Joined: Feb 28, 2005
Audio files: 32
G2 patch files: 15
|Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 11:17 am Post subject:
Euphonix MC Control first look review
|I have only played with it for a few hours with Logic 8 but here goes:
First impressions out of the box where not good, the fader tops are very naff plastic things and two of them where floating around in the packaging.
Also all the buttons are slightly offset in their holes which looks bad.
You get two crap plastic legs to attach to either side, these raise the unit up from the desk and angle it towards you but have the side effect of making the whole thing wobble alarmingly in use. They were soon removed!
When turned on the screen looks absolutely terrible, flickering madly on the left side and very unevenly lit. Also can only really be seen properly from directly above, pretty useless.
I got in touch with Euphonix who got back to me really quickly saying that I have a duff backlight, they are arranging a replacement unit directly from the factory. I have read a lot of stuff in other forums about shit screens but fingers crossed for the next one.
The documentation is pretty sparse, with only very basic information. The advertised ability to create your own softkeys is not included, a little piece of paper apologises for this and states that it will be available soon from the website, this update is available on the Euphonix website.
Main screen area
The main screen has four knobs to the left and four to the right. These knobs are touch sensitive and can also be pressed to act as buttons. Underneath the screen are 12 buttons.
There are two main views you can have on the screen, the view in the picture I posted before is the softkey view. In Logic there are around 10 pages of softkeys, quite nicely laid out, for instance there is a page for just markers, a page for mixer settings etc. You can change these softkeys with the softkey editor. Also there is no way of quickly moving between pages apart from scrolling through them one at a time, using the softkey editor you can set it up this way, more on this later.
The other view is the track view, I have included another pic showing this. In this pic you can also see the bad backlight, the send knob in the top right is totally dark while the EQ knob in the bottom left is light. You cant see the flickering though
Basically each box is a track, in SEL mode you can press the boxes to select the track, this will also place the track onto the faders. In mute mode you can mute multiple tracks same idea for Rec and Solo mode. The arrow moves the tracks up and down so you can get at all your tracks.
The stuff at the top, left, right and bottom stays the same in both views.
At the top we have the four tracks assigned to the faders, you get the fader DB value and also a meter for the audio.
On the left and right you get various functions for the currently selected track. Tracks can be selected via the screen in track view, via the SEL button next to each fader or via logic. So to get at the inserts you press down the knob in the top left (not the screen but the hardware knob). Now what happens is that your inserts for the track get displayed next to each knob. You then click the knob next to the insert you are interested in and the parameters are spread over the knobs. You can use the page buttons to scroll through all the pages. So it basically all works in a hierarchical way, there is a back button to go one level back up the tree, and you can press shift with back to go to the top. The plugin window appears on the screen while you are in this mode, when you exit it disappears, just what you want.
Input allows you to set the input channels for audio tracks. You can also get to the parameter sets for any plugin instruments here
Dyn is meant to give you any dynamics processors for the track, I have never seen this work!
EQ gets you to the tracks EQ (as long as you are using the logic one that is)
Sends show the sends, so you can adjust the amount you are sending.
Pan allows you to pan the track, you press it and then the pan appears on another knob, very confusing.
Group allows you to add the selected track to any groups you have defined.
Output allows you to set the output for the track.
Now when you are in any of the views you can enter configure mode by pressing the page left and page right buttons together. This is when it starts to get fun.
As an example if you are in the insert view and enter config mode you can add new plugins by clicking the knob for the insert slot you wish to use, then the entries that you would normally see on the pulldown menu in logic for adding plugins appear, clicking the knob for a group, say "AUD Units" will then list all the folders under that until you get down to the plugin you want then you exit config mode and the plugin appears on that insert, bloody great. Config modes also works for Sends allowing you to set up your send slots and for inputs allowing you to choose plugins like you can for inserts.
The bottom of the screen shows more softkeys but these softkeys are mapped to the hardware buttons below the screen, there are four pages of these in Logic and you can move between the pages using the two hardware softkey up and down buttons on the left bottom of the screen. Page 1 is for selecting tools, Page 2 is location and cycle stuff, Page 3 is automation stuff and page 4 is a miss mash of stuff.
