Kenton have been a little quiet of late, but that looks set to change with the unveiling of a couple of new controller prototypes. On display at the stand alongside the classic ProSolo - now at MKII btw, and Pro2000 - also updated, were two super new devices. So new, that they literally had just been finished the night before.
Kentonâ€™s developers stressed that these units were designed for live use, with simplicity and durability as the key factors they bore in mind.
First up is the small one (they are so new that they donâ€™t even have names yet!). Itâ€™s nice and compact - around the same width as a 12 inch Powerbook to be exact, with rugged metal casing, 9 rotary encoders with 9 push switches and a joystyick. The controllers are fixed assignments with each encoder also doubling as a push switch to change the layer and MIDI transmit channel (1-9). Essentially this gives 9 layers of controls (er that makers 81 right?). Each channel remembers itâ€™s own settings so flipping between layers gives you a nice level of feedback with the LED ring around the encoder changing to reflect the current value.
The idea is that most software (Abletons Live, Propellerheads Reason) will learn assignments, so the need to actually program the unit is non existent. The chaps on the stand were very pleased with the results - this unit had literally just arrived from the prototype build that very afternoon.
Willing and Able(ton)
The next unit was much larger with a nod to the DJ console and geared towards working pretty much exclusively with Abletons Live in session view. With plenty of surface real-estate, all but the chubbiest fingers would have room to manouver around the five knobs, four backlit buttons and twin trigger pads per channel. The unit we saw featured 4 channel strips, but thereâ€™s talk of making this a modular design so that you can have up to 8 channels present as well as the joystick and cross-fader of the master section.
More talk was of a track-ball to free the user totally from the laptop, or as James put it "to stop you look like your checking your email at a gig" and possibly multiple layers and rotary encoders to enable a single channel to control multiple soft ones â€“ we'll just have to see.
No pricing or availability information was forthcoming - I mean, you get the prototypes in the morning, I don't suppose youâ€™re really going to have that stuff immediately to hand...