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Best DAW Control Surfaces 2023

A good control surface will make it much easier for you to produce, record, and mix. The control will actually be at your fingertips, simulating some of the experience of using a genuine studio console without compromising any of the benefits a contemporary DAW provides to any recording studio or home studio. Physical problems brought by by prolonged computer mouse use, including carpal tunnel syndrome, may also be helped by it.

Mackie MCU Pro 8-channel Control Surface with USB

Mackie Control Universal Pro, 8-channel Control Surface with USB (MCU Pro)
  • Proprietary Mackie communication protocol for seamless music production software integration
  • 100mm touch-sensitive optical Penny + Giles motorized faders
  • V-Pot control over software, plug-in effects and virtual instruments

The Mackie MCU Pro was created to bridge the gap between a DAW’s endless potential and the natural feel of faders and knobs at your fingertips. It has a simple USB plug-and-play setup and is compatible with almost any DAW. This is our top-of-the-line option for those who want actual motorized touch-sensitive faders, buttons, and assignable V-pots on a control surface for a complete and immersive music-making experience.

The Mackie MCU Pro is a touch-sensitive control surface that gives your workflow a true console feel and analog ambiance. It has a MIDI interface for direct connection to your computer and additional MIDI gear, as well as Mackie’s proprietary communication protocol for easy software integration.

This allows you to get the most out of your software by providing precise control over setups and control surface assignments without the need for mapping. The 100 mm touch-sensitive Alps motorized faders on the Mackie MCU Pro give you an accurate, smooth, real-console feel, and give your DAW projects that unique organic feel.

More than 50 specialized buttons, accurate V-Pot rotary encoders, plug-in effects, and virtual instruments are all included on this control surface. You can easily check your mixes in real time thanks to the detailed backlit LCD.

Overall, from one of the most reputable names in the build quality game, this is a premier yet still compact solution for having control of your DAW at your fingers. This is on of the Best DAW Control Surfaces in 2023.

Slate Media Technology RAVEN MTi2 Multi-Touch Production Console

Slate Media Technology RAVEN MTi2 Multi-Touch Production Console
  • RAVEN MTi2 Multi-Touch Production Console
  • Powerful Digital Audio Workstations have transferred the modern recording studio into a virtual environment, but what has been lacking is the same...
  • That's where Slate Pro Audio's RAVEN MTi2 is making its mark

Steven Slate’s Slate Media Technology is only one of his many profitable ventures (others include Slate Digital and Steven Slate Audio). I’m not trying to mislead you with the first two brands, but these control surfaces aren’t your usual DAW controller. They don’t have physical sliders because they’re touchscreens lcd displays. They’re glorified iPads in some ways, but they’ve been accepted by professionals all over the world who vouch for their superior functionality and ease of use.

When I think about it, Slate MT’s decision to incorporate a control surface into a touchscreen interface is merely another step toward computerizing the entire recording studio. Slate has been manufacturing superb control surfaces in extremely responsive and compatible world-class touchscreens since the launching of the Raven MTX in 2012. So, while these DAW controllers aren’t your normal touch surfaces, they’re still among the best in their own right. This is on of the Best Control Surfaces in 2023.

Presonus Faderport8 8-Channel Mix Production Controller

Presonus Faderport8 FADERPORT 8 8-Channel Mix Production Controller
  • 8 touch-sensitive, 100 mm long-throw, motorized faders
  • 8 high-definition Scribble strip displays
  • Recording-transport, session, channel, and automation controls. Computer system requirements - Mac - macOS 10. 11 or higher (64-bit only). Intel Core...

The FaderPort 8 was created by PreSonus to help you save time when mixing and controlling your DAW. The 100 mm motorized, touch-sensitive faders on this 8-fader control surface handle smoothly and correctly follow automation. Level, pan, solo, mute, and record arm are all conventional channel controls, and a full set of digital scribble strip displays keep you on track as well. The FaderPort 8 supports PreSonus Studio One natively, as well as HUI and Mackie Control Universal protocols, allowing it to be used with nearly any DAW software.

The PreSonus FaderPort 8’s main transit portion allows you to work more efficiently. You receive general session controls like undo/redo, solo/mute clear, track management, and more, as well as the ability to switch automation modes instantaneously, in addition to all the conventional transport features.

Session Navigator is another useful feature on the FaderPort 8. This is where important functions like track scrolling, channel banking, and other navigational demands are handled. Dedicated buttons make it simple to record tracks, see buses, and use VCAs. You can set your most-used DAW functionality right where you need them with four configurable User buttons.

Additionally, the faders on this PreSonus control surface can be used to change plug-in settings and bus sends. If you’re new to recording, the FaderPort can be very appealing. This is because the FaderPort 8 comes with PreSonus’ DAW Studio One Artist and various other software tools to assist you in getting started with computer recording. You also get the Studio Magic plug-in suite, which includes emulations of historic studio gear from legendary manufacturers as well as an extensive collection of popular plug-ins. These plug-ins are usable with any DAW because they come in AAX, VST, and AU formats. This is on of the Best DAW Control Surface in 2023.

