Please Steinberg, give us a decent control surface for Nuendo / Cubase!

I know this subject has been around for some time, but I would really like to see SB develop a nice controller. The Nuage system has a significant price tag and has been discontinued in development. Chances of SB/Yamaha developing a new smaller Nuage are very low.

I would love to see a mid price range (say: around €3000) controller aimed at medium sized studios (pro and non-pro), that can compete with the AVID line of controllers, Icon V1-M, SSL Nucleus 2, etc.

I have a some pretty concrete ideas about how it should look and operate, and I’d love to participate in development of such a device. I think there is a viable market for a decent controller, which may establish Cubendo even more in the market of audio post and music production.

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What are the specifics?

I could draw a very specific design of the layout and a description of its functionality, but here are the main specs that I would implement:

There would be three available units: A main control unit, an optional extender with 8 extra channels, and an optional surround / atmos extender unit.

Main control Unit:

  • 16 faders and a master faders. Some (or preferably all) faders can be assigned to specific tracks
  • An upright meter bridge, display with track color, scribble strip, parameter names and values, timecode, status info, etc.
  • A second display (with track colors) directly above the faders for scribble strip, parameter value and fader value)
  • Two rows of encoders: One above the lower display (for panning etc.), one on top of the surface (for sends, input settings etc).
  • NO buttons underneath the faders, to leave space to rest your hands when mixing
  • Dedicated transport control with weighted jog wheel. The wheel can also be used for editing (move, trim, slip, fade in/out etc.)
  • A touch screen with 8 encoders and buttons which can function as a “channel strip” for sends, eq, plugin control, control room, etc.
  • Various buttons to control specific functions, and programmable buttons for custom control.

The Extender units should line up nicely with the main unit (Not like the AVID S1 with AVID Dock combo!).

I’ve been thinking to make a document describing the entire unit(s) and functionallity. Maybe I will share it with people to participate. Perhaps it will persuade Steinberg to consider the development of such a unit.

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You can jujst copy the Nuage manual. You are getting close! :slight_smile:
Fredo

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Not dissimilar to the brilliant, but now sadly defunct, SmartAV Tango.

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Yes, well that only underlines my motivation: A smaller, stripped down version of Nuage. Nuage is a great (and sadly, discontinued) system, but unfortunately over budget for many small and medium sized pro and non-pro studio’s.

I could easily design a control surface that would be a perfect addition to Nuendo and Cubase setups (but also compatible with other DAW’s), which would fit at least my audio postproduction facility, and I think many more users as well.

I think the main complaint seems to be that Nuage exists but is too pricey (and now discontinued). It’s mainly about price.

The problems I see are first that you’d have to convince a business that there’s money in it. I don’t think they see a profit in making one. Secondly you would have to convince users that buying one is worth it. And that leads to the third point that users actually have wildly different ideas of what their “dream controller” should look like.

So about people’s participation I offer a couple of posts I made a while back that are quick reads. I basically just went through those threads at Gearspace.com which has a lot of users / posts and collected what people said they wanted in a controller. I put in bold all of the things that I think are important to note about their preferences. If you want to know what people think it’s worth just reading those real quick:

Sad state of DAW controllers in 2023 - Page 4 - Gearspace
Gearspace - View Single Post - Sad state of DAW controllers in 2023

Personally I guess I don’t really see a problem with s1 + Dock at the price point you are describing. You get a ton of functionality for a very reasonable price around 4500 USD. It’s “modular” so you can grow into it. If you’re a facility you can equip smaller rooms with as little as one s1 with a tablet and have your large rooms use the s4 or s6 which means moving from room to room you are faced with the same core system.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love a Steinberg controller with deep integration for around 3-4k USD with the specs you mention. I just don’t think it’ll happen.

PS: for me using PT alongside Nuendo has been necessary for some time now for different reasons. Ideally a Nuendo controller would be able to control PT, and since Avid won’t allow full support it would be limited to MCU which is less than ideal. Good enough for those that don’t do the full work in PT but not great for those that do.

The problem is that for every fifty people who agree with your design choice, there will be five hundred people who don’t want a layout you propose and will reject buying.

I’m sure Steinberg sees all the other internet forums where proposed Cubendo controller layouts are argued to pieces and very little concensus…which then of course…Yamaha also sees.

Tough decisions.

The making of Nuage took more than 6 years.
I was at one of the very first meetings where a handfull of people could “configure” sections into a mockup. We all came with different designs and needs. I think Nuage nailed it 90% and covers pretty much all workflows. The R&D and the build quality result in a steep price tag. That’s how it works.

So the cry for a Steinberg console isn’t about what the console should do, but about what they can offer for a smaller pricetag.

And then there’s also the business/hobby environment, which makes it even more complicated. So the question changes from: “can I afford it” to “can I generate money with it?”.

