Livid Instruments CNTRL:R MIDI / DJ Interface – Designed w/ Richie Hawtin + M_nus

Livid Instruments CNTRL:R – Performance MIDI / DJ Interface

Livid Instrument’s CNTRL:R is a new MIDI controller that was launched just before NAMM this year with the enticing allure of “designed with Richie Hawtin” added to the tagline of this new device. Housed in a lightweight aluminum body, CNTRL:R looks to be a sturdy piece of equipment that offers knobs, faders and buttons for tactile control of performances. The device features high quality faders, push button encoders, rotary knobs, expression pedal inputs, and keypads backed with RGB lights for interactive performance. Livid is also offering scripts for Ableton Live and NI Traktor that allow the CNTRL:R to work easily with your software.
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Richie Hawtin, M_Nus + Livid Instruments

The package looks beautiful, indeed. But what we really want to know is – how was Richie Hawtin and the M_Nus team involved in development? As a label they are leaders in live performance technique and always pulling some new tricks out of the bag. We recently got a moment to chat with Livid’s Jay Smith who explained the development process to us.

Jay Smith: In late 2009 Rich was asking Nova Musik, who are one of our dealers Milwaukee about our products. Eric over at Nova sent Rich my contact info and we began to talk about building a completely new controller for live performance. Over the next few months we kicked some ideas around and came up with a basic layout for a new controller. The first prototype we created was pretty large, with a “step sequencer” layout that ended up on the final design but didn’t have the encoders and had a large 8×8 grid in the center.

Marc Houle, one of the Minus artists spent some time secretly playing out with this controller, and after a sit down with Rich at our offices in Texas we all decided it needed to be smaller and have a few more controls. Gareth Williams over at Liine (one of Richie’s other ventures) was a Code user, and Rich thought it would be great to integrate some of the controls from the code into our device. Rich also thought it was essential that it be small enough to fit into a backpack and be portable enough for a carry-on. We went back to the drawing board and created the device that is now the CNTRL:R

The collaboration we’ve had with Rich and the other guys at Minus goes well beyond a mere celebrity endorsement. We really set out to create something new with one of the most creative and influential forces in electronic music. It’s been a real pleasure to work with Richie, he’s one of the nicest and smartest person we’ve worked with, and his vision is definitely tightly integrated into this product. Expect more from our collaboration in the future.

Who else from the M_nus team has been involved?

Marc Houle and Gaiser have been very influential and hands on in the using and testing of the CNTRL:R. They’ve been secretly testing the various models over the past year and have been essential in final design of the device. We also have plans on releasing Live packs with the Minus artists over the coming months specifically designed for the CNTRL:R.

What were they looking for in a controller that didn’t exist elsewhere?

We’ve been creating grid based controllers since 2004. This was the first controller we designed with a sequencer layout. Surprisingly there hasn’t been any controller designed specifically for this. We both love sequencers and drum based instruments, from the Electribe to Dave Smith’s new Temepest. But until now there really hasn’t been a good MIDI controller layout designed with this in mind. Max for Live really opens the door up for expansion and customization. As far as drum controllers go Maschine is probably one of the most interesting devices so far, but we wanted to create some a bit more open and ever growing. We’ll be releasing new tools, presets, instruments, and packs for the controller monthly.

Is this being used currently for performance by any notable artists?

We literally started shipping CNTRL:R today so not many people have their hands on it. Marc Houle and Gaiser are currently using them in their setup. A bunch of well known artists have also pre-orderd it, so expect this to be a central part of a few DJs setups this year.

CNTRL:R + Traktor

CNTRL:R Step Sequencer

CNTRL:R Specs

• 14.5″ x 9.75″ x 1.75″ (WDH)
• weight 5 lbs.
• USB Powered
• 8 faders, 24 rotary knobs, 12 pushbutton encoders
• 48 Multicolor LEDs with Bi-Directional MIDI communication (talkback)
• Class-compliant: no drivers needed for Mac, Windows, or Linux.
• Programmable MIDI mapping allows you to change the MIDI settings on the hardware
• Aluminum body with an ultra durable black finish
• Open Source software tools to create your own LED talkback interaction
• Standard MIDI IN and OUT jacks
• Expansion Jacks for added functionality
• Made in the USA
• Compatible with any software that supports MIDI learn
• ROHS compliant
• Includes USB cable, and registration card

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