Old control surfaces worth buying?

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Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by SamWilkins »

I'm looking to start up a digital/analogue hybrid studio so I want a desk that simply controls my daw i.e. no audio runs through it. I was looking at the digitech control 24 and Avid c24 and thought they were perfect. However, I realise they are old, discontinued pieces of gear that I assume would only cause issues when trying to pair them with modern gear.

So the main question is, is it still worth buying second hand control surfaces like the control 24 despite its state of discontinued? Is it possible to use them with modern interfaces, computers, and the latest versions of pro tools?

The main reason I was appealed to these desks is because of their size and how they almost replicate the aesthetic of being an analogue desk without being an analogue desk (and costing as much). The only modern control surfaces that I can find are these tiny devices that don't look nearly as impressive. The closest it seems to get (for a reasonable price) is the presonus faderport16, but it's still just not the same.

The broader question is what would you suggest? Is there a modern alternative to these older control surfaces? Or is a control surface not the way to go and should I rather try to integrate an analogue console with pro tools? If so, how does that work?

Thank you!
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by ef37a »

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/be ... ch-compact

I assume it is still available? The review also gives some alternative products.

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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by OneWorld »

I am an evangelist for control surfaces but sometimes question my wisdom, no matter what, one's hand instinctively reaches for the mouse. As for the control surface, I have created some macros that are mapped to the user configurable function buttons, and that's about all I do use the control surface for.

What I do use a lot is an Ableton controller (in Cubase) it is a Novation Launchpad which has a matrix of 64 pads + a row and column of other buttons. I find this really handy as I have set it up to instantly select one of 16 MIDI tracks + one of 32 audio tracks (or VST instrument tracks)

I have mapped the other buttons to frequently used commands or macros, so for example I have a button that runs a macro which stops the transport, deletes the last take, returns to the left locator and restarts record.

I also have a single fader controller, which controls volume fader, and also acts as a channel strip, so I have instant access to any track at random and on selection apply the command a controls to that track, which is as good a compromise I can imagine as an alternative to a full on 16/24/32+ fader setup, which as you might know, occupies as much acreage as an aircraft carrier.

My 8+1 fader control surface I hardly use
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by blinddrew »

I'm a big fan of control surfaces (I have three for various different jobs), but personally I wouldn't buy older ones again, not given the options now available.
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by The Elf »

A Behringer X-Touch and an Elgato Stream Deck XL have me covered for all my controller needs now. It took me a while to arrive at this combo, and I still miss my AlphaTrack occasionally, but it's pretty good.
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by Aled Hughes »

I, on the hand, can’t seem to find anything current that would quite give me what my Alphatrack (with a 3rd party driver- I think that’s the crucial bit! O ) gives with Reaper.

I have a Softube Console 1 and Fader, but the Alphatrack does a lot of things that they can’t.
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by James Perrett »

Aled Hughes wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 11:29 pm I, on the hand, can’t seem to find anything current that would quite give me what my Alphatrack (with a 3rd party driver- I think that’s the crucial bit! O ) gives with Reaper.

Can you tell us more about the third party driver? I have an Alphatrack here but it keeps losing the connection with Reaper.
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by Luke W »

SamWilkins wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 5:11 pm So the main question is, is it still worth buying second hand control surfaces like the control 24 despite its state of discontinued? Is it possible to use them with modern interfaces, computers, and the latest versions of pro tools?

Personally I would avoid the both of them, the Control24 is long past the end of support date, and the C24 only has until some time in 2022. There are plenty of people still running them and I'm sure they'll go strong for a long time, but I wouldn't be jumping into ownership at this point.

If you want the big console feel and really tight intergration with Pro Tools, then you're into big money very quickly. A Dock and a couple of S1's may give you somewhere near what you want, but that's hardly a cheap solution either.

A lot of the solutions mentioned so far will give you some good control over all of the basic functions (fader, solos/mutes, panning etc) for a lot less money. The tighter intergration you get from Eucon surfaces is nice, but I'd want to be very sure I was going to both need it, and use it extensively before throwing down the sort of cash it takes to get it!
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by ManFromGlass »

I have an ancient Mackie Control Universal - love the scroll wheel for getting about, and a Korg Kontrol with the faders sending mostly CC information.
In the first few years the Mackie needed the occasional fader replaced but there aren’t any faders available anymore.
The Korg might be discontinued.
I like them both because aside from being useful, they give the left hand something to do so it’s not all right hand mouse work.
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by Mixedup »

Neyrink offer an app to use old C24s, Control 24s and the like with modern DAWs. But my biggest concern would be maintenance/repair of the hardware. I was looking into a similar solution a few years back with a Mackie d8b and decided against it for that reason...
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by sound bites »

I use two “old” control surfaces (C|24 and my trusty Digi 003). Both running on old versions of Pro Tools (12.8.x) that I decided to stick with because they do what I need them to do. The C|24 is hooked up to a WIN 7 HP Workstation and the 003 to an old 2012 MacBook Pro because it was the last version that came with a Firewire Port. If you don’t need the latest PT version or the latest computer and latest version of your OS you won’t have to worry about compatibility issues in the future. Support will always end for anything. Get some spare parts, like knobs and faders and you’re probably good for a very long time.
I love the hands on feel of working with a large control surface. It’s the next best thing to working on a real console, if that’s what you’re after.
In the end, it’s important to know that running old gear means to keep running old systems and software. For my part, I am totally fine with that and I’m happily not in the market for constant updates and the latest and greatest machines.
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by sound bites »

SamWilkins wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 5:11 pm …However, I realise they are old, discontinued pieces of gear that I assume would only cause issues when trying to pair them with modern gear.

I haven’t had any issues. What exactly are you thinking of? I pair my old 003 with RME FireFace UCX or Aufient iD44 without problems.
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by Aled Hughes »

James Perrett wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:41 am
Aled Hughes wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 11:29 pm I, on the hand, can’t seem to find anything current that would quite give me what my Alphatrack (with a 3rd party driver- I think that’s the crucial bit! O ) gives with Reaper.

Can you tell us more about the third party driver? I have an Alphatrack here but it keeps losing the connection with Reaper.

Sorry, it's a script/plugin, not a driver. I'll have a look for it.

I think it uses the original driver, and I do lose connections every now and again - I have two systems with two different Alphatracks, and it's much worse on one. The other is quite stable.

The 3rd party software is really neat - one of my favourite bits is that it allows instant control of any FX parameter that you make visible in Reaper's mixer (a row that's available between the inserts and sends, in case you haven't used it). It also finds any ReaEQ instances on a tracks and map the the knobs accordingly when you select 'EQ' on the Alphatrack. There's a handy sheet somewhere that details the functions - I'll have a look.
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by James Perrett »

Thanks Aled

Is it the one at

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php ... alphatrack

I've just downloaded that and will give it a try.
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Re: Old control surfaces worth buying?

Post by Aled Hughes »

James Perrett wrote: Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:11 pm Thanks Aled

Is it the one at

https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php ... alphatrack

I've just downloaded that and will give it a try.


Yes, that’s the one. It’s worth going to the end of the thread to find the latest version.
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