Nektar Panorama p-1 first impressions - Instrument Mode

My system: Win 7, 64bit running Cubase 7.03 with the MR816X interface. Controllers: Steinberg’s CC121 and the CMC series. (Previously I used the Mackie Control and Novation’s Remote 25SL). I’ve been pretty happy,for the most part, with the Steinberg controllers, except I haven’t found anyway to control VST plugins to any degree.
So after on line review and research I opted to try the Panorama p-1 to take the place of the Remote. I deleted all of the automap vsts (all over the place).

CAVEAT: This is not a review. The following is my very limited experience, over a 4 hour period with the p-1. I hope the short comings I mention are due to a misunderstanding on my part

The first thing I found out was, of course :slight_smile:, the p-1, isn’t as plug and play as touted. (Since my focus is on vst plugin control I won’t comment on the other p-1 areas,except I didn’t notice any real glitches). In fact, it was a Musictech, I believe, review which pointed out one needs to follow the online instructions step by step in order to understand stand how the various commands function. The minor frustration there is there is no up to date online manual to download. Instead there are a series of individual pdf instructions which makes online reading tedious,so you end up printing them out one by one. Nektar could do better here.

Following the instructions for instrument control, I loaded Steinberg’s Retrologue and the control depth is as indicated by Nektar. But I found that patch selection approach appears limited to “blind” stepping or scrolling. You have to look on your computer screen to see the patch name,as the p-1 doesn’t show it. And I haven’t found a way to call up patch banks without turning to the computer mouse. Next I tried Halion Sonic and noticed nothing mapped, then I realized Nektar has mapped Sonic SE. That was better, but the mapping seemed incomplete,but it could very well be my ineptness in understanding the controller. Again patch scrolling seemed narrow,as I haven’t found how to utilize selection categories and filters.

As to patch control on other mapped instruments from Native Instruments and Korg it is either a semi-hit or miss. Absynth 5 is a case in point. Sometimes the patches would change. Restarting Cubase, the patches wouldn’t change. Parameter control seemed to work but visual feedback wasn’t alway clear as to what was being controlled.

As to the VST Effects, the Waves, V9 seemed to work pretty well.

Overall I am in a wait and see mode as to whether I’ll keep the unit. If I could open on the computer screen the patch banks, change patch banks and patch selection similar to using the mouse, I’d probably keep it for that alone. I have hopes for the p-1…maybe I’m the problem :slight_smile: .

Well, it does seem like a bit of a complicated device.

EDIT: Now that my P6 has arrived & I’ve had a chance to work with it, I retract that last statement. It is not complicated but actually quite easy to use and well thought out! :sunglasses:

Myself, I have the P6 coming in about a week, so we shall see.

EDIT: Has since arrived, as stated above. :smiley:

I’m not as concerned about controlling Vsts as I am about just replacing my current Novation ReMote 37SL keys. But after the countless Automap nightmares, anything’s got to be better!

EDIT: And it sure is! I’m liking this thing a lot already.
No problems, no hang ups, no clitches.

Beautiful integration with Cubase as well! :mrgreen:

Further explorations: Good news and some frustrating news. I’m able to change patches with Nektar on all the mapped instruments that I have. BUT you can’t just call up Massive or Absynth or… in it’s default mode and expect to navigate through the hundreds of program patches using the particular instrument’s browsing format/ filters. To be fair, Nektar may have mentioned this but I didn’t catch it - you have to create programs of 128 patches. Then load the program. The “patches” which can be multis then appear in the Cubase Inspector Progran Selector window. Apparently that is where Nektar is looking. By default on a lot of 3rd party plugins the Selector window just shows “disabled”. So much for my “fantasy” of browsing / filtering the hugh library of sounds per instrument. Unless I’m wrong about this, the patch changing on the Nektar is really more for live performance. The mouse still rules, unfortunately, in the studio. :cry:

Will I keep it? Maybe. I do like the fact it is not a wrapper like Novation controller operate under. Parameter control is “right there” for the mapping which Nektar has done. But to create banks of 128 sounds for all those instruments, well… a lot of work… :confused:

I am a happy owner of a P4 and I still feel like I am just scatching the surface with it. I still have plenty to learn.

Anything a controller can provide me to have to use the mouse less is great. That being said, I knew that I would never get away completely from using the mouse. Especially with an application as deep as Cubase. There is only so much you can expect to control. The macro functions on the Panorama are great and I totally recommend them if you havent already explored them.

I was coming from an original Novation Remote controller and this thing is leaps and bounds better. IMO there is nothing currently out there for the same price that can touch this. I think these guys set a new standard and I am sure other companies will have to “up” their game.

Thanks for the feedback.

I agree it is a shame we can’t display the name of the active preset on the P1’s display. Unfortunately Cubase does not send this information to control surfaces.

As you found with Retrologue, the P1 can step through available FXB patches, but as you have found with the NI plugins some VST instruments use an internal patch structure - which we can not access. In this case most provide a method to link patches to program changes. You might have seen that pressing the F-KEYS button modifies the transport section on P1 to be F-Key buttons F1-F11. You could set up 2 F-Keys as global program change +/- in order to step through patches on such instruments. (note: on the P4 and P6, there are 2 buttons below the Octave buttons which can be set to Program change +/-)

The F-Keys are particularly useful where there is a function you wish to perform that is not supported on the P1 directly, but is listed in Cubase’s key commands. For example you can open the Preset browser by assigning it a keystroke in Cubase, then mapping that keystroke to an F-Key. (note that you can map up to 8 keystrokes to a single button press)

Finally, we can only control those parameters that are presented to Cubase for automation. Often VST Instruments have controls (particularly switch type controls) that can be set in the GUI with the mouse but can not be automated.

So there are definitely some improvements we would like to make to our system should possibilities for improvement open up! Browsing patches is something I would love on the Panorama series as we have the screen real-estate and capabilities to display the necessary information. ;0)

The F-Keys are particularly useful…For example you can open the Preset browser by assigning it a keystroke in Cubase, then mapping that keystroke to an F-Key. (note that you can map up to 8 keystrokes to a single button press)…

Can you say a bit more about this feature? I didn’t know that this was possible.

Sure, the QWERTY macro support is very useful, but it takes a little setting up.

if you hold down the ‘F-KEYS’ button above Loop you will see the display updates to show a graphic of the transport controls with F1-F11 listed and labels for the functions currently mapped to them.

Instructions to edit QWERTY macros and map them to F-Keys (or Pads if you like) are on our website:

Here is a summary:

  • Press INTERNAL above the display to access Panorama’s internal functions.
    Hold F-KEY and press F1-F11 (the button you want to program)
    Press Setup (the right-most button under the display) and select CTRL EDIT from the setup menu.
    Press the QWERTY Macro button (middle button under the display with a QWERTY keyboard graphic)

Now you will see the Macro Editor. Click on ‘NEW’ and Learn. Then enter the QWERTY keystrokes directly. When all keystrokes have been entered, click ‘done’.

You can enter up to 8 keystrokes per message. For example one I like is ‘duplicate’ which is CTRL+C and CTRL+V in one macro. This will copy and paste the selection in Cubase using only 1 button.

When you have set up your QWERTY macros, press MIXER, INSTRUMENT or TRANSPORT above the display to return to controlling Cubase.

Thanks - that’s next on my list to experiment with on my new P6, since I’ve now worked through most of it.

Lovin’ it so far btw. :mrgreen: