Ready for some superior German engineering in your controller hardware? Before the APC or the Launchpad, before the Kontrol X1 from NI, Faderfox was the underground, boutique choice for controllers. “Professionally” made in Germany, the devices really are little tanks. They have incredibly solid-feeling buttons and knobs, and as opposed to the sprawling form factors of the consumer controllers, all that power is packed into a compact case. Whereas many controller layouts are combinations of relatively generic compromises, the Faderfox has also been tightly optimized for use with software like Traktor and Ableton Live.

That’s not to say the previous Faderfox wasn’t without some idiosyncrasies. In undying devotion to MIDI, they contained only MIDI DIN ports – no USB. That also meant that, for power, you needed to either plug them in or use 9V batteries.

No more: a refresh to the model improves controls, and adds driver-less USB support and USB bus power. That means you can plug them into any Mac, Windows, or Linux PC directly, without the need for drivers, and power from your computer reliably without an additional connection. (The power consumption on these devices is also very low, at 500mW / 100mA – a big deal, as the actual power produced by laptop USB ports can be unreliable.)

The loop-oriented DL3.

Advanced digital DJs should also appreciate the new access to four decks and four effects slots. As before, different models cater to different applications, like loop control or DJ mixing. Curiously, the references to Ableton Live have been largely removed, and you won’t find a model for triggering clips, but I don’t see why the DJ-style layouts couldn’t be used for live PA-style Live sets, too.

The only bad news (depending on preference): no more endless encoders. I should just have a static page on CDM that I can link to that points out that endless encoders and knobs with limited range each have their own advantages and their own adherents. But from comments, current FaderFox owners aren’t pleased with the change.

We’ve got pictures of all the models here.

There’s only one downside to the USB embrace, which is that you don’t get the ability to control synths and hardware; the MIDI DIN connections are gone. So, if you were coupling one of these with a Machinedrum or something, you may want to seek out the old models before they’re gone.

I still love my second-generation Faderfoxes, but this could be reason to upgrade for those with some extra cash, and it removes the obstacles that might have frightened people away from this line in the past. I really have to say, while the prices are high, the quality is exceptional. I’ll be in touch with creator Mathias more to talk about how to best set up these controllers for your rig.

There’s also a new, more extensive site, replacing the more primitive predecessor:

So, any devoted Faderfox users out there?

The software mixing-focused DJ3.

The DX3 focuses on external mixing.

Effects control on the FX3.

Four deck control on the FT3.

What about Ableton Live? See comments below; Faderfox’s creator is readying a new Live controller, too, and a successor to the previous LV2. Stay tuned.

  • I used a DX2 for a long time, as it's the perfect companion to an external mixer Traktor setup. But the layout was very Traktor 3 specific, making it hard to take advantage of the extra functionality that Traktor Pro provides, so I switched to NI's X1. However, I'm not 100% happy with the X1, as I feel NI really missed the opportunity to create the perfect Traktor controller by not providing controls for the filters, so these new versions may well tempt me back to the Faderfox fold.

  • tobamai

    I can't help but think the stuff looks really cheaply made for the price. It looks like it's cobbled together from parts you could pick up at radioshack, from the plastic case to the plastic knobs. The cheesy print job doesn't help either.

    Can anyone who's actually used one comment on the build quality?

  • @tobamai: it's definitely made from parts, but that's sort of the point; rather than being injection-molded and mass-manufactured, it's assembled in Germany. I have one, and the build quality is excellent. Everything feels really heavy and solid. The faders and encoders are of a higher quality (that is, smooth movements, solid tactile feedback, etc., which does cost more per part – try buying some of these a la carte and you'll see what I mean). The one complaint was the plastic knobs had rather sharp edges; these new ones appear to be more rounded.

    And they stand up to some serious abuse. They're definitely solid units. I've never heard negative feedback from anyone I know who owns them, and I've never seen so much as an encoder endcap fall off when I carry mine around.

  • andrew zero

    pretty steep price point for me at least.

  • jonat8han

    Yes, build quality is fantastic – I gig & tour with my 2nd generations all the time – love them. It seems like in the third generation, there's been a move *away* from infinite encoders, back to typical MIDI CC knobs??

