While Ableton’s logo is stamped on Novation’s Launchpad and Akai’s APC, there’s a lot to be said for the tried and trusted Faderfox as a controller for Live. The work of one man – German designer Mathias – these controllers run a bit pricier than some of their rivals but deliver great-feeling controls and ultra-compact designs. They’ll fit into cramped quarters when the APC won’t, and they offer features like high-quality joysticks. The models could be used with any software you like, but they are designed with certain tools in mind. Following an update for DJ-centric, Traktor-ready models, Ableton users now get their new Micromodul: the LV3.

Mathias sends CDM a first look at the new specs:

ultra compact
usb bus powering (no additional power adapter needed)
simultaneous control of 8 tracks
24 programmable keys
4 multifunctional push encoders
scene/clip selection and launching by dedicated encoder & display
optimum clip status indication by 2 leds (off = empty slot, on = load,
blink = clip runs, red stop led = on for stopped track)
2 joysticks for convenient control of XY-fields
more obvious device control (only rack parameters controlled)
two times better resolution on all parameters by encoders (256 steps
instead 128)
encoders with detents (better feeling especially for stepped parameters
like quantization)
automap functionality in Ableton live 8

Find more details on the official Faderfox site:
Faderfox LV3

ALPS supplies the faders and encoders, and the joysticks resemble those on model airplane remote controls. My experience with these controls has been exceptionally positive. I’ll miss one feature on my earlier-model Faderfox: I get standard 5-pin DIN for MIDI. But in its place, you get more finger-friendly rubber caps on the knobs, and USB bus power. Those 33, multi-colored LEDs also mean you can really use this for effective clip control – the first Faderfox of which I’d say that.

Speaking of other apps, this controller seems ripe for adaptation by an intrepid Renoise hacker; it’s even class-compliant for use on Linux if you’re a Linux Renoiser.

EUR 210 before VAT; 250 with.

Click for ludicrously-big closeup.
  • http://www.cassiel.com cassiel

    I really liked the first batch of the version 3 controllers, and said as much in Sound On Sound:

    http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/oct10/articles/fa

    I bought two of them, and had long since decided: no more.

    But… joysticks!

  • tobamai

    reviews always mention the great feel of the controls on these things… but I'm skeptical. All of the bits look pretty cheap, like the stuff I could go down to an electronics hobby shop and buy. Are the controls really that good? And if so, why does the unit as a whole have a cheap look at that price?

  • Charlie Lesoine

    Looks nice, but it's hard to compete with the vakue of a $29 korg nanokontrol.

  • Radiophobic

    @Charlie Its really not once you have spent a day with a nanokontrol dealing with its shitty drivers and cheap parts.

  • http://debsinha.com deb

    wow. nice work, faderfox! i didn't even know it was possible to have more than 128 steps resolution, figured it was just a MIDI thing of 0-127. Why don't more controllers have this ability? Is it just becoming possible now with, I don't know, them new fangled computer codes and such? Anyhow, win. Too bad I can't afford it!

  • http://herringson.com dylan

    I've got 3 fader fox controllers and they feel great, so solid and super portable.  I'm using an FX3 and FT3 either side of an ipad w Touchosc for a live dub rig.  This new one looks good too, thumbs up faderfox!

  • ideletemyself

    Wow, I hate to use a term like 'sexy' but this thing looks pretty sexy lol… and the parts don't look cheap at all in my opinion. At least in comparison to the parts on my APC40 so I don't know where that comment is coming from.

    There are so many great options for controllers these days and this is another nice option. I've been looking for something that's smaller than the APC40 but doesn't necessarily give up overall control. Seems like a win all the way around… Props.

  • Peter Kirn

    @tobamai: Not sure what to tell you – you've just got to see if you can find someone with one you can try. You can't tell by looks; it's like watching a cooking show and being unable to dine on what you're seeing. The buttons have a satisfying, firm click; the pots and faders are all heavy and move smoothly. It's just higher-end parts. The case is plastic, but plastic is actually just about the most durable thing you can use for a case, and it's thick / built like a tank without being too heavy. (Actually, this should be a separate post, but the whole problem with plastic environmentally is that it's built to last, and we use it for disposable stuff instead. The other problem in MI is that you get lower-grade or thinner molded plastic, or plastic used in cases in such a way that the case flexes, which gives things a cheap feeling. Here, the case doesn't flex.)

