Sonic LAB: KMI Quneo 3D Controller

Slide, hit and press for ultimate control?   08-Oct-12

    MP4 10:26 mins    

Quneo in many ways this is the fairytale product - with an auspiscious  start on - the crowdsourcing funding website - the Quneo got a lot of press and a lot of people who were prepared to invest - creating an immediate demand for this unusual controller.

What The Heck Is It?
Quneo is a 3D controller - with 44 LED backlit pressure and velocity sensitive pads, it can provide a huge amount of MIDI (or OSC) control data. Each of the 16 drum pads can be either a drum pad with pressure, or in grid mode, have four corner trigger points, each with is own note and presure assignments. There are also 8 short faders - with LED VU style backlighting (4 vertical and 4 horizontal), a longer horizontal crossfader - with pinch sensors as well as travel and pressure, two rotary knob type pads with position, rate and pressure sensors, 6 pairs of up/down arrows with assignable pressure and note control, plus a three button (REC, STOP, PLAY) transport control.
All in all there are 44 control input surfaces.

It communicates via Micro USB, in conjunction with the editor (Mac, Windows) you can store up to 16 non-volatile patches - Quneo comes with 16 pre-programmed for Live, Logic, Battery and a variety of other applications, including a couple of iPad apps - Korg iMS20 and Beatmaker 2. Yes, this wil work with your iPad, though you will need a powered hub - once you get all the lights on it draws too much current for mine.

The editor allows for complete programability and assignment of note and controller mapping, patch organization and saving and sending to the unit - there are also a couple of useful cut and paste functions for speedy setup. It's not the most beautiful peices of software, but it does work. Maybe one day we could have an iPad app to program it too?

Use It
Basically it does work, the pads are responsive for drum programming, the presets give you an idea of how it can be used - the Ableton Live Clip Launch template (Pad 9) is mighty complex and gives you a lot to think about, using each vertical edge of the pads as separate clip launch (top, bottom on each side). Horizontal faders map to sends, pan and volume, Verticals to the currently selected block of four tracks. With a bit of tweaking in the editor, I also mapped the crossfader- with a two finger pinch  for filter resonance width, and position to filter frequency. The sky is the limit really and you will want to customize it your own requirements to get the most from it.

While the faders and rotaries do have a good resolution (rotaries 4096 steps, faders 0.4mm), I did find it quite hard to be precise and would welcome a shift/fine mode that would scale them to a finer detail. I also wish for a pad transpose feature - this is a bugbear of mine, while I love pads, I hate having to stop to reassign voices - how about a chromatic mode with octave shift buttons for quick scanning of a keyboard full of drum sounds?

Really, the Quneo is capable of great things - a lot of them. But with this level of control comes the inevitable complexity, you will need to spend some time setting it up to your own needs, but doing so will be rewarding - I guess I’m saying if you are an “I just want it to work, right out of the box” kind of person, then you may not get anything like the most out of the Quneo. However, Keith McMillen Instruments have provided documentation and a bunch of videos to get you going  - but expect a bit of a journey.

Another great if a little unusual controller from KMI - the world is definitely a better place for it, and the price is reasonable. If just want simple uncomplicated control of Ableton Live, then maybe a Novation Launchpad, if you need to get stuck in and customize to your setup - then Quneo is the one for you.

Available Now
Price: £199, $249, €239


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