Welcome to my guide and review to using the Nektar Panorama series of MIDI Controllers with Cubase 13.

The Panorama series of MIDI Controllers first was introduced to the market in 2012 with the Panorama P4 (49 keys), followed by the Panorama P1 (no keyboard) and Panorama P6 (61-keys) introduced in 2013. Even though it’s been over 10 years, this controller is still totally relevant in 2024.

Nektar Panorama P6 image

The features are practically identical across the series, with the exception of the Panorama P1, which lacks performance features such as a keyboard, octave buttons, performance buttons (PB1, PB2), aftertouch, pitch-wheel, and mod-wheel.

I purchased a Panorama P6 expecting it to unlock a plug-and-play experience of navigating plugins, presets, and parameters all with the knobs, faders, and buttons. This is possible, however I’ve encountered various issues and ambiguities concerning the integration. These were:

  • How is it meant to be used with Cubase 13? Should I use features like MIDI Remote, or Quick Controls, with the Panorama controller, or will it conflict with the DAW integration?
  • Why am I not able to step through the Virtual Instrument presets using the Patch- and Patch+ buttons consistently?
  • Why are the controls not as intuitive for some Virtual Instruments?

I answer these questions, and recap in the Conclusion section at the bottom of this post.


To understand what’s possible with the Nektar Panorama MIDI controller, it’s important that you understand some things about MIDI, and what features Cubase provides for MIDI controllers. I’ve created two posts to establish this.

  • Understanding MIDI - Explains MIDI Continuous Controller (CC) messages, which are transmitted when you manipulate the knobs, faders, and buttons on a MIDI controller. Also explains what “MSB” and “LSB” mean, and covers System Exclusive messages.
  • Demystifying MIDI in Cubase - This explains how Cubase features are used with a MIDI controller that does not support DAW integration like the Panorama series.


As I discuss the Panorama, I’m going to need to refer to the various controls. I’ll be referring to these by description (e.g. “the faders”, “Pad button”, etc), but I’ll also include the letters from this diagram, such as “Pad button (R)”.

Nektar Panorama P4 diagram Diagram taken from P4 Quick Start Guide

Many MIDI controllers have knobs that are technically called “potentiometers” or “pots”, which are limited in how far you can turn them clockwise or counter-clockwise. The Panorama does not use these, it instead has “rotary encoders” that can turn infinitely in either direction. We’ll refer to these as “encoders”.

To distinguish between the following controls, which don’t have official names/descriptions in the Panorama manual, I’m going to refer to them using the following labels:

  • F - “Channel encoders”
  • P - “Context encoders”
  • N - “Navigation buttons”
  • Q - “Transport buttons”

Other groups I refer to should be obvious, such as the “LED Buttons” below the faders, or the “Drum Pads”.

MIDI Interfaces

You might notice that Cubase detects multiple MIDI interfaces from the Panorama, provided by the USB connection to your computer.

  • “Panorama Internal”,
  • “Panorama Mixer”,
  • “Panorama Instrument”,
  • “Panorama ReWire Host”

In the DAW setup instructions you are instructed to configure only the “Internal” interface as being included in the “All MIDI” set. This is to ensure that only the MIDI messages sent from the Internal interface are routed to your tracks and instruments when you select “All MIDI” inputs as the MIDI source for a track.

The keyboard notes, aftertouch, pitch-bend, and mod-wheel messages are always sent from the Panorama P4 or P6 to your DAW from the “Internal” interface, no matter which mode you are using. The knobs, faders, and buttons are also sent to your DAW from the “Internal” interface, but only when the controller is using the “Internal” mode.

The setup instructions also instruct you to make only the “Internal” and “ReWire Host” interfaces visible. This is because the “Mixer” and “Instrument” interfaces are redundant, and thus not needed for use with Cubase. You cannot remove the “ReWire Host” interface from being visible however, as this would disable Cubase from listening to that interface, which is needed for the DAW integration features supported by the Panorama.

DAW Integration

The Panorama series support three DAW integration modes that map the controls of the Panorama to different actions within Cubase.

