Until we evolve more arms, foot controllers are very necessary. So it’s nice to see a new entry for both software and hardware control, in the form of the Nektar PACER.
If you don’t know Nektar, they’ve had a range of controller keyboards for some years now. They made a name for themselves by integrating with Reason, but since added loads of additional software support. And since they aren’t in the software business like Native Instruments and whatnot, Nektar has focused on deep integration with a range of tools.
The PACER does this, but for your feet – targeting software and hardware alike. And it’s about time – we haven’t seen a whole lot of competition in this market for a while, despite feet being something a lot of humans have.
There’s a lot of reason instrumentalists of various types may want foot controllers. You might need to control the transport of your DAW during a recording session, or switch effects in software, or work with preamps or effects on amps.
The PACER appears uniquely suited to all these tasks, for a few reasons:
Color: RGB LED color coding, programmable (get ready to shoegaze, apparently)
Works with DAWs and other MIDI gear: MIDI Machine Control, Mackie Control Universal (MCU)
Built-in support for Apple Logic and Garageband, Bitwig 8-Track and Studio, Cockos Reaper, Propellerhead Reason, Steinberg Cubase and Nuendo, Avid Eleven Rack (okay, so who wants to do an Ableton setup?)
Works with MIDI guitar products: Line 6 Pod and Helix, Fractal Audio AxeFX, Kemper Profiler, Elektron Octatrack Pickup Machine, Electro Harmonix 45000 Looper
Works with guitar products that don’t have MIDI (via standard amp switching and four onboard relays)
Expandable: 2 TRS jack connectors for up to 4 external footswitches, plus another 2 TRS for up to 4
Standalone MIDI operation (without a computer)
USB MIDI operation with a computer
USB bus powered (or use that USB with an adapter if you forget the PSU wall wart)
So, you could easily customize this for your favorite VST plug-ins, whatever. Basically, you get 10 footswitches with RGB LEDs, 1 footswitch for going through presets, 1 encoder with push switch (which navigates the interface and provides control and programming), and a mess of I/O.
The key is making each foot switch press flexible. These can send up to 16 MIDI message (or relay switch) states at once, plus up to six programmable steps sent at once or in sequence. So you can chain together lots of different settings.
It’s clearly not limited to guitarists. Anyone who’s playing an instrument or other controller or even holding a mic may need foot input for recording and effects control – and foot switches are a great way to externalize and control different effects chains.
And it doubles as a USB MIDI interface and works in standalone MIDI mode – or both at once.
Shipping in April 2018, MAP price: $229.99 US / £199.99 / €229.99
That name, though.