The Fader Area
There are four touch sensitive faders, they are full travel and move very quickly. Each fader has a solo and mute button above them and a rec enable and select button to the left. As mentioned before the plastic tops are pretty nasty.
With shift held the rec button can be used to cycle through automation modes off, read, write and touch for that channel.
With shift held the SEL button enters assign mode. Basically this allows you to lock each fader to a track in your project, so you can quite easily lock fader one to your master channel for example. you can also lock a fader to the selected track or allow the MC control to use it freely. You can also store 48 separate layouts, a layout is the settings for the faders, so you could have your bass tracks on one layout, vocals on another etc. There is no default way on the MC Control of selecting these but you can set up softkeys to do this.
The transport area
You get Rec, play, stop, ff and rew buttons but no pause, you can add a softkey for this though. The jog wheel also feels very tacky and wobbles a bit with a bad clicking noise. The wheel can be used for jog, shuttle, and zooming in x and y.
The other buttons
Application - If pressed this switches between the last two used application on the MAC. If held down you get the alt tab application view, then you can use the bank left and bank right buttons to choose the app you want.
Back - Goes back one level up the hierarchy of knobs.
Page Left and Page Right - move through pages of parameters.
Nudge Left and Nudge Right - Move through tracks one at a time.
Bank Left and Bank Right - Move through tracks a bank at a time. If you have not locked your faders to tracks then this will be four tracks at a time, if you have a locked fader (say fader 1 is master) then it would move three tracks at a time.
With shift you also get:
Workstation - Allows switching the unit between different workstations (computers) on the network, havent tried this yet.
Top - Go to top of the hierarchy of knobs.
Mixer - Brings up the mixer.
Close - Closes the active window in Logic.
Home - Go to the first track
End - goto the last track
Holding down Page Left and Page right together goes into config mode.
There is also a monitor/control room knob for adjusting volumes applications that support a EuCon monitor section, this doesn't work with logic.
The softkey editor opens up the MC Control and gives it some real power. The editor allows you to set up softkeys for the touchscreen and also for the 12 buttons under the screen.
You can set up four different types of softkey:
1. Key - This will send a string of keystrokes to the application.
2. Eucon - This will send a Eucon command to the application. There are huge amounts of eucon commands available for Logic, including a set for EXS24 and the environment!
3. Page - Allows you to set up keys to page up, down and go directly to softkey pages. This is very useful as you can for instance set up the bottom keys to go directly to pages on the softscreen.
4. MC - You can use this to set up keys to recall layouts of faders and also to toggle r/w automation for all tracks (although this doesn't seem to work). Also there are two grayed out functions "Parameter collect" and "Parameter punch" not sure about these.
You can set the text, font, colour and icon for softkeys.
So what is it like for Logic
Well I must admit I really like this device, the integration with Logic is very good.
There are of course some improvements that could be made:
1. There is no way of loading presets into plugins or accessing their menus.
2. Would be nice to be able to select the bus track of a send from the send screen.
3. Need the ability for creating controller maps for plugins. At the moment it lays the logic plugins across the knobs quite nicely but for other plugins you just get them in whatever order they are defined in the plugin. This ability to group these into pages by the user is a must I think for automation work as it is no good having the freq and res of a filter on different pages for instance.
4. I can find no way of adjusting Q on the logic EQ using the EQ section on the MC Control. You can do this from the inserts section!
5. Nicer fader tops would be nice and a better jog wheel and feet.
So what is it like for mackie/hui control.
I haven't looked at this too much yet but as far as I can see so far it is not good I managed to get pan, volume and transport working in Live 7 but that was about it. I couldn't get it to work with Reason at all and had vague success controlling the mixer on my fireface. I will look into this more and post another report.
Softkeys look very powerful.
Well apart from the general feeling that this is a beta device with some of the software and functionality missing I find that I rather like it. It is not perfect but I am hoping that software updates are going to sort my problems out. It seems like Euphonix took a good few months to get the MC Mix working properly so fingers crossed for the MC Control.
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