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Avid Dock Review and Guide: How Good Is This Control Surface?

Avid Dock Review and Guide: How Good Is This Control Surface?

Avid Dock is a control surface of choice for many professional producers and sound engineers. Will it suit you too? My Avid Dock review and guide should answer all your questions about this popular device.

A good control surface should work as the brain of your studio. I like to think of it as a keyboard translating my ideas and commands to all the different languages spoken by the DAW on my computer.

If the translation fails, everything else becomes confused and meaningless, so you certainly want your control surface to be competent and compatible with your software.

As with all Avid hardware, Dock was explicitly created for a smooth collaboration with Avid’s iconic Pro Tools digital audio workstation (you can learn more about it in our detailed Pro Tools vs. Ableton comparison).

To give you a better idea of the conditions in which I have tested this device, I have used it in my home studio connected to a MacBook Pro equipped with Pro Tools 12 DAW and a 9.7” iPad Pro serving as a touchscreen, which is more or less my standard and well-proven setup.

Bottom Line Upfront: Avid Dock is quite an investment, but if you’re serious about the audio production, this device is well worth its price. Dock can substitute almost any other controllers you might have used so far, thanks to its thoughtful design, versatility, customizable features, and controls.

Key Specifications of Avid Dock

Review the main specifications of the Avid Dock control surface in the table below.

Full name of the product Avid Pro Tools | Dock
Compatible operating systems OS X 10.10.5 or higher/Windows 8, Windows 10

 

For iPad: iOS: 9.3.1 or higher

(also compatible with some Android devices)

Compatible software Apple Logic Pro X

 

Avid Pro Tools 12.5 and higher

Avid Pro Tools | HD 12.5 and higher

Steinberg Cubase 8.5 and higher

Steinberg Nuendo 7 and higher

(or any other EUCOM-enabled DAW)

Ancillary I/Os 1x USB 2.0 port (for charging iPad), one footswitch port (1/4-inch TRS), 1x Ethernet port, Kensington lock slot
Controls 32 hardware buttons (mode selectors and similar functions), two programmable touch strips, 16 programmable Soft Keys
Encoders Nine total (8 push-top, touch-sensitive channel control encoders + 1 monitoring control encoder)
Navigation Jog wheel (complete transport control)
Metering 10-segment meter for pre/post-fade metering
Touchscreen Not included (you must buy an iPad or another compatible tablet separately)
Dimensions 24 x 20 x 7 inches
Latest price Click here for the latest price

Core Features of Avid Dock

Avid Dock

Avid Dock is a surprisingly potent controller packed in a conveniently small body. But the best thing about it is its incredible versatility and adjustability. Let’s explore all its features and qualities in detail.

Design and Controls

My home studio is my favorite place on Earth, but I must admit that it could be more spacious. At times, I feel pretty cramped in there – especially if I work with some bulkier devices. In this regard, the lightweight Dock with a tiny footprint is a serious lifesaver.

But what’s even better is how many features and controls the engineers squeezed into this small space without compromising the Dock’s clearness and ease of use. There’s a transport, jog wheel, fader, buttons – and so much more, all in a practical symbiosis.

Besides that, you can also integrate your iPad into the unit as a touchscreen display, giving you even more options and an overview of each channel separately (I love how the virtual faders are connected with the motorized hardware fader, physically moving when I touch the screen!).

One of the best parts is that If you need to play some of your instruments in another room (which I often have to do with drums due to lack of space), you can even take the iPad out and use it without any limitations remotely.

Talking about the design, I cannot forget to mention that this control surface also looks very good. It’s sleek, modern yet timeless, and I really like the gray-and-purple color combination making it stand out without looking too extravagant.

Software Compatibility

Avid Dock Software Compatibility

As I have already mentioned above, I have used Avid’s Dock with Avid’s Pro Tools software, which is an ideal scenario allowing you to take advantage of the unit’s full potential without any worries about compatibility and conversions.

