Help me decide: Nektar P6 or XSource + Cheap Keyboard

I’ve had an Axiom Air 61 keyboard/midi controller for about a year. Unfortunately somehow I’ve never really found it to be intuitive enough to become second nature or faster than mouse and qwerty keyboard. So I’ve decided it to sell it and replace it with something that will work better for me. Obviously that’s really subjective but hopefully some of you can offer some advice based on your experience. My budget isn’t huge, I’m selling the Axiom and some other things to hopefully get about $800. I’m hoping to get either a used Nektar P6 or a used x-touch and an inexpensive keyboard with a decent keybed. I do most of my recording by myself or with one other person. Main instruments are acoustic and electric guitars, vocals and some keys. I’m not a drummer or a bassist so I do those parts on the keyboard - usually with lots of starts and stops, a few measures at a time. I am leaning towards the Nektar as it is a keyboard and control surface with deep integration into Cubase. However I have some reservations based on some of the threads I’ve read here. Main ones being, the one motorized fader slows Cubase down; the other faders are pointless since they’re not motorized; the black keys are stiffer than the white keys; and the motorized fader can’t be used for automation besides volume. I don’t know if these issues are real or not as I don’t own a P6.
So I started thinking of getting a combo of an inexpensive keyboard plus a Behringer X-source as a solution. The x-source looks really cool but I don’t know that I need that level of control as I typically only record one or two tracks at a time and only ever automate one track at a time. It’s also going to take more room to have two pieces of equipment instead of one. Thoughts? Experience with these devices that would be relevant? Please, let me know what you think.


What about any keyboard and Steinberg CC121 as a DAW controller? Especially, when you control one track at the time only.

I’ve looked briefly at it but unless I’m not totally understanding what it does, it seems like it’s pretty expensive and doesn’t really do that much. All of those encoders are for EQ only? I could be wrong though - I’ll take another look.


Yes, the encoders are for EQ only. Fader is for the volume fader. Then you have the panning knob, the whole set of track-buttons. Whole Transport section. 4 user buttons, and the AI knob to control value of any parameter, which is under the mouse-pointer.

I have a Nektar Panorama so I’ll share my experience. I was using a Komplete Kontrol 25 and I wanted a larger range. I was also really into the marketing of how VSTs are already mapped to the Panorama. My experience has been pretty mixed with the Panorama. As others have said, the feel of the keyboard is not very good-especially coming from the Komplete which feels really good to me. I’m not even a keyboard player and I really notice the difference of the feel. Something that I didn’t realize until it was too late-and this is a limitation of Cubase and NOT the Panorama is that the fader only works on volume automation. I do a lot of automation curves and I thought I’d be able to just map the fader to a new automation lane and use it…nope-it will only work on volume.

The VST mapping: this was the big selling point of the Nektar to me. I use Fabfilter and lots of other plugins that are already mapped. Well the Fabfilter plugins are now updated to VST 3 (yea!) but the Nektar is NOT mapped to the VST 3 versions of the plugins! You can ONLY use the VST 2 versions of Fabfilter plugins (and maybe others) because the Nektar gets confused and can’t tell the difference between the VST 2 and VST 3 versions. This was totally throwing me off and it took several days of waiting for Nektar customer service to get back in touch to let me know what was going on.

In general I’d say I am somewhat disappointed with the purchase and if something better comes along I will go for it (as I save my pennies for a Nuage haha).

Yikes! That wasn’t really what I wanted to hear but I’m glad you let me know. It seems like it could be such a great solution if only a few of those things could be different. Hmm, now I’m really wondering what to do. As far as the VST 2/3 issue though, it sounds like that is something Nektar might be able to fix and update through a firmware upgrade.

