The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Mackie Control: First opinions
Old 2nd November 2002
OzNimbus's Avatar

Mackie Control: First opinions

Ok, I got my Mackie control today, and here's my 1 hour test review.

I'm a Sonar guy, and I've been using various incarnations of Cakewalk since 1.7, so that means control surface support has been pretty much non-existent. With version 2.1, Sonar finally gets it right with support for the Mackie Control, the CM labs motormix, the Radikal Technologies controller, and various others.

So on to the Mackie Control! To sum it up: It's a very cool piece of gear.... I almost forgot what it's like to mix with a board in front of you. The transport controls are great, which is nice because I've always hated Cakewalk's transport. Having real tactile feedback is a major plus.
The faders: I really dig 'em. They're VERY sensitive, and they weren't kididng when they said 1024 step. I can mix more precisely than with a mouse, which was a pleasant surprise. Whereas the mouse seems to miss a few tenths of dB's per dB, the Mackie is right on the money. Very cool.
Not only are they precise, they're pretty smooth too. Not as smooth as a hi-end digidesign controller I've seen, but WAY smoother than the CM Motormix, and smoother than the faders on my vintage Ward Beck console (which are P&G btw).

The real bonus here is the ability to mix in a non-linear fashion. Mouse mixing means moving one fader at a time, which is a total pain in the ass. The mackie has 8 faders, which is a good start. Doing fader automation for drum tracks actually became fun for a change... Now I just have to save up for an XT. :eek:

But the thing I loved the most about it, was bieng able to shut my computer monitor OFF, and just mix with my ears.

So this is my impression of it after playing with it for an hour... I'll update this thread as I delve more deeply into it's capabilites.
Old 4th November 2002

It's great to get news on this product!

Keep the info flowing!

Old 6th November 2002
BevvyB's Avatar

Stop playing with the damn thing and post up how it's going!!
Old 7th November 2002
Yeah! Or we will send the (London) Boys round!
Old 7th November 2002
OzNimbus's Avatar

Sorry for the delays, but I'm on vacation and the wife has me remodelling the bathroom!

More news/views to follow the minute I get a chance to play with it.

Old 7th November 2002
Old 7th November 2002
I got all excited for a minute.
Then I read some descriptions and it seems that connectivity with Pro Tools is not even a distant possiblity at present. ......unless I missed something.
Bummer, especially after what you said about the CMS Labs thingy.
Old 7th November 2002
OzNimbus's Avatar

I really couldn't tell you about the PT thing... I'm a Sonar guy. Maybe you'd like to look at the baby HUI?

Anyway, here's a critical view of the Mackie Control. (I'll refer to it as the "MC" from this point to save keystrokes)

I found a glitch the other day, and I'm still working on a workaround. In Sonar, anyway, if you are in "record automation" mode and record 4 or more fader movements at the same time, the MC will lock up.
If you're not in "record automation" mode, they're no problem whatsoever.
This could be fixed by nothing more than a buffer adjustment, but I haven't had a chance to do a workaround yet. I'll keep ya posted.

Old 7th November 2002
OzNimbus's Avatar

Ok, I've just got done messing around with the thing some more.

About the record automation glitch: There IS a workaround.
First off, I've got the stability level up to 7 faders.... 8 sometimes, but it'll still lockup most times with 8.
... I've questioned Cakewalk tech support and we'll see what they have to say. In the meantime, here's a solution.

I've noticed when automating groups that there's a cool feature. Say you have two faders grouped (2 guitar mics, for example), while in record automation mode, if you touch just one fader, it will only record the movement on the one fader. If you are touching BOTH faders, but move only the first, it will record the automation for both faders, maintaining your group positioning. Even though you only physically moved the first fader.

So I applied this to the 8 fader problem, and whaddaya know, it worked! Let's say you want to do a nice 8 channel fade. Arm all the tracks for automation, and make them the same group. Hit your record button, and grasp all the faders, but only move the first one for the fade.... and the whole group gets faded. There ya go. 8 channels of automation.

To be honest, mixing with this thing is alot like playing an instrument. I probably coulnd't do 8 simultaneous fader rides with any kind of accuracy on one pass. However, it does pay to know this thing's limitations.
Another suggestion would be for 8 channel automation would be two passes. Do 4-6 channels first pass, then the remaining faders on the second pass. It'll probably be more accurate in the long run. Again, this is all in "record automation" mode for Sonar. Within regular playback you can whiz the faders around till the cows come home and there are no glitches whatsoever. I think it's all related to my computer's speed. I'm running a 1.3 Ghz Athlon, and it's nearly time to upgrade again. Hopefully with a faster machine there won't be any problems.

Another cool feature, within Sonar anyway, are the programmable function keys. The top row of F1-F8 can be programmed for just about any function you can think of within Sonar. I really like this as a button to press beats the hell out of navigating drop down menus!

Also, the Jog/Shuttle wheel can be progammed for 3 levels of precision: Measures, Beats, and Ticks. Again, a really cool feature..

More to come!
Old 7th November 2002
I see on the Digi board that a Pro Tools friendly version will be announced at the Jan 2003 NAMM.
Old 8th November 2002
BevvyB's Avatar

****, I really wish i could be reading this stuff about the Logic controller!!!
Old 10th November 2002
OzNimbus's Avatar


Ok, here goes: I emailed Cakewalk's tech support to see if they've run into the problem before. They suggested my soundcard, a Delta 1010 (my main converter is a Rosetta, btw) might be sharing and IRQ. Sure enough, my USB port was on the same IRQ. Cakewalk had given me detailed instructions on how to disable ACPI (a PCI and power management util) in WinXP. With this disabled, and my Delta now happily sitting on it's very own IRQ I fired up the MC, and it...still...crapped out on 8 fader automation record.

This got me to thinking about how the Delta works with MIDI while spitting out Audio. It was quite possible the Delta was simply bieng overwhelmed by so much data to compute. Fortunately, I had an old Soundblaster card kicking around. Once I dropped the SB into my computer, I hooked up the MC to it's Midi ports. Well, the SB didn't seem to be outputting all of the proper MIDI data, as the MC wasn't properly clearing it's LCD display for new projects, nor were the faders auto-adjusting as I switched channels, banks, and projects. (This could very well be a driver issue... I'll have to check Creative's website to see if there's an
However, it had no problem whatsoever with recording fader automation. I was flying the faders around in the most extreme manner and it didn't even blink.

So this brought me to the final solution: Since the Delta didn't seem to have a problem with Midi output, I unhooked the midi out from the SB and re-connected it to the Delta's Midi out. It worked flawlessly. Now I've got a fully functioning Mackie Control with no glitches at all. In the end, all I did was offload the Mackie's Midi out to another soundcard.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Mackie. It's comfortable, and easy to use. The programmable function keys just plain rock, and it's sped up my mix process quite considerably. I'm really glad I picked one up.

Oh yeah, one last thing: A big thumbs up to Cakewalk's tech support for getting back to me so quickly.
Even though they didn't give me the complete solution, they did send me down the right path.

Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.

Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump