MIDI controllers with incremental knob encoders



  • edited April 2021

    I'm still digging into it, but my hope is its smooth endless encoders instead of the steppy ones on the beatstep. I know there's advantages to both, but most of the time I wish they were smooth. Its inconsistent with the beatstep to go from min/max value in one turn.

    I'd definitely miss the pads though. And I still want something with a crossfader :P. I've thought about combining a few smaller controllers into one surface for drambo. Probably should wait for the BCR 32 though.

  • @quartzite The BCR32 looks very interesting indeed, with the Zaquencer on board...

  • edited April 2021

    I got my APC 40 MKII yesterday and here are my thoughts:

    • Its huge! Larger than two 11" iPads.
    • Casing feels nice, not the sturdiest but its fine.
    • Knobs feel great. Pads feel fine though the pressure they need varies somewhat from middle to edge. Crossfader feels not that great but its ok enough that I don't hate it. The track faders feel better than the crossfader (but they also have a heavier throw)
    • Sending the same cc/note back to the controller updates the LEDs/state. So even though APC knobs don't have an increment mode, if you set up your template to send the correct values on load, they work practically the same.
    • The only customization you can do to on the APC 40 to change its mode via sysex after it starts. Pretty cumbersome. I'm just working with the default mode.
    • The default mode has 9 banks of "Device Control" knobs you can switch between. The state of these knobs is not saved on shutdown. These also need values sent to them if you don't want the parameters to jump. But they are useful if you want to have additional controls per track.

    if someone came out with a similar controller with incrementing knobs / velocity pads, I'll possibly switch to that. But this has enough controls to set up some awesome performances.

    p.s. It would be amazing if midi mappings had the option to send their value to a midi output on startup.

  • I made a setup in Drambo fro APC40. It makes it possible to save knobs state and recall them on preset or project load. I use a lot of Mozaic scripts for it. I basically make use of all controls, including pada to launch instrument presets or whole "scenes", recording, crossfader, etc... Even small detail like tempo knob or tempo bend buttons.

    The only catch is, it's still work in progress. Most of the stuff is working, just some bugs here and there and I have to admit I haven't do much work on it since Christmas 😄 But noting down this thread to ping you when it'll be available.

  • edited May 2021

    Nice! I'm definitely curious to see it. I've been sending the states of my knobs on preset load using an on load gate (detailed in the thread below). Otherwise I've been designing my mappings such that I don't have to deal with controlling the APC leds. I may get more invested later on but for now this is great.

    I'm actually using my APC 40 to control two iPads hooked up to an iconnectivity audio4+. One ipad runs songs in drambo, the other runs a looper and some sounds for performance during transitions. Lets me loop my tracks and load up new ones, I really love it.

    edit: I'm also using some custom sequence launchers based off work by Gravitas/rs2000.

  • Hello sir,

    I’ve been trying to set up a beatstep with drambo but the acceleration of the encoders on the controller really throws me off. (Massive value changes) Do you have any tips on how to set this up to smoothly match drambo on screen please?

    Ideally I’d like to also set up midi out from Drambo to light up the leds on the beatstep but that’s also a little beyond me right now.


  • edited May 2021

    As a fellow Beatstep owner, the only thing you can do is disable acceleration the Beatstep side. But if you do that each click of the Beatstep encoder will only increment by one. Those encoders are ok for fine-tune parameter changes but they don't do well with large changes.

    Honestly my solution was to get a different controller. As much as I love the beatstep I really wanted endless potentiometers instead of the encoders.

    I ended up getting an APC 40 MKII, but its been a lot of effort to make it useful (its finally paying off though). Generally, it is a pain right now to have Drambo update a midi controller with its state. Its doable, but with caveats and a lot of problem-solving. You might want to look at a different controller that sends relative cc messages (APC 40 doesn't). I was looking at the midi fighter twister as one option. BCR 2000 is also a good one (or the BCR 32 when it comes out).

