The Mini Innofader retail faders: A First Look


Introduction

As DJ technology has been changed out of all recognition by the digital age, the demands of such a revolution have taken their toll on new gear. Traditionally mixers would be pretty empty metal cases with yawning chasms of space that readily allowed for everything to be kept inside. And because it was quite normal for them to be wedged between a pair of turntables, the natural size of a mixer was dictated by the height of said turntables.

But then controllers came along. And everything changed.

Controllers are considerably more compact affairs, and are crammed to the gills with microelectronics. But the demands of DJs are still the same, and they want a really good crossfader inside their new playthings. In the time before controllers really kicked off, most companies knocked on the door of the makes of Alpha faders, or if they were really pushing the boat out, Penny & Giles. But then the fader game exploded with new third party models with Ebsel’s Pro X Fade, followed by Audio Innovate’s Innofader.

While the Pro X Fade became a firm favourite with the scratch guys, the Innofader became a wide success with all styles of DJs. This was mostly down to Elliot Marx’s obsession in trying to get his long bodied Innofader fit into every single mixer and controller ever made. This spawned all manner of lateral thinking editions, most notably the Innobender that allowed the Innofader to sit at 90° inside the mixer and squeeze into spaces that it just wasn’t designed for.

This however was a temporary solution. The mini Innofader was the obvious solution to such hackery. There has always been a problem with squishing down a long bodied fader into a very low profile model and still have it working properly. Elliot however is a very tenacious individual, and after many late nights and shouting at factories, the original mini Innofader was born, but only for certain models of mixers and definitely not available as a third party model.

But those days are over as the official retail mini Innofader is just about to hit the shops. And being the long time buddies of Audio Innovate, we laid our hands on what are the very first units from the first production run. What you see here are the finished final models in all their shiny red and black glory.

A quick note about this article — it serves purely as a first look, to give you first impressions and important information that has up until now been missing. It doesn’t delve into the fun work of taking screwdrivers to expensive gear — that is being saved for an entirely separate article.

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Wait… models plural?

Yes. The mini Innofader PNP (plug n play) comes in two models:

The P Version: You’ll recall that the original Innofader came with a crazy amount of extras by way of cables and plates to give it maximum compatibility with as many mixers as possible without resorting to busting out a soldering iron and wire cutters. That’s what the P version is — to fit the widest and most awkward of units with just about everything you could need in one box without hacking.

The S Version: This is the stripped out version designed for those who aren’t afraid of a soldering iron and can follow detailed technical instructions to get their mini Innofader  to fit the widest range of mixers and controllers.

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The Basics

Like its bigger sibling, the mini Innofader is a non-contact capacitance based fader. Based on an off-the-shelf A-Plus low profile fader, Elliot has poured his considerable experience from the original Innofader and condensed it down to fit into the lowest profile possible. As far as I can tell, just about everything about this off-the-shelf fader has been left on the shelf, and what remains is a fader shell, and the rest is Elliot’s custom design.

The issue with low profile designs has been keeping it running smoothly. Quality on a lot of low profile faders has excluded them from being used for anything but line faders. Yes, you can scratch on them, but they simply can’t hold up under the punishment that a scratch DJ meters out. There’s also the issue of rail grab, where the very short body sticks agains the rail because it doesn’t have the long body and spaced out rails to stabilise it. Thankfully, this doesn’t seem to be an issue for the mini Innofader. The DJ Tech DIF-1S gets a daily battering at home and is still as good as new with no grab or sticking at all.

One major difference is the fader stem. The original Innofader comes with an 8mm stem, designed specifically to stand up to heavy handed turntablists. The new mini Innofader however comes with a regular 4mm stem. I’ve yet to hear of any issues with bending or snapping on the Traktor Kontrol Z2 or DJ Tech DIF range. Somebody always will, but I’m pretty confident of that being a rare occurrence for most.

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In The Box

Cosmetically, both boxes are identical bar a checkbox on the back to indicate which model is inside. Common to both models is the inclusion of a pair of red striped fader caps. These seem to be identical to the original ones bar having a smaller hole for the fader stem.

The box also includes a small tube of Deoxit for cleaning and lubricating the mini Innofader. A cautionary warning — the mini Innofader isn’t designed to be opened up easily. There are small metal tabs that need to be pried open, as well as a small blob of solder holding the circuit board to the case. You’re going to have to really want to get inside it.

The mini Innofader boasts a number of stickers. There’s a small one for the faceplate of your mixer once you’ve done the necessary transplantation. But also included for the vinyl based user are a sheet of hot cue stickers as well as very useful vinyl labels too. Elliot is certainly making sure that the Innofader brand (that I very proudly designed) is maximised.

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The P Version

Now we’re past the commonalities between the S and P versions, let’s look specifically at why they’re different.


