We had an opportunity to have a play with the Keith McMillen Instruments QuNeo back at MusikMesse, and came away super impressed.
Due for release very soon, QuNeo rocketed to global attention after its phenomenally successful KickStarter project. This deserves a story in itself; while most manufacturers throw out cost centre compliant ‘me too’ products and occasionally throw huge R&D budgets at new controllers and instruments with all fingers and toes crossed, KMI’s crowd sourced funding route allowed them to create something that thinks completely outside of the box whilst simultaneously making sure people were on board. Is this kind of funding the way forward for boutique manufacturers? Possibly. We’d love to hear what you’d like to see from a new instrument/controller and what you think the crowd sourced funding ideology could mean for the relationship we currently have with developers…
QuNeo is the most advanced pad controller we’ve ever seen, leapfrogging the small upgrades that have been made to pad design in the past decade to facilitate the kind of expressiveness and visual feedback that could well take pad based performance to the next level. Despite being just the size of an iPad, each of the pads features three dimensional control – both horizontal and vertical positioning on the pad are recognised, along with pressure sensitivity – as well as a crazy amount of LEDs to ensure you know exactly what’s happening.
One of the most impressive things about the QuNeo isn’t just how bright the LEDs are, but how configurable to feedback they are. The guys showed us some very interesting stuff in a Max 4 Live patch they’ve been working on that turns the LED in each corner of the main pads into a step sequencer visualisation – and of course, the pads’ positional sensitivity allows you to press the corners to trigger the steps.
Along with the pads there are also eight short throw and one long throw sliders, which have a lot of potential for making movements that aren’t tied to a physical position as a linear pot would be. Cooler still, though, are the two rotary encoders; scrubbing, pinching, and adjusting things like value ranges feels absolutely great and my mind is racing with all the improvements it could make to a workflow. Imagine position scrubbing, loop length adjustment, being able to not only adjust a parameter but also set the sensitivity of the encoder with a pinch… yup, we’re excited.
Our friends at DJWorx will have a demo video of the QuNeo – tailored a little more towards the DJing and live performance aspects of the device – very soon. We’re really looking forward to getting ours in the studio to put it through its paces too, and you can of course expect our usual doses of expertly written verbiage, beautiful photography, and professional video review. Keep em peeled!