Steinberg Control Surface

The announcement of the Yamaha DM3 Series makes me ask the question of a possible portable Yamaha/Steinberg control surface. I’m ready to purchase an Avid Dock but would much prefer a Nuendo based control surface if there’s any chance of this in the future. Most of my mixing work is on-site so as great as a Yamaha Nuage system is, you cant pack it in a Pelican case:)

I work with the older Avid Artist Mix. After all, it works to the extent that the artist mix jumps to the selected track. Not everyone does that, apparently not the SSL UF8 either. The Presonus Faderport 8/16 has unusable displays when viewed from the side.
I would also be happy if there was something new and where the buttons and controls also fit Cubase / Nuendo specifically.

I’ve used both the Artist Mix and the SSL controllers. Much prefer the UF8. While there are some gaps, they’re not that big. Build quality and feel is much better. And it’s under active development, while the Mix seems to be a dead-end at this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the gaps on the SSL controllers get closed over time. Especially if you pair it with a UC1 which gives you tactile control over the channel strip and bus compressor. My only gripe with the SSL plugins is that they’re stereo only, if you mix 5.1 that can be a limitation.

If you’re on location, one benefit of the SSL controllers is that they’re USB based. The Artist series with it’s dysfunctional Bonjour network discovery has lost me lots of hairs when it can’t find the controllers, worse on Windows than Mac, but never great.

I did a demo with the UF8 and not having the console/controller jump to the selected channel when selected on Nuendo was a deal breaker. When you have hundreds of tracks and all you want to do is locate the fader quickly this has to work. I’ve been playing with the Avid Control software on my tablet and it does just that. If you select a channel in Nuendo, it selects the channel and highlights it on the left side, ready to automate. I can assume the same would happen once attached to the Avid Dock, maybe not on the older Artist Mix, but possibly on the Dock?

Not disagreeing. They’ve received that feedback before, so hopefully there is a fix for it at some point.

In the meantime, I make use of the track configurations presets in the Nuendo mixer and keep in sync with edit window. I have a config for DX, Amb, Foley, MX, VCA, Bus. These configs are pre-mapped on the UF8 to the 8 send/plugin buttons. So if I do DX edit or mix, I hit the 2 button, and all non-DX tracks get hidden. That limits them to 2-3 pages max and most likely the track I need is on the current page. That system also declutters the UI.

And it’s pretty easy to program custom buttons along the top (you have 5 banks of 8 for different functions, such as punch-preview, etc.

With a recent update of the SSL360 software they double-tasked some of the buttons for transport functions. Not as ergonomic as the Avid Dock transport section, but also doesn’t take as much desk space up.

For large sessions (100+ tracks), the SSL 360 plugin mixer is potentially interesting. Though it’s more tuned to wards music mixes than film mixes. You can easily have 50+ tracks in view across your screen, as on a big hardware console. But you are limited to channel strip and faders, which may not be enough. So far no send controls or inserts. You can do that without hardware controller.

I’ve given them feedback on what is missing in the plugin mixer to make it usable for film mixes. And they are listening.

@allklier , I’d be interested in your opinion of the Avid Control software, I’m trying it right now on a Samsung tablet and it’s really responsive, easy to get around and lots of programmable key potentials. Have you used this software?

I’m using an Avid S1. The controller in combination with the Avid control app works pretty well. But the Eucon implementation in Nuendo has to improve. Therefore I’m always pushing this EUCON Update! - #2 by basicX thread. Generally Steinberg is aware of the Eucon “issues”.

@TBA Yes. I originally worked in ProTools and had an Artist Mix and a Avid Dock with an iPad Mini running the Avid control software. And Avid has been aggressively promoting that software even on their bigger consoles. I think the strategy behind it is, that it’s easier for them to innovate and update software rather than design new hardware. So it’s logical and to some degree an advantage.

That said, I’ve found touch screen apps somewhat pointless. Because I’m working on large film mixes usually, it’s unrealistic to have everything I need, including many different plugins mapped to the control surface. So I can’t work with just the control surface in a session, but always have a combo of UI w/ trackball and control surface. And at that point, the main purpose of the control surface is tactile interaction, multi-track fader rides, and muscle memory on certain buttons/knobs that I use all the time.

That’s the antithesis of a touch screen control software. At that point I might as well either just use the mouse/trackball and do it in the Nunedo UI. Or if I just need some simple button shortcuts, then I could get a much cheaper and less hassle StreamDeck XL.