  • Mixer Mode - Faders map to to channels/tracks, controlling volume. Buttons and knobs control mute, solo, pan, inserts, sends, etc.
  • Instrument - Controls are mapped to the parameters inside of the Virtual Instrument loaded in the currently selected track
  • Transport - Context encoders (P) are mapped to transport functions in your project, such as the tempo, or the song position pointer (SPP).

The DAW integration modes are not available with the Panorama unless you have powered it on before you start Cubase. During the startup of Cubase, the Cubase integration driver/software for the Panorama is initialized and establishes two-way communications with the Panorama on the “ReWire Host” MIDI interface. MIDI CC messages and System Exclusive messages are exchanged throughout your session to ensure that the Panorama and your Cubase session states remain in sync. The Cubase integration driver acts as a kind of server, with the Panorama acting as a client.

Consistent Controls

The Navigation buttons perform the same functions no matter which DAW integration mode you are in using. You have to hold the SHIFT button to use modes labelled above the navigation buttons (e.g. “◀ Bank “, “Bank ▶”, etc). The bank buttons only work if your project includes more than 8 tracks.

Button Purpose
Track- Switch to previous track
Track+ Switch to next track
Patch- Switch to previous MIDI / instrument preset
Patch+ Switch to next MIDI / instrument preset
View Toggles Mixer window in “Mixer” mode
Toggles Instrument window in “Instrument” mode
Toggles transport window in “Transport” mode
◀ Bank Switches to previous bank of 8 tracks/channels
Bank ▶ Switches to next bank of 8 tracks/channels

Transport Buttons (Q)

The Transport buttons perform the same functions no matter which DAW integration mode you are using. The Nektar manual refers to the project cursor position as the “Song Position Pointer” (SPP).

Button Purpose
F-Keys Held to use F1-F11 functions
Move project cursor to Left Locator Position
Move project cursor to Right Locator Position
Undo Undo last action
Click Toggles metronome
Mode Toggles MIDI Record Quantize
Cycle Toggles Cycle
⏪️ Rewind


The F-Keys (11 total) are the only controls that you can configure and use within the DAW integration modes. You have to configure and load their configuration from within Internal mode. The F-Keys always send configured MIDI messages from the “Internal” MIDI interface.

If there is a feature or toggle that the DAW integration modes do not provide, these buttons could offer a solution. More on that below under my coverage of Internal mode.

If you want to assign MIDI CC to the F-Keys, I recommend that you use MIDI CC 20 - 31, as these are undefined and not used by default by any of the other Internal mode controls. QWERTY macros are not supported on newer MacOS systems, so this is a more practical use of the F-Keys should the DAW integration fall short of your workflows needs.

Mixer Mode

When you select Mixer mode, certain controls are mapped to Cubase mixer features by the DAW integration driver.

Transport Buttons

If you press the ‘View’ button it hides or shows the Mixer window.

If you hold SHIFT and press the ‘View’ button, it hides or shows the Channel Editor window.

Faders (D & H)

The 8 faders are assigned to the 8 tracks in the current “bank” context in Mixer mode. The 9th fader (furthest to the right) is mapped to the Master audio output (Stereo Out).

The motorized fader (D), along with the Mute and Solo buttons, are assigned to the current track. You can press the “Fader” button to access the graphical menu for configuring the channel, which includes toggling:

  • Read mode
  • Write mode
  • Bypass Inserts
  • Bypass EQs
  • Bypass FX Sends

I’m surprised that they left out the ability to toggle the ‘Monitor’ button.

From the main ‘Mixer’ mode menu you can use the “Channel” menu button (M4) to access this same menu for the current track/channel.

LED Buttons (I)

The “Toggle/Mute” button (J) changes the “Select Mode” for the LED buttons (I) below the faders, switching between:

  • Select - Jumps focus to a different track in the bank of 8 tracks/channels
  • Mute - Toggles mute for channel
  • Solo - Toggles solo for channel
  • Record/Arm - Toggles record mode for channel

Channel Encoders (F)

The encoders above the faders are used to change the panning by default. You can press the “Toggle/View” button (G) to change the Encoder Mode (ENC MODE) that is indicated at the top of the graphical display. The encoders can be re-assigned to control one of the Send groups (1-8).

