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Logic users often like to use a control surface alongside their Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) as they find it improves and complements their workflow.
Logic is a powerful DAW, and it is favored by many. So, it’s not unusual to want a control surface to go along with it, to make the process of music production more streamlined.
In this guide, we look at the best control surfaces for Logic.
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Best All Round: PreSonus FaderPort 16 16-Channel Mix Production Controller
Ok, right in with our best Logic control surface. The PreSonus FaderPort 16 is a premium option intended for heavy studio use. To be fair, they also have an eight-channel model available, for about half the price.
This unit comes with 16 touch-sensitive 100mm long-throw motorized faders, 16 high-definition Scribble Strip displays, and 89 RGB controls for recording-transport, session, channel, and automation.
You also get Session Navigator for quick control over track scrolling, marker navigation, timeline scrolling, and more. The FaderPort 16 is compatible with Mac and Windows, with native Studio One, HUI, and Mackie control.
Though this unit offers deeper integration with Ableton Live, it works perfectly with Logic Pro X, Cubase, Pro Tools, and more.
One thing that’s nice about the FaderPort 16 is that it’s quite compact. So, if you don’t have much retail space on your desk, but still need to be able to control multiple tracks, you’ll appreciate this console.
Most buyers loved this unit, saying it was plug and play, and thought it was quite rugged besides.
Some customers said it did not work equally well with all DAWs, and while we expect that is the case, we know that it works well with Logic, even if not all controls and buttons are usable.
Item weight: 8 lbs.
Product dimensions: 11.9 x 19.6 x 2.11 inches
Icon Pro Audio Control Surface, QCon Pro X Main Unit
Next we have the Icon Pro Audio QCon Pro X. This is a heavy-duty, rugged control surface with eight touch-sensitive motorized channel faders, 12-segment LED channels level metering on metering bridge, and one touch-sensitive motorized fader for the master channel.
It also comes with a stereo LED master channel level metering and it has Mackie control build-in for Logic Pro, Cubase, Nuendo, Samplitube, Ableton Live, Reaper, Reason, Studio One, and Bitwig Studio.
If you’ve got the desk space and need a comprehensive mixing controller, then you’re going to love this control surface. Although no audio passes through the unit, it works over MIDI and USB and can talk to just about any DAW.
It’s perfect for controlling your DAW, with everything from track selection, mute, solo, panning, fader levels for each channel, a transport section, and more.
Of course, you will pay a premium for what is essentially a large mouse. But if you like being able to control everything from the surface instead of having to use your mouse for all your tweaking, you will appreciate this unit.
By the way, the reason this is called the “Main Unit” is because you can buy extenders for a slightly reduced price.
Most customers love the Icon Pro Audio but let us level with you – it’s going to depend a lot on your preferences in terms of size, functionality, and other factors. But if you’ve got the cash to spend, it’s worth a look.
Item weight: 17 lbs.
Product dimensions: 20 x 9 x 22 inches
Icon Pro Audio DAW Controller, QCon Pro G2 Main Unit
Here we have the Icon Pro Audio QCon Pro G2. This is a compact and durable universal DAW control surface with Mackie control and HUI.
It comes with nine touch-sensitive motorized faders, presets, and overlays for Logic Pro, Cubase/Nuendo, Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Studio One, Digital Performer, FL Studio, Amplitude, Reaper, Bitwig, Reason, Sonar, and Audition.
You also get a large backlit LCD display for each channel and illuminated buttons for each channel including rec-enable, solo, mute, select, and monitor.
This rugged and weighty console is easy to set up, and it even has a dedicated Logic Pro mode. And it’s quite a bit more affordable than the QCon Pro X.
Customers generally rave about this unit, and we couldn’t find any criticisms worthy of mentioning.
Depending on your budget and what you’re looking for, this just might be your perfect control surface.
Item weight: 19.76 lbs.
Product dimensions: 8.07 x 18.11 x 24.21 inches
Icon Pro Audio Platform M+ MIDI Control Surface
The Icon Pro Audio Platform M+ is a solid mid-level control surface. It comes with eight touch-sensitive motorized faders with 10-bit resolution, and eight dual-function encoder knobs (rotate and enter).
This console has Mackie HUI protocol built-in and has been designed for use with Logic Pro, Cubase, Nuendo, Amplitude, Ableton Live, Reaper, Reason, Studio One and Bitwig.
Though the Platform M+ doesn’t come with an LCD display, you can get one separately.
As you might be able to tell, this is one of the most compact units we’ve looked at so far. If you have limited retail space on your desk, you will love its size. And even though it’s compact, it’s still quite sturdy.
This is a plug and play unit and it works with any popular DAW. But you can also customize it to your workflow, which is a huge plus.
The faders are quiet, which can be key in a studio environment.
Most Logic users said they loved this control surface. And other positive reviewers were happy with every aspect of the Platform M+.
