Many of you may have used an Icon controller in the past, with their iControl and Qcon series proving to be very popular, and both offering a great range of features at a very competitive price point. Until recently I was only aware of these DAW controllers from Icon. At least, that was until some boxes landed on my desk featuring a couple of units from their Platform system. This is like a compact version of the Qcon, in that it can act as a standalone, fully fledged controller in its own right, but can also be upgraded with other peripherals from the range to expand the size and capabilities of the unit. I was lucky enough to be able to test the Platform M DAW controller and Platform D LCD display.
Sitting in the middle of the range of DAW controllers from Icon, this is a sturdy unit that is well built in a metal casing, but does not have the bulk of the Qcon Pro series. This presents itself as a more workable option for many home recording setups when DAW control is a must, but when space is at a premium. The Platform M offers eight motorised channel faders and a master fader, with each channel fader having its own rotary encoder as well as mute, solo and record buttons. Transport controls, as well as shift controls and bank controls allow you to work on bigger projects with just the one unit. A jog wheel that can act as a master volume, or be used for data entry in a number of ways also completes the selection of control for the Platform M.
What I loved about these controllers is the ease in which one is able to go about setting it up for your desired DAW, especially as it works with the Mackie HUI protocol for Pro Tools users. Even those of you using Cubase, who might have had issues in the past getting the assignment of additional hardware right, it is all made very simple. Icon have developed step-by-step visual setup demonstrations for most DAWs and included all this on their website. You should have it up and running in very little time indeed.
Compared to the size of the main controller, this add-on LCD screen is rather compact, although it does take a fairly large housing for the small LCD that it offers. Understandably, part of its size is to allow for the screen to be raised up above the rotary encoders of the Platform M, ensuring all data is easily read. It would have been nicer had the unit actually been larger, offering a longer length to allow for more information to be displayed above the appropriate faders. That said, installation and connection is very easy and the adjustable angle allows you to get a clear view of the screen whether working standing up or sitting down. A good point to note about the Platform D is that it too is housed in a sturdy metal casing, so even with continual adjustment and the general workout in the studio; it is ready to deliver time and time again.
Hits and Misses
Great feeling, long faders
Rotary encoders on each channel, with master volume wheel
Portable and easy to install in any DAW
LCD screen could have been longer