Cheap Controller

I’ve got plenty of MIDI piano keyboards, but what I don’t have is a controller for the mixer or a dedicated drum pad. I’m a bit concerned that the majority of product reviews that I have seen say something along the line of “This unit was designed to work with Ableton Live and doesn’t really work well or set up easily with Cubase”.

Anyone have any good product advice? Really not looking at spending much at all. This is just a hobby forced on me, in part, by lockdown. :slight_smile:

How cheap is cheap?

You could look out for a used Houston which was purpose built for Cubase.
Steinberg Houston MIDI controller | Travst’s Gear Shop | Reverb
And Steinberg have semi-supported it

there’s the Steinberg CC121
Steinberg CC121 - Steinberg Cubase Hardware Controller CC121 B&H (

Thanks. Definitely after between £50 and £100? Cheap!! :slight_smile:

It won’t get a huge amount of use, but will be quite useful when it’s needed.

Ideally I want something that is in the sub £100 range that includes rudimentary drum pads too.

I use Korg Pad Kontrol and a Novation SL MkII without the bvllsh!t automap software installed. Each has its own MIDI editor that I used to just set things up myself… it’s not hard, just basic MIDI CC21 CH1, etc, etc.

SLMKII has both endless encoders and small faders. I have templates I switch that flip what the encoders control vs the faders.

Thanks. The Novation is well out of my price range, but the Korg looks interesting.

Maybe check out some old CMC controllers… I still have a bunch and they still work

I have used the Korg nanokontrol and found it to be amazingly functional considering the price.

Easy to configure Steve?

Me, not so much, :stuck_out_tongue: but the nanokontrol is. Check out reviews on youtube, there are a few that demo it. Look for the Nanokontrol 2.


Very funny! Thanks Steve. I’ve just put my order it. Hopefully it will go smoothly…

1 Like

Not to hijack the thread, but having messed with these in various ways for the past 20 years now, I keep waiting for one that isn’t a PITA unless you use it every day. And that’s why I’m bothering to reply because the O/P seems to imply only using the thing occasionally.

What I always found frustrating was that I’d map the gizmo to a few tracks, then not use it for 3 months. Then go to a new project where it would be useful, and then have to -re-learn everything.

I increasingly want COMPLETELY SELF-EVIDENT software because I use so -many- apps that I can’t be bothered with re-learning stuff. Eg. that’s one of my biggest beefs with Wavelab. GENIUS program, but it’s just fiddly enough that if you don’t use it all the time, it can be a -bear- to use because you have to re-learn the UI.

I just keep waiting for a remote control gizmo that’s like bluetooth. It just -works-… remaps the tracks to whatever you happen to be looking at on-screen without having to learn anything… even if I forget about it for 2-3 months.

Got anything like that?

Not hijacking - I’m glad I’m not the only one who struggles with this sort of stuff!

So… did you get it? How is it working?

Unless you get a unit with motorised faders, i hate to say it, but the best controller for the mixer is a mouse/trackball/scroll wheel.

Watch any tutorial video, no matter what controllers they have on their desk they will 99% of the time adjust faders/pans etc. via mouse. Because it’s just so quick and logical with what you have on your screen, and you’re not forced to focus on a bank of 8 channels at once.

The biggest hangup with generic controllers and Cubase is how complicated it is to map to VST parameters (i.e. synth filter/envelopes/lfos etc.). That may or may not be a concern for you though.

But this is why i’ve got my NanoKontrol2 running via full Mackie Mode (i.e. it can control faders,pans,sends,vst) with an on-screen emulator as the Mackie screen. This is a really cheap (non-motorised) setup, and mimics an expensive MCU well. Took a bit of setting up though, as it’s a bit of a hack - but great for a laptop setup.

For cheap mixer control i’d probably be looking towards a single motorised fader such as the Faderport/many equivalents out there. You haven’t got to worry about which ‘bank’ of faders are in view as you only focus on a single fader at any time, and it’s always synced to the correct physical position. But these are around the 100 quid mark i think.

If you want drum pads, then i’d be more tempted to just go that route with the budget you have, and maybe not worry about the mixer control at this point (No matter how appealing it may seem).

And in regards to drum pads, it depends on the intended use, as to how suitable it would be for you. i.e. a 2x4, or 2x3 style pad layout isn’t going to match on-screen to Groove Agent very well. You ideally want 4x4 if that’s your intended use - and pads can differ greatly in quality too. If you’re trying to get a mixer and pad controller for 50-100 quid it’s gonna be pretty cheap quality.

That said, a nanopad and nanokontrol together is under 100 notes. Both very useable/functional controllers. - you just need 2x usb ports of course. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I used to have one of those (why I recommended) – I can’t remember though, does it have *catch * mode aka, pick-up in Mackie mode?

I really can’t remember as i don’t use the standard/factory mackie mode - i run it via virtual ports through an MCU emulator.

I know one thing is that the disable auto-select option does nothing in the Cubase/MCU settings, as the factory mode sends a track select command via hardware every time you move a fader.

…which is a bit of a pain as it causes Cubase to jump around on multiple fader adjustments. Hence my initial journey of setting up my own mapping for it. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Hi Chaps

Sorry for the slow response Suntower. Busy busy Easter.

Thanks for your kind comments and suggestions. In the end, I bought the Korg nanoKontrol2 and also the Akai MPD226. A little more than I had hoped to spend, but I’m happy with them.

Well I think I’m happy with them. I’ve found the nanoKontrol a little hit and miss. It works sometimes and then lets you down when you need it most. Needs reconfiguring every time you switch it on, which is a right pain.

I have to slightly disagree with you skijumptoes (what a GREAT screen name!). Normally, I use a mouse, but I found two times when I really couldn’t get by with a mouse.

  1. Mixing a choir for a friend. It was all recorded on their mobile phones etc., and I had to put the whole lot together for Easter services etc. It was “cleaner” to use the nK2 to add some automation to the track volumes. The mouse wasn’t precise enough - it was like trying to paint a Picasso in MS Paint. Just can’t be done :wink:

  2. Pressing record whilst sitting at my piano. Much easier than stretching over using the mouse AND getting back to said piano in time to play.

Works for me anyway. Apart from those selected instances, I fully agree with you that mouse is usually better. Doesn’t hurt to have more metaphorical strings to one’s bow.

Thanks again. The comments and explanations behind the comments have been really useful.


How do you mean? I’ve never had that problem personally. Are you accidentally holding down a button when you plug it in and changing modes perhaps?

And are you using the factory Mackie/Cubase mode with it?

Ah, nice one. Glad that you’re making use of it! :slight_smile:

See, i’m the type of person that writes a load of automation data, and then go in by hand and ‘clean it up’ by mouse cause i get OCD about things in my vision haha.

And in the end, sometimes i find that what i actually recorded as 1 million points of automation, could’ve just been 5 points via mouse clicks. But of course, it isn’t as fun! :wink:

1 Like

Instructions are press << and SET and connect the device.

Then in Cubase map the Mackie control - if it’s there!

One question for you. How do you map an individual fader. Not sure how to do that, although I think it’s got something to do with learn?

Yeah once you have the done that << and SET procedure, you don’t need to do it again, it should just remember the mode. So don’t do it every time.

If you’re using the Mackie mapping you don’t need to map an individual fader, the faders are mapped for you, and you just bank across to the 8 which you want to control (Will have a colour band at the bottom of the mixer view to show which 8 are in focus).

If you want to map specific faders then you’d need to use a different mode and map it via Cubase’s generic remote device editor. Which then adds in some complexities.