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Avid Eucon 2021.6 update review

Avid Eucon 2021.6: what is it?

The latest software update of this well-established protocol. Offering increased user control of Eucon enabled controllers operating over an ever-widening arrange of DAW’s and other software.
EuCon 2021.6 introduces several significant new capabilities, including one of the most requested by users, ‘custom knobs’, along with a general tidy up and bug fixes.

What’s not?
EuCon, although able to talk across multiple platforms and a wide variety of software programmes is still predominantly tied to Avid hardware.

The bottom line:
If you own the product, it’s a no brainer, if you are thinking of investing in a controller then Avid is demonstrating a continued investment into this proven, reliable and popular protocol.

The verdict

I must admit to being a ‘knobs’ person. I have an analogue background, I predate digital, but I have, like most of us moved into the digital age. This move, however, did leave me searching for a way to interface with my software in a tactile, practical way. This resulted in an investment in numerous ‘hardware controllers’. These boxes of faders and knobs all offered varying degrees of control over my DAW. Some worked better than others, none really did what I wanted, all have been retired to a shelf in the warehouse. The problem was not that they didn’t work, just not flexibly enough, or with fine enough control. Many failed to keep up with the development of software, and the needs of users leading to fast redundancy.

The one I didn’t buy was the Euphonix Artist. This was always a pricey unit, but had I made that commitment it would probably still be in use.

Euphonix were always an interesting company. Their digitally controlled analogue desks are still very well respected and were ahead of their time in many ways. Their controllers were a spin-off from their desk design and its communication software. The Artist series was very popular and was based on the Euphonix EuCon Protocol. When Avid snapped up Euphonix in 2010 it was this software that many saw as the jewel in the Euphonix crown. Over the following years, Eucon became integrated into more of Avid’s products, culminating in the Avid S range of control surfaces. Eucon is now an intrinsic part of the Avid workflow.

So, what is the secret of Eucon’s longevity? Eucon is an object-orientated protocol for connecting control surfaces to software applications. When first announced over 15 years ago it was already becoming evident that MIDI-based protocols did not have enough bandwidth, high enough control resolution or a variety of controls to provide a satisfactory user experience. Eucon’s developers recognised that audio engineers would be using a wide range of different applications on one or more computers from a single control surface. The object-orientated design was utilised to promote ease of adoption by software developers. This indeed has proved the case. Eucon is now supported in most of the major DAW’s and its adoption appears to be well established.

So, what is this latest update and why are Avid shouting about it?

The catchily named 2021.6 has the usual range of bug fixes but also several key new features. This update allows users to create custom knob maps for all of their favourite plugins, allowing you to map your most-used plugin parameters onto the control surface exactly as you want them. In addition, you can program different areas of your surfaces to have different knob maps. If you do not want to build knob layouts for each area, the system intelligently falls back to maps that you’ve built for other surface configurations or the default page.

As well as custom Inserts maps, both the EQ and DYN default Function maps can be rearranged, this ensures that similar controls are always in the same place no matter the plugin.

The new Meter Strip Designer, allows you to create a custom strip layout that works best for you for both Avid Control and Avid Control Desktop, independently. Drag in and rearrange the order of all the different information blocks, show the graphs separately, or combine them together, shrink the meter height and resize the window.

The further customisation of control surfaces will make this update a popular one, I believe, for Avid users. The further development and commitment by Avid should give confidence to prospective buyers that Eucon will be around for some time. This will also have the knock-on effect of further integration into third-party software developers.

So, is there a downside? Eucon hardware controllers are still primarily Avid devices. Users are still facing only a limited and quite pricey range of surfaces to chose between. Whether this will change in the future is unclear. However, as a practical and easy to use system its popularity is growing and Eucon’s power and flexibility puts it in a different league to comparable control protocols such as HUI and MCU.
What’s great?