  • Yes, that's the thing with low cost controllers. Acceleration is usually added to work around the effect of low resolution encoders - not necessarily a bad thing but the acceleration curve is a very personal thing.

    I have a similar experience with the Digitakt. It has endless pots as well but some parameters just aren't adapted to the acceleration curve so you either change almost nothing or you change in gigantic steps, hard to use it in-between. Watch how even product specialist Cenk Sayinli from elektron has gotten used to turn encoders in a weird way: Touching them 10 times and turning them by minimal amounts instad of just turning them 🤪

    Thanks for the info btw, I didn't know the APC40 II has endless pots 👍🏼

  • edited May 2021

    Yea I struggled a lot with that on the Octatrack. Luckily with Drambo we can just enter the values with a keyboard :)

    The endless pots feel pretty great btw, the nicest feeling part of the whole controller.

  • Thanks to you both for the info.

  • Hello @uncleDave, I just ordered me a second hand xtouch mini for 20€. To find a setup that works for me I currently have 3 nanoKontrols for synths, a beatstep for various tasks (hope to make it useful to control parameters for all the track by changing the midi channel), a launch control xl for filter for all tracks and gain, and now a xtouch mini. Sadly tone of the nanocontrol is a V2, and has only one bank, whereas the v1 has 4. Beatstep practically 16 if you switch the midi channel, the launch control has 8 user and 8 factory presets. The xtouch mini only has two, so when I saw your post mentioning you made a script to have 8 banks I got excited! Would you minds sharing your script?

  • I don't know if it's the right place, but I wanted to rekindle this discussion. I have not finished deciding on a MIDI controller that is not very expensive and that suits Drambo directly, since my MIDI skills are quite poor ...

    Does anyone know if this Novation Zero SL model would work well in DRAMBO? Looks pretty good and with a good amount of assignable controls

  • edited January 4

    @Gabriel Drambo doesn't have any preference, it's rather your projects and your own preference of what you want to control inside them.

    Which knobs would you map the knobs, faders and buttons to?

    Do you need support for the LED rings? This will mean some extra work to be done.

    Drambo supports incremental MIDI encoders (like in the SL) that avoid jumping knob values after switching banks on the controller.

    It's always a good idea to picture exactly how you'd use the controller before deciding which model to get. This may also change in the future with new Drambo features added over time.

    My own experience with MIDI controllers is that they work best when controlling a limited set of knobs in certain scenarios like knobs to control FM parameters for sound design, faders and buttons for mixing/soloing/muting, crossfader and buttons for live jamming etc.

  • @rs2000 Thanks for you r answer. You right, but may be (i´m shure) my projects will be more ambitious in the close future.

    Like you say, my preferences now are controll some FM parameters, turn on|of tracks, or trigger diferent devices. etc.

    what model of MIDI controller are you using now?

  • @Gabriel Most if the times I'm using none because it's just too convenient to have everything on screen.

    If I really need that tactile feeling then it's mostly a Beatstep, an APC Mini or a Faderfox LC2.

    For FM synthesis, you can never have enough knobs so the Beatstep with its 16 knobs might be the best.

    Behringer have the BCR32 under development, looks interesting too. I expect it to be released in 2022.

  • Thanks @rs2000 . You answer it´s very usefull for me. I think the Beastep will be fine. And I wailing for the BCR32 too.

  • edited January 4

    Beatstep is good, not expensive and the pads are velocity sensive plus they react to pad pressure, that's not very common in MIDI controllers.

  • edited January 4

    I like my APC 40 MK II. No velocity sensitive pads but otherwise it has its endless encoders and lots of pads to map. I like how there are 8 knob encoder banks built in with different channels, makes it easy to map different instruments.

    I didn't know about the xtouch mini, those honestly look really useful and small, but I'm so integrated with my APC 40 so I'll stick with it.

