New App, Elephant, Turns ‘Useless’ Surface Dial Into A Flexible MIDI Controller

Hi! Computer has introduced Elephant, an app that turns the Microsoft Surface Dial into a flexible MIDI controller.

To use it, you just click and hold your mouse on the object to be controlled, and turn the Surface Dial to control it. It can be used to control sliders and knobs on your DAW, VSTs, VCV Rack and more.

Here’s a video demo, via Molten Music Technology:

MMT says Elephant ‘turns a useless piece of hi-grade hardware into something cool’.


Elephant requires Windows 10 Falls Creator or newer and a Surface Dial unit paired to your computer.

Pricing and Availability

Elephant is available now for US $6.50.

14 thoughts on “New App, Elephant, Turns ‘Useless’ Surface Dial Into A Flexible MIDI Controller

  1. My most relied-upon interface for music software isn’t a midi controller, it’s the “nOb”. Hover over a parameter and get precision control from the lovely almost-flywheel brass knob. Happened to find one of the Kickstarter ones on eBay.

    It’s expensive for just being a knob mounted on a wood base but gets more use than the bunch of more expensive midi controllers I’ve accumulated

  2. I already take a look about the nOb thing, looks nice but is really expensive, is wired and that toggle switches mmm no way! I follow the nOb website for few months and for sure is on a endless out of stock, or maybe out of business?
    Best buy list the Surface Dial puck at 79U$, the app is listed 6,50$, nice combo. The video show is MIDI and also do the same same thing nOb do. Pretty interesting…….just thinking….and thinking, order or not order, to be, or not to be lol…..

    1. If you’re talking about nob, it isn’t midi. It’s taking control of the mouse cursor to work on anything you click and drag with a mouse.
      So if an on-screen parameter has high precision, you can adjust it much more precisely than click and drag.

      I’ve discovered that a lot of times even though a parameter shows 2-decimal point precision that it’s on-screen control won’t actually let you get that precise.

    2. With no ofense, I think you are wrong and underrate the real power of MIDI. Encoder mode 7fh/01h based on what I understand provide higher resolution and not just 128 values. Example Traktor use that mode for scratch where you need a higher resolution. Ableton and major DAWs. support encoder mode and this app said suport that. Anyway I want use the instant control feature not MIDI, and probably MIDI will be great on live gigs. I decide take the risk and order a dial today. The bad news is take around 20 days to arrive to my country.

    1. Only Microsoft would develop a hardware knob to fix the fact that their touchscreen implementation is lousy.

      Shocked that it hasn’t been a big success. Shocked!

      1. there is nothing wrong with the touchscreen implementation but I guess as in iman, you wouldn’t know that. Good luck pressing the bar, I hear the keyboard on those macbooks are completely bull.

        1. Right, I love the touchscreen implementation on my Surface Pro 4 for many audio and non-audio programs and in general. I bought it because Apple just seems to be resistant to adding touchscreen to their laptops running full MacOS. Instead we seem to be seeing a move toward a merge of iOS and MacOS which is… not for me.

          The dial is far from useless for those who bought it for its intended purposes. It works very well for designers, for example, which is one of the examples Microsoft clearly shows as a major use for the dial.

      2. The touchscreen implementation on the MS surface with Bitwig is by far the best touch screen audio experience. Apple is falling a long way behind MS (and I am a big apple user- phone, pad and watch!) for series creative applications like the surface concept (from pro PC to tablets) and dials and ; apple wants the consumer market and has really let down the pro market and developments for that market; the MS Surface is far more an advanced tablet that the iPAD for music, the resolution and touch control works well and it runs professional software with industry standard USB ports, headphone sockets and removable storage.

  3. We all want this in our studio. Its an idee we probably all thought of.

    But i want mouse hover not mouse click. This is only giving a knob a mouse up/down function.
    The other thing i don’t like is that its only for this expensive knob the software should allow any control service to map to mouse up/down.

    Im tempted to buy the knob because a have been wanting for this feature for so long but the implementation feels like a bailout.

    1. I have the Dial and the Elephant software and I am incredibly impressed with how well it all works, but more importantly, how enthusiastic and fast the developers is! I posted a ‘suggestion’ on the forum to have a mode that does not require a control to be clicked and held and this was the response from the developer who had been up all night coding when I woke up min the morning….

      ”New mode born, I name this the DIRECT mode.
      When this mode is enabled just hover the mouse over object you want control and turn the dial.
      The dial is now locked to the object under control, and you can release just making a click on the dial.
      Under this mode, access to the Elephant menu, require double click the dial.
      This mode is ultra useful with mouse pad on laptop and with touch-screen also, oh yes, just touch the object to be controlled and just turn the dial.”

      The dev has a ton of other ideas and I have also suggest a ‘jog wheel mod which he is investigating….

      Superb Software, Superb Developer.

  4. The thing with the one knob controllers is a) the (somewhat annoying) switching between the three possible modes : mousedrag in place (knobs), vertical drag and horizontal drag (faders) and b) the resolution of the hardware encoder.
    I have a Griffin Powermate and a script to turn it into a Knob Controller on mouse hover. The thing is, the powermate generates alot less than 128 values in a full turn which means you either have to whiggle that thing alot to get from 1-128 or you tell it to increment/decrement by a higher value than 1. I settled for the latter but it is not optimal.
    In the video it looks like the microsoft thing has a higher resolution which is interesting. Does anyone have that thing and can check how many values it outputs on a full turn?
    Also what does it output? Can this be edited so it outputs eg certain keys (asdf)? The click function, is this hardwired to open a menu or can it actually be a click or anything else? This is all possible with the powermate but as i said resolution is kindof key for me.

  5. I just Got the Dial yesterday. I also bought Elephant for it. I’m encountering a couple of problems: is that for some reason, on my system Elephant tends to bail out for some unknown reason. I find I have to start it up again to get it to work. The other issue is that It seems like it freezes in VCV rack…. Could be a problem with my Blue Tooth setup (Using Pluggable Bluetooth USB dongle) . It’s a surprisingly elegant interface overall though! I appreciate its haptic feedback. I could really get use to tweaking this way!

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