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System 5 – MC Review!

After a brief look at AES I finally got an in-depth, hands-on demo of the System 5 MC.  I was expecting amazing things, and really wanted to like this console, but to my surprise… I really actually hated it.  Here are my pro’s and con’s:

Let’s start positive…


– Customizable. …Way more so than the icon.  This could be very useful to those that have one that they use regularly.

– Multiple system buttons that switch control surface, keyboard, mouse, and trackball between DAWs with 1 button.

– Focus fader follows track selection (WHY CAN’T THE ICON DO THIS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!)

– Legit metering on the large built in LCD meter bridge.

– Looks sexy… (I’m really stretching for positives)


– Built in trackball is recessed making it an ergonomic nightmare

– Trackball can’t be switched for left-handed operation.

– Mouse operates through built in computer (running windows XP) on the main control unit, this gives it a slight bit of lag (the guy at the demo insisted it didn’t, but I think it felt weird)

– No spill-able VCAs

– No dedicated focus fader

– The “focus” section is only 6 knobs, so even a simple eq requires paging through parameters.

– No “bank to track” by control+shift+clicking the track in the edit window… the ONLY way to get a track on the console is to bank to it… WTF? … hello 1985…

– Touch screen doesn’t respond very well, even the AVID rep running the demo had a habit of quadruple clicking every button.


I would not buy one of these units until some if not all of these issues were resolved.  The Icon is cheaper and, as far as I am concerned, a more thought out and ergonomic console.  Though it is more customizable, the System 5-MC lacks a great deal in the details that make a console a treat to operate.

Final Grade: D-

Side note:
During every control surface demo I’ve seen, they always demonstrate how you can assign plugins and output using the control surface (by pressing like 500 buttons) like it’s the greatest thing ever… has ANYONE ever done this?  Seriously… am I missing something?  I’ve talked to probly 20 mixers and editors about this and none of them have EVER used this feature, yet every demo makes it sound like this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to the industry… I don’t get it…

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