Interview: Sheffield’s The Black Dog Branch into Controllers, With Crowd-Funded Gear

The Black Dog are titans of experimental techno and house, with a long record to match. (We reviewed – and praised – their latest album, Tranklements.) But you may not associate them with manufacturing hardware. As the landscape of crowd-funded music hardware grows, though, that’s exactly the venture they’re now willing to take, as the members of that group co-found a new, England-based manufacturing company dubbed Machinewerks. And the results so far already give insights into what they value in controller design and how they use those controllers in their music. They’re now well on their way to funding a …

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Novation Releases $99 Launchpad Mini Grid, $99 Triggers and Knobs [iOS, Mac, PC]

Here’s this week’s theme from Novation, in a nutshell: Stuff that costs US$99 (street). Stuff that’s ultra-mobile/portable. Stuff that works with Mac, PC, and iPad. CDM readers already worked out that they weren’t done, watching the video for the $99 Launchkey mini keyboard, which also fits this theme and combines pads, knobs, and keys. Looking closely at the video, you nailed one of the product releases: a smaller version of the Launchpad grid controller, the product that perhaps more than any other popularized grids in the mass market. (Outside the mass market, that honor surely goes to the monome.) So, …

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One Button, One Knob, USB: Crazy-Simple DIY Teensy Project (And Some Music)

8 knobs. No, 64 knobs! No, giant knobs, hundreds of buttons, dozens of faders… Okay. One button, one knob. Put (one of your) opposable thumbs to good use and just do something simple. And, with something this small and inexpensive, never go anywhere without a real knob again. (Friends don’t let friends operate fake simulations of knobs using mice. Augh. Painful. (Which way is a “circle,” again?) That was the creed of none other than Brendan Ratliff, aka Echolevel, aka chip music “superhero” Syphus, a composer/musician/hacker who works scoring games and film/TV soundtracks and general musical mayhem. He wanted something …

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Faders, Pads, Knobs: Livid’s Alias 8 is a Bread-and-Butter Controller With Things You Actually Want

As controllers get wild and creative and integrated with software, here’s one that might be simple and versatile enough to work with anything for some time. Photos courtesy Livid Instruments. Finally: a boring controller. No, that’s a good thing. We’re in an amazing era of controller hardware, witnessing an explosion of kit with fancy features, tight integration with software, and slick oceans of colored LEDs packed with sophisticated sensors. Only… wait a minute. Sometimes, you want something fairly generic that maps easily to a variety of software, not just the new Abletive Tracktletron DJ Studio Pro Scratchly Edition. Something with …

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Mixing Knobs with iPad Touch: Liine Griid + Livid Code Now Available (and Core MIDI for Griid, Too)

Users of Ableton Live, among other tools, have a dilemma. A touch display like the iPad is really good at simple triggering and interactive displays – navigating Live’s grid of clips, for instance. It gives you visual feedback without having to hunch behind your laptop, and it makes seeing (and touching) clips far easier. But it gets fairly clumsy when it comes to manipulating mixer levels and effects: there’s no physical feedback for what you’re doing, and it’s too easy accidentally jump between values or bump the wrong mixer channel. Physical knobs and other controls are perfect for mixing and …

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Arc, A New Design from monome Creator: After Grids, Encoders

You’ve just created the design that, more than any other, was the signature of electronic music making in the first decade of the 21st Century. What’s your second act? Having made the monome grid controllers the biggest design hit in music creation in the last few years, then moved to a farm in upstate New York to do some … farming (really), monome’s Brian Crabtree now and Kelli Cain have made public what’s next. Think really big knobs. The design makes some sense to me, intuitively, already. Livid tried the obvious solution of combining encoders with arrays in its Code, …

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Want Encoders? Livid Reveals Hardware Covered with Them

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 …

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Griffin PowerMate Knob as Intelligent MIDI Controller: Free Pd Patch

The glowing glory of the PowerMate, as captured by Casey Fleser aka Some Geek in Tennessee. The PowerMate from Griffin is an affordable, very compact USB knob with glowing blue LED feedback and push-and-turn functionality (so it’s a button, too). But using just one knob may not be all that useful for control. We’ve already seen Robert Hodgin VJing with four PowerMates, but our friends Bill Van Loo and Joshua Schnable have come up with a novel solution. Using Schnable’s custom software built in Pure Data (Pd), they’ve not only mapped the PowerMate to MIDI, but using switches and the …

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Unusual Rozzbox One V2 Synth: Now Accepting Pre-Orders

Some time ago, we ran a story on a boutique German synth called the Rozzbox. Laden with knobby goodness, the Rozzbox was available only in limited quantities, and only to those fortunate enough to be in Germany (or somehow miraculously got in touch with the creator and pried one from his hands). Tweakers rejoice! The Rozzbox has finally made it to the US, with distribution being handled by Big City Music. Still only available in limited quantities, we suspect that the Rozzbox will go fast – even at nearly $1950USD. Its unique architecture sets its tone somewhere between a broken-DX7-run-through-a-Sherman-Filterbank …

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Faders, Knobs, Crossfader: New VMX Control Surface

Don’t knock physical faders: they work. And with proliferating options, somewhere out there, there’s a control surface for you. The latest candidate: Codanova’s new VMX, yet another control surface for self-powered use via USB or standalone MIDI operation. 59 assignable controllers, including 2 jog wheels, a cross-fader, and various faders and knobs. The jog wheels are a nice touch, and the controls look promising as far as quality, particularly the ergonomically-shaped crossfader. I asked creator Gilles Moncaubeig for some advice about where to buy this. In Europe, you can buy from R-Digital, playback.fr, and Mix Experience. It’s even on an …

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