M-Audio has announced iControl ($179.95), a hardware USB control surface specifically designed for Apple GarageBand 2.0.1 (Mac). IControl includes dedicated transport buttons, a jog wheel, a master volume fader, and a bank of eight track controls. These controls include dedicated buttons for solo, mute, and record, as well as eight rotary encoders that can be assigned to control volume and pan. Pressing the up/down buttons assigns the eight sets of track controls to the higher or lower groupings of tracks.
The controls on the left side of the front panel assign the rotary encoders. In Volume or Pan mode, they are assigned one per channel. In the remaining modes, the user selects the desired track using the bank of eight Select buttons. For example, selecting Generator gives you control over eight parameters of the track's Generator instrument. Additional mode buttons allow you to assign a track's channel strip, EQ, Effect 1, and Effect 2. When the assigned function has more than eight parameters, the Up and Down buttons shift through the range of parameters. The rotary controls also work in conjunction with any assigned Audio Units plug-in.
The iControl includes a MIDI input so you can play any GarageBand software instrument with an external keyboard controller. The device is USB bus-powered and is automatically recognized by GarageBand. The iControl will be supported in upcoming updates of Logic Express 7 and Logic Pro 7. For more information, visit the M-Audio Web site.