History: From HUI to Mackie Control Mackie is no newcomer to DAW control surfaces. It was Mackie that developed the first HUI (Human User Interface) protocol way back in 1997, when many recording studios were just starting to "go digital." As DAWs proliferated in pro studios, the industry responded with giant software-specific control surfaces (with fat price tags to match). Meanwhile, Mackie introduced the Mackie Control protocol to provide deep two-way communication with many DAW platforms and non-linear editors -- even on control surfaces within the means of smaller studios. Most mapping protocols use MIDI messages to control your DAW's virtual mixer, but while MIDI parameters only have values from 0 to 127, Mackie Control works with values from 0 to 1,023 -- far better resolution for finer adjustments. Mackie Control has been around for a decade now, and judging by how it's been embraced by users and hardware/software companies alike, it's here to stay. When you turn on your MCU Pro for the first time, it will prompt you to choose Mackie Control, HUI, or Logic Control -- whichever mode suits your DAW best.
Easy-To-Use Tactile Control with Visual Confirmation The MCU isn't only notable for its industry-standard mapping protocol. As a Mackie product, it's known for its robust build quality and easy-to-use layout. There's a large, seven-segment display for timecode or bars/beats/ticks, and two-line, 55-character backlit LCD that displays track names, meters, I/O assignments, plug-ins -- whatever your software tells the MCU Pro to display -- so you can tweak knobs and faders without having to check your computer screen to see what you're tweaking. You get dedicated transport controls, zoom buttons, and a fat jog/shuttle wheel that's tall enough to grip on its sides or spin with a finger on top. The MCU Pro's nine touch-sensitive Alps motorized faders use a belt with teeth and gears instead of the thin string found on lesser-quality units, for a faster, smoother response. And above the 100 mm faders, each channel strip has illuminated Select, Mute, Solo and Record buttons, illuminated "pushable" rotary encoders, and LEDs that light up when audio or MIDI signal is present.
Lexan Overlays: Label Your MCU Pro for Your DAW Your MCU Pro ships with a collection of Lexan overlays: thin sheets that fit over your MCU Pro's master section to label your controls with DAW-specific nomenclature. Choose an overlay for Pro Tools, Cubase/Nuendo, Digital Performer, or Cakewalk Sonar. The overlays stick on with a light adhesive that leaves no residue, so you can re-stick them again and again for switching between programs. Mackie's parts department stocks overlays for several more supported platforms, and Apple Logic needs no overlay -- its functions are already silk-screened on the face of the MCU Pro. In fact, if you're a video editor, the MCU Pro even works with Apple's Final Cut Pro! Now, it's easy to see which buttons, faders, and knobs control parameters in your application of choice -- as if the MCU Pro was made just for you.
Add More Faders with Optional Extender Units True, the MCU Pro lets you bank between all the channels in your session. But now that you're mixing on real faders, you might just want more to play with. Luckily, it's easy to extend your control surface by eight more faders with the optional Mackie Control Extender Pro and a pair of short MIDI cables. Beyond its USB port, your MCU Pro has three pairs of standard 5-pin MIDI I/O jacks in the back, so you can connect other MIDI gear you may have kicking around -- even an external MIDI interface, and an unlimited number of Mackie Control Extender Pro units. As for the main MCU Pro itself, it connects to your computer with a single USB cable -- and the MCU Pro is class-compliant MIDI device, so you won't need to install any drivers. There are even two ports for plugging in a "momentary" (unlatching) footswitch to access functions like play/stop, arming tracks, or punch in/out -- whatever your DAW lets you configure.
Mackie Control Universal Pro 8-Channel Master Controller with USB Features - Professional control surface for use with all major DAWs -- and some minor ones
- Robust Mackie Control communication protocol, plus Logic Control and HUI modes
- Generous 55-character LCD and large display for timecode or bars/beats/ticks
- 8 touch-sensitive motorized 100 mm Alps faders
- 8 illuminated "V-Pot" rotary encoders
- Transport buttons, navigation buttons, and large jog/shuttle wheel
- Dedicated and assignable buttons that map to your software's specific functions
- Includes Lexan overlays for specific DAW software
The distinction between consumer and professional products is difficult to pin down these days. As the joke goes, "if it says 'professional' on the box, it probably isn't." However, the Mackie Control Universal Pro is no joke. Granted, if you're the only person who ever sees your own recording setup, one of those plastic MIDI-mapping keyboards with a few short "sliders" slapped on the front panel might do just fine. But Mackie thinks you (and the clients and artists that get to see your setup) just might prefer a touch-sensitive control surface that's fit for a real studio. With robust faders, serious expandability, and across-the-board DAW compatibility, the MCU Pro is exactly what its name implies.
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