Looking for a controller that allows recording midi cc and also do the mixing

Hi all,

I’m getting a little bit lost trying to choose a controller that allows me to record midi cc and also do the mixing part (mostly volume automation).

I mainly write orchestral music and I’ve been using, for some time, my Nektar Impact LX88 keyboard for recording midi CC (assigned ModWeel to CC1 and some faders for other CCs).
Recently, I started to mix my own music and now I see that my Nektar Impact may not be the best option for doing it, especially because it doesn’t have motorized faders.

What I’m looking for, is a controller that will allow me to record midi CC automation (assigning faders to CCs) for use in the composition/recording phase, and then that allows me to write volume automation in the mixing phase.

Currently, what I do is select a track and record the volume automation. I configured my Nektar as a Generic Remote device in Cubase and defined that, in the mixer, the fader 10 (master fader) will record volume automation in the selected track.
I can use the Q-link function to control several tracks at the same time but I’m not able to write different automation for each track.

So, the doubts I’m now facing are:

1 - Is it useful to have a controller with multiple faders (don’t want more than 8 due to the space available on my studio desk)? I mean, is it practical to record volume automation for 2 or 3 tracks at the same time, or do most of you record it track by track with just one fader?

2 - I still didn’t understand well how the bank selection works for controlling the faders.
My composition template is divided into instrument sections (folder tracks). In an 8 fader controller, If I have a folder track with 12 tracks and select the 10th track for recording volume automation, this track will be assigned to fader nr 2 or it will count 8 tracks ahead from the selected track and I’ll be using fader nr 1?

3 - From what I’ve been reading, to be able to continue using my Nektar keyboard for recording notes and the new controller for recording CC and volume automation, in the Studio Setup I need to select “All Midi Inputs” as the Midi Input. Would these generate double notes when recording? I’m asking this because when I had “All Midi Inputs” selected and played something in my Nektar all the notes were doubled.

4 - For recording CC automation, do the faders work better than the ModWeel? I’m used to recording CC1 with the ModWeel but, with some libraries, I notice is difficult to control with accuracy the amount of CC and some skips occur.

If I choose to buy an 8 fader controller I’m considering buying one of these;
- Icon Platform M+;
- Behringer X Touch;
I’ve read and seen videos that with the “user-defined mode” Icon M+ allows to record CC automation, what I didn’t still understand is how you change from CC automation to volume automation for mixing. Does anyone know this?
Do these controllers work well with Cubase?

If I choose a single fader controller, PreSonus FaderPort, Behringer X-Touch One or Icon Platform Nano are an option.

Sorry for the long post but I really need your help!

Thanks in advance

I have an X-Touch. But I pretty much use it exclusively mixing. For cc messages I use a couple of smaller (and cheaper) controllers like an old Korg nanoKontrol (there are a lot of different choices out there). These smaller ones work better for cc for me in that they are easy to move wherever needed. They also typically let you program the controls to what you want. While the X-Touch, being bigger and heavier kinda prefers staying closer to home. From my perspective they are similar but different tools useful for different tasks.

The important thing for me about the X-Touch is the motorized faders because they provide useful tactile and visible feedback. While I will adjust levels on multiple Channels during a pass, it might be only a couple depending on the focus of that particular pass.

Basically it is a bank of any 8 adjacent Channels. On the X-Touch you can move this selection up and down through your Project by either 8 Channels at a time or 1 at a time - so you can set the range to start on any Channel - e.g. 1-8, 9-16, 2-9, 23-30, etc. In Cubase the Tracks are indicated by a line under them and on the X-Touch the Track Names appear on the scribble strip. So it is easy to know where you are.

Thank you for your prompt reply!

Is it possible to use the X-Touch for CC Automation?

I guess that if it’s not practical to write automation for multiple tracks and the controller doesn’t allow CC Automation, I would stick to my Nektar for writing CC Automation and would buy a single fader controller for mixing.

I think that’s very personal. When I mix for post I always end up adjusting multiple faders at the same time. But some people might not do that. It really depends. Certainly there’s a value to being able to do it I think. And in general I find that there’s something more musical about riding faders rather than using a mouse/trackball.

Yes exactly. To me it feels like my fingers are dancing along to the music while also changing the music.

I totally agree with you, moving faders is more “musical” than moving the faders on Cubase mixer with the mouse or with a trackball!

Assuming that I will buy an 8 fader controller, between Icon Platform M+ and Behringer X-Touch which one would you advise me to buy?

I haven’t used either in person. Just looking at them I would say the Behringer.

Main reason for me would be that the Behringer has the full layout that is standard for the protocol whereas the Icon doesn’t. In other words some buttons are missing and so on. Also, looking at the buttons (again, looking) they seem to be rubbery on the Icon whereas on the X-Touch they seem like they’re plastic, and I’d prefer the latter… probably. And if they are rubber on the X-Touch they look as if they aren’t as tall, and I hate tall rubber buttons.

(The Icon will need the screen too. It just sucks working without an indication of what track you’re on (scribble strip / LCD screen)).

If you have a chance to try both you can figure a lot of it out. One thing to definitely try is to actually record some automation, preferably ‘vigorous’ automation, and then play that back and listen to the faders moving. They’re both likely pretty noisy, but it’s possible that one is significantly worse than the other. When I work I use “touch” automation a lot so I actually don’t hear the movement that often, but when I do a noisy controller just sucks.

Suspect there aren’t too many (any?) folks here who are familiar enough with both to really answer.

Thank you Raino and Mattias for your replies.

I will try to find someone in other forums that might be familiar with both of these controllers so I can decide.

If there are music stores near you that carries them this might be a situation where a salesperson can add value.

@bmiranda Which one did you buy and is it working for you?

I contacted Behringer directly and they told me that X-Touch is not capable of MIDI CC automation. I currently have Behringer X-Touch One and it is compatible with MIDI CC protocol but it seems to be set in stone, that is you have to take whichever CC is pre-assigned to the fader or button at the factory. For example, if you want Expression to be assigned to CC 11, you can’t actually do it because CC 11 is assigned to a button.

Now, Behringer Compact might have more flexibility here, at least judging by its software editor which seems to allow you to assign the CCs at will, but I haven’t tried it.

I am in the market myself for a good MIDI CC controller. I would like to have responsive motorized faders that travel a good distance. KORG NanoKontrol and similar seem too little for me.