faderfox_uc3_angle

No disco-colored pads. No pressure-sensitive controls. No flashy layouts for specific software. It’s not an iPad app.

No, it’s just the Faderfox controller we love: incredibly compact, engineered and built like a tank in Germany from metal and high-quality pots, with gimmick-free controls. And perhaps more than any previous version of the Faderfox series, the UC3 is aggressively generic.

You just get crossfaders, a set of vertical faders (notably absent on Ableton’s new push), and a useful and versatile MIDI controller you can use with a variety of machines and software. As it’s class-compliant, that includes even the suddenly-ubiquitous iPad. (In fact, imagining an iPad and this box in a bag, you’d have an absurdly-portable rig.)

Of course, Ableton Live remains the most popular Thing To Control, so there’s a special control surface script for that, too. Use two UC3s, and you can control 16 tracks.

Speaking of buying more than one, Faderfox’s entire lineup is also more affordable, at €142 (€169 with VAT). That makes it competitive with a lot of other options out there.

It’s funny, much as I loved Faderfox, I always found about half of what I wanted on each product – this one has a crossfader but only four faders; this one has all the faders but lacks other controls. The UC3 seems a perfect balance: eight encoders that you can push, nine faders, and switching so you can create eight groups of controls.

Update: It is too bad to see the LV3 discontinued. This unit combined two analog joysticks and trigger buttons, both absent on the UC3. I was always more in favor of clip triggering from something else, but having those added parameter/effect joystick controls was terrific, and would have made the UC3 and LV3 a nice pairing. On the other hand, the new fader caps look like they’ll be more popular, and the layout isn’t so crowded on the UC3, so all in all I’d still have to say the UC3 is the most sensible Faderfox yet.

Full specs:

faderfox_uc3_top

- Universal controller for all kinds of midi controllable software
- iPad compatible with camera connection kit
- Control surface setup for Ableton Live 8 is included (no manual mapping necessary)
- USB interface – class compliant / no driver necessary
- 8 push encoders without detents (resolution about 36 pulses)
- 8 faders with 45 mm length
- crossfader with 45 mm length
- 4-digit-display to show control values and programming data
- 14 bit high resolution encoder mode for sensitive parameters
- data feedback for encoders avoid value jumps
- All controls fully programmable in the device by channel, type, number and mode
- Advanced programming functions like copy, paste and channel set
- 8 groups for all controls
- About 136 commands per setup (17 controls x 8 groups)
- 16 setups with backup functionality
- USB bus powering — consumption less than 500mW / 100mA
- Very compact design in a black, plastic casing with metal faceplate (180x105x70 mm, 350 g)

http://www.faderfox.de/

  • http://www.cassiel.com/ cassiel

    But… the fully-fledged Live controller (LV3) appears to be discontinued, which is a shame. The UC3 looks fairly interesting but rather low-density in terms of control features. I have an FT3, which suffers slightly from the not-very-generic problem you mention, and a DX3, which is better in that regard but, of course, lacks faders. I did have an LV3 on my shopping list.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I think I agree with you … 50%. The lower control density means it’s not as cramped as the LV3, I never found the Faderfox trigger buttons terribly useful (particularly when you can use something like an iPad and actually see clip names), and the crossfader is a nice addition.

      On the other hand… yeah, I’ll miss those joysticks.

    • http://www.cassiel.com/ cassiel

      Agreed re: trigger buttons. On the other hand, I really like the button- and LED-rich environment on the DX3, since it means that the encoders can be rapidly switched between different parameters. For non-motorised faders, mode-switching is not very useful.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      DX3 demos are now available for 99 €. So — one DX3, one UC3, that’s pretty … perfect, really.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Oh, and nothing about the DX3 necessarily says “Traktor” to me, if you happen to want to use something else.

    • faderfox

      pay attention that you can switch all 8 encoders and faders to 8 groups
      and each control in each group is programmable separately
      so you have all possibilities…

  • Ben Hovey

    This looks nice, but I wonder why more companies aren’t making knobs with LED feedback like the APC40. It is important to see values of the encoders without looking at the screen when switching between devices to control. Other than Push and the APC what options are there? People are doing it more with touch strip faders, but that seems to be redundant to ipad control.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      That’s an easier question to answer – on the Faderfox, I don’t think there’s room. You could perhaps do a single LED with PWM dimming, but otherwise I don’t know how it’d fit.

      Physical space/cost/complexity/power draw is also the general answer to this question. Now, obviously, the usability makes sense. Livid is at least doing this.

