Improve the integration between any Mackie Controller and your DAW

Jan 24, 2019 | DAW

If you are a mixing engineer and use any Mackie Control Protocol device (like Behringer X-Touch or the original Mackie Controller), you may have wondered at some point if the device could do something different, or if it could work this way, instead of that way, right ? Me too and that’s the reason I was hunting for a solution to improve my controller and my workflow.

When I bought my X-Touch and the Extender to use in Cubase,  I mostly used it to control pan and volume because editing plugins, channel strips or other things is way too much pressing buttons and rotating knobs so I always ended up using the mouse for those things just because it was faster.

Someday I had the idea to use Pure Data/Max to manipulate the information that my device was sending to cubase and then I started building this patch and now my workflow is WAY faster.

I’m explaining in detail in this video what I have done in the patch to customize my controller.

In short, what I did in Max was:

  • Every time I click on the Next Bank/Prev Bank buttons, Cubase also selects the channel so the screen can scroll to the same channel I’m seeing on the controller.
  • Every time a click on Sends, it will press FLIP for me, because I like my sends on the faders and not on the knobs. And everytime I leave the Sends page, it will FLIP back.
  • Customize the wheel to do whatever you want, like clip gain, call macros, fade in time, fade out time.
  • Editing plugins now is a breeze, you just have to click the corresponding knob to open the window and you are ready to tweak the plugin. You don’t need to press the Plug-In page button anymore, select the correct slot (IFX Slot) and then press the page button. Max is doing this automagicaly (HUGE time saver and fun).
  • Same with channel strips. To add a channel strip module you just have to press a button, same thing to edit a particular strip module, just press a button. No more rotating knobs until you find the correct strip you want to edit.

I have not tested this with another Mackie Controller, but it should work ok, since they are sending and receiving the same information.

The patches (for Max and PD) are a bit different from the video because I fixed some bugs right after I made the video, but they work exactly as shown.

If you are on windows, be sure to make the link to forward the MIDI data from Port B (the Main unit) to Port E (if you are on Max) or Port 1 to 4 if you are on PD, as I explain in the video.

You will notice that the PD Patch is more complex than the Max patch. It’s because in PD I have to disable some note off for some notes but not for others. In general, I had to make more things in PD to achieve the same result I had in Max.

If you are not Cubase user, I think you can take the same idea here and modify the patch to do whatever you want in your DAW. The basic idea behind this whole patch is to make Max press some buttons when you press others, or rotate some knob X times to do something.

Let me know in the comments if it worked for you or what you did to customize it to your DAW.

These are the softwares I used in the video:

If you are using PurrData (which is an “extended” version of PureData) instead of the Vanilla PD you will need to use the -legacy startup flag otherwise you will have problems with the pitch bend (channel faders).

And here are zip files with all the files needed: PG_EnhancedMackieControl_FILES

These are the files inside the zip file:

  • Enhanced Mackie Controller Patch – Puredata Version
  • Enhanced Mackie Controller Patch – Max Version
  • Cubase – Generic Remote 2 XML file
  • Cubase – Generic Remote 3 XML file
  • TouchOSC CMC – Clone Template

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  1. Jose Galdran

    Hi. I’m trying to setup my X-touch + x-touch extender following your youtube video. Everything seems to work fine, but there is something i’m not doing right. Every key I press, beside doing the function is supposed to do, I hear a piano note. Sometimes a chord. I guess is something simple but I can’t find what it is. Any idea of what I’m missing? Thanks for your work.

    • admin

      If i’m not mistaken, this happened to me at some point. Are you on macOS or Windows ? Max or Puredata ? I think that in my case, what happened was that in Max, in the MIDI Setup, the output “AU DLS Synth 1” had the same letter as one of my controllers (don’t remembter if it was the Main unit or the extender) so, everytime Max was sending information to cubase, it was also sending information to this apple synth. Try to uncheck it and change it’s letter to “-“. Let me know if it worked!

  2. Jose Galdran

    Thanks Paulo! Now it works as it should! Let me tell you what I did.
    I work on Mac/Cubase 9.5 and use Max. When I checked midi setup on Max there was no letter assigned to AU DLS Synth 1.
    What I tried is to assign it to letter “e”, and then change it to “-“.
    It worked.
    A couple of questions more if you don’t mind.
    Do the Function keys on the right side of X-Touch work for you? I can’t make them work.
    Otherwise I have my first generic remote created. Insert editor opens, but some of them don’t react to edition. Although they all react to bypass, some of them don’t follow the encoders. It does work in the other way. If I tweak them with the mouse encoder lights follow. I assume is a problem of some plugins.
    As for the jog wheel. I works…sometimes. I created a second generic remote. Input “IAC Bus 3”, output, as I don’t have any Steinberg controller, I assume is X touch Int…?? I spin the wheel and it works two or three bars, then it stops working. If I wait 5 seconds or so it works again. Same with the scrub button. Seems to be kind of “accumulation of data” thing… Maybe the problem is I don’t have the Steinberg CC Controller?
    Anyway thanks again for your work and your attention.

    • admin

      Hi Jose,
      The function keys works perfectly here.. I just had to setup it inside the Mackie Controller window to do whatever I want. Strange that it’s not working with you. The Plugin editor works with me all the time.. The only thing that sometimes happens is that it not always open the plugin window which is a cubase buton.. I have to go to the Generic remote and press “RESET” and now it works. For the plugins I use, the remote control with the knobs works everytime. What are the plugins that are not working for you ? Did you try using the “Remote Control Editor” to customize the plugin parameters on the X-Touch ??
      And regarding the scrub, I think you can leave the Output as “Not Connected”. Give it a try.!


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