Icon Pro Audio DAW Control Surface QCon Pro X

Icon Pro Audio DAW Control Surface, QCon Pro X Main Unit (QCONPROX)
  • 8 touch-sensitive motorized channel faders
  • 12-segment LED channels level metering on metering bridge
  • 1 touch-sensitive motorized fader for master channel

The reliable Icon QCon Pro is a great option if portability is not an issue for you. In terms of a studio setup, it very much has everything you could want. For a larger arrangement, you can add up to three extension choices. LEDs also give a readout of where the pots are. A wheel allows you to easily and swiftly travel along the track time code position, and there are 18 assignable buttons, so you can set it up precisely how you want.

Even the darkest, vibiest studios can use the lighted transport buttons. It uses USB 2.0 to connect. Also, a ton of free software from firms like Harrison, Tracktion, and Bitwig is included. There are two footswitch ports with various applications. And finally, it’s compatible with pretty much any OS for Windows (including 7 and XP!). It is compatible with OS X and Big Sur on Mac.

Even a digital lock can be applied to it! And for a smaller business, it’s generally accessible at your favourite retailer of musical instruments. This is the one if you’re seeking for a DAW control surface that is incredibly professional. And Icon offers a variety of other smaller, less expensive variants if this one is out of your budget range. versatile, for sure.

Korg nanoKONTROL2 Slim-Line USB Control Surface

Korg nanoKONTROL2 Slim-Line USB Control Surface, Black
  • Low-profile, multi-function control surface
  • New track select and marker advance parameters
  • Supports numerous software titles including major DAW programs

In the world of musicians and producers, Korg is a household name. This Japanese behemoth has been in the MIDI and audio industries for more than half a century and continues to be a market leader. Korg offers the nanoKONTROL2, a control surface designed specifically for laptop computers and including features and versatility that will appeal to artists on the road.

The eight channels on the Korg nanoKONTROL2 allow you to control your music software. It has a separate transport control section with buttons that have been carefully chosen to provide simple and straightforward use. Major DAW systems such as ProTools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and many more are supported, and no complicated connection settings are required.

(Is Logic Pro superior than Ableton Live as a DAW? In our head-to-head shootout, see how they stand up against each other.) Each of the eight channels has a knob, fader, and three switches assigned to pan, volume, and solo/mute/record, respectively. There’s also a marker button, which makes it simple to place markers at key spots in your track for better recording and production. You can assign parameters to the desired controllers for easier control if you’re using a software synthesizer.

For example, you may use the faders to control an envelope generator’s ADSR, and the knobs to adjust the cutoff frequency and resonance of a filter. To ensure that you produce and govern in style, each of the three nanoSERIES2 models is available in either bold black or bright white. It’s worth noting that this control surface just requires a single USB cable to operate, making it a very portable music production device at this price range.

Without an additional power supply, the nanoSERIES2 controllers can be utilized with an iPad. However, Korg cannot guarantee compatibility, and issues may arise when Apple’s operating system evolves and/or new models are released. The KORG Kontrol Editor software is required to use the nanoKONTROL2. Installing this program, which is accessible for free on the KORG website, allows you to make comprehensive personalized settings.

Behringer X-Touch Mini

Behringer X-Touch Mini
  • Compact USB Control Surface with 16 Illuminated Buttons
  • 8 Rotary Encoders with LED Collars
  • 2 Control Layers

Behringer has a long history of delivering economical solutions to musicians. This German firm is well known for producing low-cost mixers, which are a cost-effective alternative to more expensive options. The Behringer ethos is brought to a DAW control surface with the X-Touch Mini, and it’s our best value option for people that require it.

With the Behringer X-Touch Mini Ultra-Compact Universal USB Control Surface, the user can control numerous parts of their production software with their fingertips. This controls interface is user-friendly and adaptable, as is characteristic of Behringer.

All common Digital Audio Workstations, instruments, effects, and even lighting applications may be controlled with the X-Touch Mini. The X-Touch Mini has Mackie Control emulation built in, so you can use it with almost any professional audio production program. The best part is that it is ready to use right out of the box. A 60 mm master fader and Dual Layer Mode allow for quick switching between DAW and instrument control on this Behringer control surface. You can also flip between any two applications using the Dual Layer Mode.

A DJ, for example, can use one layer for virtual synths and the other for lighting control during a performance. On one layer, you could control lighting while on the other, you could playback from a DAW. The control components on this control surface are pre-configured and ready to use right out of the box. You may also alter the experience with a free, downloadable, and user-friendly editor software if you want to.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a DAW controller do?

These provide you with a tactile way to manage automation, channel volume, and playback controls.

Do I need a DAW controller?

Making music doesn’t require a DAW controller. They may facilitate some processes. But it all depends on how you prefer your workflow to function. Without one, you can absolutely complete every step of the production process.

You’ll simply have to try one to see if a DAW controller fits your workflow. They require some getting used to, and in practice they are only theoretically similar to using an analog mixer. Everything may be done inside a box; they merely simplify some tasks for some people.

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