NAMM 2014: Controller Roundup

US Scott McGrath shows off some of the innovative controller products on display at this year's NAMM show      03/02/14

Paws on Pads

Two iPad controllers that double as audio and midi interfaces are padding around the arena this year in very direct competition:

For iPad musicians, Focusrite offers the iTrack Dock, an audio dock that adds a 2x2 audio interface to the iPad:

Alesis revs their IO Dock to version 2, addressing some dissatisfactions with the first version with a more robust offering. A lot of users argued last time around that the concept was good but the converter quality and sound didn't seem up to the task. This version may address those concerns, and of course solid converters are part of Focusrite's reputation, so the iTrack will give the IODock real competition.

Akai updated their portable controller line this year, and Miselu produces an encased keyboard specific to the iPad that gives it a somewhat unique approach to iPad musicianship that looks interesting.


And I've already highlighted the iConnectivity products and their unique usefulness to tablet musicians:


If you're looking for everyday use controllers that prove that manufacturers are keeping prices low and offering a lot of value, Behringer offers 49- and 61-key controllers with keys, 8 drum pads, 8 rotary encoders, and 9 60mm motorized faders (!) for $249.99 and $299.99 respectively.


Finally, I have mixed feelings about the Roli Seaboard, which feels like one of those controllers that Jordan Rudess would make supernaturally expressive but might produce caterwaul from the average player. I hope some clever folks prove me wrong, because it seems like a technical breakthrough.


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