Tired of needing xx more knobs or yy more pads or a specific feature in your control hardware? Ready to dive in and build your own? You’ve had a variety of options for some time that can help get you started, but Livid’s new Builder set of modular platforms is uniquely well-suited to the kinds of gear people now want to build. It’s loaded with inputs and outputs – necessary for the button- and knob-laden controllers of today – while at the same time uses modular boards and smart software to ease the learning curve. It’s probably still a little advanced for your first project (for that, you might try connecting a few knobs to an Arduino first), but if you’re ready to build something fancier, this should definitely be high on your list. We’ll have a more detailed look at this hardware in the coming weeks, but here’s a first look.

  • The Brain: USB-powered, bi-directional MIDI board – class-compliant, with no drivers needed (including on Linux). Use open-source software to configure and program it, then connect what you need – even more-complex features like multiplexing buttons and LEDs. (Hint: it’s tricky to do on your own unless you’re a pretty advanced hardware person.) Connect to your computer or hardware via USB and standard MIDI in/out DIN (so yes, this works for hardware synth and drum machine fans, too). Note that this chip also supports OSC (OpenSoundControl), so support for that in the future isn’t out of the question.
  • Add-on boards: Push, Slide, Turn, and Breakout modular boards make it easy to tack on features, like buttons, faders, pots, and monome-style grids, in any combination you desire. Once you use the board, you can choose an arrangement you desire – including even deviating from the grid.
  • Components: Finding the right parts can require some trial and error, so Livid will also sell the ones they use on their control surfaces. Sure, LEDs aren’t difficult to select, but getting the right rubber keypad or potentiometer can be a lifesaver.

More information:
Blog post
Product page

Wiki for the Brain
Brain Quick Start

Pricing is actually (happily) a little south of where I expected – in USD:
Brain $189
Push $12
Slide $12
Breakout $12

By the way, Livid, I hope you realize you now have to do a simple side product called Pinky.