Control Surfaces

So, who’s using control surfaces these days, and what are you using?


I have an Avid S3 currently. It’s very good with Cubase for sure. Interested to hear what others are using in this department. I still feel like the ideal control surface is yet to be made but I think an S3 is the best thing out there unless you have megabucks for a Nuage or S6.

I was using the mackie pro control surface on extended loan for a few years which was decent. I found it creaked however when the faders moved which is really annoying if you have a one room setup and you’re recording something and have automation in your project.

Since getting panorama P6 keyboard though I’ve not looked at control surfaces again because it’s got 1 flying fader and 8 midi controller faders which actually do the job nicely. I appreciate however everyones needs are different. I do composition for ads etc rather than recording bands.

I always fancied a tascam us2400 but they’ve been unsupported for so long I imagine its not worth the hassle.

The icon controllers whilst ugly I’ve heard good things about.

Here’s my plug for the MCU Pro.
(Also use a Behringer X-Touch Compact)

I use 24 channels of them and the Integration with Cubase is amazing.
Watching an operation vid on the Nuage a while back and the Cubase/MCU functionality strikes me as a sort of little brother to that (really!).
Touch Sensitive Faders are a MUST for me for certain Automation things.

As noted I also use a Behringer X-Touch Compact (in Generic Remote mode) which has many more functions on it.
I do not use the Behringer as a “Mixing” surface.
I use it to send some CC messages and a lot of editing things - also control room stuff.

Wrote a little Review on the Behringer Here:

Fader noise on the MCU is not an issue - at least with the latest Alps version.
I usually have very little automation going on until I’m in the mixing phase, anyway.
But if it bothers you 1 button Push turns the motors off/on.


I use 2 cascaded Tascam DM3200’s and am loving it. It’s my all in one for everything!


Using the AVID Artist Control + Mix units.

Gives me the freedom to apply my workflow to the controllers and not to be forced to follow the pre-defined one by the manufacturer.
Very well integrated into the functionality of Cubase.


I used to have a Mackie Control Pro setup and one thing about it I really didn’t like (which as far as I’m aware is the case on all MCU protocol controllers) was the 6 character limit on the scribble strip displays. That really makes it hard to identify what track/parameter you are controlling. Fine in a small session but really not good when you have a high track counts and are trying to locate a particular track.

I also had a Steinberg CC-121 in the past which is obviously much more limited in scope but surprisingly useful and nicely built.

Tascam FW-1884 + FE-8 + FE-8 addons provides full control and 24 flying touch sense faders

works perfect using Mackie Control templates


Yes. That is definitely a limitation.
Behringer has actually helped that on their X-Touch (Full) unit with the colored scribble strips.
I don’t have one of those units but from Videos it looks clearer and with more info.

Still a bit partial to the Mackie units, though.

I have 2 large monitors just above the controllers, which helps.
Also, I do use a lot of Board Tape and Sharpies . . . :confused:


Yeah, actually one of the great things I find about the Cubase scalable mixer is that you can place a monitor directly behind the controller and match the channel widths. Means you can get lots of visual feedback on each track, in a similar way to a Nuage or Avid S6.

Still using Lemur with an Ipad Air 2. It controls RME Totalmix, Cubase and various other stuff. The best controller for me ever.
Here’s an old video demo I made:

Hi, I use a mackie d8b with probox, which gives me 24 faders and levelmeters, transport + more using the mcu protocol. I like mixing with actual faders and pots instead of millions of click click click. I dont know if it makes me work faster, but I enjoy it more, and i’d say I actually mix different, and better, with faders than a mouse…

QconPro. Like mentioned above I don’t like the character limitations, so when setting up, I always abbreviate a lot which then makes the display more “clean.” I also like the blue and white colors.

I like the weight, colors and size/layout of the QconPro.

Maybe by the end of the year the Icon Pro G2 will be available which means a custom DAW interface. No overlays. You order your G2 and for example select Cubase and it comes customized for Cubase.

Biggest general drawback which to my knowledge also applies to any MCU protocol is that when you click on a channel in Cubase, the MCU device does not follow. You still have to manually shift banks.

2nd biggest complaint (I would love to know how this works, or if the behavior is the same in Mackie and Behringer) is that I find selecting and opening any VST/VSTI is worthless using the QconPro because when you scroll to the VST/VSTI QconPro instantly opens it…even if you stop scrolling for just a half second. You should be able to scroll to the VST/VSTI then use a separate function to open it.

I’m still a bit curious about the very old Houston. I’m sure some users here still use it for Cubase 8.5?


I started with an MCU back then and liked it very much. I never was really happy with the remote control Options for vstis. So I decided to add a Novation SL 61. I was also very very happy with that.

Today I use one Avid Artist Mix, one Avid MC Control and an Avid Transport. I love this Controller (the Transport is a class in itself). Compared to the mcu the funcationality per Desk space is huge! And the devices are technically more up to date (Displays!). I use a Novation Zero MKII still in Addition, works great.

So as a summary: The MCU and its “twins” deserve a recommendation. The Artist Familiy is my favorite today. And I love the Novation unit.

I say this: Come on Steinberg and Yamaha. Give small studios and and project studios a line of digital consoles that are affordable and that integrate tightly with all of your products including support for 3rd party plugins. The Nuage is awesome but you need to apply for a loan to purchase.

I have an MCU and 2 extenders. (The older ones) You occasionally have to work on the faders, but it’s not a major problem. You can deactivate the motors with 1 button if the noise is an issue for a critical listen. I may switch over to a Raven due to its extended functionality, but all in all, the MCUs work pretty well.

That is exactly the same question I’ve asked to the people from Steinberg when I went to a demo of Cubase 8.5 here in Belgium last month. They told me there are no plans to make such controllers since the CMC series didn’t sell that well. So finally I’ve bought myself the new Behringer X-touch…


well - IMHO we should not ask too much for a Controller from Steinberg or Yamaha. Why? Well - I think that the availability of such a Thing would possibly undermine the Support for other Controllers. For example the AVID Artist Series.

I could not help laughing when I read the Argument: The CMC Controllers did not sell well, so there are no plans to…
Even though I prefere them NOT to produce a Controller I would say: Well, it could be that the CMC Controllers simply did not meet the market Needs.

hth, Ernst

Panorama P1 - nothing integrates so deeply with Cubase as Nektar products, I’ve hardly had to do any remapping at all!

There’s a new one just crept in quietly from an App maker, details here: