In the march to fancy dedicated controllers and standalone hardware, something was lost – what if you just want a whole bunch of faders (and maybe some encoders with them)? German boutique maker Faderfox (the clue is in the name) seems to understand our craving. And they even appreciate our fantasy to show up at a gig, superspy style, with a metal briefcase. Wish granted: the Faderfox UC44, 16 faders and eight push encoders in a box.

And first, let’s marvel that it’s truly universal. Hardware or software, music or video, the UC44 doesn’t care what you’re controlling. You just get a whole mess of controls with a whole bunch more parameter access via groups, and you can assign them to whatever you’ve got connected.

With 32 groups for the encoders, indeed, it’s possible to control up to 512 parameters… not that you’d want to do that, but impressive. You also get two groups for the faders and buttons.

Just how much control is on there?

8 push encoders with detents – and pushing them can send fully-programmable commands
14-bit encoder mode for high resolution
32 buttons with LEDs (so you can see state)
16 60mm-throw faders

UC44 case large white

UC44 top view large white

If you’re not keen on a bunch of custom programming, you get a script for Ableton Live 8 and 9.

But for custom setups, this goes deep. There are eight settings you can store onboard (in addition to the groups in each of those sets). And everything is programmable – channel, message type (CC, program change, aftertouch, pitch bend, even notes), mode, minimum and maximum ranges, the lot. You can also copy, paste, and group sets for easy programming. There’s SysEx backup and restore.

That said, I expect mostly you’ll just use the stock settings, as they’re easy to assign in most music and video software and the layout makes sense.

Either way, it’s easy to connect. It’s bus powered over USB, class compliant and driverless. And there are MIDI in and out ports (as minijack) including routing and merge functionality. All of this comes in a silver metal casing.

And even with all those controls, it’s eminently portable – 290x220x55 mm and just 1.6 kg. That puts this alongside the DJ sibling – the DJ44 – as something that’s got copious controls but doesn’t take up huge amounts of space onstage or in a booth. I can say, too, I see a lot of shows – and have played a lot of shows. That portability on the road and the ability to squeeze into small spaces I think is invaluable.

If there’s any likely criticism here, I’m sure it’s that those encoders aren’t grouped with the faders. So for some people this will pale in comparison to Livid’s excellent DS1, which is bigger but has more dedicated parameter control without switching, and a traditional mixer layout. I just watched a DS1-played set by Danish artist Ctrls, and that layout can make a lot of sense. This will come down mainly to whether you want those knobs or the 16 faders on the Faderfox.

I’m already a big fan of the UC series. I’m keen to try this one with the extra controls, case, and so on.

Price:
599 Euro (incl. VAT)
503 Euro (excl. VAT)

http://www.faderfox.de/uc44.html

  • this would be premium with native kontrols ddc scripts!

    • Ah – maybe worth writing…

    • James

      I’m thinking more like a revival analog synth that sends CC would be great for DDC. Something within hands reach of an envelop, filter, oscillator section. Or the Roland Aira System-1m, for example, if it functioned as such. But we’re still still seeing a divide in the market. For me, DDC’s more like the square peg. You’d need to superimpose a lot of parameters over the uniformity of a mixer.

  • Adam Jay

    Remember the Doepfer Pocket Fader? That thing was wonderful. Can’t even find a used one anymore, sadly.

    • Yep, exactly… there aren’t so many of them out there. So mostly you’ve been committed to assembling multiple units if you want 16 dedicated faders.

  • Mark Lentczner

    Mine is already in the post on the way to me! Can’t wait…

  • Nick Demopoulos

    i guess this is a relative of Evolution UC33. I loved mine.

    • James

      I loved that it was so ubiquitous in design that you could use laminated overlays. Yes, this has that potential, but I don’t understand why I’m in a minority for a x-fader. It’s literally the first thing I assign.

      • agree on both. evolution UC33 = legendary, CF = necessary.

  • Beautiful and awesome! 😉

  • daslicht

    Motor Fader ?

