Best controller for Cubase to replace mouse and keyboard

Hi all,

Apologize if I asked this before but, using Cubase is painful with the mouse and keyboard. I have a Komplete S49 that is great for the MIDI keyboard playing functions and controlling my Komplete VST plugins. BUT looking at a dedicated controller to manage the mouse/keyboard controls in Cubase in a non-keyboard type controller.

So far, these are the candidates:

Steinberg CC121- looks great but non motorized faders are bad
Nektar P1- looks nice but wanted feedback on those who own the P1 and thoughts on using it for Cubase?
Mackie MCU Pro- EXPENSIVE is it worth it?
Presonus Faderport- is this any good?

Other options? I rather have dedicated controller so I can avoid the typing and mouse clicks and have good easy touch tip controls.

Also since I use Ableton and other softwares like Reason and Bitwig, having a one size controller is a plus as well.


I’m sorry, isn’t it kind of duplicate of your other post?

  • CC121: If you really want a controller for Cubase, I would recommend to go for this. For me personally, the biggest issue is, the fader is too loud.
  • P1: The faders are not motorized, so it’s unusable for real mixing. And the faders are to short for real mixing.
  • MCU: If you don’t want to mix 8 channels at once, it doesn’t make sense. Quality of MCUs went down, when they started to make it in China. I’m not sure, now, if MCU can follow selected tracks. I’m 100% MCU can do so in the selected Bank. But can switch the Bank when you select any track out of the current Bank?
  • Faderport: Low quality. The buttons are very noisy. 8-Faders, make sure you really need them.
  • iCon: I saw it few days ago, and I was surprised positively. The faders are surpassingly quiet. But rubber buttons feels really cheap.
  • Behringer BCF 2000: Very short faders, which are very very noisy. They are motorized, but not touch-sensitive, so you cannot rewrite (correct) your already written Volume automation. Display is missing, and buttons description is missing.

Hi Martin,

Yeah sorry bout that it was before I actually had installed and started working with Cubase! Anyways, I want quality item with motorized faders that will let me mix/remix in Cubase 9 Pro and that does not cost a small fortune. I work most of the time in Cubase and Ableton so a cross platform option is great but not mandatory since I already have a Push controller for Ableton and spend 90% time in Cubase for composing music. One of the sales engineers at Sweetwater told me to try the nanoKorg have you used those with Cubase?

Something like this:


I heard that people had issues however in getting the Korg to work with Cubase but one guy has a fix:

Anyhow, I am open to folks here as to what controller they had best experience with Cubase 9 Pro since mouse and keyboard is a pain to deal with for me. I’ve considered touch screens but waiting until Steinberg developers work the bugs out on this area.

I used to have a CC121. It’s somewhat limited in it’s features but it’s a really nice quality controller. If you use the Cubase channel EQ a lot then it’s pretty good. The fader is motorised by the way.

I used to have a Mackie MCU Pro setup years ago but I didn’t like it that much. For anything more in depth than volume/pan/mute I found it too fussy trying to read the 6 channel scribble strip displays and work out what parameter I was adjusting.

The Eucon controllers are way better than MCU but they are more expensive than anything you’ve mentioned so you may not want to spend that much. I used to have an Avid Artist setup which was good and now I’ve got an S3 which is even better (although not cheap!).

I also have a Panorama P6. To be honest I don’t really use the DAW control features on it but I know some people love it so maybe you should try and test it for yourself.

Actually, I turn the motorized faders off probably half of the time. It really depends on the scenario, but there are times it can be distracting and simply not necessary.

MIxing multiple channels at once is just one of many advantages. I think you have to decide if you want a full controller where you can view 8 at a time (then bank switch) or just 1 channel.

I’m told MCU protocol does not allow bank switch when you select a track in Cubase. Did it ever work? When you focus a track in Cubase, the MCU will focus the correct channel, but you are going to have to manually press bank switch to get to that focused track. Hope that makes sense.

iCon makes a lot of different controllers. I’m assuming you are referring to either the Qcon, QconPro or QconPro X? FWIW, I just spoke with the Mixware rep in the USA and he claims the QconProX is not replacing the QconPro…they are still both in production. “Quiet” is relative. In the past Icon had problems with jittering or vibrating faders that caused a lot of noise, but I think that has been resolved. I like the rubber buttons, but I think there should be a felt click to verify execution was successful.

A lot of users rant about the Behringer X Touch. It looks to have a good bang for the buck, but is much smaller, a cheaper feel, and lacks things such as adjustable scribble strip.

Again, isn’t the horrible scribble strip MCU protocol? Anyway, yes…for every VST and VSTI that I use very often, I have manually changed the parameter titles because if you don’t…it looks like a jumbled mess. I think anything over 6 characters is going to get crowded. But once you have done that, everything is set for the future. For quick VST/VSTI editing I just use a mouse. But for more in-depth editing I use the controller. This is from the perspective of a QconPro user.

