March 2, 2006 Music producers in 2006 truly are spoilt. Apart from gamers, they're the only mob that has a healthy variety of computer input devices available to them. In a sea of competition, Novation's recent release of the ReMOTE SL looks like it has solved the problem of almost an entire market of increasingly inappropriate controllers for complex audio projects. They're calling it the first intelligent MIDI controller - and it's set to improve the workflow of anyone using current digital audio software, and liberate laptop musicians from their mice.
Starting with the meat and veg, it has a total of 56 assignable pots, encoders, sliders and buttons, an X/Y touchpad and a joystick, is topped off with the slickest navigation (and configuration) system we've ever seen - courtesy of two massive, backlit LCD's that stretch the entire width of the controller.
That's all very nice, but not particularly smart. What makes the device so special is a new feature Novation have developed called Automap. This allows the controller to configure itself contextually - select any software instrument or effect in a compatible sequencer, and the Novation will load a template, map its controllers to what you want to tweak, and 're-label' - it's LCD's will instantly remind you of what's at 16 of your finger tips.
Most creative types will understand the frustration of a mouse becoming the bottleneck of a creative burst. With machines available that can run hundreds of virtual instruments and effects in real time, and minds the world over that are eager for the chance to coherantly utilise it all, this device really couldn't have come a moment too soon.
It's currently compatible with Apple Logic 7, Ableton Live 5, Steinberg Cubase SX/Nuendo 3, and Propellerheads Reason 3. There are 25 and 49 key versions, with a 61 key version due soon.