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Mackie Control - Logic Control (2)

The Best Motorized Mixing Control Surfaces

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A motorized control surface is a very cool approach to mixing and tweaking your music.

Now, depending on what DAW you are using, a control surface may not work as you’d expect, and that’s not a limitation of the motorized control surface, but the DAW.. so make sure your DAW is compatible!

Before continuing, you may ask yourself what is the difference between a digital mixer and a motorized control surface?

Without getting too technical, a motorized control surface is simply just controlling your DAW in terms of mixing faders, plugins, and the transport buttons (play, stop, record, etc.) It allows you to get “hands-on” inside your DAW (if your DAW allows for it), and can also be powerful for recording automation.

Motorized audio control surfaces are super fun to work with and give that real hands-on mixing experience. It avoids this manual fader problem. There are no preamps or any way to connect microphones to a control surface! They are just a MIDI Controller! This means these USB motorized control surfaces have no sounds within them and just send MIDI data to control your DAW. (They simply connect through USB to your computer… old control surfaces used old MIDI 5-Pin Cables).

A digital mixer is similar in terms of “hands-on control”, but it may not have motorized faders. However a digital mixer will allow you to connect microphones to record. If you are using an audio interface, then there is no need for a digital mixer.

One final thing to mention before getting into my recommended motorized control surfaces is if you move the mixer fader inside your DAW’s mixer with your mouse, it will actually move the fader on the control surface itself! (Very cool to see!)

I personally thought I’d like these control surfaces in my early years, but realized a MIDI Keyboard’s Manual Faders are good enough. Anyways, it’s up to you, and here’s some suggested control surfaces with motorized faders. (I personally own the Mackie Control Universal).

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My Choice of Studio Mixing Control Surface

Mackie Control Universal

Mackie Control  - Logic Control (2)
The Mackie Control Universal has been around for years, and is a solid unit. My old version required MIDI Cables, but the new versions are now USB. You can view the Mackie Control Universal on Amazon.

The Mackie Control Universal is a beast!

It is one of the most popular control surfaces because of its price-point to feature ratio!

It is by no means the most expensive on the market, but it does what it is meant to do great!

I personally have the original Mackie Control which uses actual MIDI Cables!

This version is USB, making your connection super easy to computer.

The Mackie Control Universal comes with 9 motorized faders, and when moving to new banks, it’s so cool to watch all the motorized faders move to their new positions.

When you are labeling track names in your DAW, the Mackie Control Universal will display the titles of each track.

It can really make your home studio look professional!

Behringer XTOUCH (Previously: Behringer BCF2000)

I have not personally used the Behringer X-TOUCH, but you can view it on Amazon.

Over the years the best bang for buck was the Behringer BCF2000, but it looks like Behringer replaced the BCF2000 with the X-TOUCH.

The Behringer X-TOUCH is a good compromise from the Mackie Control Universal in terms of price, but I cannot personally speak about performance of the X-TOUCH.

The Behringer X-TOUCH is geared towards any DAW, and this time around is JAM-PACKED with features.

It includes 9 motorized faders that are touch-sensitive, 8 of those faders have an LCD strip allowing you to see track names, and has a TON of buttons as you can see in the image above.

There is also a compact version of the X-TOUCH, too!

PreSonus FaderPort

The PreSonus Faderport is an awesome single fader motorized control surface allowing you to get hands-on, without a lot of money, or taking up a lot of space!

The PreSonus FaderPort is an even more economical solution for a motorized mixing control surface!

Even though it only has 1 fader, it still gives you that motorized fader feeling, without taking up a lot of space. It’s literally a fraction of the cost of the Mackie Control Universal, but still gives you that hands-on experience!

(Watching a motorized fader never gets old! It just looks so cool!)

Another benefit of the PreSonus Faderport is that it has transport controls! This allows you to play, stop, record, rewind and fast forward your track from the unit it self!

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Control Surface – Frequently Asked Questions

What is a DAW control surface?

A DAW controller allows you to get that hands-on feeling when mixing your music.

They come with motorized faders so your faders automatically adjust, unlike the manual fader problem I mentioned above.

There’s many terms out there for what this device is like:

  • MIDI Control Surface
  • DAW Controller
  • Motorized Mixer Faders
  • USB Mixer
  • DAW Fader Controller

Conclusion

At the end of the day, you want to make sure that the faders are motorized so that you can enjoy the real experience of what it’s like to use an audio mixer.

There are other alternatives out there, but they can start to get pricey!

Especially from companies like Avid!

My personal recommendation?

Either:

These are by far the most popular control surfaces on the market, and will get the job done great in regards to getting that hands-on mixing, and having a central hub to work from in your studio.

If you end up getting one, I hope you enjoy your audio control surface!

GratuiTous

GratuiTous

GratuiTous is an artist and producer for the name of Jesus. He has many FL Studio Courses, and many BEAT TAPES and ALBUMS! In 2020 he became a Recognized FL Studio Trainer, and was previously an electrician for 10 years in Canada! Learn more..

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