Review: Euphonix Artist Series MC Mix and MC Control

Dec 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Robert Brock



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MC Mix (top) offers eight faders, eight touch-sensitive controllers and eight info displays. MC Control features 12 assignable soft-keys, four touch-sensitive faders and eight rotary encoders.

MC Mix (top) offers eight faders, eight touch-sensitive controllers and eight info displays. MC Control features 12 assignable soft-keys, four touch-sensitive faders and eight rotary encoders.

Long known as a manufacturer of high-end products, Euphonix has recently ventured down-market, targeting Mac-based DAW users with two affordable products under a new brand. Euphonix' Artist Series comprises the MC Mix, an 8-channel system with touch-sensitive faders, rotary encoders and high-contrast OLED displays; and the companion (or stand-alone) MC Control, which offers four faders, dedicated transport controls, 12 programmable buttons and a 6×3.5-inch, touch-sensitive color LCD.

These new units use technologies from the company's MC Pro, including extensive customization of controls, the ability to switch control instantly between multiple applications and even the capacity to transfer control to a second computer workstation. Both products work under Euphonix' EuCon control protocol, which is integrated into DAWs from Apple, Steinberg and MOTU.

Setup and EuControl

While unpacking these units, I noticed handy fold-down feet on the bottom of the controllers. These raise the angle of the worksurface but don't lock in place, so sliding the MCs forward or back made the feet fold up, which became tiresome. Fortunately, included risers attach to the bottom, so a full-sized Apple keyboard can sit comfortably in front — problem solved. Removable side panels let you physically connect multiple MCs together for an integrated console look. The MCs communicate via an Ethernet connection; after wiring them to my network switch and plugging in the AC adapters, I was ready to rock.

The brains behind the Artist Series is the EuControl application, which appears as an “E” icon in the menu bar. A green “E” confirmed that my Mac recognized the MC units. EuControl is “application-aware,” allowing it to instantly switch control between multiple programs. As I use Logic Pro as my main music tool and Soundtrack Pro as my audio editor, I had the perfect scenario for testing this system. Logic Pro has built-in EuCon support — there's no need to configure anything. Both MCs immediately reflected Logic's mixer as soon as my project opened. Soundtrack Pro doesn't support EuCon, so I set the Euphonix MC control panel to tell the MCs to use Mackie Control Universal Emulation mode whenever Soundtrack Pro was active. Once configured, switching between the two apps automatically remapped all of the controls instantly. The MCs even have a button for switching programs from the surface.

Delving Into the MC Control

The MC Control has some important features that don't appear on the MC Mix, such as dedicated transport controls including a jog/shuttle wheel. The small button size and the way the keys are oriented around the jog wheel didn't feel right with my layout: The low-profile detented dial didn't provide a positive connection with my hand.

However, the MC Control really shines with its touchscreen and 12 programmable buttons, each of whose current function is indicated in the bottom of the screen. With its pre-mapped settings for popular apps, I instantly realized this system's power. For example, in Logic Pro, the first button is used for tool selection; in Soundtrack Pro, it toggles the Cycle mode; and for Safari, the same button opens a new Web browser. And pressing the soft-key setting on the touchscreen reveals 24 more virtual buttons, providing instant access to 36 software functions at one time. For me, the best part of the MC Control was the ability to customize every button for the functions that I wanted using EuControl's Soft-Key editor, which even let me color-code the displays on the touchscreen.

The MC Control has four faders, but unlike the MC Mix it has no dedicated display above them. Information (such as channel track names) is displayed to the right of the faders at the top of the touchscreen. I prefer having channel information visually connected to the fader, but was able to adapt quickly. Four rotary encoders flanking each side of the touchscreen provide control over many parameters. For instance, after selecting a track in Logic, I used these to configure the channel strip settings, such as I/O, aux sends, inserts and panning. Each encoder's function is displayed in the adjacent area in the touchscreen.

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