Types of MIDI Controllers - Part 2

So here we are, back again with Types of MIDI Controllers Part - 2. In the last part we discussed about the more commonly used types. In this post we are going to talk about those controllers that aren't mainstream. The picture above is of Tenori-on.

That means you either will never see them used (because only one exists) or will see them very rarely (because they are either very very expensive or serve a very niche crowd). These controllers are usually really experimental or really focused on serving a specific purpose.

Anyway, it is eally hard to differentiate between them because they tend to be unique in themselves. So I will losely base the classification on manifacturing process and large clusters that they can fall into. But by no means will that mean that two controllers mentioned under one heading can be each other's replacement. Usually, it will be far from it. Remember, opting one over other is not the same as choosing a replacement with similar features.

  • Boutique controllers - These are Controllers that are produced on a small scale and usually sel out quite fast. There is usually a order queue. They are preferred by highly professional artists or people who can afford it and have a specialised use for it. But some of these are really versatile, so they can be used in many different places. So the choice lies with the end user - how much effort you want to spend to get a custom setup with unconventional controllers. Examples would Jazzmutant's dexter and lemur, the monome project, mawzer modular controllers, etc.
  • Matrix Controllers - These contain button matrices and are very useful for on the fly sequencing. These would include the Lemur again (it actually does everything you want, so it will basically be everywhere), monome, tenori-on, etc.
  • DIY Controllers - These are home-brewed projects that are made by enthusiasts and inventors. there are many famous projects around. And they are bascially anything you can imagine and have the know-how to create. Some are meant to be general purpose, some are meant for DJs, some are just plain experimental. A very famous project is the MonoDeck.
  • Experimental controllers - Okay, this is really a relative term. So the defination will change from person to person. But it generally means that it is a highly conceptual controller that is still in the stage of development and hasn't had much of adoption, and that is probably because only one exist. Examples are  - the scratch controller [a personal favourite of mine], touchscreen turntables [a design student's project], siftables [these do many things, only one is controlling]
So those are the broad categories that may contain these unconventional yet brilliant controllers. The fact is that these are just ideas that are waiting to get commercialized to full scale. And experiments that are waiting to get produced on a larger scale. With due modifications of course. So in the mean time, we can sit back and use our controllers to create amazing music.

And I will keep you updated on the latest in MIDI controllers. This current series is only just a starter to cover basic grounds. We will soon take flight into MIDI controller skies. Check back soon for more and stay connected by subscribing to the feed.