Nektar is well known for their controller keyboards, which feature tight integration with software -- in particular, the Panorama family is tightly dialed in to control Propellerhead Reason. (See sidebar at right for more on Reason 7!) The newest family member, the Panorama P1 control surface, takes this further, offering dedicated control over Reason and Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo. Of course, you can also use the P1 as a MIDI control surface with other DAWs and set up custom programming.
The P1 is a gorgeous control surface with a high-tech-looking, gloss-black finish with red accents. The P1 is set up out of the box to control just about all parameters in the software. There are faders for the mixer channels, knobs for pan and send levels, more knobs for EQ, dynamics, and other functions, channel select buttons, transport controls, function controls, a data encoder, and more. A beautiful color LCD shows exactly what you're working on at any given time. A View button toggles the computer screen to different parts of the mixer, between the mixer and the sequencer, and through the Reason Rack.
The P1 can operate in four modes: mixer, instrument, transport, and internal, which is user programmable. In all the modes, and stepping through the different control functions (selected using soft buttons under the display), the P1's controls default to logical assignments. If you know your way around Reason or Cubase, you'll feel right at home on the P1. There's really no learning curve at all! Within just a few minutes, I was running the P1 without thinking about it. Controlling the mixer, selecting patches on synths, running the transport, selecting loop points, making EQ and compressor changes, and tons more.
If you're a Reason, Cubase, or Nuendo user, you need to check out the P1 -- and give it a close look if you use another DAW, too! It will put your hands on your software and let you get away from making music with a mouse. I enjoyed using it on my laptop, especially. With the P1 connected, there's almost no more reaching for the computer keyboard. You can do it all from the control surface, no muss, no fuss, and no hassles.