Mackie MCU vs. Avid Artist Series - What is your preference and why

I currently use Avid Artist controllers but am thinking of making a switch to something more along the lines of the Mackie MCU. The reason being that I would like to have more interaction from a controller with my VST’s, and the Avid controllers don’t really go there. Opinions from those who have or currently use both would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Eucon is much better than MCU in my experience (having owned Mackie Control Pro, Avid Artist in the past and now an Avid S3). I found the biggest drawback for all MCU controllers is the character limit on the scribble strip displays (something like 6 characters but someone correct me if I’m wrong). This makes it very difficult to quickly identify which track or parameter you are controlling. Eucon is more powerful / well integrated in general although it definitely has some serious flaws.

When you talk about VST’s, do you mean synths, or just plugins in general?

S3-Nice! I wish they would remove the audio section of the S3 and just sell it as a less expensive controller. As far as VST‘s, I’m talking about both instruments and effects. Does the S3 allow you to control some parameters of your VST instruments and fx?

The audio section is only there because the S3 was originally designed as part of a live mixing setup (the S3L). I doubt if many people use it. It’s just there because it was probably more expensive for Avid to remove it from what was already an existing piece of hardware.

Yes, for sure. You can control every parameter of a plugin or synth. I don’t tend to use it a lot for synths because there are so many parameters and I find a mouse is better. I do use it a lot for plugins though.

I’m confused by your posts because you have plugin control with Avid Artist controllers?

I recently moved to the MCU. I haven’t used the Avid / Eucon stuff and thus can’t speak to it. However, while I think it looks like great stuff, I tend to avoid Avid in general because they have a history of being obsolescence driven in order to sell the next new things. MCU on the other hand is an old and widely supported protocol. It’s not the latest sexy thing, but for what it does it’s quite the workhorse.

It controls all parameters of my vsts, even those with very large numbers of them and allows me to do pretty much anything I need in Cubase. The biggest limitation at the moment is just retraining myself so that it becomes intuitive instead of reaching for the mouse. The scribble strips are a bit limiting and I’ve had to start using a short, acronym driven naming convention on my tracks, but you get used to it.

As for build quality, it’s built like a tank. I had previously given the Behringer X-Touch a try and comparatively it felt like cheap junk that I’d expect to fall apart much sooner.

I have a Yamaha TF5 32 channel mixer, the MCU and another rack section in an Argosy console. I’ve noticed a lot of studios still set up with the mixer front and center. Even the SSLs and Neves often become large mouse pads with computer keyboards propped up on the knobs. For ergonomics, I have the mixer at the far left of the console. The MCU and computer monitor are in the center section directly in front of me, and the computer keyboard is on the armrest so front to back it’s keyboard, MCU, monitor. Patch bay and rack is to the right.

While this means I have to roll to the left to center on the mixer, these days that’s really just used for tracking and routing. I mix in the box, so it makes sense for me to have the controller as the centerpiece and everything else wrapped around it. A bit of a digression from the original question, but I find this to be an excellent workflow and thought it worth mentioning.

I don’t think the MCU is nearly as sexy as the Avid stuff. But I also don’t think it’ll be incompatible with stuff in a year or two. Software either supports MCU or it doesn’t.

Thank you and that is good to hear. I cannot seem to find out though, how to do plugin control with the Avid Artist Control, I’ve only seen videos on YouTube for that using the Avid Artist Mix. Any help or videos that you can refer me to would be very much appreciated. Thanks! :slight_smile:

HOLD INSERT, use PAGE to select plugin and topknob to splash