German boutique controller maker Faderfox was one of the first to build custom controllers for Ableton Live and Traktor. But amidst bigger-name offerings, the Faderfox devices still hold up. While other, more sprawling controllers struggle to squeeze into a booth, the Faderfox devices are ultra-compact, though still with enough room for your fingers. They also offer uniquely high-end controls and case, and sophisticated control options.

The latest, designed for Traktor – though it could easily be adapted to other DJ and VJ tools – is the DJ-friendly DS3. It really assumes a digital DJing workflow, focusing on triggering samples, loops, hotcues, and effects. (And, nicely enough, could be well-suited to DJs who want to go beyond just pressing play and mixing. We know you’re out there.)

Creator Mathias shares some of the features:

  • Controls up to four decks – easy switching between deck A-B-C-D on the fly
  • Supports track deck & sample deck mode with easy switching between the modes
  • 4 multifunctional encoders – access to all FX and important deck + loop parameters by 6 group buttons
  • Dedicated FX assign buttons for quick switching to the 4 FX busses
  • Detailed control of all sample slot parameters by 4 encoders
  • Browser section with encoder, view and favorite buttons (with additional tree navigation)
  • Loop recorder section with encoder and two buttons (with additional copy function to any sample slots)
  • 12 extra large buttons for sample trigger and hotcue access
  • All controls with double function by holding down the shift button
  • 31 LED’s and a 2-digit display to show various informations by feedback data from computer
  • About 750 commands – all free to reassign

The only disadvantage I can think of, really, is that you have to toggle between the four decks – a tradeoff of the compact design. Of course, you could always buy more than one.

Here’s a look at the front panel, close up:

The Faderfox runs €250, including VAT (210 without). Unlike early models’ MIDI DIN and 9V battery, the units now simply connect – and receive power – via USB.

DS3 Product Page @