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…
One thing putting together a physical mixer console has taught me is how capable Reason’s original virtual rack-mounted 14 stereo channel (28 mono channel) mixer, known as the reMIX Virtual Tec MX 28-4-14, was / is. The reMIX has since been replaced by the virtual SSL 9000k mixing console and it, of course, blows the reMIX out of the water in terms of functionality.
But one thing it taught was the power of using what you have wisely. The reason is because you were limited to 14 channels (even if you were using a mono source, such as a subtractor, you still wanted to apply FXs, EQ or panning from the reMIX, which made you use up an entire channel strip). Of course, you could chain multiple reMIXes together without taking up a channel slot (as well as passing on the 4 FX’s to each mixer). But you it still taught you a valuable lesson of doing more with less.