Steinberg DAW Controllers

By | April 7, 2015

Most of the major digital audio workstations (DAWs for short) have dedicated hardware controllers, and Cubase is no exception. Three pieces of hardware offer integrated compatibility with all versions of Cubase, which are the Steinberg CMC-AI, the Steinberg CMC-QC and the Steinberg CC121. The Steinberg DAW controllers are amazing tools that give you hands-on control over all parameters and functions within the powerful software. While both the CMC-AI and the CMC-QC can be used separately, they’re best utilized when paired together. The CC121 is a standalone controller and features dedicated controls for channel settings. All three are USB-powered, meaning they can draw power straight from your computer. Let’s take a look at these three devices.

Steinberg CMC-AI

Steinberg CMC-AI Cubase Controller Control USB face front panel control surface

This Steinberg DAW controller is USB-powered and provides you with a user-intuitive, hands-on workflow. The key feature of this piece of hardware is the multi-functional AI Knob. This knob lets you control nearly every aspect of Cubase, including mixer faders, equalization gain knobs and effect level sends. Just point your mouse cursor over the desired control in the software and the AI knob will map to control the selected parameter. Selected objects can be locked to the knob so you can use your computer’s mouse for other parameters. All AI Knob-controllable parameters fall under what’s known as AI Mode. There are two other modes beyond that: Jog Mode and Volume Mode. Jog Mode makes the AI Knob act with jog functionality and allows you to scroll through things like presets and sound libraries. This mode also lets you utilize the “press” feature of the knob to select presets and sounds. Volume Mode turns the AI Knob into the master volume control.

The control surface of the CMC-AI also features four user-assignable buttons that let you customize the device to suit your needs. Think of this Steinberg DAW controller as an addition to using your computer’s interface. While it can’t completely replace your mouse and keyboard, it works with them to give you a smooth workflow.

Steinberg CMC-QC

Steinberg CMC-QC Quick Control Controller USB Cubase face front panel control surface

The Steinberg CMC-QC (QC standing for Quick Control) features eight illuminated rotary encoders and 13 illuminated buttons. Green LEDs around the knobs change their intensity in relation to the set positions. You get full flexibility with three dedicated working modes: EQ, Quick Control and MIDI). EQ Mode has the rotary encoders mirror the Cubase Channel EQ controls, giving you accurate control over gain levels, frequency and bandwidth. Quick Control Mode gives you precise control over effects and automation data. Just choose a parameter within the software, push the f/Q Learn button and turn an encoder. That parameter is now mapped to the encoder your turned. MIDI Mode turns this Steinberg DAW controller into a configurable MIDI controller. The included CMC-QC Editor software allows you to edit the MIDI-mapped parameters through a clean graphical user-interface. Parameter values are visible below each knob. Out of the 13 illuminated buttons, eight are user-assignable. Now you can take your most essential functions and assign them for consistent and convenient access.

Steinberg CC121

Steinberg CC121 Advanced Integration Controller Control USB hardware face front panel top control surface

The Steinberg CC121 is an advanced integration controller. It works parallel to your creativity to give you a control surface that brings out the best in your artistic endeavors. Numerous buttons and knobs, including an AI Knob, give you total control over all functions and parameters in the Cubase digital audio workstation. The CC121 has plug and play functionality and will work after a quick, one-step installation process. Cubase will automatically detect the controller when the software starts up. It then automatically binds the CC121 to the production environment. The “Cubase Ready” indicator on the control surface will light up to let you know everything is working properly.

Fully mirrored functionality happens when you use the CC121 with Cubase. All hardware functions mirror the software functions, which saves you time so you don’t have to wonder what hardware control oversees what software function. The Channel Section is a dedicated bank of buttons that allows you to take control over channel settings like pan, automation, solo and mute. These hardware controls are illuminated in the same colors as the graphic controls in the software. A touch-sensitive motorized fader gives you precise control over volume settings for any selected track or group. The user-assignable section of buttons gives you access to your most vital and necessary functions.

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