The VMeter: A USB MIDI Controller for Everyone

VMeter with LED Strip

New from Curious Inventor, is a USB controller that works with virtually any DAW to help you control everything from a simple volume control to a Low-Pass Filter. The VMeter is still in its development stages, just over 6 months old at the time of this article. With such great potential, there are hundreds of possible uses for the VMeter that are just waiting to be discovered.

Unique Features

While still new to field of audio, the VMeter has several beneficial features making it a great choice for home enthusiasts and live electronic performers. Two of these main benefits are the pressure sensitivity of the meter, as well as the jumping ability of the meter. Because the VMeter is a ribbon controller, the input velocity to your DAW can be determined by the pressure put on the controller. Depending on your situation, this can affect anything from the attack of your arpeggiator to the volume of a single note. The VMeter is different from most other fader devices, simply because it’s a completely digital interface. The fader is able to jump directly between MIDI messages, whereas physical faders require time to go from one point to the next. Some really cool effects can be achieved utilizing this method, allowing users to automate directly between messages on a physical unit, rather than drawing it in on the computer.

Compatibility

The VMeter does come with a learning curve if you haven’t used MIDI USB devices in the past. Since the unit is so new to the market, most software developers don’t have a preset device for the VMeter, and you’ll need to set it up yourself. Once your DAW is able to recognize the controller, nearly anything can be assigned. This is most easily achieved within DAWs with “Learn” functions  such as Logic, or Ableton Live. Similar functions can be achieved in all other professional DAWs, though it might take you a little more time to discover where. The VMeter is completely compatible with both Windows & Mac computers, so long as you have an available USB port.

What We’d Like To See

The compatibility with every DAW tested really helps make the VMeter a universally appealing device. However, the scale of compatibility differs slightly between them. Ableton Live seems to have been optimized for the VMeter, which makes sense since most tutorials and videos you’ll find of the device are conducted within Live. For some others, the controls can be a bit jumpy. Our biggest example of this was assigning a low-pass frequency automation to the VMeter using Logic Pro, which would skip between values as opposed to a smooth transition using the whole scale. This issue might be able to be addressed directly in Logic.

Another useful improvement that several users have already mentioned would be a way to connect multiple VMeters together. This would save USB hubs on the computer by daisy-chaining VMeters, or my personal preference, a housing unit that can be ordered in different sizes to accomodate however many VMeters you need (could you imagine a whole console made from digital controllers?) Regardless of how Curious Inventors chooses to go about it, it seems the demand for multiple units at once is out there and the next big step for digital controllers.

The Future of the VMeter

We’re very hopeful that the VMeter will continue to grow an audience and fan base. It is a great device that adapts well to the growing and changes that technology goes through day to day. While still maintaining the purpose and control of an analog control surface, the VMeter has revolutionized something that nobody else has thought of – the fader itself.  We get comfortable doing the same thing day today, and usually new ideas are easily written off as “close to the original, but not quite the same.” The VMeter steps outside of the box just far enough to be unique and serve a purpose that nothing else does in the current market. Check out vmeter.net to learn more or to order your own unit for less than $60 today.


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