Motorized knobs on digital controllers?

Motorized faders are somewhat common ( but perhaps more expensive than I would have guessed. But motorized knobs are nowhere to be found on MIDI controllers and DAW console controllers for switching/restoring presets/banks. Instead, manufacturers go with LED rings around encoders, which unfortunately require your eyes to check if the knob is at one of its extremes.

What’s the reason for the empty market? Motorized pots exist on Mouser for around $10/ea, so an 8-knob controller would cost $80 plus probably $60 of other parts and would be sold at probably $400-500. But I can’t find any products that do this. You could theoretically control your entire DAW or VCV Rack with thousands of parameters by sorting them into “banks” that could be selected with an up/down button on the controller. If you select “VCV Mixer” for example, the first 5 knobs could immediately rotate to their current positions and be updated by manually adjusting the knobs, until another module is selected.


Having a Komplete Kontrol-like system (but better) with pre-mappings for individual modules is a brilliant idea, and would be great to use with encoders even without LED rings - you just go by ear.

I too wonder why there’s no controllers with motorized knobs, but perhaps with faders its just more dramatic and thus easier to sell.

They would require output communication from the software. Nektar products integrate into most DAWS extremely well making use of their protocol. With Nektar coded in lua to get and map midi. I’ve done some maps for Reason RE’s and my Panorama P1, the Panorama P4 / P6 keyboards have 1 motorised fader.

There was an individual on the ReasonTalk forum prototyping a controller for its console section with part of it having motorised faders if I recall correct. I’m not completely up to speed with the discussion, very interesting read none the less and there is definitely a niche market for it! I think there was also talk of it being modularized were you could buy individual parts to make up the full console section (SSL controller basically).

2 way communication would be needed anyway to set the midi controller regardless of it being motorised or not, not sure if MIDI-CAT can do this have not delved too deep with it. I’d say relative midi mode would be the ticket. With infinite encoders it would be capable of setting the mapped param to its value (12 o’clock = 64) working with faders it would not unless they’re motorised and have a relative mode.

They are probably too expensive to maintain / replace, no riding the fader with them also!

Software isn’t really the issue. As far as I’m concerned, the software support is there in most DAWs, and it’s just waiting for hardware to be innovated.

Yeah, that’s a good point. Turning knobs doesn’t look impressive, like moving faders.

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I guess encoders are just way cheapers. There are some high end studio equipment that starts to have knobs as well though, like the Raumzeitmaschine, so maybe we’ll see some midi controllers with them in the future…

The controller market is very saturated. Anything that makes a controller fall out of the consumers spending range, places the controller in a niche section. Therefore that controller will be quickly forgotten about, and end up with a very low sales count.

So if it would be an 8x8 motorized rotary controller with banks, that would be new and could possibly sell well. But adding motorized rotary knobs to existing controller layouts, would make them too expensive for the current controllers market, I think.


I think that guy nailed it :

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lol :slight_smile:

Another thing to consider, is the amount of continuous noise a bank of rotary knobs would make by themselves or on top of the noise of moving faders. Specially when assigned to modulation.

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That’s true, I barely use my BCF2000 because of the noise.

I don’t know why they have to be so noisy, I’ve a Rotel pre-amp and a Denon cinema amp that both have motorised volume controls which are all but silent, you’d have to put your ear next to them to hear them.

I guess it has to do with cheap components.

The more expensive “pro” components are less noisy, as Remi stated. For example if you compare a Behringer X32 vs Midas M32 console, there is quite a big noticeable difference in fader noise and responsiveness.