CircleFade is a new start-up based in Paris who are preparing to launch their first product on Kickstarter. The CF12 is a simple rotary MIDI controller with the look and feel of vintage Hi-Fi equipment.
The look is definitely boutique and intriguing. There’s a lot to be said about the quality of the knobs we put our fingers on. CircleFades intention is to capture the feel and response of those old Hi-Fi amps that always seemed so solid and dependable. And visually they appeared to have nailed it. The aluminium knobs and front panel look excellent. Although it could be argued that sometimes MIDI control benefits from some endless encoders as well as regular knobs, so maybe they don’t all need position lines. The size and wooden case all add to the pleasing finish.
I do wonder a little how well it would fit into the chaotic desktop of a studio, surrounded by similar desktop devices and musical boxes. It’s USB connected and so I wonder how well it will integrate with something more than a computer. What’s the software like, what remapping possibilities are there? Or is it all about the MIDI learn in your DAW?
Also coming up is the CFp9 which combines 9 similarly vintage knobs with 64 backlit pads. I’m not sure how you make pads feel classic. It’s designed for Ableton Live of which there are already plenty of controller options. CircleFade are not really going for innovation, rather they are looking to provide high quality, handcrafted controllers that will look and feel beautiful on your desk.
All depends on whether the day-to-day usefulness and reliability can match up to the quality of the finish.
The CF12 will retail for €250 and should launch on Kickstarter in a couple of weeks.