I am at the point in my career as a composer and producer where I no longer lust for gear. I don’t run off to Guitar Center or Sam Ash once a week to play with the newest synthesizer or drool over the new BH or Sweetwater catalogs every year. I buy something if I have a need for it in my studio. My criteria is: 1. Do I need a piece of gear or software to complete a clients project? 2. Will it improve work flow, creativity, or productivity? It is rare that you can find a piece of gear that will help your work flow and productivity for under $100. The Korg NanoKontrol2 is that piece of kit, did I mention yet it is under $60 on amazon.
I had originally purchased the Korg NanoKontrol2 to use as a MIDI controller specifically for Vienna Symphonic Library. In my studio setup I have two MIDI Keyboards. The first an Arturia Analog Lab which is only 49 Keys. I tend to use it when I am working on EDM and Hip Hop. The keys are not weighted and have been beaten to death over the last few years. Key B1 no longer works and there are a few others on the way out. The 2nd is a full size Yamaha P105 Digital Piano that I love but it was not designed for music production. Other than the Sustain pedal there are No MIDI Controllers. I priced many different MIDI Controllers to take on the job but decided on the NanoKontrol2. At under $60 so there was no real risk to try it with in my setup. Its small footprint would also be a perfect fit with the Yamaha P105.
The box and packaging where minimal. No epic unboxing. It comes with an instruction manual that folds out to the size of a table cloth and covers the basic instructions in a handful of languages. There is also some “lite version” software packaged with it that I have not installed including: Korg M1le Soft Synth, UVI Digital Synsations, Abelton, Lounge Lizard, Ultra Analog Session, Strum Session and Reason Limited. At some point I might look into these.
Set up was Super Easy. That said… you need to make a choice with how you are going to use the Korg NAnoKontrol2. This is probably my biggest gripe with the unit, and this might be different depending on your DAW. I am working with Logic Studio 9.
The NanoKontrol2 will work as a general MIDI Controller, in which you can assign each knob and fader to do what ever you like using a software based editor download able from Korg’s website. I wish there was better documentation on this, and I might do a tutorial on this at some point in the future, but it is not that complicated. It took about 15 min in the editing software to assign the units MIDI CCs for VSL Pro Instruments player. Everything worked very smoothly. I have not figured out how to get the Transport to work in this mode though which kind of sucks.
You can also use the Korg NanoKontrol 2 as a Transport and Mixing device with your DAW in which you get 8 faders, solo, rec, mute, and pan controls for use with up to 8 faders at a time. Set up with Logic to be used with this mode was the easiest I have ever experienced. Install the OSX MIDI driver. Re start the computer, Install the MIDI Plugin software and open Logic. Worked perfect! I was using the faders and transport controls instantly. No Mackie HUI mode or assigning controllers, I just opened up Logic and it worked.
The problem between these two setups is you must choose between them because the set up process is very different. If you install the MIDI drivers for Transport and Mixing than you can not customize the MIDI CC’s, and the opposite is true. If there is a way around this or I am doing something wrong in the setup please contact me via email or comments.
For use with my main DAW Logic with VSL and tons of other software I have it setup to work as a customized MIDI Controller. I use it mostly for controlling MIDI Expression, Velocity Crossfade, and Filter with Vienna Instruments Pro. It could be used for much more but at $60 there is no need to complicate things. If I need additional controllers past the 8 faders provided I will buy another unit.
When I connect it to my laptop, a 13″ mac book air, I use it in mixing mode with Logic mostly just for sketching out beats or doing small recording session out of the studio. I have read that you can have more than one unit connected at a time so in theory you could have 24 fader to work with in your setup for under $200. The thought of that alone is pretty insane. Is it an SSL Nucleas2 NO. It is $60. You could mix at Starbucks and spill your latte on it and not even care.
If your an Ipad producer Korg also offers the Nano Kontrol Studio which has similar features and slightly more but works via Blutooth. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet but based on the NanoKontrol2 I would have no problem forking over $149 for it.