For the video version of this review CLICK HERE.
Over two years ago I bought the ICON Pro audio QCon Pro Daw Controller for my home studio because I wanted to add some hands on control to my mixing workflow. It offered a ton of value for the money and I have been extremely pleased with it. I’ve used it a ton over the past year and have even featured it in a number of videos on my channel. The fine people at ICON wanted to know what I thought about their next generation model so they sent over the new G2 for me to have a look.
QCon Pro G2, much like its predecessor, is an eight channel universal control surface with Mackie Control and HUI emulation that supports most major DAWs
While I’ve got both units on the desk I thought I’d start with a side by side comparison so those familiar with the first gen model can see how the G2 stacks up. And I’ll also cover what it takes to get the G2 setup and ready for mixing.
The first thing you can see right out of the box is the size difference. The first gen model had an expansion port for an audio interface on the back. This feature was removed on the G2 saving a good 4 inches. The height was also reduce by about a quarter of an inch. So the unit is less bulky overall.
I also can’t overlook the colour change. The beautiful anodized matte black metal and aluminum case is super slick. And this thing is built like a tank. This was something I admired about the last unit and the G2 is no different. The case is solid through and through. There is no plastic hiding on the back or bottom. The casing is completely aluminum and metal and extremely solid. And this thing has a lot of weight behind it. So once you have it in place it's not going to move. So for all you heavy handed mixers out there, you’ve met your match.
The touch sensitive, motorized faders were updated to the higher end Alps faders consistent with the QCon Pro X and Platform series. They feel more solid to the touch and the fader knobs themselves are bigger and more defined and are much easier to grab onto.
The 8 dual function encoder knobs have been streamlined. They are more sturdy, smaller but tapered for a more comfortable resting position for your fingers.
The jog wheel has also been updated. It is bigger, feels more solid and seems to offer a fair bit more detail and feedback in its movement. It appears both the encoder knobs and jog/shuttle wheel were also brought over from the higher end QCOn Pro X adding further value.
The display section of the G2 is fixed while on the previous model it was adjustable. However, the display angle feels just right and the backlit LCD display is significantly brighter than the previous model. It is extremely legible in all lighting conditions.
One of the biggest enhancements for the G2 is the DAW mode.
Setting up the G2 was a breeze. All you have to do is connect the provided power supply and USB cable into an available port on your computer.
Once powered up I did a firmware update. This is good practise with any hardware you buy. The software to do this is easy to find on the ICON website. I ran the firmware update app and simply followed the onscreen steps.
Once the unit was updated I fired up my DAW. I use Logic Pro but setup for other supported DAWS should be reasonably similar.
When you first turn on the G2 you have the option to choose your DAW mode by selecting the option on the LCD screen. On the previous model there were 10 options. On the new G2 the process has been simplified down to 4 options. For most DAWs you simply select the first option, MACKIE CONTROL. With the provided template overlays the G2 will automatically be configured for Cubase/Nuendo, Ableton Live, Studio One, Digital Performer, FL Studio, Samplitude, Reaper, Bitwig, Reason, Sonar, and Audition.
Logic Pro has a dedicated mode as it did on the previous model. The third mode is HUI for Pro Tools and the fourth option is a user-definable mode if your DAW is not supported by default or if you simply like to noodle and customize your workflow. Included in the box are template overlays for all of the supported DAWs.
In Logic, to connect the G2 all I had to do was go to the Logic Pro X menu, navigate to preferences, General and then click the advanced Tab and sure MIDI and Control surfaces were selected.
Then from the same menu I went to Control Surfaces and then setup. I clicked new, install and then chose Mackie Designs / Mackie Control. I then selected ICON QCON Pro G2 V1.01 in the input and output port pulldowns and the G2 came to life. That’s it. So simple!
You get complete control of all functions, including faders, encoder knobs, transport buttons, jog.shuttle wheel, track functions and whole host of other features.
At first glance, the G2 is a solid product with a truly professional feel. Setting up the unit was super simple. In just a couple of minutes I was ready to start mixing. The board is laid out very cleanly and logically and is very comfortable in your hands. It’s a gorgeous unit that will look good in any pro or home studio environment.
The Lonely Rocker