Audio Control Surfaces and Assignable Controllers

A computer's mouse is not the optimum means of driving a studio. Here are some hardware add-ons that make manipulating MIDI and audio a little easier

Audio Control Surface
Tascam US-428 audio control surface
A typical control surface looks much like a mixing desk, with knobs, sliders and tape recorder style buttons. What it does is offer intuitive control over certain sequencer functions, such as stop, play and record, along with mixer settings. If you're used to the feel of a traditional, tape based multi track enviroment, here's a way of re-creating it. The Tascam US-428 plugs into the computer's USB port and, while seamlessly integrating with software sequencers, also offers 24-bit audio in/out at up to 48kHz and two MIDI ports.

Assignable Controller
Kenton Control Freak Studio Edition assignable controller
It's not just sequencing software that can benefit from the extra control offered by hardware. Using software instruments, with their many virtual knobs and sliders, is far easier when you've physical, assignable controllersto hand. The Kenton Control Freak Studio Edition, in the picture above, is one such device. Its many sliders can be assigned to different instrument parameters, including volume, effect depth, resonance, filter cut-off frequency, LFO depth and much more. Such on the fly tweaks can be recorded as MIDI instructions in a sequencer ready for replay later, which saves a lot of mousing around in the sequencers controller lanes.