Suggestions for programmable MIDI pad controllers? (besides Monome)

    Oct 27 2016 | 9:42 pm
    I've been interested in utilizing Max for improv based performance, and it's starting to seem like my keyboard and mouse are fairly limited tools for the task, and that a MIDI controller that's easily programmable to give visual feedback would be much more ideal. To be specific, I'm interested in a groovebox sort of workflow, similar to Elektron boxes, but at the same time trying out other more experimental ideas. Usually for programmable controllers, Monome would be ideal, but it's a few hundred bucks outside my budget, and I feel like I'd rather have something with a few knobs for easy modulation.
    The only devices I've seen that appear to fit the bill are Novation's Launch Control XL (which does have everything I need, but has very small and unideal buttons), and their Remote Zero SL (which is a bit pricier, and I dont know much about in terms of its programmability). Is there any more ideal controllers I might be overlooking? Thanks in advance.

    • Oct 28 2016 | 4:42 am
      Looked at a BeatStep?
    • Oct 28 2016 | 9:27 am
      I just got a QuNeo (thanks to whoever it was who posted about them a few weeks back). And I'm really impressed. 8 pads, 9 sliders, 2 rotary sliders and 16 buttons. So not a _lot of pads. But here's the thing - each one of those controls sends out note number, velocity, pressure and position. E.g. The pads send up/down & left/right as CCs, in addition to note, velocity & pressure. So you can control quite a few separate parameters on a per note basis, and can get really expressive in your playing.
    • Oct 28 2016 | 5:28 pm
      Rick: I've seen it, but I also haven't been sure how easily I'd be able to modify its behavior given that it already requires software to work. If I knew it was possible though, it'd be my choice, no question.
      David: I've seen those as well, but I kind of forgot about them! I'm a bit apprehensive about touchpad techn though, as it's always seemed to be more of a crapshoot than knobs in terms of reliability. How's the QuNeo in terms of that? I noticed it has a Max SDK as well, but it was made for Max 6. Does everything in it still work fine on 7?
    • Oct 28 2016 | 7:23 pm
      Take what I say with a grain of salt, as I am affiliated with KMI:
      The sliders/rotaries/pads are all really reliable, but the location resolution will be limited by the length of the fader/circumference of the rotary/size of the pad. The Max SDK should work fine in 7, just opened it up in 7 and all looks good.
    • Oct 28 2016 | 10:07 pm
      I agree about the resolution of the faders, _and_ it's not the same as a physical knob. I guess it depends on what you're actually doing. If you were doing very fine tweaking of synth parameters, maybe a physical knob would be better. For me (granulation of live buffers) the controls on the QuNeo are perfect, and I wished I'd purchased it before I lashed out for a Launchpad Pro (that's very good, but the 3 extra CCs on the QuNeo pads lift it into a whole different expressive realm!)
    • Oct 28 2016 | 10:19 pm
      oh, and I'm using it in Max 7 (on a Mac) with no problems. It's easy to tweak presets using the provided editor whilst still connected to Max. And also easy to work with the midi signal from the QuNeo.
    • Oct 29 2016 | 6:26 am
      Well if you don't like the software the BeatStep comes with then use it in controller mode to drive your own custom creation in Max.
    • Oct 30 2016 | 8:31 pm
      Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. However after some browsing I've started to realize that I think my best option might be a regular Launchpad combined with a Launch Control or Launch Control XL. I figure that it's close to the same price as either the Beatstep or the Quneo, and has a more proven track record with Max. Could maybe run a few Monome patches too, with some tinkering.
    • Nov 01 2016 | 9:05 pm
    • Nov 02 2016 | 8:45 am
      Hi there. I just both a second hand Launch Control XL. mainly for ableton functionality , but i have to say that its impressing for the price what you get. Knobs are hard but just enough to make it feel precise, the faders too. the pads definitely they are not for finger drumming , but as triggers or toggles (and with Colored Led feedback ) is working very fine. Numerous user banks ... Then in the max side i see many possibilities , like using the led feedback to create some step sequencers etc etc just an impression
    • Nov 07 2016 | 2:50 pm
      What you'd have with the Quneo (and some other controllers, as some with motorised sliders etc...) would be to have Max setting up your controller when you start your patch, or at any other point, like following your automations.
      I use white tape with multicolor sharpies, a colour per setup with my Nanokontrol. Turn each know and fader to the right position before I start. But my Keith McMillen controllers are good to go when I start my patch. I don't think I would get any controller not capable of that if I had to buy a new one.
    • Nov 10 2016 | 6:30 pm
      You know that's an excellent point, so I went and looked for another controller with a selection of knobs, but with rotary encoders rather than MIDI CC (which is actually even more ideal) and found the BCR2000, which also seems to work well with Max to my understanding.
    • Nov 10 2016 | 7:26 pm
      Any MIDI controller will work well with Max.
      I can not find if the BCR2000 would receive MIDI from Ableton or Max and show the result on the knobs, like show an automation, or just set the knob to something when you change tune or movement without having to recall directly from the BCR2000.
    • Nov 10 2016 | 8:04 pm
      You can definitely send MIDI to talk to the BCR.
    • Nov 10 2016 | 8:47 pm
      I was going to complain that no one seams to have done a LED light show of that controller, but I found one.
    • Nov 12 2016 | 8:09 pm
      Also, BEAP has a Quneo drumpad module that will give you X, Y, pressure, gate, and velocity as a signal, so that's a quick way to get input from it happening. It also has smoothing. If there is interest in more Quneo specific modules for BEAP, please let me know.