Though we have the ability to work in the box as modern producers and mixing engineers, there's nothing quite like the tactile feel of a control surface, especially when integrated with the flexibility of modern, digital mixing.
In this article I'll help you find the right control surface for you. This article is organized into two main sections based on the number of channels and number of faders a control surface has. First I discuss the single channel MIDI controllers, then the multi-channel controllers.
If you're a Logic Pro user and you want to elevate the way you use your DAW, I've curated a list of 12 of the best control surfaces that you should consider. These days, a lot of MIDI keyboards also offer smart controls for transport functions, encoder knobs for mixing and faders.
I strongly feel that a dedicated control surface is the better choice (and I use two control surfaces in my setup - the Behringer X-Touch One with the SofTube Console), but if you're on a budget, I've also reviewed the best MIDI keyboard controllers for Logic Pro which provides some budget-friendly options.
Note: some of the links below may be affiliate links, meaning that I receive a commission if you purchase through them.
Best Single-Channel Control Surfaces for Logic Pro
In this section we'll go over six great options for single-channel control surfaces in Logic Pro. Generally these are more budget friendly and have smaller footprint. For most project studios, a single channel DAW controller is probably sufficient.
Behringer X-Touch Mini
The Behringer X-Touch Mini is one of the most compact and affordable control surfaces for Logic Pro on the market today, perfect for producers who don't have much desk real estate.
Even with its compact design, you'll find a single fader, eight rotary encoders, and 16 illuminated buttons, which you can link to different functions in our DAW. Unfortunately, you don't get the jog wheel that you'd find on the larger version for more nuanced control, though you do get dedicated navigation controls that work with all major DAWs.
I love how lightweight this thing is, especially if you're someone who's constantly on the go, and the faders and buttons all feel very responsive. One of the main downsides, however, is that the fader is very short, making it slightly more difficult to control than full-size faders. Over time, you'll get used to it, but it's worth noting.
Overall, I think Behringer has really stepped it up over the past few years with its product line, especially considering the fact that for years (as a guitarist), I only thought of them as a cheap, ripoff guitar pedal manufacturer.
The X-Touch Mini is a great piece of gear for anyone stepping into the control surface world in need of a small size DAW controller.
Behringer X-Touch One
The X-Touch One by Behringer is one of my favorite products on this list. I like it so much that it's earned a permanent place on my mixing desk. It features tons of useful transport controls, a glorious jog wheel, and a long, motorized fader. On top of that, it has a pan knob and dedicated controls for things like mute, solo, and turning on cycle mode in Logic.
It's compatible with other DAWs too, but the coolest thing is that it comes with multiple faceplates that you can put on it that map it to your specific DAW. That way you can easily know what each button is doing at all times.
It's amazing how much faster it is to edit comps together using the scroll wheel. Even better is using the built-in automation controls (yes, you can choose which automation mode you're using with X-Touch one latch, touch, write, etc.) and the motorized fader to effortlessly record vocal rides, control bass parts, and add excitement to drum fills.
Presonus Faderport Production Controller
PreSonus is one of the biggest names in control surfaces, and the company's single-channel PreSonus Fader Port takes a cue from the 8- and 16-channel models, delivering a streamlined setup and intuitive controls, great for producers who want to speed up their mixing sessions.
Though it's made for integration with Studio One, it works just as well with all other major DAWs, including Logic Pro X.
Onboard, you'll find a 100mm motorized fader, 24 backlit buttons with multiple functions, basic transport controls for quick navigation and playback, dedicated mute, solo, and pan buttons, and customizable buttons and encoders. I also love the fact that all the buttons are color-coded and backlit, as I often work in my studio at night. It's a great value and an ideal choice for music producers getting started with daw controllers.
One of the only downsides I can think of for Presonus Faderport is that the motorized fader can be a bit noisy, which can be distracting. It also lacks a display screen, which means you will definitely need to be looking at your computer screen to use this. It' jog wheel is also inferior to Behringer X-Touch One's, and to me, the design is a little too cheesy. While pricing changes, this is usually around the same price as the X-Touch One, which is what I would recommend.
Other than that, the FaderPort is nonetheless a decent option for on-the-go or home studio producers who want a compact and dedicated control surface to streamline their workflow in Logic Pro.
Softube Console 1 MKIII
If you're looking to bring the tactile experience of working on an analog mixing console into your home studio, Softube Console 1 MKIII is an excellent choice. I've been a long-time fan of Softube's high-end plugins, and I love the fact that this control surface works seamlessly with them and provides extensive support for third-party plugins. I use the Softube Console 1 MKII and love it, but the new version adds great additional features the professional producers will love.
