. mackie stuff is pretty reliable so i wouldnt concern with it being used.

    i use it with great ease with cubase. although i do not have a c4 my friend does and uses it all the time with his plugs. (the regular mcu is pretty good to interface with plugs too by the way)
  6. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Hey djmukilteo, sure I don't mind you asking.

    I hope to be in the process of rearranging my home studio soon. It may happen when I have some extra energy to invest into it, at the moment I am beat from a couple of months worth of hard work siding a house three hours away, something that I am totally not used to doing.

    Ah, the weekend!

    I use a Macbook and Logic 8 at the moment. I do not have any mixing/control system for my DAW computer. I am interested in looking at new ways of mixing in the analog realm, but thats a different post. 8)
    After hearing about how logic pro utilizes the automap feature in the C4 pro I had long since desired the interface for use on editing sounds on my plugins within logic pro, and also for editing my keyboards/effects modules. According to reviews, it makes editing fast and instant with Logic pro 8. Sounds almost too good to be true to me, but I have heard more about it on the Logic Pro Help forum.

    The C4 pro comes with one midi in and out, thats it. Mackie does make software to program the C4 pro to control any midi device, making it a stand alone tool for your programing needs even without a DAW. So, it is possible to use it with just a synthesizer and program all the pages of parameters right into the C4. I've been collecting gear for over twenty years so I have quite an assortment to use with the C4. I mainly am fascinated with the Analog synth emulations by Arturia, and am also looking forward to using the C4 with my Roland XV-3080 which is a pain to program without a computer.

    About controlling my DAW, I have always used a trackball (Logictech marble mouse USB) for my computer. I do not like traditional mice, they are fine for brief use, however as we already know music takes hours and hours of work. The trackball only takes a fingertip to manipulate, much easier for me.

    Anything to make things more painless and keep creativity at the maximum rate when the juices are flowing is a welcoming addition to the process we call making music.

    It seems that a thought can make or break a song, so if you don't write it down you may not remember again thereby having lost it forever.
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I have an MCU Pro. The major difference to the prior version other than having the latest firmware, is the built in USB port. It works well with Audition 3, PT MP 7, Reaper, and of course Tracktion 3. Older extender units can be used with the MCU Pro without problems via the normal midi I/O.
  8. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    thanks for correcting me. sorry i gave the wrong info!
  9. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input jammster and jack!
    I hadn't considered a trackball instead of the mouse. I use a wireless mouse and it can get annoying...

    A friend mentioned looking at the Yamaha n8 or n12 which are digital mixers and also work with DAW software...but I'm not sure how or if my RME FF800 would actually interface with that.....which is another question...
    A new n12 is about $1200 and has all the same controls as the Mackie but instead of just a control surface the n12 is a full digital mixer interface.
    I'm defintely leaning to a mixing surface just don't know how far down the road or where to focus my attention....
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Unless your mixing surface is also your interface, then combining the two discreet devices into a mobile or non permanent installation is a PITA. I'm 100% mobile so when I mix it is nice to use the MCU to set automation etc. Then when I have things tweaked I burn off the test discs and the MCU is put away. Lately I've taken to analog summing so a control surface isn't much use for that, but a digital board isn't much use either.

    I love the converters and quality of sound of the FF so whatever I do has to be routed to/from the FF.
  11. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Very Cool John!

    If you don't mind me asking, what summing mixer do you use?
  12. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    I agree Jack the FF works perfectly for me also. I don't think the n8/n12's would be the way to go.
    I'm not doing any mobile stuff, just my own little personal studio.....so what I have setup works just fine for me....I guess I'm just tired of mousing around and looking for some sort of nice control surface that I would enjoy using when recording, playback and mixing with my RME and Cubase.
    I keep coming back to the Mackie only because it seems to have some nice future expansion features and might be nice for controlling VST's, EQ and other plugins.
    I will probably wait and see what this new MCU looks like when they get in. I've heard they are out of stock because of demand and had to find larger manufacturing help...rumors say China but I don't know if that will change the price or quality....there's always used/reconditioned I suppose.
  13. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    djmukilteo: I got mine off of ebay for quite a good price-good because it worked, bad if it hadn't. I'm comfortable getting into it and working on it if I have to. As with all used gear purchases, it is a gamble in order to get a low price. Make sure you can afford a total loss.

    jammster: I don't have a true summing mixer......yet. I've been influenced to look at the Dangerous line and will go that way if the new baby doesn't eat and poop away all my future resources. What I do use right now is my Onyx 1640 going analog in and out. My other board is in storage in Cali and it is a live sound pre-Peavey Crest Century. I liked it for live sound but it is not a studio board.
  14. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    John, Onyx 1640 looks great to me.

    I used to have a mackie 1604 vlz many years ago, it was very good at the time.

    How do you like the EQ on that board?

    I agree with what your saying, why bother updating if it eats up all your extra resources and does not provide a good investment into your setup.
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I never use the eq in summing at all. Every gain stage is set at Unity and everything else is off or bypassed. For live gigs I like the eq. It is quick to dial in and doesn't intrude at all-but I'm a less is more sort of engineer.

    Oh, I'm afraid I like my toys. I'd love to drop the cash on the Dangerous box. It is only the severe self discipline imparted by the Corps which keeps the MC in my pocket. And I love my wife and marriage.

    And I'm afraid that a Springfield TRP may infect my near future.
  16. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Yes Ebay does have that problem...I'm not real excited about spending $800-900 and find out there's a problem..

    I guess the quest and research will have to go on for now...
  17. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Oh I wouldn't pay that much. My max ebay price on any item is 50% retail. And then I have to want it badly.
  18. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Yeah, I had a couple bad experiences on eBait years ago.

    You got to be real careful with buying something used, you just never really know if its worth it till years down the road.

    Is there such a thing as wise gambling? I was never raised to gamble so it doesn't always work for me.

    Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Impossible to know.

    Its always good to know that you can return something if you find it does not fit your needs.
  19. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    There was a MCU Pro "NIB" on "Ebait" (LOL good name) for a starting bid of $800 so that was why I posted that range.
    Finding one for $600 or less would be a great deal but I never seem to find deals like that.....if I did it wouldn't work or something would be wrong with it LOL
    I will keep my eyes open and an open mind...
  20. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    "eBait" LOL! Yeah, I had a friend tell me that one. hehehe!

    Now, does that seller have good feedback?

    Its up to you to feel confident about buying something on eBay, don't settle for a low feedback number or %

    If he's got 100% chances are your alright. Remember its your money, none of us can tell you what to do with it.

    If the shoe fits wear it!

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