We’ve got grids, more grids, and disco grids. We’ve got fake platters and big, whirling plates. We’ve got iPads and things you wave around in the air. But as controllers have embraced digital design, the number of controllers that have the logical layout of a mixer has, remarkably, diminished.

And what really don’t have much of is a controller that’s truly DAW-agnostic. Integration is great, but you need hardware for people who don’t believe in One Tool as religion.

It’s taken New York-based learning center Dubspot to reignite that idea, in a controller collaboration with Dave Cross and Livid Instruments. The DS1 is sleek, clad in all-black, free of extraneous flashing lights and logos and labels. Instead, what you get is a whole bunch of knobs and faders, arrayed as you’d expect them to be on a mixer. They could be the console for digital mixing in the laptop – where a lot of you do it anyway – or simply a more-rational layout for control for anything else. (Visualists, too, I imagine will be pleased.)

And Dubspot isn’t just getting into the hardware sales business. The first thing they say in their press release is that they couldn’t find a single controller that did this kind of mixing for the student workstations in New York (and opening in LA).

It’s not hard to see this alongside a Maschine or Push, for instance, with each of those lacking in mixing. But that’s just the beginning.

First, the specs, from the source:

9 high-quality, 60mm faders
44 rotary knobs with single-color backlighting
1 push encoder
25 RGB buttons
Class-compliant MIDI USB
Expression pedal input (compatible with the Livid Master Fader) Ultra light and heavy-duty aluminum construction

I also had a chat with long-time friend-of-the-site Dave Cross, who’s now brought his controller expertise to Dubspot.

What’s availability or pricing going to be on DS-1 – or have you announced that yet?

Still mostly TBD. We want to shoot for production in a few months, pricing under $500USD.
Sorry to not be more specific, those details simply haven’t been sorted yet. I will be parading a real prototype around the show though. These are NOT renders.

Tell us a little bit about what went into the design process. First, I understand these were really designed around the teaching process. What does that mean, specifically? Why this particular layout? (And did that also come from feedback with Dubspot?)

The Dubspot layout feedback basically was the design process. There’s more feedback we need to provide on knob pressure, fader smoothness and knob cap choice, but the layout was key.

We need to teach universal concepts that are agnostic to any DAW. We’re not trying to just teach software operation, we’re trying to teach creativity. The universal paradigm for mixing tracks is the mixer. The DAW mixing control surface is a product category in itself, but it wasn’t a good fit. We needed something simpler.

I’m dribbling: basically the Dubspot Teaching Process is based on DAW-agnostic pure creativity. The products on the market that attempted some level of universal feature set with DAW-agnosticism weren’t… agnostic enough for our needs. So we built our own.

What was it like working with Livid, and is there any relationship to other Livid units?

There is no other relationship to Livid units. We knew they were game for this kind of collaboration because we’ve been friendly for years. Richie Hawtin’s CNTL:R was proof that they actively collaborate, and the Alias 8 was close enough to our goals to convince us they’d be game for our design.

Working with Livid has been super-cool. They’re laid back while still getting shit done. I’m guessing that’s Austin in a nutshell, what with it’s melting pot of go-getters around the US.

I imagine we’ll see some fairly active mapping from you guys – any particular plans?

Yeah. We wanna go a bit nuts with that. Mappings to suit each main program, built around our star Teachers and Course Designers. It’s great cross-promotion.

The buttons – no velocity sensitivity, just switches, but above the mixer strips and then in the grid on the right? Yes? And you can send RGB as MIDI I hope?

Correct, they’re not intended to be drum pads by any stretch of the imagination. Fully extensible with Livid’s firmware, so the intention will be easy MIDI-responsive coloration.

Thanks, Dave. We will of course be following this story as it evolves, as we’re keen to do stuff with this controller, too.



  • danceAnarchist

    yes!!!!!!!!! I’d been waiting on the Dj Tech Twister, but this is way better!!

    • lokey

      hardly comparable controllers though. The twister is going to be amazing as a banked controller, this is much more practical for consistent hardcoded control.

  • http://www.deeflash.com deeflash

    Wow, this looks great! It is funny, it seems like this is the year of iteration at NAMM. This is mostly a reboot of the UC-33e. We had a reboot of the Trigger Finger. And some would say Bitwig is a huge iteration based on Ableton.

    • Jarmo

      Bitwig is made by ex Ableton employees/devs.. they even sayd the price will be 399$.. outrageous, doesn’t have anything superior on FL, probably won’ be having a lifetime updates etc… colors are good tho.. i fuckin love Orange! .. I got Axiom25,Novation Nocturn,Novation Zero SL mk2.. So fail setup u can’t do shit with it “Live” (not in Fl atleast)… So i need to get somethiong to sequence with.. was thinking of going for maschine or arturiaspark.. but m-audio introduced the new trigger finger pro wich has 16step sequencer.. wich would work better for me i think.. i had mc909 groovebox back in teh days : ) oh volca series is a must too i think… im not sure but didnt trigger finger allow to import 4 VSTs into the synth? and it works standalone too? maschineis just a plasticbox without pc.. If i would have money i would probably buy Tempest hehe..or maybejust wait to see for the Roland reboot of 808/303.. they are doing something naming it Aira.. hope they aren’t just rumours…

    • http://www.deeflash.com deeflash

      I’ve had Maschine for a few years now. I love it. If you are looking for a groovebox that you can use live, I would recommend it. I use it in my Live PA and DJ sets. The new drum synths in Maschine 2 sound amazing and the built in effects are great. I still use Ableton as well but I can do almost everything in Maschine these days.

