What is Your Top Programmable MIDI Controller?

I’m looking for a programmable MIDI controller for the Roland MKS-80. I have almost resigned myself to building my own MIDIbox 64, but if something pre-built and inexpensive that will serve the purpose is out there I’m willing to consider it. The most attractive thing I’ve found so far is the CME Bitstream 3X (formerly Wave Idea), but I’m not exactly thrilled about CME products. I have a CME UF7 keyboard controller and I’m not that happy with it. I’d love to hear from someone with a Bitstream 3X about what they think of it feature and construction wise.

Other interesting devices are the Novation SL MkII series (a little short on knobs and sliders) or the Doepfer Drehbank (discontinued). Another possibility is 3 Korg nanoKONTROLs and a USB hub. I’m using one right now with three scenes programmed to control everything on the MKSK-80, but the scene switching is cumbersome, and I loose my positioning on parameters after switching scenes causing jumps in the programming. However, having three of them would solve that problem. Unfortunately, they are not programmable for sysex (required to interface with the MKS-80), so I’d need to map them through editor software, eliminating the potential of a computer free setup.

16 thoughts on “What is Your Top Programmable MIDI Controller?

  1. I’m using the Zero SL MK II to control most of my external HW gear. Love the touch update editing, programmability of this thing. Thumbs up to any SL MK II.

    Was using BCR2000 before the SL’s.
    It is very highly programmable and very cheap, but it doesn’t have the nice LCD screens that the Novation ones have. I still use the BCR in addition to the MK II though.

  2. I use an sl25 mk1 I don’t like the automap too much, but as a straight midi controller its quite good and it have 2 screens and is very cheap now the mkII is out. I had a nocturn first but hated it due to the automap / usb only option

  3. Filch, I was going to say the same thing.

    – Behringer B Control BCR2000 MIDI Controller

    Highest knob (32 knobs) to price ratio, however comes in last in aesthetics department.

  4. Yeah, the monodeck is amazing. Not sure when I’ll get around to it, but at some point I’ll put something together. I’m never satisfied with commercial products of this sort. There’s always a shortcoming or two that nag at me in the back of my mind.

  5. I have a Kawai MM16 that I bougth very cheaply. I program my DSS1 with that. Some day I´ll buy a Peavey PC1600… that´s cool.

  6. I have the bitstream and love it, had the Zero SL MK II, hated it. I set up the bitstream to knobify a DSI tetra, microm, sherman filter bank, and a doepfer a-190. It’ssweet, I’m always looking for module only versions of synths now ;-)

  7. So how did the bitstream work out for you with the MKS-80? Can it convert CC to Sysex from a sequencer? I’d like to be able to draw automation curves in Ableton to control the MKS-80, using the bitstream or novation sl as a controller/converter… did you get that working by chance? thanks.

  8. Hi Broan. I haven’t attempted to do what you’re suggesting although it seems like the BS3X should be able to do that. Check in the forums at http://www.waveidea.com/en/support/phpBB3/ I’m using it as a tactile controller for now. Another way to apply automation would be using the rekonaudio.com MKS-80 editor. That would work for sure because it’s VST based.

  9. Hi,

    Not exactly a hardware controller, but I would recommend this product highly, to any MKS80 owner.


    It is a free (PC only) SW editor for the MKS80, which updates automatically on preset change. This way, one can see the existing preset setting and control it, via PC.

    Check it out

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