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.
A while ago, I had bought two Behringer BCF2000 mixers with the intention of using them as a 16 channel mixer. I found they wouldn’t “cascade” like they do in other DAW’s, contacted both Behringer and Propellerhead and they both said it couldn’t be done. I even looked into it, saw even the remote map file didn’t support it and wrote a blog post titled “Using Multiple BCF2000’s Can’t Be Done”. Miguel Catalão then left a comment on how it could be done and recorded a video just for this post.
This isn’t an easy method and I can’t personally vouch for it as I no longer have multiple BCF2000’s. The secret apparently lies in Miguel’s ability to figure out how to make the BCF2000’s act independently from one another instead of mirroring the same fader bank currently in focus.
One thing I’ve never understood is the tendency for people who produce music to own all these music accessories, such as multiple MIDI keyboards, but not own a single mixer (control surface). It’s understandable if someone has limited hardware and doesn’t have a mixer, but that’s not the case for so many people.
Throwin’ money in all the wrong directions
Like take a look at this random person’s studio setup. They’ve clearly thrown money at all these music toys; they have three keyboards that appear to be very expensive. Just one of those keyboards probably costs three times as much as my one keyboard. And let’s not ignore the fact the main keyboard’s highest octave keys are inaccessible under the table.
[05/09/2020 Version 5.0] I’ve created a custom Propellerhead Reason remote map for Mackie Control (Mackie Universal Control) mixers, such as ones used by my Behringer X-Touch or the Mackie MCU Pro. The remote map, called MJ Enhanced Universal Control, 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, enhances the channel VU meters, introduces new rotary encoder LED display modes, FX return encoder LED meters, completely new “alternative text” mode for displaying additional information and added encoder ring master VU out meters. This enables you to control the entire virtual SSL mixer and channel strip settings including channel selection. This article serves also as a guide / general commentary and I’m sharing it free…
The MJ Enhanced Mackie Universal Control setup took a very long time for me to do. This mapping file and article are written based on my experience with Behringer’s X-Touch mixer. The X-Touch is designed to work in Mackie mode for programs like Reason, Ableton, Logic, etc. Unlike Behringer’s odd Propellerhead partnership with the BCF2000 and BCR2000 line of controllers, the X-Touch was designed to work exactly the same as other mixers under the Mackie Universal Control setup (same as Mackie MCU Pro models). Comparing the way Reason and other programs interact with the X-Touch, with the exception of the clip LED (that my layout tries to reduce), all screw ups appear to be on Propellerhead (this isn’t the first time).
I’ve never liked VST’s. Never. There’s just something about them that I find so distracting from the whole music process. And what’s crazy is that I’m one of the only people who feel this way.
There’s a lot of different reasons why VST’s just feel wrong to me, wrong like someone walking outside in the dirt with bare socks and no shoe on. Wrong because…
Pop-up windows kill the immersion
Nearly all music software started out emulating physical music studio hardware. VST’s started out this way too. So it just seems wrong having these floating pop-up windows. The idea of virtual hardware floating on top of another and another…
In this post, I detail the physical hardware I use for my desktop studio setup. Rack, mixer, music devices, audio interfaces, audio analyzers, monitors, speakers, power supplies and desktop configuration.
The rack is custom-built from two red IKEA tables. I stacked them and keep them in place with two “L” brackets. I then installed rack rails, cutting the metal rack rails with a dremel tool.
If anyone’s curious on setting up multiple Behringer BCF2000’s together in Propellerhead Reason (to go from 8 channel banks to 16 channel banks, etc)… from what I can tell it can’t be done and no one has provided real evidence of this. Because…
BCF2000’s are controlled by Reason uniquely
I couldn’t get Reason working with two Behringer BF2000’s, setting everything up as it’s intended (both via direct USB and MIDI cascading). When you look at the BCF2000 remote file, you see references for 8 faders groups at a time and no more. Reason loads in a temporary, on-the-fly preset for BCF2000 and BCR2000’s that other DAW’s don’t. This is where the issue happens. Who wants two or more BCF2000 mixers that are controlling the same exact channel banks? It’s stupid, and if you wanted a control surface, go with a BCR2000 instead of a BCF2000.