This is great if you’re trying to focus on balancing the sends across all tracks for a specific effect such as Reverb. If you want to manage the sends 1-8 independently for the current track, see Graphical Menu (L & K below).

Graphical Menu (L & K)

If you’re wanting to focus on a specific track, you can go into the “FX Sends” menu for the current track by pressing M3, then adjust the levels of each send using the Context Encoders (P).

The graphical interface with menu buttons makes it easy to jump into modes to manipulate the EQ settings in an easy to understand way. The menu buttons at the bottom of the graphical display can be used to switch EQ 1-4 off or on. The top row of 4 encoders to the right of the graphical display are assigned to the gain for the 4 EQ settings, and the bottom row of 4 encoders either control the Frequency knobs, or the Q knobs, depending on which modes you select from the graphical menu. This is all perfect and intuitive.

Context Encoders (P)

The context encoders are mapped to different controls depending on the context you’re in.

In Mixer mode, they are mapped to controls that correspond to the menu you are viewing in the Graphical Menu (L). The “EQ” context is selected by default in Mixer mode, however you can choose to manipulate aspects of the currently selected track, such as EQ, Inserts, FX Sends, Channel settings (same as “Fader” menu), or Quick Controls.

Instrument Mode

If you go into Instrument mode, with an Instrument track selected, the Context Encoders (P) are assigned to the Instrument parameters that are displayed on the ‘Home’ page that is displayed by default. You can press the M5 menu button to access a navigation menu that allows you to switch to other pages that control additional parameters, using the Data Encoder (O) to choose a different page before pressing the “Enter” button (M5) to switch to that page.

Mapped Instruments

In February of 2020, Nektar’s website had a published list of 309 VST effects, and 103 VST instruments that the Panorama has been custom mapped to integrate with.

I tested the Instrument mode with the Native Instruments Massive plugin, and the experience was very impressive.

The 8 encoders were mapped to useful parameters like “Add Osc”, “Anger”, “Acid Type”, “Acid”, “Noise”, “Bass”, “Future”, and “Past”.


These 8 parameters mapped to the “Macro Control” section of the plugin.


The menus are labelled well and easy to understand and navigate through. When I’m on the “Oscillators” page, the 3 available menu buttons (M1 - M3) can be used to quickly jump between sub-pages for each Oscillator (1, 2, and 3). When I jump to a different page, the Context Encoders (P) are automatically mapped to what I’m viewing.



The menus and labels for the parameters are all very clear and easy to navigate through.

  • Macro - 8 macro controls configured in plugin
  • Global - Glide, Vibrato Rate, Vibrato Depth, Bypass Gain, Unison Pitch, Unison Wave, Unison Pan, Pan
  • Oscillators - 5 controls for OSC1, menu buttons to switch to controls for OSC2 and OSC3
  • Noise / F.Back - Noise Color, Noise Amp, Noise Fit Route, FB Amp, FB Fit Route
  • Filters - Controls for filter, with buttons to switch between Filter 1 and Filter 2
  • Inserts - 4 controls for 2 insert effects
  • Envelopes - Options to switch between Env1 - Env4 with faders mapped to parameters
  • Modulation 5-8 - Menu button to step through Modulation 5 - 8, menu buttons to toggle Restart, Position, and Sync features
  • Master FX - 4 controls for assigned FX
  • EQ - Lo Shelf, Boost, Frequency, Hi Shelf

Unmapped Instruments

Unfortunately Nektar can’t map all plugins that come to exist in perpetuity. Steinberg’s Retrologue 2 is an example of an instrument VST that has not been mapped by Nektar. Keep in mind that the Panorama was previous mapped for Retrologue, but not for the latest version, Retrologue 2.

It appears that whatever the list of parameters are that an instrument provides to Cubase, the Panorama assigns those parameters to the controls across multiple pages, in the order they were specified. There might be some algorithm that Nektar has implemented to try to map them automatically in the most useful way possible, but obviously this probably depends on how specific that parameter data is in providing what the algorithm is looking for.

