I’ve held off sharing my impressions of the Mackie MCU Pro line of mixers because I didn’t wanna’ alienate anyone. Also because I wanted to be sure I had a solid understanding of the differences between the Mackie MCU Pro line and the Behringer X-Touch line (the X-Touch and X-Touch Extender exclusively). But after designing the remote maps needed to use both brands with Reason, I feel I would be letting people down by not discussing in detail why the Mackie MCU Pro line is inferior to the Behringer X-Touch line.
Getting the obvious outta’ the way
There’s some benefits of the Behringer X-Touch line over the Mackie MCU Pro line that aren’t really the focus of this article. So let’s briefly go over those benefits.
The X-Touch line (X-Touch and X-Touch Extender) has VU meters, is cheaper by nearly half ($449 vs. $1,099) and has better looks (once you take off the tacky, plastic sides). While those points help, the part that makes the Mackie MCU Pro line inferior is down to…
[05/09/2022 Version 2.5] I’ve created a custom Propellerhead Reason remote map for Mackie Universal Control + Extender (Combo, Extender Left) mixers, like the one used by my Behringer X-Touch + Extender mixers or the MCU Pro + XT Pro. This remote map, called the MJ Enhanced Combo Extender, is modeled like the custom remote map I created when using a solo mixer (called the MJ Enhanced Universal Control).
This MJ Enhanced Combo Extender map fixes a fatal flaw that would cause the mixer to stop working in Reason (something unique to just the “Combo” remote maps). It also fixes problems like buttons being mapped in the wrong areas, virtually eliminates clip LEDs getting triggered, functions missing entirely (like the EQ Q knobs) while adding enhancements and new features, like comp and gate LED meters, redesigned encoder LED display modes, time displayed by default, global solo and mute off functions, FX send and return encoder LED meters, completely new “alternative text” mode for displaying additional information and added encoder ring master VU out meters. This remote map enables you to control the entire virtual SSL mixer and channel strip settings between two mixers as one fader-bank controllable 16 channel mixer.
This article also serves as a guide / general commentary and I’m sharing it free…
Creating the MJ Enhanced Combo Extender took a very long time for me to do. A lot of the initial work was done with the MJ Enhanced Universal Control, so check that link out for some info on what led to this Extender version. The problem is that, in order to use an Extender with Reason, you can’t just add an Extender on via the Extender remote map (at least for the X-Touch’s). A separate remote map (“Combo, Extender Left”) has to be used. That means instead of coding for an additional 8 channels, I needed to start with a new remote map for a total of 16 channels. Here’s an image (from my 29” ultra wide “rack” monitor) of just code for channel 1 (of 16)… the code for channel 1 keeps going past the screen.
There’s an issue that people who’ve started making music the past 10 years or so think an audio spectrum / waveform = what you hear. The sad fact is that it doesn’t.
One thing I’ve found that seemed to be a key to “professional” audio mixing / mastering people is that they had some kind of experience with real, studio mixers. They didn’t have access to spectrum windows, they mastered by tweaking dynamics knobs and using their ears. They didn’t have techy BS of calling out kHz or Hz numbers like “4,200”, “31.5” or other crap relating to decibel ranges like people using computer software so frequently do. This is because…
Here’s how to stream Propellerhead Reason audio directly to an iPhone, Android, iPad or other tablet (even Airplay devices) from PC or Mac. This method is detailed for Reason, but from what I know about other DAW’s, the process is also possible in Ableton Live, Bitwig Studio, FL Studio, Cakewalk Sonar, Logic Pro, Steinberg Cubase, Pro Tools and Cockos Reaper.
Why stream audio from Reason to a mobile device?
Simple; during the mixing / mastering stage (which you should be doing throughout the creation process), you want to hear what your music will sound like on a variety of devices. Particularly on devices that are brutal to your music, such as mono smartphones and tablets with very little low and mid-range audio capabilities.
The issue; you want to bring existing audio (reference audio, such as an existing song) into Reason for comparison. The Flower Audio’s Loudness Meter device (shown in the photos) can be used for referencing, but it’s used to switch from the audio in your setup versus your reference audio; you can’t compare the two side-by-side.
The issue with trying to do normal referencing is that the sound source will appear under your mastering suite, getting extra mastering effects placed on top. Simply turning the fader levels of your reference channel down doesn’t do the trick as you’ll get lower levels that are still being colored (altered) by your mastering suite setup. Some people may be trying to craft a certain sound, like I do, by referencing existing music and comparing it to your sound (such as choosing a certain kick drum by comparing it to reference material).
During the auditioning phase of audio mastering, listening from different sources is important. But so is listening from a distance and at low volumes.
Listening from a distance allows you to hear the dynamics of your song in different ways. It also allows you to hear how the most powerful dynamics interact in non-ideal circumstances. You may find your highs are cutting through the mix too much. Or that vocals are getting lost or are dominating the music. Or that the sub-bass is drowning out everything in its path.