You get the look and feel of a classic analog mixing console with the one-knob-per-function design, two high-res smart screens for better visual control, 27 touch-sensitive rotary knobs with great resistance; six sends per channel for flexible routing options, and a dedicated tape and preamp section for to impart that sweet, warm analog sound on your tracks. It integrates seamlessly with Logic X via a USB connection, and is a best control surface for people that want to focus on dialing EQ, compression, gating, and more for each channel.
The Console 1 MKIII's hardware design is truly exceptional, and the developers clearly tailored it to different producer workflows. Of course, as a premium control surface, the price tag reflects that. It's certainly not the most affordable option for all producers. But I've found that mixing with tactile control to easily control a lot of features unlocks a new level of creativity and workflow for me.
I'll also mention that while it offers support for third-party plugins, the level of integration and customization is nowhere near as extensive as with Softube's own plugins, so if you're not a Softube plugin user, you might miss out on some of the coolest features.
If I had to rate control surfaces by how gorgeous they are, the SSL UF1 would be at the top. This ultra-sleek and sophisticated single-fader control surface brings the renowned SSL mixing experience to your home, making it feel as if you're mixing on a legitimate SSL console.
For starters, the build quality is out of this world, and the overall design is ridiculously sleek.
Onboard, you'll find a 100 mm touch-sensitive motorized fader, two high-resolution color displays that give you detailed information on the selected tracks in your DAW, dedicated transport controls for easy playback and navigation, and a jog wheel offering complete control for scrubbing through audio.
However, my favorite element of the SSL UF1 would have to be the VU and PPM metering. The motorized fader feels smooth to the touch, and the controls and jog wheel make it easy to move through your projects and make quick edits like a pro.
As with the Softube Console MKIII, however, the price point might be a deal breaker for some producers, especially since it's just a single-channel control surface.
On the other hand, if you're looking to take a more tactile approach to mixing and you love the feel of analog-inspired controls, the SSL UF1 is a killer choice.
Best Multi-Channel Control Surfaces for Logic Pro
Generally, these multi-channel control surfaces are going to be more expensive and take up more room than the single channel options. They're a great choice for semi-pro studios, or people that produce a lot of a music and really need to streamline their workflow.
Korg NanoControl Studio
The first up on our list of multi-channel control surfaces for Logic Pro is the Korg nanoKONTROL Studio.
This ultra-lightweight and compact MIDI controller offers a versatile range of controls for working in Logic Pro, making it perfect for small home studios and mobile setups.
The control surface is pretty comprehensive, giving you access to nine faders, eight rotary encoders, and 32 buttons, as well as a dedicated transport section and a smooth jog wheel for scrubbing and searching.
The 32 buttons are completely customizable, so no matter what you're working on, you can find a way to integrate the control surface. You can even store up to five snapshots in the nanoKONTROL Studio, allowing you to recall different scenes easily.
Of course, one of the biggest things that sets this control surface apart from others on the list is the Bluetooth LE compatibility, which allows you to connect wirelessly to your computer. As someone who lives their life in a sea of cables, this is an awesome feature.
The only major downside that I can think of to the Korg NanoControl Studio is the lack of a built-in display and the lack of motorized faders for advanced automation of volume levels. You'll have to rely on your computer monitor to see the values of the parameters you're controlling.
Novation Launch Control XL
Novation is another company that's been in the control surface game for quite some time, and though the Launch Control XL was made with Ableton Live in mind, it works just as well for Logic Pro.
The overall design is very versatile and user-friendly, giving you a colorful, intuitive layout with comprehensive controls and easy DAW integration.
You'll find eight 60 mm faders for precise volume control, 24 customizable rotary encoders, 16 backlit buttons for triggering functions and macros, and dedicated mute, solo, and record arm buttons for quick track management.
The control surface comes with built-in factory mapping, though you can also create your own custom maps for your DAW and setup.
For how seemingly innocent it looks, the Launch Control XL has a very robust construction that feels great to the touch, and the layout is as well-organized as it could be, making it easy to find the controls you need without getting lost or confused.
Unfortunately, they placed the faders and knobs really close together, so if you're working super quickly, it's easy to make mistakes and adjust things you don't want to. On top of that, there are no motorized faders or jog wheel.
Overall, however, if you want a versatile control surface at a price that's easy to swallow, the Novation Launch Control XL is a solid choice.
Presonus Faderport 16
Stepping it up from their single-channel offering, the team at Presonus created the FaderPort 16, which offers 16 touch-sensitive motorized faders, eight rotary encoders, dedicated transport controls, and customizable user buttons, giving you total control over just about every aspect of your mixes.
