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 some basic faders and knobs and things, not something you play by wiggling your nose and waving the thing around as you fling your hair.

To put it another way, I know plenty of people who still swear by Evolution’s UC-33e controller, and neither the controller nor the company still exists. We ought to have a UC-33e for 2012, right?

Meet the Alias 8. It’s just a nice, compact controller layout. It looks like every controller, in a good way: it has a generic layout you could map to your favorite soft synth organ or a lighting rig or an Ableton set or a granular patch you just made or … you get the idea. In fact, like the Evolution, it has a master fader (or vertical crossfader) on the right, and pairs knobs with faders.

True to Livid’s personality, you do still get some nice colored pads, but in a 2×8 matrix that’d work perfectly for arming tracks, or as a step sequencer, or… the list goes on.

It’s boring, like a screwdriver is boring. It almost looks like integrated hardware, rather than a controller. You start looking at the pads and faders and knobs, and seeing mappings. That could be $299 well spent – because, like the UC-33e, you could be using it ten years from now.

And since it’s class-compliant, it’ll work with your Mac, Windows, Linux, iPad, Raspberry Pi, or something that hasn’t been invented yet.

I hope to get one to test from Texas soon.


8 – 30mm faders
1 – 60mm fader
16 – rotary potentiometers
16 – RGB LED backlit buttons
1- push-button detented encoder
2 analog expansion ports for Livid XPC and DIY controllers (up to 16 additional analog controls)
15 banks of control on separate MIDI channels
Character display
USB powered class-compliant MIDI
Crafted by hand in Austin, TX USA

Dimensions: 7.5” x 11” x 1 ⅝” (including knobs and feet) (19 cm x 28 cm x 4.1 cm)