When you’re playing Street Fighter on your studio computer, faders and knobs simply don’t cut it. What you need is a bunch of colourful buttons to give you that real arcade feel. The Kontrol Master (formerly Kontrol Fighter) from SmithsonMartin is just the thing you need to nail those special moves.
But seriously, it’s a DAW controller that just looks like an arcade controller and SmithsonMartin have announced that it’s in the final stages of manufacture and will be available on the 1st July.
What does the Kontrol Master do?
Very simply it gives you a nice silver knob that is capable of controlling whatever your mouse is hovering over. A bit like your mouse wheel does, or like many knob controls do on many other interfaces. The idea being that rather than mapping a large MIDI control surface to all sorts of things in your DAW you can just place your mouse pointer and control whatever it’s sitting on. This makes it more versatile than MIDI in that this can include zooming in your project, scrolling through samples or tracks or moving about on the mixer.
Information is a bit scarce at the moment. The product page on the website is unfinished but discoverable on Google. I did find a bit of an overview via a YouTube video shot at NAMM. It appears that the top white buttons are for telling the controller what sort of control it’s controlling – vertical, horizontal or rotary – although I’m not sure why that would make it any different. The other buttons appear to be MIDI mappable and so can be transport controls or whatever you want. That’s about it.
There’s no doubt that it looks striking, I am loving the retro gaming styling, although I’m not sure it will be to everyone’s taste. There are other similar things on the market, the Griffin Powermate, the “nOb” we mentioned on Gearnews a few months back, the Audient ID44 or the Contour Design Shuttle, but the Kontrol Master does seem singularly dedicated to the task and it will be interesting to see how much magic is involved in its day-to-day use.
The price is reported to be $299 and more information should hopefully become available on the SmithsonMartin Kontrol Master product page.
This slightly frustrating video from Digital DJ at NAMM 2016 gives a reasonable overview but the guy doesn’t ask any penetrating questions and the camera work and choice of Ableton as the demo software doesn’t really do it justice. Also at this point it’s still called the Kontrol Fighter; I bet it’s great with beat-em-ups.