Image: Livid Instruments.

Livid Instruments has just revealed their next hardware controller. Well, sort of revealed – this evening on Twitter, they declared that it was a “Top secret sneak peek of our new controller.” Top secret – you know, just on the Internet. No one will see it there. It’s full of encoders, if that’s your thing. It’s called, cleverly, the “Code.” In addition to accompanying Livid’s own grid controllers, put this next to a monome, and you can manipulate continuous parameters alongside triggers. I could imagine someone doing some insane granular patch with an absurd number of parameters using this. Update: those encoders are both pushbuttons and encoders, says Livid, opening up still more possibilities.

Update – yep, judging from reactions so far, people like them some encoders.

But it’s doubly worth posting early partly because of this:

Boulier by Yann Girard was one of the nicer entries to our musical future competition with Portugal’s Digitopia at Casa da Musica. Unbeknownst to Yann, Livid was already working on such a design before his entry. At the same time, I prefer his mock-up, entirely made of encoders with nothing else, and with LEDs embedded in the cap. (Knobnome, anyone?) Of course, the Code has one significant advantage — it’s real. But who knows, maybe someone will realize this alternative design, too.

Hint: Livid’s own Builder platform would be one option, as it’s got guts related to the Code and is wired for just this sort of array o’ stuff.

For more pictures:
Code First Looks [Livid Instruments @ Livid]
Via Livid Instruments

Just remember, don’t tell anyone.

  • Hey Peter,

    Put me down for one of those knobby thingies!

    No not you, the other Peter 🙂

    – Bjorn

  • VgaForest

    those are the nicest two knob boxes i believe i have seen… i hope they both become realities at some point.

  • Polite

    i can always do with some more encoders.

  • Damn… and I just picked up a Doepfer Drehbank! Solid (and heavy) as a tank, but not bus powered! Although it does have those nifty CV inputs.

  • It does look good, but I already have a BCR2000. I wonder how the price will compare?

  • Is it just me or does it look a bit bulky?

    Obviously tough and durable build quality is essential, and i'm willing to pay extra for that.

    But I'm really looking for the perfect back-lit encoder companion for my monome and compared to the monome this looks a little taller, deeper, and like there's a bit of extra space at the sides.

    Otherwise this is exactly what I've been dreaming of for years, and i was so close to trying to build my own from the Livid builder series.

    Here's hoping it's out soon and slimmed down a little :).

  • digitalbeatsyndrome


    I know your box is tuff and built of steel and all but please outdo the BCR2000, cause although it doesnt look as cool it appears the BCR has more functionality.

  • The BCR annoys me to tears. Its full of features, but its like 60% you don't need and 20% badly implemented.
    The simplest example is the presets feature. Not a lot of good if CC's are getting updates in a preset while its not selected. It simply doesn't receive those updates, resulting in jumps.
    I've made several patches in the past to work around some of these annoyances, but nothing really felt natural.

    What probably annoys me the most about the BCR is that it never got updated. You get a lot of bang for the buck, but it would have been nicer if they went with something smaller. Like 16 encoders and 8/16 buttons. USB powered. Not weighing more than most of my other gear combined.

    And then the lack of alternatives. The nocturn isn't really a MIDI controller without the automap software. Same goes for most other Novation controllers.
    Faderfox went too minimal on this one too.
    Kenton Killamix.. 250€ for 8 knobs? Huh?

    Not sure what the R&D for these companies is like, but its not like its hard. Make cheap crap we can use and we'll buy tons of it.

    @(Peter) Livid. Please make a USB powered lightweight controller with 16 Rotary Encoders, LED Rings and 8 to 16 buttons that light up.

  • griotspeak


  • @bjorn being cheap doesn't make it good. and these days i'd rather something that has a slightly higher price point that lasts than something cheap that has 1/4 of the lifespan.

  • @dj mosquito: I agree, and that's true, but being expensive doesn't necessarily improve things, either. 😉 Pricing is a complex combination of various compromises in the design, parts sourcing, and volume. Not all of those compromises or decisions mean sacrificing quality.

    All that is to say, I don't know that the Kenton Killamix makes any sense at EUR250, either…

  • @Bjorn,

    the killamix (aside from having a stupid name) also has 16 banks of 9 knobs. each encoder is also a push button that lets you select each bank. it is the most full featured compact knob box that i've ever used. it's worth a second look.