It seems some reviewers had issues using it with other DAWs, but when it comes to Logic, this baby shines.
Item weight: 5.86 lbs.
Product dimensions: 18 x 4 x 10 inches
Behringer XTOUCHONE DAW Controller
Now we’re starting to get into the budget range of gear, and the Behringer XTOUCHONE DAW controller is a compact universal control surface for those who want all the basics at their fingertips.
The XTOUCHONE supports HUI and Mackie Control protocols. It comes with numerous assignment presets that support all major DAWs.
It also comes with a fully automated and touch-sensitive 100mm motorized fader, dynamic LDC Scribble Strip, and 34 dedicated illuminated (backlit) buttons for direct access to key functions.
Compact as it is, this control surface is sleek. It can easily replace a touchpad or mouse and features all the controls you need to improve your DAW workflow.
Many users found that the Behringer console improved their production efforts. Some had issues with latency, while others complained about durability, but they were in the minority, so we can’t confirm or deny these claims.
Item weight: 3.3 lbs.
Product dimensions: 9.17 x 7.72 x 2.56 inches
Novation Launch Control XL MkII
While the Novation Launch Control XL MkII was designed with Ableton Live in mind, it has HUI compatibility and can just as easily be utilized alongside Logic Pro, Cubase, and Pro Tools.
Then again, if you’re buying in this price range, we suspect your needs are relatively basic.
This console comes with 16 multi-color buttons, 24 rotary pots with 300-degree motion, 24 multi-color indicator LEDs, eight 60mm faders, 16 assignable multi-color backlit buttons and an additional eight assignable backlit buttons.
Though simple and low-cost, this unit gives you all the controls you need right at your fingertips. It’s also quite compact.
Most buyers thought this was a great mixing unit for the cost. Less enthusiastic buyers experienced compatibility issues with their OS or DAW. But since you’re using Logic, this Novation console could serve you well.
Item weight: 2.16 lbs.
Product dimensions: 9.45 x 9.45 x 1.54 inches
Behringer XTOUCHMINI USB Controller
If you’re looking for a simple, small control surface with basic transport controls, a few LED illuminated knobs, and a fader, then this affordable unit – the Behringer XTOUCHMINI – could be just what the doctor ordered.
The XTOUCHMINI is branded as a universal pocket remote control for DAWs. It comes with Mackie control emulation, a long-wearing 60-mm master fader, dual-layer mode for changing between DAW and instrument control, and pre-configured control elements for plug and play efficiency.
This unit is USB powered and it certainly won’t break the bank!
An overwhelming number of users were happy with this console, and it should work great with Logic. Other users experienced some issues with it, depending on the aplication, but for basic DAW operation, it should do the trick.
Item weight: 1.15 lbs.
Product dimensions: 4.02 x 12.8 x 1.85 inches
Akai Professional MIDImix | High-Performance Portable Fully-Assignable MIDI Mixer & DAW Controller
The Akai Professional MIDImix DAW controller is somewhat comparable to the Novation Launch Control XL MkII in terms of size, design, and functionality.
This compact and lightweight control surface seamlessly maps all mixer settings to your DAW with the push of a button.
It comes with eight individual line faders, one master fader, virtual instrument parameters, and effects settings.
You also get 24 knobs, arranged three per channel for controlling EQ, bus sends, virtual instrument parameters, effects settings and more. 16 buttons arranged in two banks give you access to mute, solo, and record functionality per channel.
You can also use your DAW’s MIDI Learn feature to assign the console’s settings using your DAW.
The MIDImix is a highly rated product. But it doesn’t seem to be without some issues. Some users found the knob design less than satisfactory. And though it works with Logic Pro, it may not be the best choice overall. Then again, it is the most affordable unit on this list.
Item weight: 1.54 lbs.
Product dimensions: 7.92 x 9.36 x 1.2 inches
What Should I Look For In A Logic Control Surface?
You know your studio best. Meaning, you are the most qualified person to choose a control surface for your production environment or studio needs.
That said, we know that the more options there are, the harder it can be to choose.
So, let us help you with the selection process. Here are the main criteria we consider here:
- Space Available
These are the key factors to consider while shopping for a control surface.
If you’re ready, read on.
We have long held that workflow is one of the most important aspects of music production. If you’re able to work efficiently, you can capture ideas faster, get recording projects done on time, and make your sonic visions a reality with more ease.
If you’ve never used a control surface before, it’s going to take some getting used to. There’s no way around that.
Similarly, if you’ve been using a different control surface, and you’re looking to swap it out or upgrade, you’re probably going to need to spend some time getting acquainted with your new board.
But if you have any preferences in terms of how you’d like the controls to be laid out and what functions you need, now would be a good time to put a little thought behind that. Because this will certainly affect your workflow.
Now, there isn’t one right option. What works for another may not work for you. All consoles can offer efficiency benefits if you spend time working with them and getting used to them.
And fortunately, most boards are laid out similarly, but even so, they will all take some getting used to.
