My MIDI days stretch back a ways now - far enough that I remember trends and styles coming and going. My very first ever controllers were an Edirol PCR-30 and BCR2000. The Edirol was forgettable, but the BCR2000 is still sought after, albeit bulky. I swapped out the BCR for the classic Evolution UC33e which was - in its time - a classic controller amongst Max users along with the Doepfer Pocket Dial. (This was awesome, but it needed a midi interface and power supply.)
For me, the clear winner for the better half of a decade was the UC33e. I then switched to the Novation Control XL which Andrew Benson covers nicely here.
Recently, I’ve been wanting something simple but with a lot of sliders/pots, plug & play and basically zero config. I was browsing Instagram when the Nakedboard MC-8 caught my eye on my friend Marcas Fisher's Instagram post.
Wow! I hadn’t seen such a neat controller in a while.
With some digging, I was able to find out that it’s made by a Russian company called Nakedboards. Not only do they make this stylish 8-slider controller, but they make another excellent controller in the same size format called MC-24.
These two pair up nicely, so of course, I grabbed them both!
Setting Them Up
When they turned up, I was impressed - simple and sturdy. I have no qualms about throwing these into the gig bag and heading off for a show, knowing they’ll be just fine on arrival. Another big plus (and something I’d like to see more makers embrace) is the USB B connector - you know - the big one!
The reason I prefer this connector is it actually holds tightly once you insert and connect it. It’s going to take a really drunk guy to crash the stage and disconnect this from your computer. In recent times, many controllers have been released with the small USB Mini B and the even more regrettable Micro; while these connections have there places, they’re actually anxiety inducing for me on stage.
Here’s the kicker: these things are zero config. No drivers needed, just plug and jam. Plugging these into Max 8 (see what I did there?), I can hit the Mappings button, move a slider and/or dial and I am instantly on my way.
I was able to map these in a relatively short time, and - realistically - this wouldn't take too much longer in Max 7.
The MC-8 is sleek, with a nice white gloss enclosure and a really excellent amount of throw for each slider. I’m unsure of the mechanical specs for the sliders, but they’re quite smooth, with just the right amount of resistance. What I’m most impressed about is the ease in which I can find these sliders in sub-par lighting conditions. All in all, for $100 you cannot go wrong.
The sibling to the MC-8 is the encoder-based MC-24 and - you guessed it - there are 24 encoders. The MC-24 uses the same enclosure as the MC-8, which means that things are a little tighter to fit 24 pots on there, but nonetheless it's not too cramped. With 3 rows of 8 encoders matching up perfectly with the positioning of the sliders, this means we can pair these two up and have something that not only looks great, by is highly functional. And the thing I like most is that my muscle memory has developed very quickly.
These controllers are built tough, and zero config setup means no hassles. I’d be happy taking them on any project or performance from big to small. A great, cost-effective solution for Max users looking for a trusty toolbox controller.