Should Rob Papen Make A Dedicated USB MIDI Controller For His Synths?


Synth designer Rob Papen shared this MIDI controller concept, RP-Control, via his Facebook page.

At this point, he’s just floating the concept for RP-Control to get input on the idea and to gauge interest. 

“The idea is to make a USB controller for our synth products (BLUE-II, Predator, SubBoomBass, Blade),” explains Papen. “The layout is very clear, compared to other general controllers.”

“Producing such a controller is not so easy. You have to find a manufacturer and so on,” adds Papen. “So I thought… lets make an image of it and check what some do say about this idea of a ‘RP-Control’.”

Dedicated MIDI controllers, like Papen’s RP-Control concept, can offer dramatic usability improvements over generic controllers. Earlier examples, like the Korg MS-20ic Legacy Collection controller, have demonstrated that dedicated controllers can really blur the lines between MIDI controllers and hardware synths.

They have their drawbacks, too, though. Some companies have released dedicated controllers and then ‘orphaned’ them when they upgrade their software.

What do you think of the idea of Rob Papen’s RP-Control? Leave a comment with your thoughts and suggestions!

28 thoughts on “Should Rob Papen Make A Dedicated USB MIDI Controller For His Synths?

  1. I am down but I would add a 37 note keyboard to the thing and really blur the lines. Hook the whole thing up to a mac mini or nuc and build a little cabinet. People will be gong crazy trying to figure out what is making those badass tones.

  2. I like the keyboard idea and would love to see him do versions of his Apps for iPad.

    That way, he could have consistent hardware controls for common controls, but ALS use the iPad to provide custom controls as needed.

  3. No. He makes good softsynths, but hardware is a completely different world. Designing something that looks and feels really good and works flawlesly but doesn’t cost $1000 is really, really hard.

  4. On one hand, I like the idea of a person (one who clearly gives a crap about good design) making a hardware control surface for his own soft synth. It would be well-designed and implemented. On the other hand, it might be hard to make it cost effective.

    If it is just to be an array of knobs, it might make more sense just to choose an existing control surface and make a good template for it.

  5. if you’re going to make a midi controller like the picture above please make it like example the nord lead 2X rack model,I hate when it’s flat.It just work better with the knobs in front of you.I don’t want to watch down to the desk the whole time when Im producing.Adding keys would be nice but the price have to be nice too!And while you’re doing this all,please make a hardware synth with analog and wavetables and effects for a cheap price :).

  6. No, an iPad app. Ofcourse, prices would drop into tenth from what they are now, so that will not happen.

    If hardware, then learn to code DSP processors.

    Otherwise stay where you are, and make templates for BCR2000.

    Behringer could make BCR3000 and add small displays above each knob.

  7. If this thing had a keyboard I would buy it. In addition it would be nice if it had a screen and Wifi, so I can check my mails on that thing.

  8. Yes! I have been hoping Ableton would do this for Operator and analog! This is a great idea. I would gladley pay $$ for it.

  9. This would be great if all his synths used the same general layout. Is that possible, though, when they are do different? It will be interesting to see how this develops.

  10. No. I think dedicated controllers are an unwise investment, as they are dependent upon software that may one day not run on the computer you own. Also, if the developer decides to add new features that cannot be directly accessed with the controller (which always seems to happen) then your 1 to 1 perfect controller loses the immediacy you bought it for.

    I’d much rather him create a hardware tabletop or a keyboard that can host specially designed versions of some of his plugins. This concept worked great with Audio Damage’s eurorack modules and would make the instrument more future-proof.

  11. There are too many different preferences for keyboards. It would be better to have both MIDI input and USB input and have the hardware device auto merge the MIDI data to its output.

    As for the controller being software specific, the design could include making the controls somewhat universal and configurable for other applications.

  12. He absolutely should, and yes, too many people have differing opinions on keybeds etc, so wouldn’t go there, plus real estate issues on a desk…. I think it would totally revitalize the market for his plugins, I know I use the Korpg legacy collection far more since I got a controller second hand… His plugins have been around a decade now, and I see them remaining active, so not a bad purchase, as they probably won’t be orphaned soon… and a quick perusal of knobs show they could also be mapped to other synths etc… (an api for that would be great as well)…. I wish there were more such devices, but understand the cost involved, but I personally would be a big fan…

  13. Personally, I’m not too keen on hardware controllers designed to work with certain softsynths specifically. But if Rob Papen produced a stand-alone, hardware version of the RPCX Blue, with perhaps a few notable enhancements, I’d be all over that like butter on toast.

  14. Umm… not if it’s THAT controller in the picture. Lot of empty wasted space for something that looks like it would have a big footprint on a desk.

  15. I respectfully say “No.” Blue alone is a huge synth. Any hardware that could encompass Blue, Blade and Punch would almost surely have to make compromises that would undermine part of what makes each one unique. It could turn into a KORE or VariOS situation too easily. Builds are also rather crappy lately. A desert-island synth like Blue should have a superior everything, which would probably push it out of the range of profitability. Its not a starter synth by miles (SIX oscillators, with added potential for train wrecks for the unwary), so you won’t sell many units to newbies who are still exploring a Sub Phatty. I’d also have to wonder how much time Rob would or COULD spend updating different permutations of his synths for firmware updates. They’re scary-potent, so its not the quality of the designs I question; its the mechanics of putting out hardware in the first place.

  16. I love the idea as long as it doesn’t consume the CPU like the Arturia equipment.
    I would only ad a rubber keyboard or something like the Wasp or so, i wouldn’t ad a normal keyboard as nowadays you can’t sometimes even have room for your laptop in a lot of gigs. It’s a good idea all around thou.

  17. yes i deed so why not !!!?? make it not to expensive , and the ideia is good !!
    but it should also can control other soft synths not only rob papens synths but the wide range of softsynths and be able to do templates !!!
    so we only can have one control insted of 3 or 4 !!! and yess please put some display on it !!! and some inclination , not good a flat controler in the studio !! ehheheheheh

    yes i love the ideia !!

  18. The world has an endless boatload of MIDI controllers as it is. App-using musicians need to get off their lazy butts and learn to program a few MIDI CCs or NPRNs. Papen would go bankrupt producing hardware that would hardly sell in enough numbers.

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