We’ve shown that the P model is designed to make swapping out a fader much more of a plug and play affair. Just like the original Innofader PNP, the box contains a plethora of connectors that should connect the mini Innofader up to the maximum number of mixers and controllers without a hint of solder or wire cutting.

The basic fader comes with a “regular” 4 pin connector solder on board. I say regular as this is the size that a standard P&G fader used to have. After dismantling your mixer or controller to discover the connections on your fader, you simply select the additional matching cable, and connect it to the 4 pin connector on the mini Innofader. Ensuring that the onboard fader switch is in test mode i.e. pushed towards the middle of the fader, connect the mini Innofader up to your unit, power up and look out for a green LED. If that comes on, then all is well. If you see a red light, power off, disconnect the mini Innofader, flip the connector and reconnect, and after powering up you should see a green light. That’s the basic installation done.

After this, it’s a matter of calibrating the mini Innofader. This stage (which appears to be the same for S and P versions) lets you tailor the individual curves and cut-ins on a per side basis, as well as reversing the crossfader if it only fits in one way.

So that’s it. Hopefully the vast majority of people will experience little in the way of issues using the P model in the supported mixers and controllers.

Fitting Instructions P1  |  P2

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The S Version

Gulp. The simplicity of the S kit belies the potential complexity of what could happen next. While the S version does support some units out of the box, it really is made for those trickier models where a plug and play solution isn’t going to work so well.

Warning — the S version will require soldering of some sort. The S version circuit board has exposed pins and a detailed instruction sheet that goes some way beyond the skill levels of the majority of DJs, who are generally becoming used to “it just works” solutions for just about everything.

Fitting Instructions P1  |  P2  |  P3

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Compatibility

If you need to know which is the best solution for you, check out the constantly updated Innofader compatibility chart. When you look at the chart, it’s a safe bet that if the Innofader PNP is listed as being the one for your mixer or controller, then the P version mini Innofader will fit as well. This should save you some cash, and given the smaller footprint you should find fitting that little bit easier.

It’ll be interesting to see the list develop. Up to now, Innofader compatibility has generally been focussed around crossfaders. But with this diminutive fader comes the ability to squeeze into line fader slots too. The issue will be with those soldered onto the motherboard. I suspect that a flimsy excuse like that won’t stop Elliot from making it happen though.

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Fitting?

This is where this first look piece ends. I just wanted to give you the heads up that the Mini Innofaders are available,and cover off the important details as to which one you should look at. I’ll be selecting some units to fit both mini Innofaders to and reporting back on how easy or indeed tough it is. We also ran an article post NAMM when the DJWORX team and Elliot got together and tackled a couple of popular units.

The feel is already established in the DJ Tech DIF-1S review and touched upon in the Kontrol S2 and S4 reviews. You can take it for granted this is silky smooth, and while not feeling quite as velvety as the bigger Innofader, the mini Innofader is still excellent and feels considerably better than any other short bodied fader

Prices and Availability

Now to the bit you’ve been waiting for. Elliot tells me that he’s expecting for boxes of freshly hatched mini Innofaders any day now, and says that within a week, they’ll be heading off to retailers in many key markets.  The simpler S model will retail for $89.99 MAP, and the more complex P model will be $99.99 MAP. UK prices will be added once they’re in.

UPDATE: UK Pricing Mini S @ £84.99, Mini P @ £94.99

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Summing Up

I’ve been a proponent of customising gear since day one. Not so much blow torches and angle grinder modding, but being able to have choice when it comes to components. So I welcome the mini Innofaders with open arms. Elliot has gone out of his way to make sure that selecting and installing is as simple as possible, and I imagine this process will be honed and simplified too. And there are always new mixers and controllers coming out too. Sadly despite the ready availability of third party faders, manufacturers do seem to make it unnecessarily hard sometimes. We can only hope that they start to change their ways and make it easier for their customers to swap out their faders in the most warranty friendly way possible.

As I’ve said, I’ll be revisiting this in the next few weeks to show just how easy or indeed hard it will be to shoehorn a mini Innofader into assorted lumps of gear. Yeah NS7 II — I’m looking at you.

Gallery

  • Ricky Djrickyjay Jordan

    handy trax? would be sick!

    • Mutis Mayfield

      Handytrax is hard wired in the main pcb so you have 2 paths:
      1- Desolder and replace (or even drilling and resolder over the gap)
      2- Make a standalone frisky/the Barra crossfader with input/output.

      • Elliot Marx

        Can anyone take pics and email to support@audioinnovate.com? I’m definitely interested in looking at this. Have received several requests already!

