KMI Update: QuNeo Rogue and QuNexus

It’s been a while since we had any Keith Instruments Instruments and QuNeo coverage round these parts. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve left them to simply get on with designing cool stuff – hell no. There’s a lot going on with them and us so here’s a quick update.

QuNeo Review Progress

KMI QuNeo Keith McMillan Instruments

Yep – we got inside KMI

Given that KMI are in California and we’re predominantly based in the UK, you’d think that the chances of us getting together would be almost nil. But that’s not the case at all. We did hook up last month, and captured a lot of interview and demo footage that I’m personally chucking at Final Cut Pro to craft an informal yet informative indie movie. And the accompanying review will be with us very soon.

QuNeo Rogue

The problem with DJIng is that it’s quite a static affair. Bar Jesus posing and behind-the-decks jigging, you’re planted in one spot until you’re not. Obviously, trying to pick up a full CDJ setup isn’t exactly the most practical thing in the world, but with the advances in technology, there’s now little reason why controllers shouldn’t “go rogue” and break free from the shackles of the DJ booth.

Enter the QuNeo Rogue – a battery and wireless pack that effectively breaks you out of the booth and right into the action. With a quoted 6-8 hours battery and 60 metre range, you can be rocking a crowd from the car park instead of having to suffer a sweaty crowd of hipsters demanding Brostep. KMI list it as “coming soon” for $395.


Look at the top picture – see that keyboardy thing that Keith McMillan himself is holding? That’s the QuNexus – a “smart sensor keyboard controller” that does an awful lot more than you might expect. Or perhaps it does everything you might expect from a KMI product.

Looking like a Korg nanoKey2, the QuNexus has all manner of wonderfulness happening under the hood. The keys are velocity, pressure and location sensitive, so playing with expression puts this a long way above your other MIDI keyboard controller. I’m not sure how many people would pick this as their keyboard of choice, but being able to carry it everywhere and play with real feeling must be a real draw.

But it’s all the other more mapping based things that appeal to me. In the video, you’ll see how pressure and movement are mapped to specific features. Pressing harder on a key has been mapped to a filter, but that could technically be anything. Traktor macro fx? Cool. And back and forth movement mapped to pitch is really cool. Now your hand is freed up instead of to use the pitch bend wheel.

This has certainly got my mind darting off on all sorts of DJ tangents – like way off right over there style tangents. The funny thing is that some of these tangents are things we’ve been kicking around for almost a decade. But now we’re approaching a technological time where some of it is actually possible, and indeed has a market ready for such left-field thinking.

Like the original QuNeo, this is a Kickstarter project again. With just 11 days to go, this has already exceeded its target. But if you want to bask in the glory of the  feelgood factor knowing you helped bring this to market, get in on the Kickstarter action.

I have to admit that I have a real soft spot for the KMI crew. They’re clearly not afraid to turn crazy ideas into actual products. Where this leads is anyone’s guess. I’m sure that some will fail, some will be cult status niche fillers, but I hope that their radical thinking will see some new directions and ideas for the industry. We’ll be right there covering it all as well.

  • lolwut

    The QuNeo was a great product in concept, but I think it could have been executed better. The forums are littered with people who are confused and a little annoyed with how you set it up and how certain features are really counter intuitive, for example: velocity sensitivity being enabled in clip launching mode, requiring REALLY hard presses to register a clip to start playing (unless disabled in the 3rd party software). Not really a deal breaker, but small stuff like that can add up and dampen the user experience and make the learning curve a little steep when you’re constantly going back to the forum to look for fixes for small stuff.

    Overall though, KMI’s ideas and physical product quality are fantastic in my opinion, they just need to polish up certain things which are centric to the user experience.

    As a NanoKey 2 user though, I’m ecstatic to see them developing something for the portable 25 key market thats above “so-so” quality – I’ve tried every 25 key portable on the market, and for the most part they (for obvious reasons) feel cheap. I already donated to the Kickstarter campaign and am really excited to get my hands on the QuNexus.

    • What do you consider “portable”? I’ve got a ReMOTE 25 SL Mk2 and (since I got a backpack with it) I consider it a “portable anything box” as would just about any other 25 Key Keyboard (with actual semi-weighted keys). Granted, they’re a lot more expensive than these “stuff it in your pocket” controllers, but they’re definitely worth the extra cash as they’re really full-featured for making music and doubling as a side-car controller.

      The QuNeo was on my list of things to check out, but the contact pads and the touch strips felt awkward for more (even though the QuNeo has x-y sensitivity for each pad) or maybe it was that the pads seem to be dimly lit with the limited-color LEDs?

      • lolwut

        Well I also keep alot of technical stuff on me, aside from my laptop I also have 2 large pouches stuffed with misc cables I use, an iFixit DIY toolkit, 2.5″ external HD, CD wallet carrying 24 discs of utilities, bootables, and time code, MDR-V6 headphones, a NanoKey 2, a QuNeo, and a few other misc things. This all is contained inside a Chrome Soma bag.

        So for me, a portable 25 key needs to be of similar dimension to a Korg Nanokey, and preferably with a low profile since things can get a little tight on space when I’m constantly on the go (and my bag isn’t really the limitation, it can hold alot of stuff despite its size). The market is pretty thin for this criteria, let alone something that’s actually built to withstand constant transportation. The QuNexus to me looks like a really bad ass version of the NanoKey 2 – which to be fair I have no major complaints about considering I paid $25 for it, but obviously the keys are a bit lacking on it (and naturally feel very loose when touched).

        It should be noted that my NanoKey 2 is used mainly for writing down melody ideas and experimenting with plugins while I’m on the road, not as a performance controller. The appeal that the QuNexus has for me is that it can do both since the keys appear to have pretty good play on them as opposed to other lower cost keyboards of similar dimension. Plus the expanded functionality on each key could do really neat things in other programs like Traktor or Ableton which wasn’t possible with the other controllers I tried – which were aimed squarely at just playing notes with some mediocre velocity sensitivity throw in.

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  • Dylan Mack

    Solid write up Mark!

  • I own a QuNeo, like lolwut said, it’s true, Quneo is great but technical support is horrible. I don’t understand why did they great this rogue thing, 200$ to add wireless wifi and delay to the quneo? Doesn’t make sense!