Presonus Faderport

In the days of large multitrack tape recorders, one of the most common accessories was a remote box with a thick umbilical going back to the recorder. The Faderport (for Windows XP and Mac OS X Universal) harkens back to those days, as it’s not a “control surface” for tweaking synths and effects; instead, it’s optimized for machine control, with the added bonus of being able to write and punch automation moves for volume, pan, mute, and solo.Faderport is small but substantial: heavy enough not to slide around on your desk, and with 24 buttons that could handle even the touch of a staff engineer in the ’70s who hated his job. The 100mm moving fader with 1,024 steps of resolution has a smooth, “pro” feel (it’s the same Alps fader used in Digidesign’s D-Command), as does the detented 360° encoder knob for panning.The Faderport connects to your computer via an included 6'' USB cable, but also requires an AC adapter as the USB bus doesn’t provide enough power for the motorize


The package includes a driver CD, but as expected, you’re better off going to the website and downloading the latest drivers. The FaderPort uses a custom Windows driver for Cubase, Nuendo, and Sonar, as well as for Digital Performer on the Mac. Otherwise, it supports Pro Tools (including M-Powered), Logic, and Cubase/Nuendo (Mac) as a HUI controller — but check the website for the latest compatibility info, including supported versions.

However, not all implementations are created equal. While the transport and automation functions work with everything, there’s a User button with custom functions that doesn’t work in HUI mode (nor does the Output button, which otherwise moves from selecting tracks to selecting the output section). The User button can select key bindings in DP and enables/disables punch out in Cubase; Sonar has five custom mappings you can do with the User button and various combinations of other buttons.


There are four main elements to using the FaderPort:

Transport buttons. These are the usual Play, Record, Stop, Rewind, and Fast Forward functions, along with Punch and Loop. However, a shift button allows some buttons to do double-duty, like go to Start/End, Redo, and even drop Marker or go to Previous/Next marker.

View buttons. These call up various DAW views.

Undo button. With shift, it also does redo.

Automation fader and mute/solo buttons. Fader mode buttons are Read, Write, Touch, and Off. Additional buttons select the channel (track) or bank you want to work with, and there are Mute, Solo, and automation Record buttons.

When working with automation, selecting tracks involves hitting arrow buttons. But as communication with the host is bi-directional, you can select something at the host and the FaderPort will follow along (the buttons illuminate to show when something is selected). Because the fader is motorized, with Touch mode selected it will follow existing automation moves until you grab the fader and move it; otherwise you can use Write and just overwrite whatever’s there, or make new moves.

Although I’m a big fan of key equivalents and use them often, I nonetheless found it a whole lot easier to have large, dedicated, lit buttons guiding my way. The FaderPort is good about letting you stay in “right brain” mode, and it takes minutes — not hours — to get comfortable enough to fly around the buttons. Even the shift button works logically and doesn’t get in the way of efficiency.


Let’s crunch some numbers. Assuming you buy the FaderPort for $200 and value your time at $40/hour, it pays for itself once it saves you five hours. If you’re drawing envelopes for automation, you’ll save that much in short order — and get more musical results, too (some might argue, but I appreciate the human touch). Even if you use it solely for transport control and window selection, you’ll find that having a dedicated control surface simplifies your workflow — and having a sturdy, cost-effective one working on your behalf is even better.