    • faderfox

      unfortunately not enough space on this little box but

      you have a display on the unit which shows the value of each control
      much more precisely so press or turn any encoder and you will get the information you want. (works also with the faders)

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yeah, and actually I think this is a lot easier to see (and produces less visual clutter) than the LED rings and such, so … I approve. :)

    • emmettfarley

      sorry for missing this chain before i posted. (Bill, check out the BCR2000 for LED rings and push button encoders.)

      tweaking a knob to find out what it’s current value is a bit scary on stage. to be fair, i’d love to see some more controllers with potentiometers again, even if it means losing some group-switching functionality.

      for the bands i music direct and handle the technical aspects of their live show, we’ve ended up ditching all the encoders in favor of faders so that there’s some immediate visual feedback for the live effects. with all the craziness of performing on stage, it’s hard to overstate the necessity of knowing where your parameters are with the least amount of effort possible.

      i’m not trying to take a shot at FaderFox, i’m just frustrated that potentiometers are becoming a thing of the past and are being replaced by encoders that are designed to be most functional for when you’re sitting in your bedroom with headphones on.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      If we ever resolve the encoder versus pot debate…

      I don’t agree that pots are becoming a thing of the past. I just think no one can make up their mind which is better. ;)

    • Ryan Dean

      Hmm, I don’t think it’s a matter of one being “better” than the other-each has their place and should be used together where possible. Pots are a form of analog memory and display combined in one on dedicated hardware. With software, the issue is smooth take-up of values which is easier to accomplish using encoders in conjunction with the Gray code, etc..and combined with LED rings can provide visual parameter feedback. Best not to oversimplify in this case imo

    • http://www.facebook.com/benhovey Ben Hovey

      more precise sure, but I need to see clearly all 8 values to perform with a controller. I have way too much else going on to hit each knob separately to see values – trumpet, keys, footpedal, ipad, etc… Other people might not need this feature, but me and folks like Emmett need visual feedback. I’m surprised it hasn’t been offered in a portable inexpensive solution. It’s like working with hardware analog synthesizers. When you look at the knobs you can see roughly what the sound will be like before you hit a note by looking at the ADSR and filter knobs. That is very useful. Not trying to dig on this well built cool looking controller, just putting this out there from a live musicians viewpoint.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Had you considered this?

      http://lividinstruments.com/hardware_alias8.php

      Faders and knobs, not encoders.

      I love the Alias, but I think I’m opting for Faderfox because it’s more compact. And some of the still-shipping Faderfox units use knobs, as well:

      http://www.faderfox.de/dx3.html

      In fact, I’m trying a DX3 + UC3 as I suggest above. ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/benhovey Ben Hovey

      I dig encoders with visual feedback on the ring because I switch between many devices quickly live. I am intrigued by some of the Livid stuff after playing with Laura Escude and seeing her custom Livid controller (the glowing LEDs on the side are awesome). Knobs are great in the studio where I can focus on the computer screen. I have an Oxygen 25 on top of my 88-key yamaha piano controller to add the 8 knob macro device control and a pitch and mod wheel w/ volume/track selection/scene launching/ transport controls. It works well for that.

  • gunboat_d

    i’ve always been interested in a faderfox. programmability might be the thing that pushes me over the edge.

    i just wish they’d put a little more money into their site. it’s a mess

  • emmettfarley

    i understand why everything has encoders these days instead of knobs, but without some kind of visual feedback, it’s hard to imagine using this live with much confidence. the bcr2000 gives you an led ring to show values and features 8 wonderful push button encoders (why isn’t that more ubiquitous?), but it’s HUGE and the knobs feel kinda cheap. anybody know a happy medium?

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      You didn’t read the comment below.

      There’s a number display that gives you exact feedback on the encoders. *And* the number I think is more precise than LED rings.

      And, anyway, the LED rings wouldn’t have fit. ;)

  • Kimotei

    This is awesome for Live on the move with a laptop. But I already have Nano Kontrol 1, its scripted, and it does about the same thing minus xfade, but with added solo/mute buttons, and a master volume fader. And its even thinner. What I really would want is a super small controller with just the 8 knobs. About the size of a cigaret box, so that it can rest on top of the laptop left or right side of the trackpad.

    The cool thing about UC3 is that you can stack them side by side. Its great for those needing a cheep and small controller. I have the APC 40 as a DAW controller in the studio, and the fades and knobs has such a great feel that I will not replace it just yet.