Compact and/or augmented MIDI controllers

@okyeron You see thumbwheels on RC/quadcopter controllers, they work well for certain types of adjustments from gimbaled cameras to telemetry alerts. Several styles from ones with and without center-detents, ones with re-centering springs, etc. On mine it’s often used with index or middle finger depending on grip. (edit: not great for smooth continuous adjustment across a full range unless it’s the spring-loaded type and supported like an encoder with acceleration)

@LLK @trickyflemming I don’t consider it an elegant solution but the Yamaha UD-BT01 has been very good to me when I want to ‘add bluetooth’ to FaderFox boxes like the UC-4. With a small USB battery and a short, angled cable it’ll get the job done.

@Rodrigo Pour one out for the Myo. Mine resurfaced about a week ago and it brought back memories of the crazy contraptions it got paired with back in the day. It was on the graveyard shelves right next to the LightBlue Bean arduino boards, if anyone else remembers those.

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What about the Electra One?
I can only recommend both product and company!
@martin.e1 is here as well and iirc there’s a thread for it

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Logidy’s UMI 3 has always worked really well for me as a small foot switch via hub or laptop (I’ve had it for over 10 years at this point. Never toured with it, but it seems tour-sturdy). In another thread, Ezra inspected a bit of the technical details and found it not-up-to-snuff for Norns, so YMMV and what it.

I’ve also looked online a little bit at the MIDI Baby 3, but haven’t seen or tried one in person yet.

I was able to find a used one on eBay for about €50. The battery life isn’t great, but it still works. I was super intrigued by the form factor, but still haven’t quite clicked with it. Lately been thinking about what kind of midi controllers could be embedded into (onto?) a pick guard directly instead of hanging further away from the strumming hand

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How great is “not great” out of curiosity? And also yeah I’ve heard multiple reviews that it wasn’t all that perfect but frankly just be able to launch a few stuff and control some fx live while on the mic rather than having to go back to the controller space in my live setting would have been lovely. My only really worry was that it could possibly not fit very well on my Les Paul.

I should check ebay, for 50€ it’d definitely be worth a try.

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Totally agree. It’s funny, ‘cause I just started looking for such a thing last night, and I’m astonished there isn’t something simple and compact.

I had the soft step 2 for years, and sold it when I had to offload most of my guitar gear when moving. I guess I always thought of it as the premium—pretty damn expensive and near indestructible. It was just a whole lot more than I needed. I could go for something about half the size.

+1 for Faderfox. They’re not the most aesthetically pleasing things but I’ve had a couple of their controllers for 15 years and they’re still good. Incredibly versatile and just plain usable.

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I was just thinking about how nobody mentioned Birdkids’ OffGrid yet. Granted, it’s not out yet (looks like it will be soon), but it definitely qualifies as compact!

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@Rodrigo Out of curiosity, what features/functionality/format would your ideal compact/portable MIDI controller have?

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I linked it in my original post. I’ve just today gotten my shipping notice, so will see when it arrives here.

I’ve not been too pleased with their communication and support (via Kickstarer) so far, and they’ve been quite rude to some backers etc… So that isn’t great.

Also, I have no idea if it will be addressable via Max or anything else, as far as having decoupled LED feedback. There was some mention about this way early in the process, but given how little communication there has been, I have no idea.

That’s hard to say. I guess I feel comfortable enough DIYing things with knobs and faders, so it’s mainly the buttons/LEDs form factor that I find harder to get something DIYable with.

I’ve used a Novation Dicer as my “main” controller on my snare for a few years now because it’s the only compact controller I could find. Novation has also been good about allowing API control of LEDs etc…, so after whipping up some abstractions, it’s super easy to use in Max.

I am hopeful about the offGrid as the 4x4 would allow some ‘cheat codes’-esque looping/interfacing, and the 2x2 can offer some “pages” (ala The Party Van etc…), so I’m hoping to make a mini Party Van for bread-and-butter usage.

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That’s too bad to hear… I thought birdkids were fairly reputable.

Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive about it, but when people in the comments are asking for updates after months of nothing, the tone of their responses always came across like “ugh, why are you bothering us?”. And then when there’d be updates it’d be about how great their new office space is, and how they are incorporating into a company etc… with (little to) no info about the actual process and what’s going on with the fulfilment.

Granted everything got fucked around with COVID and supply chain stuff, but you can still give people useful updates in an empathetic way.

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The Line 6 FBV Express has worked out well for me as a small portable MIDI foot controller. Not sure I’d want one any smaller/lighter, it would risk moving around too much.

It’s not advertised as a generic class-compliant USB-MIDI device, but it does act as one (in addition to the proprietary connection to Line 6 amps.)

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I’ve never seen offGrid before. Seems like a nice piece of device, but…
I thought that all that accelerometer/orientation/wavy way of controlling was kinda, dead? I mean I remember that being a thing around 2010 ish, with all Nintendo Wii controllers and phones and as far as I know (and have been told by some people) it was more of a gimmick than regular tool, able to successfully control anything.

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Having seen some of the comments they’ve made to Kickstarter backers, I don’t think you’re being sensitive in anyway. I decided not to back the project (for practical reasons), and am now quite glad of that decision. (Of course I still hope it works out okay for you!)

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omg THANK YALL for this thread!

I’ve often thought similar. I have an old Faderfox LV2 that I absolutely love the form factor/options for, but hate the built in automapping that I’m always fighting against.

Would love a UC3/4 with a joystick - have honestly thought about trying to order a custom one tbh, but it seems insane to have to go that specailized.

thanks for all the resources about/glad to know im not alone in this ha!

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It would almost be perfect if it had midi in/out connections rather than just USB midi. (It’s also something I miss on the Softstep btw) How do you find the build quality? At that price range it’s kinda tempting to go for it anyway.

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It’s held up to some abuse. I used it as a tap tempo controller while VJing at outdoor festivals, so it’s seen some things. I think it used to be more expensive, it’s definitely not built like a $100 device. Metal case, metal pedal, but plastic bottom plate and button caps. Caveat, I don’t know if they’ve changed the product at all in the N years since I bought mine, but the pictures look the same.

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I have to say I’m quite happy with Sensel Morph and Faderbank 16n. With those I cover pretty much everything I need. Important to note that I use TouchDesigner as MIDI effects hub to define ranges and smart interaction/automation for Ableton and lighting control.

Interesting thread. Please, does anybody know a USB powered MIDI controller with pots or faders that spits out a higher resolution of pot/fader positions than 128 values (via MSB/LSB)?

Fader fox mentioned above does 14 bit midi

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