Unique Ways of Controlling Your Synth

Let's take a look at alternative input devices for synthesizers, rather than the standard keyboard. Although these unique devices are not always able to control every aspect of a synth, they provide unusual methods of modifying particular aspects of a sound, and make a great addition to any synthesizer setup.

First on the list is the classic ‘foot pedal’ – a staple of practically all electronic musical instruments for decades. They can be used to modulate a part of the synthesizer, or to change patches – making them especially useful in a live situation. Suitable MIDI pedals are relatively cheap, but make sure to shop around for a solid, reliable one – it will get an awful lot of bashing from your foot.

‘After touch’ is a capability of many modern MIDI keyboards and synthesizers, and is based on the concept of the player pressing harder on the key(s) to create a modulation effect. ‘Polyphonic after touch’ is a more advanced version of this, which allows different levels of after touch modulation to be processed simultaneously – similar to concept of having polyphonic or monophonic envelopes.

MIDI knob/fader controller boxes have been around for a while, and are useful in particular for controlling software synths. They also come in handy for programming tricky synths, which started with dedicated controller units for synths, such as the Waldorf Microwave controller made by Access, or the bizarre ‘Jellinghaus’ for the Yamaha DX-7. For something even more special, check out the ‘Monome’ – a box of buttons that light-up like a Christmas tree for controlling MIDI applications.

Ribbon controllers are useful for creating spectacular pitch-bending effects, and are often also able to modify other aspects of a sound. Although not included on most synthesizers, they are currently available separately from Doepfer, and several synthesizers feature dedicated ribbon controllers, such as the Alesis Andromeda A6 and Yamaha CS-80. A recent product based on the ribbon controller idea is Analogue System’s ‘French Connection’, which features a finger-controlled ring moving up and down the keyboard to create abnormal modulation effects.

Joysticks have a use apart from video games, and these can be found most popularly in the Prophet VS and Wiard modular synth systems. They can be programmed to control most aspects of the synthesizer’s sound, and are particularly useful in the Prophet VS to control the blending of the oscillator’s wave shapes. The Korg ‘Kaoss Pad’ follows a similar idea to joysticks, and uses a touch sensitive pad (controlled with the finger) to send out MIDI data based on the X-Y position of the finger on the pad.




Fishman TriplePlay Guitar Synth  Wireless MIDI Controller with Software NEW
Fishman TriplePlay Guitar Synth Wireless MIDI Controller with Software NEW
£419.99
Time Remaining: 4h 27m
Buy It Now for only: £419.99
Add to watch list
E MU Longboard 61 Synth Midi Controller
E MU Longboard 61 Synth Midi Controller
£100.00
Time Remaining: 1d 3h 59m
Buy It Now for only: £100.00
Add to watch list
Korg MS20 ic synth MIDI controller
Korg MS20 ic synth MIDI controller
£51.99 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 1d 5h 38m

Add to watch list

Akai EWI4000S Electronic Wind Controller  Synth
Akai EWI4000S Electronic Wind Controller Synth
£499.00
Time Remaining: 1d 22h 44m
Buy It Now for only: £499.00
Add to watch list
M Audio Trigger Finger Pro Midi Controller  Step Sequencer Drum Synth MPC
M Audio Trigger Finger Pro Midi Controller Step Sequencer Drum Synth MPC
£230.00
Time Remaining: 1d 23h 48m

Add to watch list

5 Pin Din Midi Cable Long Interface Keyboard Synth Controller Analogue lead
5 Pin Din Midi Cable Long Interface Keyboard Synth Controller Analogue lead
£7.57
Time Remaining: 3d 1h 25m
Buy It Now for only: £7.57
Add to watch list



« Previous12345

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Garrett Moeller Says:

    Greetings,
    I am looking for a good outboard arpeggiator for my nord wave. Whether it be a rack mount or modular unit, this is a feature I need to add to my wave!
    Thanks