        • Cave Dweller
          • Elliot Marx

            It looks like it may work but the mini Innofader dimensions are slightly different. I’d imagine that stuffing a mini Innofader PNP S might work with some soldering finesse and pin bending

            • Mutis Mayfield

              It will be much easy do a standalone frisky innofader an attach it to handytrax ( or numark pt-01)

              ;)

              • Elliot Marx

                Yes – you can do this with virtually any controller and Innofader. But we’ve done the PNP S so people don’t have to do this. Isn’t it better to have the fader where it belongs?

                • Mutis Mayfield

                  The point is “Why to mess with internal hard iron desoldering when you could attach it external to every gear you wanted?”

                  It is not only about handytrax which has the crossfader hardwired in the pcb, it is about use this “the barra/friskfader/neverreleasedFaderBox” with any gear do you need without buy one innofader for each product, almost these which fitting it is not so “user friendly”. With DVS/Controllers as standard by fact phono preamplification is not longer required (the regular turntablist has the original inno and we are talking about the rest of us, right?) so design a simple frisk innofader is 1+1 puzzle (and easy than desolder the crossfader in Handytraxx)

                  Maybe everyone has an screwdriver to replace the crossfader but not everyone has the tools/skills to perfom this kind of hardware surgery.

                  • Mutis Mayfield

                    Elliot,
                    Why not to develop one extra, small, board with 2 stereo line in and 1 stereo line out that some of us could fit inside a altoids box with the mini innofader?

                    • Elliot Marx

                      Hello Mutis,

                      Sorry I misunderstood your meaning. You are now talking about a separate piece of gear to hook up to your regular setup.

                      The problem is once you do this external box with he fader then all of the benefits of having the fader inside your gear (less accessories, MIDI control, channel assignability, channel eqs) are gone. We tried to lessen these drawbacks with the faderbox design and it essentially became a full mixer. At this point I’m really not set up well to go through with such a project.

                    • Mutis Mayfield

                      Don’t worry Elliot I must apologize too due I forget the vca nature of innofader itself. My idea is more suitable for pure analog potentiometer…
                      I was arguing about the possibility of avoid high skilled iron desoldering in handytrax using a frisky fader concept with your product but I missed these “box” will need the audio chips necessary for the signal (usually the THAT corp ones) so lets be constructive…
                      For the handy maybe a middle path solution could be solder minijack outputs to the crossfader pins and make the pseudo frisky (near standalone or almost not so difficult surgery one) box with minijack plugs going to the internal circuit…

                      For the fbox maybe it will be more reliable downgrade the specs making it only for line sources (like irig dj) but with curve control and midi cappabilities or even midi and go!

                      What do you think?

                    • Elliot Marx

                      Mutis – I do get it. No need to reexplain.

                    • Mutis Mayfield

                      Elliot – I said different things in addition to my apologize. Also I reformulated not only to know your opinion (ie about developing an standalone fbox only midi) but with other readers searching for info (now or in the future).
                      I expent a lot of time searching and collecting info before I start to understand how things work and I try to share these knowledge everytime I found a possibility.

                      ;)

                    • Elliot Marx

                      OK Mutis what I was getting at is you think about all of these little things you’d like to add and then it becomes essentially a mixer, which is exactly the process we went through with the faderbox. It’s a small project that ends up being a mixer project.

                      I work with manufacturers in Taiwan and China. These companies all have large minimum order requirements at least 500 pieces and sometimes in the many thousands. For the mini Innofader I had to commit to doing over 2000 pieces just to get started.

                      There are people around who do short runs of things (Jesse Graves from Jesse Dean Designs for example) but they don’t come cheap at all due to the amount of customization and hand labor.

                      When you are dealing with mixers, unless a company is set up with large warehouses, shipping by boat, streamlined distribution, it’s impossible to make a mixer at a reasonable cost. So the point I’m getting at is not that I don’t like the idea – I think it’s really cool otherwise I would have never started on it – but rather that I just don’t have these kind of logistics to make it work.

  • Jeremy

    If you could fit it with the Vestax VCI-380 that would be great. I was holding off on a crossfader upgrade for this until the mini-innofader came out. It’s either this or Vestax’s CF-X2. Would be interested to hear what the difference is between them.

    • Elliot Marx

      Both the mini Innofader PNP P and Innobender work in the VCI-380

      • Platinius

        Just checking. The innofader PNP P will work as a crossfader in the VCI-380? I somehow got in my head that it was just for linefaders.

        • Elliot Marx

          mini Innofader PNP P and Innobender are for the crossfader

          mini Innofader PNP S is for the linefaders

  • SoyOllin

    So amazing! Now I can replace the faders of my Z2 if need be :D

    • http://Www.djstrategy.de/ Onno Kaell

      Finally I can get rid of those stiff linefaders and add some with a curve without spending >300 €! ;)

      • Elliot Marx

        Yes and yes

        • Guest

          So it is possible to set the curve directly on the mini-innofader?
          Because the Z2 does not have a curvecontrol for the linefaders and neither does Traktor (Sadly)!

