DJ controllers come in all shapes and sizes… wait — no they don’t. They’re much of a muchness if we’re honest. But the above video shows some exciting developments in… guitars. OK, it’s not really applicable for what we do, but looking beyond this initial ACPAD prototype (and future Kickstarter campaign), there’s some very exciting possibilities on display here.
Controllers that actually sell generally come in similar sized boxes, and largely conform to established models of use. Within reason, the same controls are in much the same position, if only because that’s what we’re used to. There are some notable exceptions, but generally we get a variety of rectangular lumps in a format that’s fed to us.
BUT WHAT IF…
This ACPAD prototype clearly demonstrates that a very customised but thin layout is possible. So why not adapt this idea for DJs? We’ve seen something very similar before with the Quickswitches, an idea that sadly didn’t make it to production. They were thin and adapted to the spaces available to DJs. But this ACPAD concept goes a few important steps further — wireless connectivity and battery-powered makes such a thing even more desirable and importantly possible for DJs.
We’re already part-way there courtesy of controllerist legend Moldover. Aside from spearheading the controller revolution, his most recent project is the Guitar Wing, a guitar specific controller made with Livid Instruments. This is very much in the same vein as the ACPAD device, and shows that wireless battery-powered low latency MIDI is doable.
What really appeals about this ACPAD controller is how possible it might be to create custom controllers for a variety of situations. I wish I knew more about this thin stick-on approach that the ACPAD uses, but if it’s as simple as sandwiching a brain and some controls between layers, then the possibilities are huge. And I’m sure 3D printing can play a big part in this too.
Just looking at the Rane TTM57MKII I have here, a strip of very low profile buttons either side of the line faders would give me very easy access to cues and samples with my thumb. You could even put some in the middle and flick them with your index finger and never take your hands from the fader. Imagine your thumb on a strip changing a filter while scratching.
This is why I find this video exciting, not for the amazing but all-too-short performance, but for the possibilities. Potentially, the days of wired controllers are numbered.
OVER TO YOU
If making a controller was as simple as hitting print, what would you make? Incredibly simple stick-on hot cues, or something more extravagant that snakes itself around the flat real estate faceplate of a Technics?