Midi Controller With Only Knobs

Hi Renoiserzzzz - I’ve been doing a little searching for a MIDI controller that only has knobs, and haven’t found many options. So far, all I’ve really found is the Behringer BCR2000, but it has a lot more knobs than what I’m looking for.

I have seen the Doepfer Pocket Dial and Pocket Control, but they’re “no longer available”, and I don’t believe they had USB support anyway. And then there’s the Kenton Spin Doctor, which doesn’t appear to work via USB either. Yay!

So, friends, does anyone know of something on the market that is similar, still in production, and uses USB? (If it helps, I run OS X.) I’ve considered things like the nanoKONTROL and the Nocturn, but I don’t need all the other bits like the transport buttons (which I don’t think will work with Renoise anyway) or the DJ crossfader. Thanks for any suggestions!

And you can’t live with some extra faders and transport buttons?

Kenton Killamix Mini is the only other one I can think of.

BCR2000 dude, you sayd it. I know it’s Behringer, but for 190 euros more knobs than you need? Sounds like a solid deal. I’m getting it anyway :) Thanks for pointing it out!

No, I’m allergic to them. :(

Oooh, I had not heard of this. It’s perfect. Sadly, it’s $320 US, but I’ll consider it in the future. Thanks!

Yeah, you’re right. I checked them out on eBay and they’re only $130-150 US. I didn’t want 5 million knobs, but I can’t deny that it’s a great deal if there aren’t other good options. It looks like you’re our big winner this week, yay! Case closed.

I have both of these controllers and a korg nanopad. I found the Korg to be superior to the nocturn, the software of which I found to be irritating because it doesn’t default to sending midi data (you have to load it up to use the thing at all), and it generally felt slightly more flakey to use (although, its not bad, but i think the korg is better). I bought the nocturn because it was the cheapest midi controller with a crossfader on it, which i needed. It is okay, but like i said having to use the automap software even if you just want midi is annoying, and it felt like it would only take so much abuse - i was hoping for something which would allow me to transfer DJ crossfade techniques to midi… i dont think it really does that, for one thing it seems to have a very small delay on the response of the fader, and it feels like it’d come off if you just it with any vigour.

Anyway when i bought these I was basically looking at the same thing: i wanted generic controls not transport stuff, because i wanted it to use with my own max/msp patches. However, I found the Korg nanokontrol to be an excellent solution. This is because you get a lot of faders and buttons for your money, its WAY cheaper than the other devices you’d be looking at, and in some cases it has more faders and buttons than those devices too. Don’t be fooled by the fact it looks like it is designed for the volumes + mutes, solos and pans for your DAW, as it is very easy to assign these controls to anything you want, and crucially there is alot of them. You can also skip through 4 pages of them, that’s what the ‘scene’ button does (nothing to do with ableton live)… so you get 9x sliders, 9x dials and 18x buttons, all of that timed by 4 if you dont mind using the ‘scene’ button. That is ALOT of controls for your money, and its a solid piece of kit. Yes the Korg has transport controls, but you can ignore them, and who knows you might find them useful one day?

You could also buy 3 korg nanoKontrols and you’d still be looking at less cash than some of the other controllers. However the only problem with that, is that you’ll probably be looking at needing a USB hub, and you’ll have USB cables everywhere. It’s annoying, especially because on my setup I find if you swap the USB plugs around, it messes up the devices. I’m actually considering fixing the whole thing with the hub to a board to make it neater and avoid this. But ideally you would just want one controller I think, and if i had the cash i might have bought the bitstream instead. I am not actually convinced that USB is an appropriate way to send midi data if you want to do stuff reliably in a live scenario, and from that point of view the bitstream is favourable because it has both.

The other question i suppose is why faders and not sliders? i guess it depends what you are doing, but i actually think sliders are much better for alot of stuff, you have more swift control; just look at the stuff DJ’s can do with faders - you just can’t do that with pots. The only reason i can see why you’d prefer pots, apart from the fact they take up less space, is for transitions which you want to deliberately be more subtle.

Hope that info is of some use anyway. Don’t forget to consider stuff like that Akai APC40:
it’d blatantly designed for ableton, but those buttons could probably also be reappropriated quite easily.

Just realised you’ve already decided, the behringer looks a good choice at that price.
another option would be the keyfax phatboy, came out years ago but you might find one cheap on ebay. i think i paid £30 for mine but ended up selling it because i didnt know how do make use of the midi routing properly at the time and there isnt much decent support anymore. its built like a guitar stomp box and all the dials are solid metal pots with rubber coating like you’d find on a decent synth, not this flakey plastic crap… if you know how to use it and you find it cheap its well worth the cash.


Thanks for all of the info, genfu. I appreciate it! I did not really consider that the nanoKONTROL has multiple scenes, so you can actually use the knobs for more effect parameters than I imagined. It’s a pretty cheap device, so I would probably buy that instead. (I didn’t 100% decide on the Behringer yet. That thing is huge! haha)

A couple basic questions, since I haven’t used a lot of controllers: would you mind just confirming that the scene buttons work well along with Renoise, so I’d definitely be able to use the knobs for 36 different parameters, etc.?

Also, what kinds of things in Renoise have you assigned to the buttons that are on it? (We’re not yet able to assign the Mute and Solo buttons in RNS, right?) Thanks again!

Oh, also: the Phatboy looks very cool, but alas, it looks like it doesn’t work via USB.

Sorry to intrude your topic, but I felt there’s no need to start a new thread for just this. And it is a little related :D

Does anyone know if the nanoKONTROL works with Linux/Ubuntu?? I tried searching places but I couldn’t find any mention, it seems just perfect for me but I’m not going to order it if it’s not going to work…

(crap, never mind, found the answer on our very own forum…)

Maybe you want to check out Ruin&Wesen’s MIDI Command. It’s much more than a controller though – it has an integrated microcontroller which you can program yourself. I met the guy at the 25C3, he makes pretty cool stuff.