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DAW Controller

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 I thought I'd give a little feedback on a Korg NanoControl Daw controller I picked up on sale for $25 at Musicians Friend. I been wanting to get one for a long time so I could have some hands on control over my mixes vs. using a mouse to make all my adjustments mixing.

 Its a simple 8 channel controller with pan knobs, sliders and buttons to provide different banks, and buttons to control the transport. I messed around with it a few hours last night and got it working on a mix I had already completed using Sonar.

Setup went fairly well. I had a few trials training the knobs to do what they were supposed to do. The sliders work smoothly for adjusting levels and I could immediately see here this is going to be handy for automating mix levels like bringing up guitar solos, backing down instruments during quiet passages or muting vocals between parts to reduce background noise.

When you work with a mouse its easy to let the numbers and graphics tell you what is supposed to be right for a mix. When you use sliders its more like doing live sound and you have to judge the mix blend using your ears and fingers. What I noticed in the one test mix is how I had the channel gains set for a good static mix with no envelopes occurring.

When I used sliders and dropped those tracks down they would be masked by the other instruments and quickly disappear. This may mean I didn't have the best separation between the instruments, best frequency response chosen, best stereo balance etc. Or it may mean the mix was finely tweaked with a mouse just for that particular purpose, which by the way did sound good as a finished song.

In any case it does open up some new doors of opportunity for mixing. Since its so easy to slide a track up and down, if I can tweak things to where its still heard in the background tapered back and comes right up front when adjusted up I likely have the proper gain staging for that kind of boosting and cutting. 

As far as the Controllers functionality, it was stable most of the time. It had a little freezing/shuddering when the CPU usage got high, but that was likely due to the plugin load of the mix. With a few less plugins happening it will likely be fine most of the time. Then if I record the automation it will have even less problems. 

I still have to teach it how to connect to the plugins and tweak their settings. I'm not real great with the whole midi bank thing so I'll have to poke around in the dark and see what turns up. There a software editor panel that you can download and install with the driver. I haven't quite figured it out yet. 

Anyway, Its a nifty toy for a DAW, and for $25 I thought others would want to snag one. I should mention, you want to check the product's details. It might not work with all DAW programs, or at least its basic profiles don't include some DAWs. Midi controllers like this can be assigned to do things when interacting with a DAW program, so unless the DAW does things very differently, it may work with training its settings. For programs like Cubase Sonar, Ableton and others its got formats setup for those DAW's.

Oh and it comes with a discount cospons for purchasing Ableton live. I have no plans to moving to that product but if anyone's planning on purchasing that product give me a PM and I'll send you the Coupon.   

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