Korg's popular, slim-line NanoSERIES USB-MIDI controllers have been updated to 2.0. We were lucky enough to get our hands on the NanoKONTROL2 control surface and put it through its paces.
Like the the nanoKEY2 (a 25 key, velocity-sensing MIDI keyboard) and the nanoPAD2 (with 16 responsive pads and an X-Y touchpad for drum input and sound manipulation) the nanoKONTROL2 adopts the same remarkably compact form factor with a micro USB connection.
The nanoKONTROL2 has 8 faders, each with a solo, mute, record-enable button and a dial knob at the top. To the left of the controller is a transport section (play, back, forward, record, stop) with a track selector, marker and cycle button.
As with the other nanoSERIES controllers, the nanoKONTROL2 automatically maps to your DAW (the one I tested worked first time with Logic Pro and Reason), but you can download the Korg Kontrol Editor software to fully re-map the controller to your specific needs.
Being that it is so light and compact, the nanoKONTROL2 feels fairly solid and sturdy. When you push a button, you know it's been pressed. The buttons light up when they're activated, too, which helps you make sense of what's happening.
Many may be wondering why you'd want an external controller to manage what can easily be done with a mouse. And it's a valid point, too! But when you have a tactile controller in front of you, it suddenly feels a lot quicker and easier to make that quick adjustment or tweak. Of course, it boils down to personal preference.
The nanoKONTROL2 is compatible with the iPad through Apple's USB connector, but only works with Korg's select apps. Unfortunately, it won't work with an app like Garageband for iOS, for example.
For around US$60, I wouldn't say the nanoKONTROL2 is a bargain, but weirdly, you're paying for the compact size here. Certainly, if you're in a small home studio or consistently on the move, the nanoSERIES2 makes sense, provided the straight-forward, simple features meet your needs. I've know a few producers to use them in cramped spaces and be more than happy with the results.
Have you used Korg's nanoSERIES? Let us know what you think in the comments below.