Control surface for Cubase (buying question)

Do you have a good recommendation for a control surface?. I am really new to recording but I was shopping around for a control surface/mixer so I can automate some of the sounds and record the automation.

Thank you in advance!

I was looking on Amazon

Nektar Panorama P1 Control Surface

But one of the reviews says:

Sleek and beautiful design but it does not integrate well with Cubase (that’s the DAW I’m using, so my review is based on using it with Cubase Pro). I had such a hard time setting it up and then Cubase kept crashing. Once I emailed support (which is relatively fast in replying) and we fixed the crashing issue after writing back and forth, I was still left with a ton of bugs and issues. I bought this to get a faster productivity but it did the contrary.

Thank you

You don’t need a DAW mixer to do this. This is achieved in Cubase. A DAW controller is simply real hardware to replace moving faders, pan ports, VST and VSTI controllers.

Maybe I’m not understanding your objectives. personally a controller like Metagrid has enhanced my workflow much more than a DAW controller does. DAW controller for mixing, Metsgrid for better control.

I find external control surfaces usefull when doing recording alone. Since it is cabled you can have a relatively small control surface close to your instrument without moving the computer or crashing the instrument into the desk. For this purpose you can also use an iPad or similar with a remote controller downloaded, like Cubase IC Pro.

As another OP mentiones, you do NOT need an external control surface to manage faders or make automation. Some people do however find a hardware fader to be more precise. And some like them because that is what they are used to before the DAWs came.

I am using Avid Artis Transport for remote, however as the name indicates it is for transport task only and I only use it in recording. However, Avid also have external faders.

I guess I am just trying to control the faders as the music is happening. Per example lets say I record 4 -5 different instruments.

Then I am going to record the automation but I would have to move the faders to make the sound go from very low sound to higher volume sound.

Does that make sense? I know there is a way to do it with the mouse but it just does not feel natural.

I guess I am looking to assign the faders to a hardware control and then record the automation the song.

Might not make sense because like I said,. I am new to this. Still need to learn the lingo

What happens for me in reality is what you described. Hit record, move the faders and the automation is recorded.

But 99% of the time after automation is recorded, I’m going to have to edit that automation anyway. Because of always editing, I usually skip recording automation on the fly, and instead write the automation once the audio or midi has already been recorded This way I get the basic volume automation down correctly and later only have to make minor adjustments. This applies to all other controllers too.

Generally I feel a lot of users place too much emphasis on DAW controllers without really understanding the benefits. I use a MCU controller. Sure its helpful, and in certain instances as mentioned above, practically lost without one. But do research. read all the posts about things $500-$1500 controllers don’t do…then read all the requests for a stripped down $5,000 Nuage.

what do you recommend instead? I am looking for something around $200. Something easy to move the faders. But it could also mean I am ignorant to the fact.

I just have 13 songs that I would like to add a little more automation to give it a little more life. Just thought it would be easier with a hardware that had physical faders.

I am open to other suggestions though. If you have a video to share that would be great too. Like I said Only know 1% of Cubase!

Thank you!

I was even thinking of something simple like this


As “greggybud” mentiones, there is no need at all for hardware faders. Just put the track in write mode and move the fader with the mouse. It does not matter at all if you get it right, in fact you can deliberately do it wrong. After any kind of recording open the automation lane on the track and then with the different drawing tools, you correct the automation to what you want.

It costs way less, goes much faster when you get the hang of it and you learn to change the automation without re-recording everything. This way you can also give subtle changes at a later time to make automation fit with every track. The hardware way is old and obsolete, only for die hard old school studio personell. Well, perhaps I am over doing the stereotypes here, but I am indeed old school studio and I’ve learned not to use hardware for automation.

And if you do not get any sleep if you do not have a fader to move, look for your next keyboard (if that is up for renewal). Most will have knobs and some even sliders that indeed looks and behaves like a fader. Use MIDI learn to “program” the keyboard slider/fader.

I bought the Icon QCon Pro X controller and one ProXS expander. For the first eight months this was an ‘okay’ setup; but like you said you can easily end up spending a lot of time trying to get your setup to work rather than just using it to save time. HOWEVER: Icon upgraded the firmware significantly recently. Since then (the last couple of months) it has become absolutely rock solid and hugely enjoyable (and invisible).

Expensive, but I now have 16 tracks of motorised faders and other Cubase controls that are genuinely helpful and make Cubase great fun for mixing.


I like MCUs but you won’t get one for $200 - really, so you don’t get lost in a mix powered faders are a must if you’re controlling more than 8 tracks, and a screen is very important too - if they’re not powered it’s easier just using the mouse/screen.

If i was you i’d consider something like the single fader controllers such as the presonus faderport or behringer x-touch one - not sure which runs best with Cubase though (X touch perhaps?), for automation you need a motor and this is the way to do it on a budget. Plus you don’t get lost ‘where’ you are in the project as you can next/previous through the mixer channels.

Also, just learn how easy it is to apply point to point automation - it takes less time and is smoother than using a manual fader - manual faders are very good for expressive volume adjustment… i.e. vocal riding, for example.

What I use is a Yamaha 01V96 V2 mixer. It has a remote layer that works really good with Cubase. I also tried a Faderport but you can’t use the Faderport and the 01V96 at the same time. You might be able to find one used for less and it really is a nice mixer and I perfer to record and monitor through as you get zero latency.

Agreed. Thank you everyone for their input. Definitely going to look at the faderport before I get lost in this whole thing and prolong the project. Alsoo Point to Point automation definitely forward thinking compare to expensive hardware
update: I read some reviews for the presonus faderport or behringer x-touch one… and definitely stickin to point to point automation :laughing:


Manual Bank Switching for me is the worst drawback of any MCU protocol controller. IMO, this issue alone devalues any MCU protocol greatly. With that said, I’m told Logic has made some type of after-protocol adjustments that make banks automatically switch. In addition, this guy actually can make it work for I believe any MCU protocol, but huge kudos if you actually get the nerve to try :laughing:

The 2nd worse MCU drawback, is the very low character limitation on the scribble strip.

Anyway going back to the OP’s objectives, as already mentioned practically anything can control faders, pans, etc. Even a midi usb synth using midi learn. After a few years with DAW controller, and seemingly endless questions such as “why can’t it do this function” “why doesn’t X function work with whatever DAW you own” “whats wrong with the 8 channel extender I just bought” “the motorized faders are too noisy” plus endless firmware upgrades, poor user manuals, (you learn by trial and error and by other users) and most everyone having Yamaha Nuage Envy, I’m saying do your research first and understand the things that will and will not work before purchase. Even motorized faders…I usually shut them off 75% of the time because of distraction. They certainly have a purpose, but for me not the majority of time.

That’s the good thing about an MCU you can turn the motors on/off with a button. But yeah, the character limit on a screen is really annoying, particularly when you look at the Behringer X touch style devices that could also put out coloured scribble strips - you’d think by now someone would’ve just make a simple (global) addition to the Mackie Protocol to allow for longer character count and an RGB colour value.

Be thankful Behringer X Touch offers whatever it does.
Take a look at the QconPro.
The 2nd attachment is more clean, but now I’m limited to 5 or at the most 6 characters if I want 1 space on each side. :laughing:

Oh that’s tight on the QCon isn’t it!

Are you aware you can rename plugin parameters in Cubase as to how they appear on MCU screens? I only found this out last week and i now use abbreviations that follow some logic and it does help. But man, i’d love coloured strips lol.