In the bottom of the screen there can be 3 buttons mapped to parameters that are represented as a true/false toggle (boolean) instead of a value range of 0-127 like the knobs do.

The first 4 pages (Home, Page A, Page B, Page C) are assign ranged controls to the eight Context Encoders (P), and three button based / toggle controls at the bottom of the screen (activated by M1 - M3). That’s 11 parameters per a page, for 44 controls total.


You can press the “Menu” button (M5) and a menu selector pops up. You can use the Data Encoder to select a different page, and then press “Esc” (M4) to escape the selection menu, or press “Enter (M5) to switch to the selected page.

The “Fader Home” page shows another 16 parameters that are mapped to the Faders (H) and the Fader Encoders (F).

So you can control a total of 60 parameters for unmapped instruments, which are at first assigned in the order they are provided. You can’t add pages, nor can you rename the current pages.

VST Learn

You can however remap these controls to the ones you prefer, and save the configuration you’ve created once you’re done.

If you are not satisfied with the default mapping, you can press the “Learn” button if shown on the menu. If you do not see the “Learn” button, hold SHIFT and press M5 to go into Learn mode. In the Learn mode, you are able to manipulate a control in the VST instrument window, and then manipulate the control on the Panorama that you want to map to that parameter.

Once you’re done re-mapping the controls for the instrument in the configuration you prefer, make sure to save your changes. The custom mapping configurations you make are stored by the Cubase integration driver under in your Documents folder. Unfortunately these Nektar Panorama Map (NPM) files cannot be modified, as they are in a binary format.


Transport Mode

The transport buttons work in all three DAW integration modes, however the Transport mode provides some features that go above and beyond the standard transport.

The faders (H), LED buttons (I), or encoders (F) don’t have any functionality mapped in Transport mode. I’m surprised they didn’t allow these to continue controlling the current bank of tracks/channel like Mixer mode.

Everything is focused on the Graphical Menu (L), menu buttons (M), and Context Encoders (P). The Context Encoders (P) are mapped for the following:

  • P1 - Change Tempo
  • P2 - Change Metronome/Click level
  • P3 - Changes the pre-roll length
  • P4 - Changes the post-roll length
  • P5 - Changes the Record mode
  • P6 - Changes the cycle record mode setting
  • P7 - Moves the Song Position Pointer (SPP)
  • P8 - Moves the Left and Right locator loop forward or backward in position

You can hold SHIFT and press the F1 button to set the Left Locator Position where the SPP is. You can hold SHIFT and press F2 to set the Right Locator Position where the SPP is.

You can toggle Auto Punch-In using the M1 menu button, and toggle Metronome Click Pre-count using the M2 menu button.

Cycle Markers

The combination of controls to move the project cursor using P7 one bar at a time, move the loop, and reset the left (Shift + ⏮) and right (Shift + ⏭) markers for the loop, are very powerful controls when combined with the standard transport functions.

The transport menu also features the Cycle Marker (“Cyc Mrk”) and Markers menus. You can use these menus to place cycle markers, or normal markers, which will work in your session even though you don’t see them. To better understand how these work it’s a good idea to add a Marker track to your session in the Cubase project window. I’ve done this here with the track name “Sections”.


From these cycle menus you can use the drum pads to jump to a specific cycle marker or marker in your session. Very useful.

Additional Notes

When using the Panorama with Cubase 13 on a Mac, the “Patch-“ and “Patch+” buttons do not work with the current DAW integration driver (as of 05/02/2024). Nothing happens when I press these buttons for a track. To make up for this, I was able to configure a MIDI Remote script that listens on the “Instrument” MIDI interface for the MIDI CC messages sent for these two buttons. I have mapped them to the “Previous Preset” and “Next Preset” actions within Cubase.

Doing this for other DAW integration features can cause unwanted side effects, where use of the button causes the mapped DAW integration action to occur at the same time as the action you’ve mapped. You cannot change the MIDI CC configuration of the controls used in the DAW Integration modes. They must be fixed so that the DAW integration driver is able to understand how to interpret them.

