Encore Electronics Knobby
The Knobby is one of those devices that you hope and hope for, until someone finally makes it. Encore Electronics has come through with Knobby, a Midi Controller designed to give you control over a wide variety of current, obsolete, and future MIDI equipment. The Knobby is a hardware controller (pictured above) that is programmed using its software for your personal computer. You basically assign which knobs will transfer what type of Midi-data and up to 120 functions can be assigned to the knobs via 15 various banks or groups. Once programmed you can use it as an external controller for just about any synth or Midi device and the Midi data it transmits can also be recorded into a sequencer for real-time capture and playback of all your tweaking and editing. Pictured below is a screenshot of the software configuring the Knobby for the BitHeadz Retro-AS1!
The Knobby opens up the parameters of all your MIDI equipment with the ability to send any MIDI controller, including Non Registered and Registered Parameters (NRPNs), and up to 55 byte System Exclusive (Sysex) messages. This allows it to control most synths from the Roland Juno-106 to the JP-8000 for example! Whatever parameters your synths allow to be Midi controlled can be assigned to a knob on the Knobby for real-time control.
Some synths such as Roland's Alpha Junos, MKS-series, JX-series and D-series are difficult or tedious to program since they have done away with knobs and sliders, requiring specific controllers (PG-300, PG-200, PG-800 and PG-1000 respectively). But with the Knobby you can finally edit those synths with several hands-on knobs and in real-time and those tweaks can easily be transmitted into your sequencer while recording. The Knobby is a wonderful tool for anyone with any number knobless-midi synths. Pictured below is another software screenshot assigning a Sysex Message to a Knob for the Roland MKS-80.
The Knobby also works great with modern knobless synths such as Virtual Synths. ReBirth, Reaktor, Reason and Creamware Pulsar all require use of the mouse for tweaking which means only one knob or slider can be changed at a time. With Knobby properly configured you can use its knobs to control several parameters on the fly and they will be recorded too. From Midi programming to Midi mixing, the Knobby can be a very useful tool for any Midi studio. It ships with pre-configured set-ups for many synths that you may already have. Click here for a listing of these. Even if your synth is not on their list, since the Knobby supports any instrument that responds to MIDI controllers, NRPNs, and most sysex messages you should have no trouble getting it to work with your Midi gear. You can even share your own custom-made libraries with others!
Images from Encore Electronics.