Unusual & Innovative MIDI Controllers Part Two


Post date:

Fri, 06/28/2019 - 13:32


Naomi Bolton

In the first part of our article we took a look at some unusual and innovative MIDI controllers, such as the Buchla Thunder, AlphaSphere, MI-MU Gloves and Crystal Ball. These are all controllers that took a step away from the traditional piano design to offer new or more intuitive ways to control synthesizers. In this article we examine a few more MIDI controllers that are not afraid to step out of the mold and do things their own way.

MIDI Fighter 3D

Price: $219.99midifighterThe MIDI Fighter 3D is aimed at finger drummers who love to work with Traktor or Ableton, but it will also work with any software that is capable of handling MIDI messages. While the design of the MIDI Fighter 3D is not all that unique, it is the buttons that really set it apart from the competition. Instead of using the typical cheap buttons that have a slower response time and metal dome contacts, they instead make use of genuine Sanwa buttons from Japan. These are much more expensive, but are built to last as are typically used in arcade machines. With ultra low latency, ball bearing contacts that work every time, clear audible feedback and a full 1mm of travel, the MIDI Fighter 3D features some of the best buttons in the business.

Roli Lightpad Block M

Price: $199.95


The Lightpad Block M is an expressive musical touch-pad that is compatible with iOS, Windows as well as Mac OSX. It is basically one dynamic surface that can be used to play all of your chords, melodies, beats as well as bass-lines. The tactile surface of this controller makes it easy to shape sounds and it recognizes everything from strikes and glides to slides, presses and lifts. The Lightpad Block M is portable enough to fit in your pocket and it features high-definition colors that light up the surface and make it easy to quickly move between scales, notes and instruments.


Price: €109.00


MIDIS 2.0 is a set of four MIDI controllers that were designed to make the process of music creation or performance a little more physical. Each of the controllers, which makes use of wireless Bluetooth, are pocket sized and have their own specific uses. So the "drum" is an airdrum MIDI controller, while the "wob" is a wave motion MIDI controller that functions like a Theremin if you move your hand around above it. There is also the "scan" that can convert your musical sketches straight to MIDI data, as well as "wiggle" that can be used to control effects by simply moving it or tilting it. These controllers are perfect for enriching the live performances of musicians who make use of laptops and DAWS for their shows.


Price: $399.00


It can be tricky to master a new instrument if you already have a lot of experience with another one, which is where the Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1 comes in handy. It is one of the first MIDI controllers on the market that allows you to tap, slide, strum and drum on a single surface. The INSTRUMENT 1 is particularly appealing for people who know how to play guitar or bass as it allows you to tune each string individually and play them independently thanks to MPE support. The INSTRUMENT 1 is pressure sensitive, hammer-on sensitive, has a built-in arpeggiator, and also allows you to control filters and envelopes by tilting it. Finally, it's compact, has built-in speakers and enough battery life to last you a whole day.


Price: €399.00


Time will tell whether or not the Neova is a hit or a miss as it is currently on pre-order before the product industrialization will begin. What you get for money is a ring and a hub that has been designed to make your music feel more alive. The way that Neova works is that you simply slip on the ring while playing your standard digital controller and then use gestures that can alter your music in real-time. The hub works as a wireless MIDI controller for the synthesizer while the ring itself contains nine sensors that can be used to capture your gestures. These gestures consist of roll, wave, tilt, bend and vibrato although more might be added in the future. If you've ever felt that creating music digitally lacks something compared to playing analogue instruments, then this smart ring could be a game changer.


In addition to the MIDI controllers mentioned above, there are also a couple of others on the market, such as The Manta from Snyderphonics and the Numark Orbit. Let us know on the forums or in the comments below what your favorite MIDI controller is and if you feel that these types of new innovations are a match for the old school way of using synths.