The PreSonus FaderPort provides even the smallest hobby recording artist with all the basic controls over their session that professionals rely on in a multi-thousand dollar console in a top of the line studio, in a single USB unit. For under $150 from most retailers, the FaderPort provides you control over your transport, windows, and most channel strip controls. Combine those controls with the Native control the FaderPort has for DAWs like PreSonus’ Studio One software, Nuendo & Cubase, as well as HUI control for nearly every other DAW including Logic & Pro Tools for a completely user-friendly unit.
The fader on the FaderPort controller provides fine adjustment with its 100 mm size, and its fully motorized functionality when connected to the included power supply. Motorized faders aren’t very common in lower priced controllers, but this one operates identically to any faders found on larger consoles such as SSL or Avid’s Control 24. This feature alone is worth the price of the unit, allowing you to write automation and play it back instantly, especially since you can switch between automation modes without even going into your software. We’ll get into that a little further down though.
Pro Tools Control Surface
Don’t get talked into needing anything extremely expensive to operate Pro Tools like the masters. While you don’t have features such as a scrub wheel or LED displays, this makes a perfect controller for the home enthusiast mixing their own music or freelance work when space is limited. Directly from the unit you can automate pan utilizing the rotary knob, volume, or whatever might be automation enabled in your edit window. The ability to automate groups as well as single channels can speed up your entire process, allowing you to find your perfect mix of similar instruments such as drums or guitars and bring them up or down in the mix together. Anything about basic workflow can be accomplished using the controls on the FaderPort. The only thing we’d really like to see improved would be the User button compatibility across DAWs using HUI Emulation since it’s very useful in Native mode.
Punch, Automate & Transport
My favorite feature on the FaderPort (aside from the fader itself) is the punch button, allowing the user to toggle punch recording in the DAW. The unit has a single footswitch input, giving self-recording artists to punch in hands-free. This is extremely useful to guitarists who can easily make the transition from pedalboard switching to punching in and out. Utilizing a footswitch can also allow any artist to keep space between themselves and the DAW, giving them the natural freedom to use the room as opposed to being confined to a corner.
Finally, the controls make it easy for laptop users without a numeric keypad to have the controls of a full keyboard. In Pro Tools alone, the keypad is compensated by the window buttons (Edit, Mix, Transport) and the transport features including Loop Toggle and Record. Features such as a Return to Zero option are clearly marked on the unit for a simple user experience. With such an easy yet professional feel, I’m looking forward to future PreSonus products. Mixing Control Surfaces are rarely cheap without sacrificing quality, and the Faderport is a great balance of quality and affordability for home recording artists and recording professionals alike.