The quartet of Euphonix Ethernet controllers includes the MC Control and MC Mix, reviewed here, along with MC Transport and MC Color.
These four worksurfaces are wonders for controlling your Mac-based DAW. I’ve had a chance to spend a few months with the MC Control and MC Mix and, though they aren’t new (actually, they’re the oldest of the four), they are still the strongest contenders in their price range when it comes to feature-filled, solid-performing, professional-grade, DAW control surfaces.
The large-format Euphonix desks have always had a stellar look and feel; that level of quality has been extended to the MC Control and MC Mix. Both controllers use a high-speed 100 Mb/s Ethernetbased control protocol called EuCon to enable the simultaneous control of multiple applications. EuCon automatically detects which application is in the foreground and instantly sets the touchscreen (MC Control only) displays, motorized faders, and other controllers to match.
The MC Control features four faders, dedicated transport controls, 12 programmable buttons and a 6 x 3.5-inch, touch-sensitive color LCD. The MC Mix features eight touch-sensitive faders, rotary encoders, and a high-contrast OLED display for each fader. The controllers can be used independently or up to four MC Mixes and an MC Control can be used together to create a larger control surface with 36 faders. The controllers support two types of applications, EuCon-aware and Non-EuCon-aware. EuCon-aware applications like Logic Pro, Nuendo, Final Cut Pro, Digital Performer, and Cubase have been coded to directly support the EuCon protocol, thus providing the highest level of integration, high-resolution controls, and highspeed connectivity. Non-EuCon-aware applications that support Mackie Control or HUI — such as Pro Tools, Live, and Reason — can control many functions, but are less integrated.
EuCon takes care of finding, linking, and communicating with all of the Euphonix controllers on the network and must be installed on the computer running the applications. The controllers automatically link to the foremost application, and even have a button that toggles between the computer’s open applications.
The Studio Monitor Express (SME) application allows the MC Control to be configured for control room monitoring functions (this feature isn’t available on the MC Mix). After configuration, the dedicated Control Room speaker-level rotary encoder and the touch screen provide options like sum-to-mono and talkback capability without any modification within an application.
Both controllers have the option of sitting flat or angled by using the small foldout legs on the bottom of the unit or being elevated by attaching the larger riser brackets. If the riser brackets are attached, the controller will sit on most consoles with the bottom of the controller hovering slightly above the console’s knobs. This is how I use the controllers at my studio. At home, I use the foldout legs and place the controllers on a table. There is one major inconvenience for this, though: The side panels must be removed before the riser brackets can be detached. This is a pain since I routinely carry the controllers back and forth between my studio and my home. On the up side, after the side panels are removed, the controllers can be linked together so if you are utilizing multiple controllers, they can be connected and have the appearance of a single unit.
I’ve enjoyed the functionality that I gain working with the MC Control and MC Mix. I’ve used them together and independently to control a wide variety of applications, but the bulk of my time has been spent with Logic Pro and Pro Tools. This has allowed me to test the functionality on both EuCon-aware (Logic Pro) and Non-EuCon-aware (Pro Tools) systems. I’ve installed the EuCon software on several systems, each time problem-free. EuControl automatically launches when your Mac boots, and it runs in the background automatically controlling the foremost application.
While working with the Non-EuCon-aware Pro Tools was great, it’s a complete step up in performance going from Pro Tools to Logic Pro, which feels like it was designed to work with the Euphonix controllers. Logic Pro 9 had a bug regarding the jog wheel’s operation in scrub mode on the MC Control, but v9.1 has resolved this issue. It now functions perfectly.
The MC Control’s touch screen and programmable buttons make it highly adaptable to virtually any user’s workflow, and it includes pre-mapped settings for most popular applications (including non-music applications like Safari).
Pressing the soft-key setting button on the touch screen exposes an additional 24 virtual buttons, so there is simultaneous access to 36 software functions, all of them customizable using the EuCon Soft-Key editor. [Euphonix notes that there are unlimited soft buttons available to users, accessible by paging up and down. — Ed.] Information for the MC Control’s four faders is displayed at the top of the touch screen. The four rotary encoders along each side of the touch screen provide parameter control. The encoders also act as push buttons, which help navigate through the control layers. Selecting the Track soft key on the touch screen displays a 32-block grid of the project’s channels making it easy to solo, mute, record-enable, or select any of the project’s tracks.
The simpler MC Mix lacks the MC Control’s screen and programmable buttons, but the dedicated channel displays and rotary encoders make up for it. Selecting and editing channel strip parameters is similar to the operation of the MC Control, but the MC Mix has the ability to flip parameters from the encoders onto the faders, making it easier to quickly do precise adjustments. Channel buttons make it easy to solo, mute, record-enable, or select any of the eight tracks displayed on the surface.
Adding the MC Control and/or MC Mix to your setup can give your workflow an overhaul. Both controllers have deep feature sets and let you quickly switch between applications, as well as being completely customizable so their operation can be tailored specifically to your needs. This makes the MC Control and MC Mix ideal options for desktop studios and those who want multiple physical encoders instead of using a mouse.
Russ Long is a producer, engineer, and mixer. He owns the Carport studio in Nashville.www.russlong.ws