Digital Audio Workstation controllers can be, pardon the pun, a touchy subject for a lot of producers and engineers. Admittedly, there’s not many functions and features available from DAW controllers that can’t be solved with a mouse or trackpad, and mouses are almost always already available or used with your computer anyway. Controllers can be expensive and sometimes clunky, which is the problem that the iCon Platform Nano focuses to solve.
The Nano is another addition to a growing list of DAW controllers from iCon, most of which are modular and can be combined, split, rearranged and re-programmed to function however you want them to. Featuring a single fader that can be toggled between banks of eight channels across your DAW, and some super handy features such as play, stop, record, fast forward etc. the iCon puts the tact back in tactile.
The iCon Nano’s top control surface is primarily filled with almost 40 buttons for toggling between functions, soloing, muting and editing the selected track. The Nano also features one large fader, with 10-bit resolution for accurately setting levels, as well as five pots for panning and dialing settings, and finally, one large jog wheel that can be programmed to do a variety of jobs. The unit features a large backlit LCD screen to display settings, selected channel names and values, and can easily be seen in both bright and dim settings. The Nano connects via USB 2.0 to ensure compatibility with most systems. For complete integration, the Nano features DAW overlays (like a skin that lays over the unit’s buttons to label the functions to match your DAWs terminology) for all major DAWs such as ProTools, LogicPro, Cubase, FL Studio etc.
In use, the Nano works well to pack the features of some of iCon’s larger DAW Controllers into such a small package. They do this by creating layers, accessible via hitting any of the coloured buttons below the LCD screen, allowing you to assign different functions to the same buttons and easily access them via different layers. The fader is also multi-use, and again can be toggled between different uses by punching any of the buttons along the left side of the unit, beside the fader itself. The pot above the fader can be toggled between a pan, send and some other functions, while the four knobs lined along the top of the unit can be used to toggle settings inside of plugins, such as EQ points, Q-width or compression ratios or attack and release. Admittedly all accessible with a mouse as well, but bringing a tactile feel to your mixes, and allowing you to focus more on your ears than fingers and mouse.
What’s more, it can be integrated into a larger iCon system for more faders and knobs, and expanded to as many channels as you might need. Admittedly, a single fader doesn’t give a lot of room for automating multiple tracks on the fly, without quickly toggling between settings and channels to make the pass. That being said, the Nano could easily be augmented with another eight channel iCon unit, providing eight channels, a master fader on the Nano, and a long list of functions. Realistically, it is absolutely everything you’d need.
Overall, the iCon Platform Nano is a great solution for any and every DAW user. Ideal for producers wanting to dip their feet into DAW controlling, or alternatively to expand an existing modular controller system, or, alternatively again, to mix with tactile feel and vibe while on the road where a console or larger DAW controller isn’t always practical. The Nano itself can be used similarly to a much larger and more expensive controller that occupies much more space, but offers matching functionality. The Nano features exceptionally well integrated layers and intuitive design, making access to it’s seemingly endless features easy regardless of which DAW you call home. Besides larger mixes requiring lots of automation and multiple passes, there isn’t much the Nano can’t accomplish, as it brings the physical feel, the push and the pull back into music.
Hits and Misses
Lots of functionality crammed into small unit
Clear, accurate buttons and controls
DAW overlays included
Single fader has its limitations