Using MIDI Remote on the “ReWire Host” interface may interfere with DAW integration support in Windows. In such a case, it’s better to just map a set of F-Keys on the “Internal” interface to switch between patches.

I have created a table for reference of the MIDI CC messages sent for controls in DAW Integration modes, see Panorama Reference - DAW Integration Modes.

Internal Mode

Internal mode is the only mode that works when you’re not working with a DAW, and is also the mode where most of the MIDI controls are assignable and send message from the “Internal” interface.

The “Internal” mode has a default configuration for all of the controls you can configure (16 rotary encoders, 9 faders, 8 LED buttons, 10 function buttons, 22 Transport/F-Key buttons). These are called “assignable” controls. These can all be mapped to functions inside of Cubase (via MIDI Remote), or inside of your VST instruments (using Quick Controls or a “MIDI Learn” feature that might be supported by the instrument).

Nektar Panorama P4 diagram

All of the controls are assignable when you’re in Internal mode, with the exception of:

  • “Octave ⏷” and “Octave ⏶” buttons
  • Performance Buttons (PB1 & PB2)
  • The “Fader” button (E3)
  • The “Toggle/View” button (G)
  • The “Toggle/Mute” button (J)
  • The Mode buttons (K - above graphical display)
  • The Menu buttons (M1-M5, below the graphical display)
  • The “Data” rotary encoder (O, to the right of the graphical display)
  • The “Shift” button (N1, used to access assignable Bank and Zoom virtual “buttons” that are assignable)
  • The “F-Keys” button (Q1, used to access assignable F1 - F11 virtual “buttons”)
  • The “Pads” button (R)

See Internal Mode - Control Edit for instructions on editing the configuration for your controls in Internal node, or Panorama P6 Reference - Internal Mode for a full reference of all the defaults for controls in Internal mode.

You do not necessarily need to change the configuration to configure a MIDI Remote “script” for the Panorama in Cubase. The default map for “Internal” mode is perfectly fine. You might only need to convert the F-Keys from keyboard macros to MIDI CC (see below).

You can also have up to 20 different “presets” to store different configurations that you can switch between (see Presets & Maps).

Function Keys

In Internal mode you can use the Control Edit menu to configure the Function / F-Keys. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I recommend that you assign these to MIDI CC 20 - 31 so that you can use them in Cubase with the MIDI Remote feature to map them to actions you desire.



Here are some of the actions I decided to map the F-Keys to:

  • Mapping Page Actions > Previous Mapping Page
  • Mapping Page Actions > Next Mapping Page
  • Selected Track > Instrument > Parameters > Actions > Previous Plug-in Parameter Bank
  • Selected Track > Instrument > Parameters > Actions > Next Plug-in Parameter Bank
  • Selected Track > Monitor
  • Selected Track > Record Enable


The Panorama supports up to 20 presets, with each containing a selection of 3 kinds of sub-presets called “maps”.

  • 5 Keyboard maps - Support split configurations with MIDI send on different channels, with octave and transpose settings. See Defaults
    • Standard - Common configuration
    • AT OFF
    • 5ths - Full range with transpose used to layer 7 steps above, and octave above and below.
    • Triads - Full range with transpose used to layer 7 steps above, 5 steps above, and 5 steps below
    • C2 Split
  • 20 Drum Pad maps - Mapping different note configurations. See Defaults
    • C1-B1 - Standard note messages
    • GM Drums
    • GM Percussion
    • I-MAP 1 - Mapping scheme created by Sonic Reality
    • I-MAP 2 - Mapping scheme created by Sonic Reality
    • TRNS DRM
    • TRNS PTN
    • BLOFELD - Waldorf Blofeld drum sounds
    • CUB MARK - Cubase marker keyboard macros
    • PRO MARK - ProTools marker keyboard macros
    • CC MAP - Send MIDI Aftertouch and CC data on channels 1-4
    • C1-B1 L - Notes with NRPN Toggle Coarse 3 messages
    • NUMERIC - Numeric QWERTY macros
    • KEYLEARN - QWERTY macros
    • BLANK - No notes, NRPN Toggle Coarse 3 messages
  • 10 F-Key Maps - Different QWERTY keyboard maps for the common DAWs
    • 1-REASON
    • 2-CUBASE
    • 3-LOGIC
    • 4-STUDIO1
    • 5-FLSTUDIO
    • 6-ABLETON
    • 7-REAPER
    • 8-PROTOOLS
    • 9-SONAR
    • 10-KEYPAD

MIDI Assignable

A reference table indicating the controls that are assignable in Internal Mode, along with their default Control Change (CC) configuration, is available in Panorama Reference.