Given that premise, I have several issues with the Avid surfaces:

  • The build quality of the Artist mix and it’s faders is kind of so-so. The Dock is slightly better, but not fantastic either.
  • If you use the Avid dock with an iPad, it gets really tall. So unless you have a custom build desk, chances are the controller blocks view of your UI monitors. So the dock/iPad combo is not very ergonomic for a standard desk setup.
  • As mentioned earlier, the Eucon software has been hit or miss for me. Some days it works great, other days it can be a real gamble whether all the controller connect. Even with the iPad control surface. You can’t just manually enter the IP address and have it just do its thing. It has to auto discover via Bonjour on the network. It works for most people, but if you’re not one of most, it’s really frustrating.

As to the control software itself. It’s well designed and I have no issues with it, other than that I really don’t want to use a touch screen UI for this type of work. And there are a lot of pages. I think it works best if you have multiple screens and keep them open rather than paging back and forth all the time.

But a lot of that depends on how you’d like to work and what type of sessions you have.

This is the way I have it setup…

(due fro some dusting :wink: )

I know you weren’t asking me, but since you were wondering what it’s like my take on it is that while it’s maybe not essential it’s actually pretty convenient. Things I like are;

  • larger color coded text / icons compared to some options

  • access to all Eucon functions and to regular key commands/macros, including macros in the control software itself

  • the ability to customize pages according to your wishes. I started to set up a few custom pages that are laid out depending on what part of the process I’m currently in

  • access to far more Avid controller channel/track layouts than soft buttons on the controller(s) provide

  • much easier programming of those layouts including saving them

  • at this point I’ve mapped a few too many functions to key commands that it’s getting hard to remember, hence the value of color coded and texted buttons on a tablet rather than my idiot brain remembering it.

So the above is pretty much only about the soft keys in the software, accessed using a tablet (I’m using a cheap Amazon Fire HD). I think that for some other stuff allklier is spot-on. It’s simply not that convenient to use the touch interface for a lot of things compared to just grabbing controls with your trackball or mouse. I tried to use the channel settings page or whatever it’s called and I just found it faster to do it the regular way. Same with some other pages.

Also, for some functions I think you’d need a pretty good tablet and the FireHD I have isn’t really fast enough for some stuff. It’ll show meter ballistics fine but won’t scroll through channels fluidly on one of the pages.

Yeah, that’s a bit of a bummer. In my case it worked fine once I connected straight into my Win 11 computer instead of going through my router. The only thing is that the computer needs a second to recognize it and then Bonjour/Eucon needs to recognize the recognized controller. The “quick” way around it if it’s not seen is to restart the EuCon app from the taskbar. So it’s actually working predictably and well for me.


@allklier @MattiasNYC @chednb , this is all great info, thank you all. My workflow has me designing and premixing in my studio, mostly for themed attraction venues, then travelling to site to do the final mix. I’m having to do everything “in the box” so I can travel with all my automation and tweak once on-site. I’ve been hoping for a solid single fader box to pack with me to mostly manage Groups and VCA’s instead of a mouse. The Avid Control app obviously isn’t a hardware fader but it seems better than using a mouse.

1 Like

@TBA Take a look at the Behringer X Touch-One. I have one sitting here that I tried, but it’s not working out for other reasons. It’s a nice single fader, compact controller that would be good for travel just for those few tactile things and then do the rest in the box:

I was hoping to use it as a better transport control. And it can co-exist with the SSL controllers, however it grabs one track, while the rest are on the SSL controllers, so it leads to funky paging for me. But that’s just because I’m using both together. As a standalone unit for travel it may just be fine. It comes with different faceplates, including one for Cubase/Nuendo, and is a decent enough built quality.

For a small single fader solution you can search for a CC121 or a Presonus Faderport v2. You should also be able to customize the Faderport in the Midi Remote Editor to your needs, which is pretty nice.

@chednb I have always thought that the CC121 would be the perfect option, and was disappointed when I discovered the unit had been discontinued. In your opinion is the build quality of the Faderport fairly decent, I’ve heard they’re pretty flimsy and may not be great to pack and travel with.

@allklier , thanks I will have a closer look at the X=Touch, I just wasn’t sure if it was “road-worthy”.

I had the Faderport v1 and for me the built quality regarding the price was good (metal body, plastic buttons). I don’t know about the built quality of the Faderport v2, but I think the body is now made out of plastic. Size and functions are great imho.

Any thoughts or experience with the ICON Nano Platform Air, it also seems like a possible option.

I’ve just read some reviews that the XTouch 1 is not working with Cubase 12, which I can assume also means N12. More research is required on my part.

1 Like

That’s odd. Was working perfectly well for me on N12.0.52 when I tested it a month ago. Did they mention what the problem was?

To your earlier question - build quality is decent. Housing is metal, not just plastic, and has decent but not excessive weight to it.

Not sure where you’re located. If it’s logistically simple you would be welcome to test my unit, as it’s just sitting around. DM me if interested.

1 Like

Seems like it’s going to be tricky to get ahold of an XTouch One here in Canada. Wondering if this unit might be no longer being produced. I’m reaching out to Behringer.