I’ve always had mixed feelings about control surfaces. While the idea of mixing with tactile faders, knobs and switches is appealing, I’ve never really disliked mixing with a mouse enough to want to plunk down good money on a surface.
Looking at the control surface market of today, however, there are some affordable choices, including the PreSonus FaderPort 8 and 16, the Nektar Panorama—even Avid is offering the relatively low-priced Artist Mix. Now, Icon Pro Audio, which already manufactures several different control surfaces, has started shipping its latest, the QCon Pro G2. With a street price of just $549, it caught my attention.
The unit, which is the successor to the QCon Pro, features Mackie Control and HUI emulation, which makes it compatible with most DAW software. It sports 8 motorized, 100mm touch-sensitive channel faders, plus a master fader. Each fader has an adjacent 12-segment LED meter.
Also, you get 8 encoder knobs that can be assigned to panning and other tasks, to go with a whopping 78 assignable buttons and a jog/shuttle wheel. Besides being able to control your DAW, the unit has lots of MIDI control potential, as well.
The QCon G2 is also equipped with a backlit LCD display that runs across the back of the unit, facing the user, providing text information about channel selections. To the right of that is a large LED time display, which can be configured for SMPTE or MIDI Beat Clock.
You also get backlit transport control buttons for Play, Stop, Rec, Rewind, Fast Forward, Loop, Marker toggle, Nudge, Click on/off, Solo toggle and more.
At a little over 17 inches wide, the unit is decently sized, yet compact enough to fit on most work surfaces. It’s housed in aluminum, not plastic, and even comes with a port for a Kensington lock.
Another intriguing feature is that it ships with a selection of physical overlays for Different DAWs—including Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo, Apple Logic Pro X, MOTU Digital Performer, Image-Line FL Studio, Magix Samplitude, Cockos Reaper, PreSonus Studio One, Bitwig Studio, Propellerhead Reason, Avid Pro Tools, Cakewalk by BandLab Sonar, Adobe Audition and Ableton Live. These fit over the buttons to show the pre-mapped functions specific to each workstation. In addition, it ships with iMap software that makes it easier to do custom mappings.
The system is expandable with the company’s QconEX G2 ($449) units. Each one adds eight additional channels, allowing you to expand your system to 16, 24, or 32 channels total.
I haven’t yet had a chance to check this unit out first hand, but if it performs as advertised, it provides a pretty impressive option for integrating tactile control into your DAW setup.