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In-depth Feature:  Kenton Control Freak Studio
The Control Freak is as simple and accessible a MIDI controller as you're likely to see
Rob G writes: .

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Much of today’s music equipment delivers outstanding sound quality and tweakability but is hampered by a user-interface where only a single controller is easily accessible. Computer-based user interfaces tend to be mouse-driven, limiting the user to tweaking one "knob" at a time, while many hardware interfaces are designed using menu systems where the user navigates a sequence of screens to reach the parameter they are trying to alter.

Mixing using a software sequencer, for example, presents the user with a familiar mixing desk graphical interface for controlling the audio parameters (volume,pan,eq etc), but the use of a mouse only allows the user to alter one slider or knob at a time. This can be frustrating. Similarly, creating filter sweeps on a modern sampler can be tricky, as often the musician really needs to be altering the cut-off frequency and resonance of the filter simultaneously.

One solution to this situation is use the pitch bend and modulation wheel of a MIDI keyboard, and map the controller information using a sequencer such as Cubase, but even then only a couple of controllers are made available. Other set-ups, such as mapping the controls from a synthesiser or other sound module are possible, but remembering the mappings from a hardware knob to the parameter being modified can make this counter-intuitive to put it mildly.

To compound the situation, many such mappings are not trivial. Mapping between MIDI controllers is usually fine, but consider messages such as System Exclusive (SysEx) and Registered and Non-Registered Parameter Number (RPN and NRPN) and things start getting more complex - often requiring a detailed understanding of MIDI to get things working satisfactorily.

MIDI Controllers such as Kenton's Control Freak aim to alleviate this situation by providing hardware control surfaces that can be programmed to deliver any type of MIDI message, including SysEx, RPN and NRPN messages.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • Kenton's Website
  • mail the author
  • The Virtual Freak Software Editor for Windows PC
  • Control Freak New Profile Downloads
  • Midi Controllers

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