  • I just had a closer look at the Arturia Microfreak as a MIDI controller and if you own it anyway, why not use it (although too expensive to purchase as a MIDI controller only):

    • Almost all knobs send MIDI CC. Only absolute values though, no incremental CC support.
    • The keyboard is velocity sensitive and can send polyphonic aftertouch too. Unfortunately, vertical finger position can't be used as a third controller.
  • Hello Frank. I've attached my banking script for the Xtouch mini. It implements 8 banks of 8 knobs and 8 toggles in Layer A. It uses Layer B for incremental apps, like Drambo. If you're a keen scripter, you could take it a lot farther. Each layer actually has 24 buttons that send notes, 16 lighted buttons and 8 knob presses. So you could generate so many CCs you'd need to use multiple MIDI channels to carry them. Anyway, it should get you started. Sorry about the delay, but software maintenance had left this in a non-working state, so it needed some repairs.

  • @giku and/or @rs2000 - any chance Drambo will implement the Mackie MCU MIDI remote control protocol so compatible devices can control Drambo (particularly the mixer)? All these devices have endless encoders that interact with whatever setting is on the software. I believe Auria and Cubasis have MCU implemented on iOS but not sure about other apps.

  • edited May 6

    So I'm new to drambo just got it

    I have a working setup with 2 iPads The older one controlling the new one that is running Aum , using TouchOSC

    So I'm gonna make a new touchosc layout For drambo,

    I really like using the iPad as controller and setting custom layout to each project on touchosc is great

    And there's also a Korg Nanokay studio connected wirelessly to the iPad with another 8 knobs and keyboard so that's great

  • @Switchmode

    Drambo supports different absolute and relative/incremental encoders and they work well.

    If you need parameter display or fader control from Drambo, this is not yet supported natively, you'd have to build that yourself.


    Welcome! And enjoy your new adventures.

    FYI, the next bigger Drambo release will contain many enhancements like a "Morph" knob that can control knobs, buttons and faders on different modules at once in adjustable ranges and of course the Morph knob will also be controllable via MIDI itself. This can help reduce the number of controls required on your control surface.

  • Yes! I was just thinking about macro manage!

    Thats great

  • edited May 11

    I just took the plunge and bought a Faderfox UC4. While I got a pretty functional template working with the Akai APC 40, its knobs aren't incremental and effort needed to update its knobs gets in the way of me actually performing.

    With the UC4 I can just simply map 8 knobs per track and use the 8 faders for levels of 8 tracks. The crossfaders can be used for some additional scene transitions.

    With upcoming clip launcher in Drambo, it would be nice to have the APC 40's button grid, but I've also gotten comfortable just using the touchscreen directly.

    Anyways, I'm excited for this :)

  • I have endless encoders on Novation circuit and pots on launch control XL. I use both to control D but whatever option I choose in settings it does not cover both scenarios.

    I think this should be set on per knob basis as opposed to globally.

  • edited May 27

    Well I'm back on my APC-40 I think. The UC4 was overall pretty cool, but I had two issues with it:

    1. It was so lightweight that it slid around when using the faders
    2. The buttons are kinda bad. You can make them click down without actually sending a value. If you hit them hard its fine but it kills my hand and flow.

    One thing that got me back on the APC-40 is realizing I could use streambyter to make the APC-40's (endless) knobs send relative midi instead of absolute midi. Its actually really trivial, you just have to reset the knob to 63 every time it sends out a value.

    Here is a sample streambyter script for this:

    if M0 == B0
     ass K0 = M0
     ass K1 = M1
     ass K2 = M2
     snd K0 K1 $64

  • @quartzite That's interesting. I would have expected the APC40 to send relative MIDI CC values by default!

    And I wonder how the streambyter script works. Is it that you're sending (i.e. resetting the knob position on the APC40) the zero value for the respective knob back to the APC40?

  • edited May 27

    This could get you in a bit of trouble. You don't know how many messages have been queued before SB sees the first one, so you might see large increments from a quick knob twist.

    However, you could simplify the script this way:

    If MT == B0
      Ass M2 = $64

    Or simply

    BX XX = XX XX 40
Sign In or Register to comment.