    Seems like a huge step backwards to me … I use mine with max/msp, and while I like USB & some of the new layouts, encoders are a big factor of what set these controllers apart from the rest. Where's the replacement for the LD2? FX3 is the closest, but is completely useless for me without encoders. This update seems like 1 step forward, two steps back.

  • prevolt

    Mathias is a mad genius. Back when all you could get was a UC-33 or an Oxygen, he had already released better-designed controllers than all the major corporations do now. Novation and Akai get all their big features from software (and often with Ableton's help), where Faderfox built it all in, layers and layers deep. These new controllers look a little simpler and WYSIWYG than the original Live controllers with their sixteen banks of madness and joysticks(!!!). It's a shame Faderfox never got much support on the software side from Ableton. Anybody who's serious about designing a custom controller setup for Live owes it to themselves to struggle through the very dryly written 1st and 2nd generation manuals for all the ideas hidden in there.

    Mathias still has one huge niche he could jump in and fill by making the first Video SL controller for Serato along the lines of what Denon did with the HC-1000. His approach would be perfect for that.

  • alexsmoke

    I've had the LD2 for years and it has outlasted 3 other controllers through a lot of abuse. The prices are high, but this is entirely justified by the build quality. Yes the look is a bit lo-fi, but I find that's part of the charm, and it's no indication of quality.
    However I do agree that endless encoders were a major upside to the old generation and if I was buying now I'd be put off by that a bit……

  • It seems like in the third generation, there’s been a move *away* from infinite encoders, back to typical MIDI CC knobs??

    I have a feeling that the traktor oriented controllers were a lot more popular than the ableton focused one, which is why this generation is more traktor focused than the previous. And for traktor, I find its much more ergonomic to have dedicated regular pots than reusable infinite encoders.

    I recall hearing that there are other models in development, so we may see some more ableton focused or generic controllers in the future.

  • Very exciting news! I have an LV2 that I've used for years without a single problem. Build quality is excellent. I love the joystick! I use a monome 64 + the LV2; compact and versatile! But now that I'm looking at these new ones, not sure If I can use them. Looks like there's no direct LV2 replacement. Maybe that's the point. Too bad: no joysticks or multiple faders. Hmm….

  • They're beautiful and look so fantastically ergonomic, but the price is so crazy high – a budget version wouldn't do amiss. Some sort of compromise between these and the shoddy build quality and wildly short travel of the Korg NanoKontrol.

  • I have also an LV2, and I'm really really happy with it! It is small, hard, with resistent knobs, and absolutely reliable. I love to travel with this tiny controller and my light laptop inside my plane cabin case.
    The only problem is that it covers so many functions that you may get into problems live if trying to control everything with it.
    It was expensive, but it is almost perfect!

  • AO

    I use an LD2 to add extra knobs/buttons for loops and efx in combination w/ a UC33 for controller Traktor, it's a great combo w/ which I actually prefer the midi ports: the UC33 goes to the computer via usb, and the LD2 connects via midi to the UC33.

  • AO

    I agree about depth of control, too; the Faderfoxes tend to have way more options/layers than you need (which can be a great thing when you want/need to add some additional controls or mappings).

  • actually I work on a successor for the LV2.
    anyhow it is a mix between LV1 & LV2:
    – 8 tracks
    – 5 encoders
    – a lot of buttons with leds
    – USB
    and not so tricky like the LV2.
    I hope it will be released this year.
    thx for your thoughts.

  • I forgot to mention that there are not only standard pots on my new line.
    have a look to the FT3, there are only encoders (all the knobs without the white indicator).

    on each of the new models you find a mix of different control types because some things need the perfect feeling of the full control range and others must have this jump free feature.

  • man…. i just picked up a dj2…
    i'd have to say…. it upped my fx by 3000%…
    i used to just chain multi fx to a couple buttons…
    now i gotta window looper (think teaspoon), phrase looper, bitcrushers, dubdelays, filters, kills and stutters like mad…. all from this lil compact tank of a controller… these things really kick ass… highly recommended…. easy to setup…. sting!