At first it can seems like the pads are not able to be used as buttons, but if you are in Control Edit mode you can turn the encoder clockwise for the “Note” setting until you reach “OFF”.

Fixed Velocity

From the Global menu you can configure the Velocity Curve to be “Fixed”. To control the velocity level that is specified with note messages in this mode for the keyboard or the pads, you can configure an encoders to control the velocity value.

Rotary Encoders

In Internal mode your rotary encoders are configured to act similar to Potentiometers, sending a value of 0 - 127.

In some situation you might actually want to use the ability for your encoders to turn in one direction or another infinitely.

You can configure encoders to use “Message Type: MIDI CC(Rel)”. This will cause the encoder to send values indicating the direction and speed that you are turning the encoder.

It’s possible to configure this in Cubase using the following configuration:

  • Resolution: Standard
  • Value Mode: Relative Twos Complement
  • Value Min: 1
  • Value Max: 127

The Mapping Assistant is not able to map two separate actions, such as “Nudge -1 Bar” and “Nudge +1 Bar” to the same encoder control. This requires more advanced scripting. If you right-click on the MIDI Remote toolbar, you can enable the ‘Scripting Tools’ section that gives you options to access controls related to custom scripting, including reading the MIDI Remote Programmers Guide.



The Panorama offers a very useful set of integration features with Cubase, and has many options for configuring and using it as a standard MIDI controller.

The MIDI Remote feature in Cubase was designed for MIDI compliant USB controller devices that do not offer DAW integration features.

The Panorama is able to act as a standard MIDI compliant USB controller, with a wide range of configuration options for the knobs, faders, and buttons, when used in its “Internal” mode. All MIDI messages sent to your DAW in “Internal” mode for the controls (knobs, faders, buttons) are transmitted from the “Internal” MIDI interface, and all DAW integration communication occurs via the “ReWire Host” MIDI interface.

This means that you can configure a MIDI Remote “script” for the Panorama in Cubase that maps the MIDI CC messages to all the features supported in the Cubase Mapping Assistant, as long as you configure it with the “Internal” MIDI interface only. Where the Mapping Assistant falls short, you can even venture into learning some JavaScript and consulting the MIDI Remote Programmers Guide to customize the scripting of those controls even further.

There is no problem switching between the DAW integration modes (Mixer, Instrument, Transport) and Internal mode while you are using Cubase. This means that you can fully rest upon the DAW integration features offered by the Panorama, which I outline above, and also use the Internal mode with your own custom mapping configuration that leverages all of the assignable controls that the Panorama offers.

Even in the DAW integration modes, you can use the functions you’ve configured with the F-Keys through the MIDI Remote Mapping Assistant. This means that most issues that may arise due to shortcomings of the DAW integration can be overcome with your own custom configuration.

The Mapping Pages feature allows you to configure as many custom “pages” as you wish that re-map all of the assignable controls provided by the Panorama in “Internal” mode to the controllable features you desire within Cubase.

The Instrument mode does fall short with unmapped VST instruments and effects that have more than 60 controls, but this limitation can be overcome by using Instrument Parameters and Instrument Preset Banks. It possible to use all of the assignable controls your Panorama offers in Internal mode, from a specific Mapping Page, to map them all in the Remote Control Editor for your VST plug-ins, thus controlling each and every possible parameter that your VST instruments allow Cubase to control.

Even if the Panorama didn’t offer DAW integration for Cubase, it could be used with Internal mode and still have as much power to facilitate your workflow in Cubase as if didn’t, with each Mapping Page you configure acting like the DAW integration modes in Cubase.