I find it relatively easy to visualize how I might work with any given board just by looking at it, but if it’s a mystery to you, just have a look at the various videos we’ve included throughout this guide.
Does the board have everything you need in terms of faders, knobs, and buttons? Are the controls assignable? Are they illuminated, backlit, or otherwise? Do you need them to be? Does it have an LCD screen? Do you need one?
These are some of the questions you should ask yourself as you shop for a control surface.
In this sense, not all boards were created equal. Some have more controls. Some have less. The size of the control surface has a lot to do with the functionality it comes with too.
The controls obviously have an impact on workflow as well, so we suggest doing a bit of homework before purchase. That way, you’ll have a better idea of each board’s strengths and limitations and you’ll end up with a product that meets your demands.
Does the control surface work with your operating system and DAW? Does it integrate the way you need it to with your gear?
Since we have focused on Logic compatible units throughout this guide, we anticipate they should all work within a Mac/Logic environment.
And though most of the products featured here should be plug and play, some may not work quite as well as others. The old saying, “you get what you pay for” certainly seems to hold true here.
We can’t imagine you’ll run into many compatibility issues, but it’s always good to consider how the control surface will integrate with your software and hardware, and whether it has all the necessary connectivity based on how you plan to use it.
Have a read through our review of each unit, or go a little deeper by watching the videos.
Each console takes up a different amount of space. This may seem insignificant at first, until you realize you may not have all the desk space in the world to accommodate your new gear.
And if you’re planning to take your console on the road, you’ll probably want to go compact rather than large.
The dimensions for each product are easily findable, so be sure to look it up and compare it against the space you currently have available.
Most surfaces featured here aren’t huge by any means, but they run the gamut from remote control size all the way to classic mixer size, so take note.
And if you plan to use extenders, obviously you’re going to need more space, not less.
When shopping for a Logic control surface, you should expect to pay somewhere in the $99 to $1,200 range. That’s a bit of a spread, right? And if you end up purchasing extenders, LCD screens, or other add-ons, it could end up costing you more.
If you’ve got the budget for it, then maybe a higher priced control surface would be right for you.
But if not, then punching above your weight class isn’t advisable. At Music Industry How To, we always advise against overspending and don’t recommend going into debt for a gear purchase.
So, be sure to spend responsibly and stay within your budget. Otherwise, save up for the desired product.
What Are The Best Logic Control Surface Brands?
These days, there aren’t that many brands competing in the control surface space, so the best ones are the ones already introduced earlier in this guide. Each of these brands is reputable, well-known, and creates a wide range of products for musicians and music producers.
Either way, if you’d like to learn a little more about each, you’ll find this brief overview helpful.
Icon Pro Audio
Icon Pro Audio (or iCON Pro Audio) specializes in control surfaces, keyboards, interfaces, headphones, microphones, studio monitors, and processors.
Producers and artists like Majik Reed, Steve Lamm, and Nelson Braxton are known iCON users.
iCON has distributors across Asia, Europe, the Americas, Oceania, and Africa.
PreSonus makes a wide range of products, including mixing systems, studio speakers, control surfaces, studio accessories, software, live sound reinforcement, audio interfaces, and networking.
PreSonus was founded in 1995 and is the leading designer and manufacturer of recording and live sound hardware and software.
The company was started by Berklee-trained guitarist Jim Odom and LSU engineering graduate Brian Smith. PreSonus found its humble beginnings in Odom’s garage.
Behringer creates products in the following categories – monitors, controllers, DI boxes, rack mixers, mixing consoles, studio bundles, audio interfaces, headphones, studio controllers and meters, guitar and bass, audio tools, effects and signal processors, amplifiers, DJ equipment, microphones, MIDI equipment, drums and percussion, keys and synthesizers, lighting and stage, and loudspeakers.
They are largely known as a “bang for buck” brand because their products tend to be more than reasonable in terms of price, but still offer competitive quality. Sometimes you can still end up with duds, though.
The company’s founder, Uli Behringer, developed the UB-1 synthesizer at 16. This was Behringer as we know it today in its early form.
Novation was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in High Wycombe, United Kingdom.
They make Launchpads (the Launch Control XL basically falls under this category), Grooveboxes, synths, keys, merchandise and accessories, and software.
Novation is owned by Focusrite.
Akai Professional (or AKAI Professional) was founded in 1929 in Tokyo, Japan, and is headquartered in Singapore.
Their product line includes keyboards, controllers, drum machines, and more.
Jack O’Donnell of inMusic purchased Akai Professional in 2005.
Top Control Surfaces For Logic, Final Thoughts
You should now be equipped with everything you need to be able to find your ideal Logic control surface.
If you’re debating whether to get one or to stick with your mouse, we would certainly argue that a control surface is better, as it has been designed specifically with music production in mind.
Either way, the decision is yours. Spend responsibly, and happy shopping!