This gave me complete control of the DAW with lots of freedom in configuring how the device will control the software. From transport to jog control – you can spend a whole day assigning and adjusting the cooperation between the two to your liking.

Of course, not everyone prefers Pro Tools to other available DAWs, and some users might even want to combine several DAWs to get the exact set of tools they need (learn how to find the best music production software for you).

The Dock can work well with many DAWs, including Artist Mix, Cubase 8.5 (and above), Nuendo 7 (and above), or Logic Pro X. The primary prerequisite, however, is that the system has to enable EUCOM communication protocol. Otherwise, it won’t work.

Unlike the Apple-exclusive Pro Tools Carbon interface, Dock can be paired with both Mac and Windows operating systems, and the dedicated app can be downloaded to iOS and Android devices alike. Hence, the overall compatibility of this controller is pretty impressive.

Ease of Use and Customizability

Avid Dock is a very intuitive device, and if you have some previous experience with these types of units, you will master it in just a few hours. The setup and installation are pretty straightforward, too – at least if you, like me, use Dock with macOS, which is also officially recommended by Avid.

Of course, to truly appreciate the delightful ease of use with Dock, you have to operate this device for some time. It took me probably a week or two to realize that I am using my hands much less, avoiding thousands of tedious clicks on the mouse with Dock’s intuitive interface.

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of classic analog controls, you will undoubtedly love the machine-style section of controls under the jog wheel with the traditional “play”/“pause”/”forward” type of buttons.

Last but not least, there are also two fully programmable strips, serving all your specific requests as convenient shortcuts and many other ways to customize, personalize, and tweak this device to work for you genuinely. It saves you tons of energy and time.

This control surface improves the tempo of your workflow and leaves much more space for your creativity while eliminating all the unnecessary manual labor.

Warranty and Reliability

In general, Avid provides a standard 1-year limited warranty on all of its hardware. If your Avid Dock stops working as it should within this period, send it directly to Avid, and you should have it repaired in a couple of weeks free of charge.

Besides that, you can also opt for an extended warranty policy for three years from purchase. It comes with an immediate replacement of a unit that needs servicing. That means you can continue working on your projects without any pause.

As for the Avid Dock’s reliability, I have not experienced any technical issues with this device whatsoever. I don’t even know anyone else who would criticize this device for being prone to any kind of malfunction.

Aside from occasional communication/compatibility issues (usually promptly resolved by Avid’s software updates), this control surface works perfectly predictably and reliably.

Pros of Avid Dock

Avid Dock

If you still cannot decide if this controller is your best choice, here’s a short recapitulation of the Dock’s essential qualities:

Smart and Sleek Design

Avid Dock is designed to serve its purpose as well as possible. It is compact, fits almost anywhere, and the layout is perfectly intuitive. Even after weeks of use, I am still amazed at how smart this device is designed. Moreover, it also looks great!

Incredibly Customizable Controls

Avid Dock is ready to become whatever you need it to be. With so many customizable and tweakable features, assignable controls, and optional ways to view or access various functions, Dock will quickly become your right hand.

Reliability and Warranty

Avid makes some of the most reliable audio equipment on the market. After all, that’s one of the main reasons why it’s preferred by many professionals. Moreover, in the unlikely event that your Dock malfunctions, you are also covered by Avid’s warranty.

Wide Compatibility

Although this controller is mainly recommended for use with Mac computers, iPads, and Avid’s native Pro Tools DAW, it still offers pretty broad compatibility with other systems and devices.

Cons of Avid Dock

These few drawbacks can potentially discourage you from the purchase:

Compatible Only with EUCOM-Enabled DAWs

Avid Dock is not downright unfriendly to other DAWs than Avid’s Pro Tools, but its compatibility has some limitations since you can only pair it with software enabling EUCOM protocol.

iPad, the Unit’s Touchscreen, Must be Bought Separately

In my opinion, this is pretty obvious, but I’ve heard from many people how disappointed they were when they realized that the iPad, appearing in all the Dock advertisements, must be bought separately. It would be certainly nice to have it included, right?

