The iPad-sized, multi-touch QuNeo looks like fun straight out of the box, with its Akai-like drum pads surrounded by a variety of oblong, circular, and triangular-shaped pads—all illuminated with multicolored LEDs. Its micro-USB connector plugs into your computer, or with some optional accessories, can provide a 5-pin DIN MIDI output or connect to an iPad. Interestingly, it had no problems sharing power on a 7-port hub with a variety of other devices.
A free, downloadable Mac/Windows editor includes presets for various applications, but also allows deep programming for the note number and continuous controller (CCs) assignments that correspond to pressure on X and Y locations, as well as four sets of preset banks for the sliders and circular pads. Rotary controllers sense direction and transmit various data; additional pads provide transport, bank select, and other standard controls, but are programmable for just about anything your twisty little mind can conjure up.
The controller has two main modes. Drum mode assigns one note and three CC messages (X- axis, Y-axis, and pressure) per pad while Grid Mode allows one note and one pressure CC in each corner. Sixteen preset locations allow storing and recalling settings, and a “controller mapping assistant” mode provides for quick, on-the-fly assignments; this isolates one of the multiple CCs that can exist at a time on a pad for easier mapping. Bank select buttons allow multiple settings within each preset, and can be changed individually for each of the horizontal and vertical sliders, rotary controls, and the big horizontal slider.
The LEDs under each pad respond to pressure and location, and change intensity and color independently in each corner. Sliders provide a visual indication of the setting by retaining the lights where you last left off—nice.
From Inspiration to iPad I opened a Reason song, selected a synth, and blindly started tapping, pressing, and leaning on pads, sliders, and buttons. The unique combination of versatility and control was truly inspiring, as was creating some wild effects that only a realtime multi-controller can do in one pass. I could imagine an endless string of possibilities from meek to . . . Reek.
Multi-touch worked well, and even when sending lots of control data with pad pressure and side-to-side movement, all controls were smooth and predictable. Settings can revert to a user-defined value when released, and pads can latch a chosen value when you release the pad.
Next up: iPad. You’ll need the optional USB “Y” cable and power supply, plus the iPad Camera connection kit’s USB connector. I would have preferred longer USB cables on the power supply; the end to connect the iPad is only about 30" long. (Add something like the Anker SlimTalk battery pack to eliminate the power supply constraints, and you get a really cool portable iPad controller.) Regardless, control was equally smooth, and the iMS-20 was a gas with QuNeo—and very addictive.
QuNeo is a lot of product for the money. You’ll want to spend some time setting up the controls just right (remembering what you’ve assigned is key), but overall, QuNeo is a versatile control option for either stage
Reek N Havok is a four-time Platinum Album recipient, drummer, sound designer for various instrument manufacturers, and interactive exhibit designer.
STRENGTHS: Smooth and controllable. Multi-touch response. Cost-effective. Works with computers and iPad, and can output over 5-pin MIDI DIN connectors. Looks cool.
LIMITATIONS: Power supply cable length limits distance from iPad.
$249.95 MSRP, $200 street