A few days ago I received my Nektar Panorama P1, and I'm deeply in love atm If you are looking to get away from your mouse and want a hands on experience, the Panorama series is definitely worth looking at.
Note: the P1 is the controller section of the P4 and P6 Panorama keyboards. The only thing it's (sadly) missing besides the keys is 1 motorised fader. Then again, this is better for mobile use (less batterydrain)
With the P1 I can navigate just about anything in FL: open/close instruments, open/close effect plugins, tweak mixer, select channels/tracks/patterns, save-as-new, clean workspace, play/stop/pauze/record, activate metronome, looprecording, wait-for-input, render to playlist, focus any window, zoom horizontally/vertically in playlist/pianoroll, scroll left/right, move patterns, select snap-values, scroll through undo history, jump between markers, select between markers, set pan/spread on mixertracks, control upto 24 parameters on just about any plugin (thanks to Christiano82) and control the mixer.
All of the above without ever touching a mouse or keyboard!!
Once installed via the instructions (installing driver and firmware update: viewtopic.php?f=1914&t=99692) and setup as MIDI device in FL, many of the functions I mentioned are instantly available. The generic links to instruments/effects/mixer have to be setup manually though, and you can also program in 11 keyboard shortcut sequences to be run from the P1.
The functions available are shown in this picture:
And then some... To start, I'm very happy the knobs are all endless encoders. This means no jumping when changing vst's and controlling other parameters. The knobs software position is reflected in the small but very clear lcd screen, so you instantly see what you are doing.
The screen is really where the magic happens. It has bi-directional feedback to FL and a number of very useful functions. I'll illustrate...
In this screen, Tools 1:
- Jog 1 moves playhead in Playlist/Pianoroll
- Jog 2 scrolls vertically (PR) or zooms vertically (PL)
- Move moves selected notes/patterns and even mixertracks (alt left/right)
- Snap scrolls through snap settings
- Pattern scrolls through patterns, also empty ones
- Track scrolls through the Mixer
- Channel scrolls through the Channelrack
- Tempo changes.. tadaa.. tempo
- Last 1 / Last 2 uhm, not quite sure yet
- Hzoom zooms horizontally in PR/PL
- Vzoom zooms vertically in PR/PL
- Undo scrolls through undo history
- Marker jump scrolls through markers
- Marker sel scrolls through markers and selects between them
- Window cycles focus through all open windows.
In the Free 1/2/3 screens are the links between the 8 top rotaries and parameters of focused plugins in FL. After installation they are blank and have to be setup manually. Here you see links to Harmor. Christiano82 has made a huge effort and has put his mapping file up in the forum. It has (generic) linked just about all FL native plugins, the mixer and even the Air Expansion pack plugins and a few others. Amazin job! Once I had that in FL's data folder, the P1 could instantly control all those plugins, with visual feedback to the lcd screen.
Find his amazing mapping file here, it works also for P4/P6: viewtopic.php?f=1915&t=169220
Then there are the F-keys. All the transport buttons double as function keys and can run 11 keyboard command sequences. So you can assign things like CTRL-S or ALT-R to a button on the controller. But also a sequences like F12-F5-F9 which closes all windows and plugins gui's and then restores Playlist and Mixer, cleaning up my workspace.
It even has a FL Studio preset!
In this I have changed it to my own favorite shortcuts. You can save the profile you enter. I saw there are 10 different DAW's with such key shortcuts programmed. BUT... since you can change them too, you can actually use 10 menu's of 11 shortcuts in FL. Only with a name like 'Reaper' or 'Bitwig'
Setups can be saved in a number (8?) or different presets, handy for different templates for instance. Changing the F-key functions makes the P1 pop up a window on my PC where I can edit the shortcut sequence, very nice.
All in all this thing really makes my studio setup into one functional setup! I use the P1 to directly control stuff, or to select channels or tracks that I can then instantly play with my keyboards.
It has already reduced my use of mouse and keyboard by more then 70%! I'm still learning to get around in this setup, so things are not always as fast, but once I have some practise I'm confident I can control my productions much faster and more focused.
With both my Oxygen8 and Launchkey 61 I never had such an integrated experience, and always had trouble remembering what did what in which plugin. Most of that is now just over, no more guessing, it's all in front of me onscreen.
The only gripe I have with the P1 is the lack of the motorised fader, or at least a replacing mapping for it, because it is still used/linked in the main 'Mixer' view of the P1. It is probably the same firmware as for the P4 and P6, which do have a motorised fader. But I have my mixer mapped anyway. The 'Mixer' view on the P1 seems a bit crippled by this. Besides that I don't have anything to complain about, me happy
Discuss MIDI Controller support/issues here.
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