They say they will fix it in the next update, but I have had it for a few months and I asked a couple days ao and they said they have no estimate of when it will be done…Want to buy a Nektar? :smiley:

Leaning towards the CC121 now - have only seen good comments from those that own and use it. Main thing that is convincing me is that it is simple and consistent and so would probably become second nature to use unlike a more complex controller. I’ve been reading and reading about people’s preferences and experiences with control surfaces and the opinions are all over the place. Some people feel the motorized faders are an absolute must, don’t even bother getting faders if they aren’t motorized - and the more you have the better. Others say that the motorized faders are cool and all but end up not being used that much and one is just as good as 8 or more. Personally I’m leaning towards just one as I don’t have a lot of room and that’s why I wanted to combine the keyboard and control surface. So now I’m looking for a CC121 and a good feeling keyboard that fit well together. But I’ll keep reading to glean from others’ experience.


Motorized fader is a must, when you will overwrite the volume curve. If you just write it once, it’s OK to use not-motorized. But then you want to correct only a short part of your volume automation. So you have to have the real value on your fader in every single moment. Then you can just touch the fader and correct it. If it’s not motorized, you will get the current value of the fader, which is most probably different, then the value in Cubase.

Also touch-sensitive fader is a must, if you want to correct your writing. If you are just writing, then it’s OK. But if you want to correct it, you have to get Cubase (and the hardware) know “now, I’m going to change the value, please, don’t send the value to the HW, I’m controlling it right now”. This is when you touch the fader. Then you release, and Cubase overtake the control back.

Personally, I have a Nektar P4 and love it. I had a Novation and a Korg Kontrol before that and the P4 blows those out of the water.

Sure, you are going to find limitations but IMO it has extreme control of Cubase. Volume Faders, Pans, VST instruments and effects, Macros, Transport, Metronome, Quick Controls, Velocity sensitive pads… all right there with just a couple of clicks OR less. The LCD screen is very informative too.

I actually like the way the keyboard feels.

My main complaint is the black on black controls. I wish there was contrast.

Just my 2 cents

I had a P6 for a while, as far as Cubase integration, it was rather amazing. Everything just worked. I didn’t care for the feel of the keyboard, but that’s a subjective thing. As far as the remote control stuff, it was great.

So the Nektar comes roaring back in the suggestions :smiley:

I found a store that has the Nektar. I’m going to try to get over there Saturday to try it out and see if the ‘feel’ is going to be fine or not. If it’s fine I think I may just buy it. Time will tell whether it works or not. Which, it seems, is the only way to actually figure out what a good solution is going to be. If I don’t like the feel maybe the CC121 and some other keyboard will work out.

The CC121 looks nice but it seems to me, at least, that you get more bang for the buck with the P4/P6

Not sure what else besides the jog wheel (which looks nice) that you don’t get with the Nektar controllers? You obviously get many things with the Nektar stuff that you don’t get with the CC121.

Just my thoughts

So one question I have about the Panorama is whether the non motorized faders end up never getting used. I never use them on the Axiom Air that I have as they don’t reflect what the actual values are. That was one of the reasons I was thinking of just using a CC121 and getting a keyboard that has a decent keybed w/o all the controls.

Ugh not good to hear about lack of quality in Nektar products! I was looking at Nektar P1 controller instead of the Steinberg CC121 but not sure now. Maybe get Mackie MCU Pro or Faderport instead? I need to try these out at local music store to see what works best for me. All of the constant mouse and keyboard clicking in Cubase is killing my hands! I prefer a more audio hands on feel. Love my Kontrol S49 keyboard but the transport controls don’t work in Cubase even though they are great for controlling the Komplete VST plugins and Ableton transport flow work well.

Called the shop I was going to visit to try out the Panorama and it turns out they don’t have one after all. Neither does Guitar Center or Brook May’s. So on a whim I asked the Nektar folks if the keybed had been updated since initial production and they said it has. They said
“We have done extensive testing and measurements to make sure that the keys require an equal amount of force to press down and to provide an even feel across the key bed.”
So that makes me feel better about buying one without the chance to try it out.

Yeah Guitar Center is the only local music store where I live and they don’t have much on demo or in stock for mixer controllers that work with Cubase. Ideally would want to try a few before spending $$$