It’s not possible to mix with KORG naniKontrol at all. Fats are not motorized and so short.

Ah well that rules out the Korg then. Hmm it is hard to pick a good controller :frowning:

I have an Icon Qcon pro, and it is awesome.
I had a second gen MCU back in the day… I like this more.

Thanks I’ll check out the Icon and Avid controllers. Hopefully the local store has some to try out.

Has anyone used JLCooper controllers with Cubase and if so, what was your experience? Hans Zimmer uses the Fadermaster with Cubase.

As far as I’m aware, all MCU protocol controllers are limited to 6 characters on the scribble strip display. That’s one of the reasons that I much prefer Eucon where typically you will see about 10 characters (but up to 24 depending on which letters are used).

Currently the big drawback on Eucon controllers is that when you hide tracks in Cubase, they still show on the controller, which is not the case with MCU. In most other departments, Eucon is better.

I think to really get to control surface heaven you have to spend £20k+ on a Nuage or Avid S6.

Yes, I’ve seen videos of Hans Zimmer using that controller. I think he just uses it to control MIDI volume/expression/modulation. i.e. one very specific task, not general DAW control.

I don’t think the faders on that controller are motorised and there are also no LED displays. Therefore I can’t see why you would buy this over an Avid Artist Mix which will give you motorised touch sensitive faders, OLED displays and the Eucon protocol which is much more in depth than a simple MIDI controller. Maybe I’m missing something but the Avid controller seems a way better choice for about the same price.

I just counted on my QconPro (MCU) and its 7 characters. But what that really means is unless you want things to look like a jumbled mess where you have no spaces between channels, you are limited to 5-6 characters per channel.

I’ll guarantee if you open a VST plug-in without first going to the Cubase Remote Control editor, it will look like a mess. So go to the remote control editor, and decide what parameters are most important. Some plug-ins will have way too many banks of 8 so I often delete the majority of them, change the 7 character name to 5 or less, and then you are set for the future…unless you can’t remember your 5 character abbreviations. :laughing: It’s far from perfect, but getting closer could set you back $20k. Also, keep in mind there is no Cubase Remote Control editor for something like the built-in Cubase EQ. So the built in EQ will always look messy.

TBH, my main issue with any MCU controller is having to use the manual bank select when you have selected a new channel that is further than 8 channels away in Cubase.

Thanks guys. I will check out a friend’s Avid mix controller. He also has the Mackie MCU controller. I figure that after having some hands on time with these then I can make a more informed decision. I checked and Sweetwater does not carry the Icon Qcon gear which surprises me as they have a large selection of gear.

I had an Avid for a bit… the Artist Control V2-
I hated it.

The support is shite for Cubase.
It was slick-looking though. . . but my Icon kills it. My old MCU killed it.


Now, does the controller also intelligently re-map DAW channels to controller channels? What I mean is that if the controller is showing for example channels 10-17, and I hide four channels “in the middle”, numbers 13,14,15,16, will the controller move channels over or just make those four “empty”?

No. They will just still be there, not hidden at all.

Yes, that is correct unfortunately. I have a workaround using some additional software (Autohotkey) that allows you to kind of hide tracks with Eucon. See this video for an example:

I tried an MC Control briefly but I sent it back. The touch screen is not very nice. Still, personally I’d take anything Eucon over anything MCU without a doubt. The Avid S3 is really the one to have although it’s obviously not the cheapest. Add an iPad with the Pro Tools Control app and you can do everything the Artist Control did but without the dated touchscreen.

totally not trying to battle…but have you used an ICON? Its glorious, even though it is stuck on the dated MCU protocol. The build quality is excellent, and it is reliable.
I have a little Arturia keyboard next to it, with an additional 16 rotary controls and 2 banks of 8 buttons each set to a Generic template- to give me that flexibility the MCU protocol lacks… and I never miss that Avid board AT ALL.
Like, there is no functionality I am missing… with the exception of jumping to named markers on the touchscreen. (of course, it was super inconsistent… but when it worked it was great!)

The shame with BOTH of these controllers is the software! The devices themselves are great.
Eucon control is a joke in the Cubase world. Obviously it is barely supported, and each company blames the other.
Whereas MCU Protocol is a hundred years old and stuck in the mud. (Let me toggle LEDs, ffs!) But at least it is STABLE.

Having used both, I think the MCU protocol is more reliable and USE-ABLE than EuCon…right now, with Cubase.
With the Avid, I would often leave my desk, with everything up and running… and come back to find Eucon had disconnected and I needed to power-cycle my hardware, kill Cubase and restart. Clearly this ruins workflow, and couldn’t be tolerated.
With MCU… although I am stuck doing only what Mackie thought was useful back in 1997 (plus 8 assignable functions!)… at least it is always ready and willing.