    • Mark Lentczner

      No. I imagine it would be hard to in that form factor.

      • daslicht

        ? A Motor Fader is not that much bigger than a normal fader,
        This box is even smaller hat have high resolution Motor Faders :

        https://www.asparion.de/de/electronics/d400.html

        • kuehnl

          Those are 100mm faders. Way too big for this enclosure.

        • Mark Lentczner

          Er, that box is much bigger – for 16 faders & 8 encoders, it works out to 613mm x 238mm vs. the UC44 which is only 290mm x 220mm. The Asparion is more than 2x the size. At 1450€, it is also more than twice the price.

          Motorized faders take up more room, mostly in width. Those motorized faders require 18mm min. The non-motorized can be as narrow as 9mm.

          • daslicht

            ok i apologize , i wasnt aware that the box is so small

  • 16 faders as opposed to the usual 8 is a very interesting approach that will probably get many fans in no time. Also, if its build quality is on par with their other products, it is definitely well worth the money. I think it is really great that there are so many options out there for us controllerists.

    But to be fair, there are many more options at a budget available that are equally freely programmable than this one (as opposed to dedicated, “vendor locked-in” controllers). You don’t have to like Akai, but their MPD232 or the MIDImix, or the Novation Launch Control XL are very interesting alternatives.

    All of these can even be used (in one way or another – some of them admittedly in more cumbersome ways than others) as controllers for other hardware instead of just controlling a DAW. The Elektron Octratrack is a great example for a device that already is extremely tweakable itself, but still benefits hugely from additional knobs and faders.

    • Well, but not with 16 faders … I’m thinking specifically about the demise of the Doepfer box and some other fader boxes like it.

      Point taken. I see the Novation piece, in particular, absolutely everywhere. (The Akai I’m sure are selling, too, though I haven’t seen so many on stages as the Novation, I think owing to a slightly better build on the LaunchControl and – maybe even more so – exceptional script support.) So I think that’s a testament to the fact that people do still want these generic controllers. I know I do, as when I’m mapping for performance, I like things to be a bit simpler.

      • Agreed. Another possible indication for people preferring generic controllers: I am sure specific controllers like Oktacontrol or Akai’s APC range do not sell as much as the MPDs and Launch Controls – even though I am aware that there are also other factors impacting this (boutique vs. large scale makers, niche controllers, niche DAWs vs. ubiquitous fader/mixer, Ableton Live mapping…)

      • TJ

        The Novation has 8 user pages for all of the controls on the unit. So, that’s 64 fader assignments alone. I think being able to map 8 independent pages of control helps with live sets in particular because you can keep track of everything easily by spreading things out to separate pages. Maybe one of the reasons it is so popular. And it’s cheap, light, and fits in a backpack.

    • spoonfeeder

      but do any of your other options do 14 bit midi?

      • Well, that wasn’t my point really. I am aware that all these controllers have different feature sets. And I didn’t intend to dismiss either this one or any of the others. I’m sure, all of them will find customers that appreciate exactly the functionality they provide…

  • spoonfeeder

    the only thing I’d be keen to see on more of these controllers would be foot pedal interfacing

    that being siad I’m fairly sure this will be my aalto controller one day

  • Sean

    for the DIY-inclined folks, check out this 16 fader teensy-based project i’ve been working on: http://llllllll.co/t/sixteen-n-faderbank/3643

  • James

    I’d like to see a bridge between controller design and digital mixers/stage boxes over a CAT6 snake. Pretty soon, with so many on-board effects, smaller ensembles, etc it’s going to feel like buying the same thing over again.

  • Will

    Definitely a looker! Does it send sysex per fader? How about stepped controls (0,16,32,48…)? Similarly how about steps for buttons? Guess most of those are related to synth programming but I find them missing from most controllers.

  • Scripts are cool but straight up automation (ala Electribe or Circuit) would be sweet- but the fact that is has Real MIDI (as well as USB) puts this at or near the top of the list.