I can honestly say that for my kind of (medium sized) business, Nuage has been the best investment I ever made in my 40+ career. We are running two full blown rigs and they allow us to get the work done in half the time. I can’t do without it anymore.

And before you ask: We paid both systems @ full price.

Fredo

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Thanks for sharing Fredo.

Totally agree with your assessment.

Thank you for your insight Fredo. I understand that it is impossible to design something that fits everybody’s needs. And there are obviously many considerations to make when deciding to start developing something. Non the least commercial viability.

But I still find it a shame that Steinberg and Yamaha never decided to fill the gap between the high range Nuage and smaller range “compact” devices. A suitable Nuage setup would just be a too big investment for me, unfortunately. I still think there is an opportunity to establish Cubendo even more in the market with a great controller. Especially now that I hear more and more people considering Nuendo as an alternative to Pro Tools /Avid.

Of course I am no specialist regarding commercial viability and the r&d for hardware, but from a user point of view, and an avid user of Nuendo (pun intended!), I would certainly welcome such a device. So, to be direct: @Fredo do you think SB will consider developing such a controller?

Well within that range, roughly $1,500-10,000, you still have up to four Avid s1 + Dock, so from about $1,500 to 7,500, 8 faders to 33.

Does that not “fill the gap”?

The problem is how Steinberg competes with that.
(?)

Well, it fills the gap regarding functionality and price range. But I’d also have to add multiple iPads, of which the one on the Dock doesn’t line up with the S1’s. Sure, it is a great solution, but when looking for a single unit with (for example) 17 or 25 faders, meterbridge, transport controls with jog wheel, etc, instead of having to combine multiple units, iPads, extenders, etc. the search is not easy.

My point regarding this issue was that I think it would be nice if Steinberg (or any other manufacturer for that matter) would make something to fill that gap. The ssl nucleus comes close to what I have in mind.

I understand what you’re looking for. It’s just that users are invariably going to say “I just wish it was modular” and “I just wish it had 8/9 faders instead of 16/17 but with a lower price tag”.

Just as an interesting (?) illustration of that; I started out working in other people’s studios and had to use whatever was there. It ranged from 8-channel MCU-based controllers to 32-channel Digidesign controllers, and eventually Avid controllers. At home I started with a Presonus Faderport single fader unit. In post one fader is pretty painful to work with and I borrowed an 8-fader Euphonix Mix after that. Once I got enough work I bought the s1 and a cheap FireHD tablet.

What I’m getting at though is that I thought 8 faders would be fine with Nuendo and I could just sort of deal with not having more, but with recent jobs I’m now getting annoyed having to switch layouts to access some specific channels quickly. So, point being that I think a lot of users will be in the same boat, especially new engineers. It’s not always clear what the preference really is as far as how many faders we want is concerned until you actually try it. So being at least somewhat modular makes sense because it allows you to grow into a larger setup easily.

So ignoring the cheap tablet and rounding the numbers the increments are 1.5k, 3k, 4.5k, 6k and 7.5k for a setup. With your suggestion it’s starting at 3k and then the next step would be 6k. For a lot of people the starting price will seem high (I don’t think so, but many will), and the price for 24 faders is even ‘higher’ at 6k (because you would get 32 faders even if you only needed 24).

These are the things that complicate the equation I think. The Avid s-system really hits a sweet spot for engineers and facilities in the home/low-end to mid-range in terms of designing a product for as large a part of the market as possible. It’s very flexible and easy to justify financially.

I want what you want though, it’s just very hard to compete with what’s out there.

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I agree. Modular is a good way to meet the demands of different users. It would be cool if Steinberg would make something like that, to compete with the controllers from Avid, SSL, Icon etc.

As I said, the Avid range is a great solution (S1’s with Dock and iPads). Especially since Eucon has much more functionality than Mackie Control. But if I had to buy a new setup to replace my current Mackie Control setup right now, I think I would go with an Icon V1-M with two or three V1-X units.

I only wish that Steinberg would enable some more functionality to their Mackie Control Protocol implementation in order to allow colored channel strips and the secondary display to work. I know there is a Midi API script available (created by @bjoluc ) to make this work but that also still has a few quirks in it.

Not sure if you guys are aware of IconPro IMO these are the best controllers for every DAW.

All the best… :beer:

At some point I was interested in Icon Pro’s single fader devices, but as far as I can tell they suffer from the same problem as their fancy SSL counterpart UF1: the protocol doesn’t allow the controller to follow the channel selection performed with the mouse on the screen.

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Again - “for the money”, right?

Otherwise Nuage and Avid s4/6.

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100%. My bad for being so vague. I have used Icon controllers for the past year and i have had pure success in using them. For the money you really cant go wrong!
One of the key features i like with the Icon HW is the Mouse over function where you can hover the mouse over any dial in your DAW and use the shuttle on the icon to change parameters… totally eliminating click and drag.

All the best :beer:

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That also works with a mouse or a trackball.