Category Archives: Alternate Controllers

“It’s a MIDI RING”

Wasn’t something like this made before? Strange to see a music gadget shown at CES, one that only musicians would probably be interested in. Not exactly “general consumer electronics”. Hope they also go to NAMM.

(Also wish The Verge would hire an actual editor to edit the awful posts their “correspondents” keep posting….)

A cornucopia of crazy for the holidays

First, did you know that RCA made a vacuum tube that was usable as a phonograph pickup?

Second, Feena Electronics. They introduced an interesting DJ MIDI controller in 2006. Since then, nothing. The last post to their forum was September 21.

Finally, this guy is building a duplicate of the old Metasonix Hellfire Modulator. He’s making a chassis for it out of plain sheet metal, and he apparently mated two toaster ovens together in order to bake powder-coating onto it. DIY FTW!!!

New controllers

There’s been a big stink about the British-made Eigenharp controller, with mention from Engadget, Synthtopia, the BBC, and bloggers like CDM and Matrix. It requires a Mac, however. Hope they sell some and are encouraged to port the software to Windows. Given its complexity, ~$7000 isn’t a terribly high price.

(Just remember that people nowadays routinely pay $50,000 or more for a grand piano.)

Almost forgotten in all this hype was a different controller, the Madrona Soundplane. Looks as though it’s not finished yet.

I bet you didn’t know about this accordion MIDI controller

The Cool Chromaticover. You can’t really tell from these terrible product pages, but this is a standalone MIDI controller with velocity and several slightly different key arrangements available, that just happens to be made to fit over the keyboard on a Yamaha combo instrument. Unlike the Yamaha (or most other MIDI controllers) the Chromaticover appears to be really well-made, mostly metal with metal buttons.
The only dealer selling it ( is also the owner of the company making it ( Also strange is that very few people in the accordion world, or elsewhere, even know this product exists. I’ve found very few Google mentions of it.

(This was discovered by the diykeyboard group, who now have their own wiki.)

The Electric Western THERMATRON

Test of the THERMATRON flame controlled synthesizer by Lorin Edwin Parker from



Ionized gas, chemicals, heat and applied high voltage conduct through a flame, modulating the impedance across the grid and or plate of vacuum tubes. This applies a control voltage to a Phantastron synthesizer.