  • oh, peter…
    that was for you too…

    144 knobs,144 buttons and a joystick in a box that is slightly larger than 12"x2.5"

  • Encoders is one thing.

    Encoders with LED uncoupled LED rings… I can do something with that….

  • @Mosquito

    Cheap definitely doesn't mean good. But as unreliable as the BCR gets, I'm glad they didn't charge 200€ for it.
    Cheap or not, the controller I want simply doesn't exist. But there are over 50 keyboards with 8 knobs to choose from if that is your thing.
    I simply want to see some variation.
    This new Livid controller is essentially half a Drehbank with buttons and lights.


    I honestly really just want a dumb terminal. 8 banks still means there's a limit. Since I'd only be using one bank, its hard to justify the price of the killamix since ideally I'd want 2.

    I tried the Arduino route and go DIY. But even the simplest tutorial on Rotary Encoders goes a little over my head without an electronics background. Midibox or the Livid DIY thing could be an option though.

    I suppose I foolishly hoped that between the time of the release of the Peavey PC-1600 and now, we'd have almost every possible configuration of MIDI controllers.

  • Stevieraysean

    I personally an hoping they're capable of some high resolution osc over usb or at least nrpn messages like the bcr. theres so much more you can do with 0-500 or0-16000 than 0-127..

  • +1 for Midibox DIY

  • jonesonyou

    Any idea on release date or price? I am guessing $399 based on the block?

  • license

    That request comes up a lot. I don't have the link handy but I remember finding an explanation/argument/excuse that DACs for encoders with more than 10 bit resolution are prohibitively expensive or hard to come by. Although you can get stereo audio interfaces (i.e. 16+ bit 2-channel DACs) for ~$20, so that doesn't totally make sense. Please somebody tell me that this is the BS it seems like, I would love to be proved wrong about this.

  • Hi all…Peter from Livid here…thanks for the comments and suggestions. So you know, these encoders *are* pushbuttons, hence the small LED hole beneath each encoder, as an indicator for the button.
    @Bjorn: Yes, it is that hard.

  • ExPairOfMenntalists

    @ Peter N

    Now THAT is awesome, any hints on the possible price-point?

  • @ peter N

    wow, just what i was hoping :).

    can't wait for this, but as Bjorn said maybe a few other possible variations, just 32 knobs would be good as well.

    although i'll definitely be buying one of these when it comes out, again maybe if it was just a little slimmer than it looks. being able to chuck it in a rucksack with my monome is a must for me and would make it what i've been searching for for quite a while now.


    yo, are you the english expairofmentalists? armoured core? just put an interview with wagawaga up on my collectives website, mentions you, techdiff and some of the original guys in there. i'll chuck your myspace link up in the interview now i've found you guys :).

  • ExPairOfMentalists

    Yep, that's me!
    Played a gig with Sam (waga) techdiff, agent mancuso e.t.c. In Prague a few weeks ago. You've been working on the m4l clip chopper on the monome board, correct?
    I'm only really starting out in m4l, but loving it so far. Been on a bit of a musical hiatus of late, but I'm getting back in the studio now.
    Myspace stuff is pretty old, but have a listen none the less. There's also stuff on
    Pleasure to make your acquaintance.

  • @Peter N.

    I'm available as a consultant 🙂

    The hardest parts for me are the casing and Arduino code. I've made so many software workarounds and customized patches for myself and others to be confident to know what I want and to know it doesn't exist.

    I was gonna post something about Mawzer, then did some research. Turns out the things are for sale afterall. But the shop is a little unbelievable. I'm not responsible if this shop turns out to be a ripoff, but here's a link to a Livid Ohm controller for 200€.
    Which is unbelievable, regardless of the sale and stock clearing.
    And all the Mawzer stuff is half off too…

    So anyway. The point I had about Mawzer was that it would have sold well if they released it soon after they announced it, instead of – like Peter Kirn put it – a bronze age later.

    These days the smaller things are appreciated. And smaller doesn't have to mean less functional.
    No need for "complex" internal hardware programs if they're going to be bypassed with Max/Reaktor/Bidule/Processing/Etc..