  • i wish i had the loot for one. = it would be perfect for my MSI WIND netbook triple boot OS travel DJ setup.

  • I luuurve my faderfoxes. I've currently got 2 LV1s and a LD2, and had a DJ1 for a long time too… all bought on ebay so I didn't feel the pain so much… Fantastic quality, and I really like the modular approach to controllers that it fosters. I'm sure I'll pick up one of the new breed at some point, but I quite like the midi ports. I often use one of them with my Fireworx to turn it more into an instrument, and another one teams up nicely with a Nord MicroModular to create a really portable and fun noise machine.

  • i've got a DJ2

    fantastic device – really solid and great feel to it… and now with the novation launchpad i've got my perfect dj/liveset hybrid control setup

    tho maybe the new live orientated faderfox i'll be having when i get the urge to buy somethin new!

    and a sideffect of owning one – they are pretty rare, ppl are curious about it and more than once after playing my set i have wondered around with it still running on its batteries – pretending to mix from the dancefloor lol

  • @faderfox: Can't wait for the updated LV2. Sounds like a winner! I turned Mort Subotnick on to the LV2 and now it's his only touring controller.

  • I had a German friend help me aquire an LV1 several years ago and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's been completely dependable, and is really well designed, versatile and compact… These new controllers look super.

  • An LV3 sounds like it will be the next addition to my Live rig. Keep up the great work guys!

  • I'm a big long-time fan of Faderfox, still using two LV1's and an LX2. The oldies are still fine (after like 5 years), no jitter in the faders and knobs at all (like you see with other controllers after a while). I must say I'm a bit disappointed with the current direction: where's the neat little joystick? And I really like having 8 faders under one hand with the LV1. Those were even more value for money I think. So Mathias, any chance on seeing those older parts again?

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  • Simon

    The problem with these is that they're way too cramped. Even on my X-session, the cue buttons are too close to the xfader, and I have to be extra careful not to touch it while crossfading. I can't imagine having to do some cue button drumming on a button smaller than my pinkies's fingernail! Unless I'm being Hawtinesque and I mix minimal with a master tempo of 128 and sync on. But I'd rather sleep than do this 🙂

  • Bakh Inamov

    I've been using the LV2 since it came out. Gigs, tours, checked and carryon luggage, this little guy can stand it all.

    Power consumption is amazing. I have only changed the batteries once.

    Good to hear that there will be 8 faders on LV3, bad news is no MIDI 🙁

  • genjutsushi

    I had an LV2 for a couple of years and it was a brilliant peice of kit. Very very well made and compact. Perfect for the setup i had a the time (using Audiomulch alongside some Electribes). In the end tho a lot of the more advanced functionality was specific to Ableton which i wasnt a great fan of (at that point) so sold it.

    Having USB now is a big bonus… despite all the reasons for keeping it Midi only, it was a real pain to have to plug a midi interface in, and then the Faderfox, rather than just plug and go.

    The website carried Ableton and Traktor setups which made very good use of the controls.

    Nowadays would def reccommend if you want the most portable quality device on the market. But having said that i use a Korg NanoKontrol which i could replace 3 times over for the price of 1 faderfox!

  • Mathias emailed me and said that the next LV3 will loose the joystick 🙁 I'm sad …

    Hédi K.

  • aww man I am sad about the joystick too. Any idea where the part itself was from? It would be cool to put this on some DYI kit. Or maybe there is a secret JS3 faderfox in the works with 16 little joysticks. And a crossfader!! 😛

  • Well, one possibility would be to add a full-sized joystick. 😉

  • and some more exotic controllers? a ribbon at the bottom, and then some distance sensors, a pressure spot… tese would add really more expressiveness to the live playing!

  • and, uh, an antenna, theremin-like, and maybe even some breath controller…

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  • Great to hear USB but very very sad no more non centering joystick.

    Why doesn't someone make a simple usb non-centering joystick, 2 or 4 would be great with Ableton, etc!

  • I use the DJ3 for DJing and even some automation in the studio and its just great. So simple to use : just watched the tutorial video and was up and running in Traktor in no time. The build quality is great. Really looking forward to the LV3.