Hidden Treasure - Digidesign Command 8

06-25-2014 09:00 AM

Hidden Treasure is a new series where we look at some items that may have been written off as past their best, but that may deserve consideration before making a purchase of a new item to do a task in the studio.
The first piece of hidden treasure is the Digidesign Command 8, shown by Digidesign at the 119th AES in 2005, so nearly 10 years old, but there’s a still a lot going for the Command 8 a decade later.
When Pro Tools 11 was announced some Pro Tools users were left confused by what hardware would and would not work with Pro Tools 11, the Command 8 fell into the ‘Not Officially Supported (Untested)’ and so some rumours started to circulate that effectively wrote this unit off.
However, the Command 8 still works fully in Pro Tools 11 and now they are going got a song on the second hand market, in the UK you can grab them for a low as £250, or the USA for as low as $325. What you get for you money is quite a lot. The main features of Command|8 include:

  • Eight fader strips, each with a motorized, touch-sensitive fader, rotary encoder, LEDs, and Solo, Mute, and Channel Select switches
  • Analog monitoring section with the following features:
    Output and level control for mains and headphones
    Two pairs of analog inputs, one for the main mix from Pro Tools, one for alternate sources
  • One MIDI In port and two MIDI Out ports providing 16 channels of MIDI input and 32 channels of MIDI output
  • USB port for direct USB MIDI communication with Pro Tools
  • Large, bright LCD for data display
  • 1/4-inch Punch In port for footswitch control of recording
  • Transport controls and mode switches
  • Windows switches for Pro Tools display
  • Navigation and Zoom controls
  • Tactile control of track volume, pan, send level, send pan, and record status, as well as PRE™ (Digidesign mic preamplifier) gain
  • Fast and convenient access to sends, inserts, plug-in pages, pan settings, and other track functions
  • Five Function keys to access Utility, Fader Mute, and MIDI mapping functions
  • Stand-Alone mode with save and recall of up to 8 snapshots
  • Allows control of any device that supports MIDI Continuous Controller messages
  • Allows use of custom MIDI mapping

So that’s a physical control surface with moving faders, a Pro Tools transport, a monitoring controller (with MONO button), full physical control of plug-ins and instruments, as well as a MIDI interface for around $300.
That’s a lot of bang for the buck and well worth considering if you want a physical control surface. It may not be the newest controller out there, but it still has a lot to offer nearly a decade after it was launched.
Have you got a Command 8, what do you think of it? Do you have suggestions for gear to feature in future Hidden Treasure post? If so then let us know.