          • Elliot Marx

            The mini Innofader PNP has 3 curve settings. If you want full curve control that’s accessible all the time, your best bet is a full bodied Innofader Pro with an Innojuster.

  • sinjintek

    this is just what my UMX-5 has been waiting on!

  • wish1

    No news of replacing the akai apc40 crossfader? Or apc40 mk2?

    • Elliot Marx

      The APC40 will require a mini Innofader PNP S which is the solder pin version. I’ll get this added to the list.

      • Thiago Foo Russo

        it works?

        • Elliot Marx

          I’ll guide you through this installation

          • Thiago Foo Russo

            appreciated!!! Thanks Elliot…

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  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thYkF4Fpbog filespnr

    I am very un-impressed with the uneven cut in on the left side (in my djtech dif is)

  • Sam

    DJM-T1 compatibilty please?

    • Swift

      you have a magnetic fader… why do you need an innofader?

      • http://Www.djstrategy.de/ Onno Kaell

        Nope….Unless the fader makes you unhappy, bleeds or has other issues! ;)

      • Elliot Marx

        People have given me 2 reasons:
        1) With Pioneer faders, we get stories of the gears breaking.
        2) Some people prefer the feel of Innofaders over magnetic faders, even Rane faders.

    • Roguesy

      No it is not compatible.

      • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

        The chart says TBA. I have a DJM-T1 so I may do that as a test and help Elliot make it fit.

        • myndgruv .

          on the innofader site it says the PNP-p will fit the T1. I hate the crossfader in mine so i am ordering on soon.

        • markski

          Nice one Mark! I’d be VERY interested if this was compatible.

    • Roguesy

      Actually, It may be compatible. They work for the DJM 700 and 800 and those mixers use the same fader as the DJM-T1 so my guess is is that it is compatible but you will need for them to announce it because it may need a new mounting bracket.

      • http://Www.djstrategy.de/ Onno Kaell

        The DJM-T1 DOES NOT have the same standard Alpha Fader as the DJM-700/800…it his a magnetic construction fader…the PNP does fit…but with some tinkering….

        • Roguesy

          Oh I was confused. I made a mistake with the model numbers. I was thinking the 808 and the 909 mixers that have the same fader as the DJM T1.

          • RDelight

            the 808? i think you meant the 707

            • Roguesy

              yeah you know what I mean. Too many damn number combinations.

    • Elliot Marx

      Yes for sure it works. The DJM-T1 has a simple VCA output. Some of you might be confusing things with the DJM-707 or DJM-909 which have optical faders

    • Elliot Marx

      Update for people reading this – there is a bug in the first production which results in a large gap on both sides. We are reprogramming them to fix this problem. If you are trying to fit the mini Innofader PNP P in the DJM-T1 please contact me support@audioinnovate.com first to make sure you receive the one with the updated program.

  • Roguesy

    Do they still make the Pro X Fade and Penny & Giles Crossfaders? I can’t find replacements for them ANYWHERE.

    • aw81

      Pro xfade sell spares and faders on their own website
      Google pro xfade and click the first link.

  • blackavenger

    Wow, I didn’t expect them to be so expensive….you can get an innoFader Pro for about $25 to $30 more.

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      In the case of the mini Innofader, you have to think like a laptop vs a desktop. It’s still all the same stuff inside, just much smaller, and that costs money to develop and produce.

      • Elliot Marx

        Not to mention the huge assortment of adapters to fit virtually anything :)

  • Rock Well

    Not hugely relevant to this story, but I have to say that if these aftermarket faders had been available for sale at this price point when the Z2 came out, it would have changed some some people’s perceptions of that mixer’s value a lot.

  • djblakjak

    I have a Z2 with the innofader…. I do like the faders alot. But there have been problems with the crossfader in the Z2. Mine is just now starting to bleed and act up. I hate the fact that i spent $900 on a mixer and now the fader is going out… all I can say is I miss the fader on my Vestax PMC

    • Elliot Marx

      The fader is not going out…usually recalibrating should fix the problem.

      • Djblakjak

        Done that several times. It only fixes it for a moment. Then it starts to bleed again.

        • Elliot Marx

          When you recalibrate the mini Innofader, pull the stem slightly towards the center on each side to increase the dead space slightly. This should do the trick.

  • Kris NindjaGear

    Congrats Elliot! I look forward to testing one way or another, and another!

  • Callum Davenport-Lambton

    The crossfader on my pmc-06 started to fail when this article came out. It was cheaper than a replacement vestax fader. I ordered one the same day. It just got here. Fast easy install. I have never used an innofader before and I am really liking it.

  • sweetener free

    please just check that mixer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90OsUuHNW5I

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