It is Not Cheap

Avid Dock is essentially a professional studio-grade control surface, so you cannot expect it to be as affordable as some other controllers. If you sum that up with the additional investment in the iPad, it is quite an expensive solution.

Are There Any Alternatives?

Avid S6

Avid S6

If you (like me) have a soft spot for unique equipment, you should try Avid’s S6. It is the first fully customizable work surface equipped with a modular design that will grow and expand with you as you progress on your journey in sound production.

This flagship control surface contains one Master Touch Module and Automation Module, allowing for up to 138 modules in total. Every Fader Module has eight motorized faders, providing 11 switches per channel and the ability to run eight workstations from a single destination.

Learn all the details about this excellent control surface in our full Avid S6 review and guide.

Avid S1 EUCON

Avid S1 EUCON

Avid S1 is a convenient and versatile control surface enabling EUCON, a high-speed Ethernet control protocol managing collaboration between your device and Avid or third-party monitoring, audio, or video applications.

It gives you speedy and perfectly reliable control over all your favorite instruments from a single point. S1 comes with eight touch-sensitive motorized faders, eight assignable encoders, eight high-res OLED displays, and 8 track color soft keys/switches.

Like Avid Dock, this slim and compact design won’t occupy too much space in your studio, although it will quickly become its central piece thanks to its extraordinary mixing abilities.

Our full Avid S1 review will provide you with many interesting details on this controller.

Icon QCon ProX

Icon QCon ProX

If you’re not necessarily looking for an Avid device, maybe you will like one of my all-time favorites: Icon QCon ProX. This control surface is incredibly rugged and perfectly suitable for frequent transport and uses in various environments and settings.

The 8-channel USB-MIDI controller can be plugged in and used instantly, making it a great choice for those who can’t stand long installations. ProX has nine motorized faders (8 channels + Master) and eight encoder potentiometers.

Besides being compatible with Pro Tools, this device works smoothly with Logic and numerous other popular DAWs. It also has no compatibility issues with Windows.

Frequently Asked Questions about Avid Dock

Question: How do I Connect Avid S1 to Avid Dock?

Answer: If your setup includes both Avid Dock and Avid S1 controllers, you can easily connect them using the joint S1 Link plate. Just take the cap off the rubber foot on the side of the plate you intend to connect to the Dock.

Question: Can the Avid Dock be Used to Control the Monitoring of the Pro Tools MTRX or MTRX Studio?

Answer: Yes, it is possible with the enabled EuControl.

Question: My DAW Connects to the Avid Dock, but None of the Controls Work. What is the Problem?

Answer: That can happen when you’re dealing with a partially broken connection. You will most likely have to reinstall the EuControl app sets manually.

Question: Does Avid Dock Come with the Pro Tools Software?

Answer: No, not by default. Unless you find some special deal bundling the device and the software in one package, you will have to buy the Pro Tools DAW separately.

Question: Can Avid Dock be Paired with an Android Tablet?

Answer: Yes, the free Avid Control app is available for both iOS and Android systems, allowing you to control your Dock controller with the smart device of your choice.

Final Thoughts – Is Avid Dock Really Worth It?

If you’re looking for a control surface that would improve your workflow and make your life as an audio producer easier, Avid Dock will not let you down.

This controller boasts an incredibly thoughtful design with intuitive control and many customizable features. With every project, session, or task, you can fully adapt Dock to your momentary needs, which gives you endless options to grow and explore new grounds.

Unless you have some issues with the Dock’s EUCOM-exclusive DAW compatibility, I believe that the only serious downside of this controller is its price.

Besides the purchase price of the controller, you must also take into account the price of an iPad (serving as the controller’s touchscreen). Moreover, you must also add the cost of some DAW unless you already own it (see our tips on the best music production software for beginners if you don’t).

Nevertheless, I still believe Avid Dock’s quality justifies the investment.

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