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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do-It-Yourself Wireless Control Surface

I was looking through my gigantic, elephantine Sweetwater Sound catalog the other day an I came across this item:

It's a wireless control surface for your studio. It's very nice, with a transport wheel and display and all sorts of other nice functions. I'd love to have one myself. You can control your entire setup from anywhere in the room, which is particularly useful if you tend to record yourself, like I do. The idea is that your controls stay on your person so you don't have to hit record on your main setup, run across the room, pick up your instrument and then start playing. Anyway, having this fancy control panel would be cool and all, but look at the price! Two-hundred dollars!? I don't know about you, but I only know one, uh, person who can afford that luxury.

Since I'm not lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills and throwing solid gold bars at pigeons for fun, a while back I bought this thing at Staples for about 30 bucks instead.

It, too, is a wireless control surface, and it has 80% of the usefulness. All you need to do is hook this thing up, start up your recording/mixing/ speadsheet/ whatever software and assign keys. I have functions like play/pause, set placemark, undo, record, create new track, and switching between various tools all mapped to my wireless keypad. I almost never touch the actual computer keyboard at all. It is much easier to record my own vocals when I don't have to take the headphones off and walk over to the main setup whenever I want to rerecord. I just hold the device while I'm singing.

Sure, it doesn't have it's own display or a cool transport wheel, but give me enough time and I might be able to come up with those too. Anyway, there are several different kinds of wireless keypads and input devices. They can totally make your life easier without the need for indentured servitude.


Archon Seth said...

Hey, I just wanted you to know that there are people who read your blog. (And I am one of those people). Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome idea. I am using the keypad now for most tracking. It gives me everything I need from a control surface and it's so much cheaper! Thanks for the suggestion! --Paul

Ben said...

I'm glad you could get some use out of the article. I use my main keyboard mostly nowadays, but I still have the keypad functioning for when I do live stuff, which is often. My fingers are lightening fast with it too after a couple years of doing it. :)

AR said...

I'm adding this to my Christmas wish list. About 6 months ago I looked at this control surface and then wondered if I could do the same thing with a wireless number pad. I forgot about it until I stumbled across your

Chris Dalrymple said...

Cool idea. Thanks. Now I'm starting to wonder what other wireless devices might also play in this area.