    I personally have two Faderfoxes I bought for myself; this might convince me to buy a third, especially since I can bus power it. I've used a lot of gear, and it's some of the best-feeling stuff out there.

  • http://www.cassiel.com cassiel

    One thing to be aware of with the faderfox units is that some of the functionality (buttons, LEDs) is often "local" in the MIDI sense: LEDs track button presses, buttons switch the MIDI message sent by controllers, and there's no MIDI sent to (or received from) the outside world.

    I had a chance while writing the review to thoroughly test out the MIDI behaviour of all (at the time) five units, and this informed my choice. I think I'll drop Mathias a note to try and get some firm information about this one.

  • gonna live forever

    cassiel,

    Is it actually local, or just using NPRN?

    I ask because I thought my old Electribe-R couldn't send CC data from its knobs or have its LEDs controlled by MIDI, but recently, after a half hour with a MIDI sniffer application, I was able to map out 80 NPRNs for a total of 80 usable CCs including:

    20 3-way switches with LEDs

    10 2-way toggles with LEDs

    50 knob controls (it sends different CCs for the knobs based on which part is selected)

    64 step, 10 part, 256 pattern hardware sequencer

    And I got the thing on eBay for $110.

    So I guess beyond my obvious bragging (hehe) my question is whether you tried "listening in" on the raw MIDI input?

  • http://stackinpaper.com Keebs

    I just picked up a faderfox FT3 recently. The build quality is definitely very high quality and the controller is well laid out in general.

    Unfortunately I don't like the rotary encoders. Turning them 90 degrees in one direction and then 90 degrees back doesn't result in your virtual knob returning to its original position due to the built-in acceleration (I don't think this is designed, but is just a result of the tracking of the encodes signals). Additionally, turning them fast skips values.

    One other problem I have is that because the controller is so small, moving the faders fast results in the whole unit moving. This could be fixed by creating some sort of jig to hold it down… but that's just not something I'd rather not have to do/make/bring with me when playing live.

    All that being said, if anybody is interested in a 3-week used FT3, get at me :)

  • http://tagmagic.wordpress.com Jaime Munarriz

    My LV2 is great in every sense!

  • bd

    hi,

    I like faderfox very much. only this energy save modus is terrible – totally irritating in a complex live setup: suddenly all LEDs start to run ….  has the new line still this modus ?

    bd 

  • http://www.faderfox.de faderfox

    power save mode was necessary only for 1st & 2nd gen controllers due the battery powering. the 3rd gen controllers work with usb powering without any power save functionality.

  • luked

    I have an LV2 which I love, but it is designed to work well with Live sets of 12 tracks only.  You can't really access parameters of tracks 13 to … 100.

    Does the new design have similar limitations?

  • http://www.perboysen.com Per Boysen

    I have used the LV1 since 2004 and thinking about replacing it with an LV3, but it seems Faderfox doesn't run a web shop anymore? Do I need to Google around and contact some local music store abroad to order one? (I'm in Sweden)

  • http://www.faderfox.de faderfox

    you can shift a track window (8 tracks) over all available tracks so there are no limitations like on the older models.

    you can order direct on faderfox website by email. I ship worldwide…

  • http://www.perboysen.com Per Boysen

    @faderfox,

    Thanks, I'll look again.

  • eke

    INTERESTING

    I'm using LC2 for a long time, now had adapted framework classes and running self-made(not polished) controller script that allows use LC2 with famous colored frame. that allows use native LC2 6+6 tacks over visible Live session grouped tracks.

    Controller works great, I love it! It is versatile and SMALL! By now it's working perfect I'd say it's well maid (I carrying it around a lot and it had tough times)

    But it wouldn't be so versatile to me if not modified scripts [THANK YOU Peter & CDM @ http://createdigitalmusic.com/2010/03/hacking-abl….
    Still I don't think to by 3rd Generation 'cos IMO:

    1. connection through midi standard is great (even if #cc of controller is fixed). I can use device in chain with other controller (FCB1010) and can even go wireless without breaking set just by inserting WIDI-X8.

    2. new 3rd-Gen faders are shorter, encoders are thinner it isn't good at all. from mine point of view there wouldn't be enough resolution.

    3. two X-Y joysticks are great but placement in lower corners isn't good now they can easily pushed/pulled by accident. X-Y is small and in some cases change will be drastic.

    4. encoder row placement on top increases hight of device. now encoders would be unprotected if Controller is carelessly placed in bag.

  • eke

    @ faderfox

    is there possibility to get downloadable new script versions for 2nd generation???