Posted on June 7th, by Graeme in Mini Reviews.

V-Control 1

V-Control Pro

Anyone who plays, records and works alone in a modest studio setup will be familiar with the hassle of being festooned in cables while you’re reaching for the keyboard transport controls of your DAW. I usually yank the guitar lead out, knock the microphone away then run over my headphone cable with the castor wheel of my chair, ripping the cans off my head time and again – it’s a wonder they still work.

One answer has always been a hardware control surface of some kind and the experts tell you that once you’ve used a proper controller you’ll never go back to a mouse and keyboard again. But these controllers are often a large investment and… well, maybe you haven’t finished paying for the computer yet.

The iPad is bringing us another option in the form of app controllers. The Neyrinck V-Control promises to do everything you need wirelessly letting you escape the desk and– if you’re fortunate enough to have one – operate your DAW from a recording booth. The only restriction to how far you go is the strength of your wireless network. There are two versions, V-Control Free and V-Control Pro. V-Control has two main environments, the standard fader/transport view and the V-Window View. The V-Window is a direct overview of your DAW and transforms it into a touch-surface control on your iPad. Here is one importance difference between the Free and Pro versions – in V-Control Free you can look, but you can’t touch. The V-Window is just a window showing your DAW GUI. Only the Pro version allows you to make any adjustments you like by providing touch-surface capability. The iPad can’t make V-Window display all of your DAW GUI as it’s seen on your PC monitor – the resolution would be too small, and the solution is an Adjust button that lets you shift the V-Window view across your DAW to what you need to see. You can zoom in one level only, not incrementally as the iPad normally does, and this is good enough to let you adjust plug-in parameters, set markers accurately… whatever you want. Things like plug-ins can be left open on your DAW and these become selectable views in V-Window. However, closing these views in V-Control doesn’t also close the plug-in on your main monitor, so if you’re intending to keep one eye on the PC this can make for a cluttered screen.

V-Control 3

V-Window gives you direct access to your DAW and touch-surface control of everything in it. On an iPad it can be a bit small & tricky, although zooming helps.

Another big difference between the two versions is that V-Control Free has no Record buttons. You can’t record with it, which in my book makes it next to useless, but hey – it’s a freebie that’s more like a demo than something you’d really be expected to use.

V-Control Pro comes with a wide range of different skins to suit your DAW of choice including all the big names such as Pro Tools, Cubase, Sonar and the rest. The extra controls and menu buttons vary with these skins too and while not everyone’s going to be satisfied Neyrinck has tried hard to accommodate each skin with the optimum go-to controls. Otherwise an Edit window gives you access to more in-depth menus and buttons.

Connecting V-Control your DAW can be easy – as in the case of Presonus Studio One – or frustrating like Sonar, but this depends on the complexity of getting the DAW to see an external controller. Don’t blame Neyrinck. By the way, you need to download and run a free utility called Ney-Fi on your host PC to complete the network.

The conclusion is that V-Control Pro is a well-featured and comprehensive app that certainly does give you extensive control over your DAW. The question is, why would you ever need that much control? Despite the wondrous technology of the iPad, it’s not a practical way to control a full-blown DAW.

It’s not meant to be. You’re never going to achieve a better mix using V-Control Pro. The workflow is too clunky from shifting windows and zooming into knobs and sliders. However, when you’re next trying to record some new tracks on your own, hard-wired into your cozy, acoustic-treated corner or that isolation booth, and the mix in the headphones is revealing all kinds of gremlins that are distracting and getting under your skin… V-Control Pro will let you tweak all those parameters without having to plod back and forth to the DAW trying to cook up the perfect headphone mix.

The same applies when you’re sitting back on the studio couch with the band, smack in the monitor sweet-spot and listening to a serious mixdown, and someone decides you need to fine-tune something. Too easy – whip out the iPad and V-Control Pro and you can oblige without losing your comfy place on the lounge suite.

While the large-format hardware controllers like the Mackie and Tascam products were always designed to make DAW control tactile, easier and more accurate, V-Control Pro is all about convenience, getting you away from the computer to somewhere maybe quieter, or warmer, or cooler… It’ll save you time, angst and several pairs of shoes over time. And probably a few sets of headphones, too.

Developer: Neyrinck

Cost: $51.99 (Australian App Store)