NAMM 2012: QuNeo Controller
Posted by Jared Helfer on January 27, 2012 :
In an industry that seems constantly drifting toward more of the same, it takes some effort to dig in and find unique and useful controllers. The difficulty of further perfecting the workflow around two decks and a mixer is being realized by bother manufacturers and consumers as more modular setups and touch based controllers enter the market. While neither of those options have been perfected, they are being toyed with in more interesting ways than the past few years have shown us.
The interesting thing to me about DJing these days is the ability to craft my own workflow. It is, in fact, what I spend the majority of my time focusing on when I get a new controller or software. Molding a new method with a standardized set of decks (two platters, two or four faders, and a bunch of buttons and knobs) can be interesting, but eventually they all just seem to feel the same. Enter the QuNeo.
This utility controller has enough functionality crammed into its iPad sized body to satisfy both the standard producer and the experimental controllerist. We got to get our hands on it at their booth at NAMM and play around with their Ableton setup. My initial feeling was exactly what I expected: excitement. This controller steps beyond everything else I saw at the show. They managed to take a standard MPC style workflow and just put as much control as humanly possible into it.
We already posted the kickstarter video which breaks down the basic functions, so I won't bother rehashing those. The unit looked great, and everyone I dragged to their booth agreed. The best part of this controller is the veritable unending amount of control you can add to a very simplistic setup. The touch pads can be used as almost anything from a drum controller to a step sequencer, to a 8x8 trigger controller to individual x/y pads. The LEDs were bright and clear, though the standard Red/Green/Yellow did seem a little toy-like. My hope is they add some finer LED control for purples and blues.
The real interesting control comes from the rotaries, faders and x-fader. The long 100mm x-fader currently supports 3 points of contact but will eventually support up to 6. The short up-faders are also multitouch, but if you want to use them as simple volume faders they can also work as rather responsive VU meters. The rotaries can be used for a lot of exciting functions, especially when combined with multitouch and pressure sensitivity.
Obviously this isn't a lot of new information, but it was really great to get our hands on the unit and get a chance to play with it. They will be releasing the ability to remap the unit for nuanced, individual control, and will be providing communities to share said mappings.
My excitement for this controller comes from where this technology can lead more than where it exists right now. Placing so many functions into such a small unit, and keeping it elegant heralds steps in the right direction for iPad DJing and production, as well as really powerful modal control that can avoid over complication. The QuNeo has a workflow built very much around an Ableton setup, but if the next unit Keith McMillan Industries decided to work on reflected more of a DJ setup that could be tailored to iPad based software I could see some extremely exciting and visionary control added to an already proven workflow.