I’ve been following Ruin & Wesen’s development as they’ve been hard at work on new, petite MIDI controllers, promising to be the first of a line of DIY-friendly controllers. “Open source hardware” has been getting a lot of play as a concept, but the idea here is really built around the product: their stated claims emphasize musical usefulness, documentation, extensibility, and customization in addition to the making code and schematics available to hackers.

Today, Ruin & Wesen have launched their website, with two nice-looking products ready for pre-order. The MIDI Command is a small box with five endless rotary encoders on it and a “Macro Knob.” Here’s where things start to get interesting: not only does the unit ship with support for Ableton Live and Elektron Machinedrum support out of the box, but you can flash your own firmware using SysEx. There’s also an LED display, so combined with the software editors and MIDI mappings, this could even allow you to “roll your own” Kore-style controller.

Elektron fans should be even happier about the MonoJoystick, as featured in the video above. As a companion to Elektron’s MonoMachine SFX-60, it gives you six buttons and joystick control over the boutique drum machine. It’s obviously suitable for emulating Elektron’s own joystick add-on, but it’s again hackable for custom firmware and features, and as seen in the video, allows control even Elektron does not. Given those features, I’d actually be interested in seeing the MonoJoystick re-purposed as a software controller for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to own the MonoMachine.

Both units are handmade in Germany. The MonoJoystick is EUR130 / USD190; the MIDI Command is EUR180 / USD265

Ruin & Wesen Digital Products

I’m in touch with R&W, so hope to have more on this soon. I do think we’re seeing the birth of a new business model for music hardware, one built around open source. You’ll notice that it’s often the interface of open and closed but extensible tools that may be the most productive (like an open source controller for the proprietary but well-supported Ableton Live). Naturally, a lot of the open source ideas out there won’t work — that’s the nature of business — but the ones that survive could be wonderful for the music landscape.

  • amoeba

    yes, this sorta stuff is getting exciting for sure.

    multi touch XY pads next, please. PLEASE.

  • it has begun!

  • amoeba

    i mean, XY… Z!!! pads, please.

  • lematt

    smart people

    smart controllers !

  • I'm hot to use both the MIDI Command and the Monojoystick with Live and my Elektron gear (CTRL-AL for Monomachine!), but I'm also very interested in interfacing these with my Max/MSP performance rig.

    The Ruin & Wesen site shows a MIDI Synth in progress. Judging by the time spent and quality standards evident in various videos for the first two devices, I'm betting on amazing for that box, too.

    To clinch the deal, Ryan Faubian aka Actuel of elektron-users.com designed the new Ruin & Wesen site. That's like the Good Beat-Keeping Seal of Approval, right there.

  • Damn my brain/finger connection! "Faubion" with an O! Luckily, I can still make beats, although I do sometimes drop a kick where a snare should be.

  • Vlad, you are to kind! thx for the kind words.

    these boxes are hot. i did his site for free as i firmly believed in what R&W doing and want to see them succeed. it's my donation i suppose.

    i have been talking with Manuel from R&W quite a bit and there's more fun to be had on these boxes.

    all this open source development is truly an exciting time as Peter mentioned.

  • Mike

    I don't intend to sound rude but $265 is a whole lot of money for just a few knobs. You can buy an AKAI MPD24 (I have 4 of them) and program your own patches right on the unit. For $199 you get 4 banks of 16 pads, 8 encoders, 6 faders and transport controls. If the unit was around $110 I might consider it but the current price is a bit ridiculous.

  • Phil

    I think its the fact that it is an open source midi-controller that is pre-built that warrants that price. sure the akai is cheaper but can you reprogram it to be a sequencer if you wanted to? or a midi filter? probably not as easily as this.

  • @Mike: Note, made in small quantities in Germany by a tiny boutique firm, not made in large quantities in China by a big firm. You expect the price to be different. Then it's up to you to determine whether this is worth it to you.

    That said, of course, it means that this *does* have to be different as an option; I don't disagree there. I think it's a matter of need. But then, because this is a niche product, it only needs to please a select few to be successful.

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