Even with its relatively large size, it's still more compact than most 16-channel control surfaces, perfect if you have a small home studio.
I love the way the touch-sensitive motorized faders feel on this thing. If you often find yourself working in complex sessions that require a lot of automation, the unit can get the job done really well.
There are a few things that I don't like, however, such as the fact that it's made for Studio One, so it's not as functional right off the bat for Logic Pro. You'll need to make some mapping and configuration adjustments to optimize it.
You also won't find a built-in display, which can be inconvenient when you're working in low-light conditions and don't want to look up at your monitor.
Lastly, there aren't any knobs, which seems a bit outlandish for the price.
Even so, if you want a multi-channel control surface that you can work with quickly, the Fader Port 16 is a solid option.
Softube Console 1 Fader
The Softube Console 1 is one of the sleekest and most modern-looking control surfaces I've ever seen, bringing the tactile experience of mixing on an analog console into the modern age.
Not only does it integrate beautifully with Softube's top-notch suite of plugins, but it also has plenty of great functionalities, including ten super smooth touch-sensitive motorized faders, a wide range of customizable buttons and knobs, and two console emulations, including tube and discrete, to enrich the sound of your tracks, just as a console would.
The design is an absolute dream. With Scandinavian-style sleekness, all wrapped up in a powder-coated steel chassis for durability, it's a control surface that would elevate the look of any studio.
Overall, the SofTube Console 1 Fader a great option for experienced producers who have the money to spend on an analog-style piece of gear yet want something compact enough that they can take it with them on the go.
The Avid S1 is certainly in the premium tier of multi-channel consoles, and though it's made for Avid's proprietary Pro Tools software, it works beautifully in Logic Pro. You get a combination of physical and touchscreen controls as well, making it super flexible, no matter your preferred workflow.
Altogether, there are eight touch-sensitive motorized faders, automation LEDs, high-res OLED displays, and a versatile dock with a jog wheel, focus fader, transport controls, and more. I love the screens for visual reference while mixing, though the tactile controls are just as notable.
It's worth noting that the Avid S1 control surface also supports 9.1 surround sound, perfect for anyone working on sound or music for visual media.
If you can afford the high cost, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more premium control surface.
If you love the look and feel of SSL UF 1, though you need a few more channels to reign in complex mixes, the SSL UF 8 is a quality piece of gear. You'll find a striking combo of physical and touchscreen controls, all of which work together to emulate the look and feel of classic SSL mixing consoles.
However, you also get eight LCD TFT displays, which provide a wealth of information about each track in your session and are great for visual reference.
Overall, if you want the "analog" experience of mixing in a digital environment and you love the premium look and functionality of what SSL provides, I'd recommend checking this one out.
Mackie Control Universal Pro
The Mackie Control Universal Pro control surface is a classic in the mixing game. I would guess that 80% of major project studios in the world have one of these (if not an older model).
You get the organic feel of motorized touch-sensitive faders, an array of tactile knobs which offer excellent resistance, and an endless set of customizable controls that map beautifully to all major DAWs, including Logic.
With so many onboard parameters, making edits and navigating through projects is super easy, and with its expandable design, you can add additional Mackie Control Universal Pro units for more faders.
On the downside, it's a very large and heavy piece of equipment, so I wouldn't recommend it for smaller studios.
Icon Pro Audio Qcon Pro X
Icon's QCon Pro X is another large and in-charge control surface for bigger studios, offering a sleek design, a comprehensive set of control controls, and plenty of built-in functions to give you total control over your DAW.
Altogether, you get nine full-sized motorized faders, eight rotary encoders, 32 backlit buttons for triggering different macros and functions, and transport controls.
Everything is clearly labeled, making it easy to navigate, and the meters along the top give you visual feedback about your mix with the QCon Pro X. If you want a large control surface without having to spend more than a grand, I can't think of a better choice.
Other Resources for Logic Pro
If you're looking to go even deeper and perfect your Logic Pro setup, be sure to also check out these articles!
- The 34 Best Free & Paid VST Plugins for Logic Pro X
- The 10 Best Audio Interfaces For Logic Pro X
- The 20 Best Free & Paid Vocal Plugins for Logic Pro
- 18 Best Free & Paid Drum Plugins for Logic Pro X
- The 13 Best Control Surfaces for Logic Pro
- The 10 Best Audio Interfaces for Logic Pro
- The 10 best MIDI Controllers for Logic Pro
From a Frustrated Producer in a Ragtag Bedroom Studio to Major Placements on TV Earning $1,000s!
My name is Evan, and I've been making music since around 3rd grade. I'm from San Diego, California, but I've lived in Washington, DC for the last 20 years.
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