Steinberg CC121 by Crevil
The Steinberg CC121 is a great little controller!
Searching the Internet for a suitable controller for my home recording studio for days, I stumbled across this little, yet powerful controller from Steinberg.
For all the years using Cubase as DAW I’ve been looking for something to get the hands-on feeling without going all in, and getting some large desk controller like AVID.
The main design is very much like the interface you see in Cubase and the controller is divided in 3, or actually 4 sections; Channel, EQ, Transport and the AI Knob and some function keys.
It uses the USB interface and is plug-and-play ready.
Left most on the controller is the channel section. Including one motorized 100 mm fader, various channel buttons like Solo, Mute, Read and Write, a pan-knob and the Channel select buttons.
A note about the motorized fader: The CC121 can be used as a USB powered device, but the fader is only motorized when using the AC adaptor.
The design is basically the same as you see in Cubase and is easy to use. Using the Channel select buttons to shift through the channels in the Project window.
Here is one of the only negative things, in my opinion, about this product.
You are really shifting through the Project window, and NOT the mixer. This means that have hidden some channels in the mixer to focus on, say, the drums you have to line up all channels in the project window.
This said small features like pressing both Channel Select buttons when a folder track is selected expands or collapses it, and keeping them pressed affects the whole project.
The middle section is a dedicated EQ section, controlling the Channel EQ within each Cubase track. There is four “banks” of controls, one for each band in the EQ controlling Q, frequency and gain.
The button EQ Type is used to change the different EQ types like shelving, High-pass etc. for each band. And very importantly a All Bypass button to quickly audit the effects of what you are doing.
The quote: “Use your ears not your eyes” is so easy to go by with all controls at your hands. You can focus on tweaking the sound and not look at the graphics.
This said, you have to spend some time with this section to get the right flow.
Underneath the EQ knobs, is the transport section including the usual Play, Stop, Record and fast forward / rewind buttons.
This is simple and very essential for a controller. It has increased my workflow and energy when tracking because you can let go of the mouse and just focus.
AI Knob etc.:
On the right side the the AI knob is placed, functioning as a jogwheel and multi control wheel. Hover the mouse over all most any button in Cubase and change the value of it, with the knob. Easy and simple but not totally integrated with 3. Party plugins.
You can lock the wheel to a specific function using the Lock button. This makes it possible to make changes to two parameters at the same time with the wheel and the mouse in the other hand.
Above this a programmable knob and 4 user assignable buttons. These can control any thing with in Cubase. I use it to enable the monitor and headphone outputs and the knob as volume controller. But anything is possible.
You can expand the setup with Steinbergs CMC controllers, giving you extra faders, pads etc. These are touch controllers, which means you don’t have actual faders, but still the feeling of using the fingers instead of the mouse.
Another thing is, that the controller is designed for Cubase and Nuendo. Some of the basic functions are still usable with other DAWs. I have used it with REAPER where some custom drivers are available on the Internet. I have read that some users have success using it with Logic too.
The Steinberg CC121 is a great little controller, mainly for Cubase, with some great functions and a great tool to improve the workflow and feeling when recording and mixing. With a price of around $430 it is a little high for small home recording studios, for “just” a single fader and some knobs. But I find it very fair and a bargain when compared to what you get.