    We don't even need MIDI. HID would do, OSC would be even better but can be parsed on the receiving end.

    2 different segments in the controller world where one is over saturated and the other is being ignored. Sure, people will always want better MIDI controllers. But the fear some developers seem to have of releasing something that isn't MIDI seems so silly.

    I only need one example of why it seems so silly: TouchOSC is 4€ app that is almost constantly in the top 5 best grossing music apps.
    The developer has the advantage of not having any overhead on hardware development costs. But in the end it still sells because people want/need it.
    Maybe one last example: The 2 main touch solutions (Lemur and TouchOSC) basically provide software that mimics knobs and dials without tactile feedback. They're both expensive solutions and they both seem to be doing very well for themselves.
    Yet the closest thing to something as variable as those things and with a better resolution than MIDI, is a darn controller for train simulators.

    Anyway. If my house wasn't already filled with grid controllers, I'd have bought one of those Ohm's. Again, I can't vouch for the store.. But 2 Ohm's between 180-205€ is a pretty good deal.
    Ugh.. Shipping from France.. Must Resist…
    Well I hope I didn't piss anybody off and at least led somebody to a good deal 🙂

  • RFedsOlderCousin

    @ peter N

    I'm still holding my breath for an Ohm64 styled performance controller, with velocity sensitive pad-buttons. I'm ready for these encoders too!

  • i…..want…..that……

  • @bjorn: Thanks for the comments…
    Regarding the shop: those are the original ohms, not the Ohm64s. As it's a discontinued product, retailers are free to sell them at whatever price they want!
    Regarding all other stuff…I'm resisting getting into a long comments-based conversation – I have too much work to do today! If you are ever in the Bay Area in California someday, would be fun to have it over some coffee or mai tais.
    One thing I will add about the resolution issue, as it seems a common thread here, is that it is not the limitations of MIDI, but a problem of signal to noise that keeps higher resolution from your eager hands. One of these days, there will no doubt be a breakthrough, but it's sadly not just a simple matter of just pushing some bytes around in the firmware.

  • @ expairofmentalists

    cool beans, i'm checking it out now.

    yeah that's me on the monome board developing M4L Clip Chopper.

    check out my latest set of devices:

    it's called M4L Control. it's a pretty big project to create re-useable patches and abstractions to help people build individual set-ups on whatever hardware they've got available.

    @ Bjorn

    I'd also really appreciate your comments or advice on any of it.

    I've put a thread up on the M4L forum here:

  • @Myralfur

    I'll check it out. Sounds useful.
    Its also somewhat related to my previous point. We're knee deep in our own control solutions these days. Too freaking busy patching to be bothered with soldering!

    Thanks for sharing this. A server device is really useful with this API stuff.

  • I admit that turned out a little longer than intended. All I’m really trying to say is: a super simple controller without drivers, editors or protocols is exactly what we need to not have to work around the limitations of a device.
    How many people are using Bomes, Midistroke, Max runtime, etc. to make their controller do something “special”?

    Programming our own software solutions would be a lot easier if the hardware dumbed down a little so we can use the smarts that our computers and mobile devices provide.
    And it might save on some space in the hardware..

  • Michael chenetz

    I am eagerly anticipating the day I can get one of these in my hands. I am working on some apps and scripts that can take advantage of this new controller. It very refreshing to see something that is not just button based. This is a beautiful design and from what I hear it is smaller then it looks.


  • Oh my so sexy.

    While i like my novation remote zero i really don't use / like sliders but this.

    Looks like i'm going to need to bring lunch to work for a while to save up some pennies

  • This looks like the device that could mean an investment when i thought i'd finished spending with the APC40….

    I'm thinking the simplest approach of 8 tracks worth of four band eq's, check… With the push in encoders acting as resets individually, the bottom buttons resetting all four, the ones to the side resetting one paramater across 8 tracks….

    And the the bottom left acting as a shift or bank button….

    Ooh the possibilities….!


  • bdhm


    did anyone get already the CODE ?

    how are the encoders ?


  • Greg

    I have a Code. but it has some serious short comings for me. No NRPN support. No latching for buttons. it seems like its well made but not complete by a long shot.