    • Jarmo

      Haven’t checked all the details, it has midi-out and cv/gate right?

    • http://www.deeflash.com deeflash

      just midi-out

  • Robin Renwick

    it’s about time that someone updated the uc-33e, which was a staple for years. pity that the price point seems a but high…oh well.

  • sinfm

    owning a MASCHINE & Push, this is exactly what I am missing. WANT!

  • chap

    Why the hell aren’t there more controllers with motorized faders ?
    Behringer did it for 200€.

    • Freeks

      Even new controller keyboards from B have motorized faders 😀
      They also released new version of the 8 fader controller, but that’s $599

    • chap

      Never heard about the X-touch…thanks for pointing it.

    • Ash

      and a step further – they need to be touch sensitive so automation is overridden when you grab a fader.

    • mindtricks

      This appears to be more for live applications, not the studio or post. Motorized faders would boost the cost well over the $500 or less range they are shooting for. Motorized faders on what appears to be vastly a live/performance controller don’t make any sense other than bragging rights. Probably not the droid you’re looking for.

    • chap

      I disagree. I need to have motorized faders on stage so it recalls faders’ positions in between songs automatically. Crucial for me.

  • regend

    “they couldn’t find a single controller that did this kind of mixing” Didn’t Tascam make a fully mappable hybrid firewire and usb mixer that also let you do non computer based mixer? i think i would rather have the Tascam because everything is “in the box.”

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      They’re saying “mixing,” but they really mean “control.” It’s clear that what they wanted was a dedicated controller. There have been various mixers that double as control surfaces, though, yes.

  • wndfrm

    this is nice.. i have a friend working on a custom controller that is similar, but with 16/24 channels… this type of layout is indeed sorely missing from the host of options out there.. i hope some more companies take a hint..

  • Crispy

    Finally! An APC-40 minus the grid has been a dream controller of mine for years. This looks like it’ll fill that desire nicely.

    • Crispy

      On closer look i see those are actual knobs are not endless encoders like I first thought. I’m less excited now, but still curious to learn more.

  • cooptrol

    looks nice! but still no midi out? thats a huge market chunk lost…

  • Gabriel Vallecillo Márquez

    Seems perfect for Modul8, but wondering if it will work correctly…

  • Miguel Marcos
  • NILights

    Looks like a great mixer..


  • Tiago Morais Morgado

    the design is actually pretty solid, but that’s just a different way of doing things that plenty other brands had already implemented, so I don’t see a point of innovation here. and I don’t see this controller being featured for an instance in the list of relevant products of computer music journal

  • StoplightLoosejaw

    For that price, one would expect motorized faders. However, motorized faders are more susceptible to malfunction related issues (i have had bad experiences) so this will be mroe durable and need less maintenance. Regardless, I am excited that I can find a MIXING controller that doesn’t also launch nukes or do quantum physics. I want something that does mixing and just mixing. Something that works in multiple programs with little or no hassle. Hoping to see this in action and on sale soon!

  • Jarmo

    Lol for the price.. could just add the same amount and get a 1k mixer then… http://www.presonus.com/uploads/products/1953/mediabar/1/mediabar88.jpg

    presonous 16.0.2 for example…

  • Jason Scott Furr

    It’s 2014 and these things are still MIDI only? Where’s the native OSC? Very disappointing.

  • Shannon O’Neill

    My ideal mixer controller would be the Vestax VCM-600 http://www.vestax.com/v/products/detail.php?cate_id=34 but with motorised, touch-sensitive faders, LED-ringed rotary+push encoders instead of knobs, ‘scribble strips’ like in the Behringer X-Touch, and a more elegant black case. Someone please make that. My perfect controller setup would probably be that alongside an iPad & QuNexus, and maybe a Push or Launchpad.

  • Patrick Ijsselstein

    i’m working on my own controller atm, the resemblance is amazing. Yet, mine looks better ofcourse.

  • nick asatourian

    Oh please. It’s a beefed up Alias8. An entire article for this? I wish I had that much time to waste promoting overpriced bullshit.. Tell me again why I should pay $320 for this when I can buy a comparable-class product in Launch Control for 1 benny? Oh yes, because its Livid. The same reason Steinberg magically charges you an additional $10K for every one of their products that no one outside big studios use. Who the F even uses Steinberg’s e-dongle virus and malware shit? Sequel? Blows. Cubase? Overpriced and alright at best. Wavelab? Overpriced but Decent at best. I still use Soundtrack Pro. Nuendo? Best app ever designed for film score. Go broke trying to buy it. $50 for Cubasis? Please! A first gen app for half a hundred bucks? Don’t think so. How about FL Studio Mobile that’s better for $20? How about I shell out $150 for Tangents first gen app Element VS? Or how about not because I am not F-in retarded. Lemur for $50? A damn software controller? LMFAO! How about TouchOSC for a fraction of the price? It’s like MOTU’s Outboards. “Hey, let’s slap another $100 on top because we are MOTU even though Focusrite and Apogee shit all over our quality”. These people have lost their minds and I am sick of seeing these over-hyped, article treated, glorified bags of overpriced shit being slung for so much dough. I don’t mind expensive (Sennhesier HD800). I just can’t tolerate entry fees.

  • Gigi

    So, where is the crossfader???

  • Frank

    Would be a nice companion for the Launchpad..but for $500, no, thanks.

  • Subzero

    Here is my question. How come I can buy a complete mixing board with all the bells and whistles for $400 which is decently affordable? But these midi controllers with just faders, rotary knobs and no other features are equally expensive…….wtf?