I first started using one of the original PreSonus FaderPorts about eight years ago and was immediately drawn to just how much it improved my workflow. Right away I used the computer’s mouse a lot less and didn’t have to remember as many keyboard shortcuts. For a ProTools user, it’s always a good thing to be able to drop a few shortcuts from the memory bank to make way for the other eight dozen that you need to use, so the FaderPort was a real blessing. But that was the humble, compact device that eight years ago kept me happy, nestled in amongst the mix bus of my analogue console. Things have changed since then and I rarely sit at the large console now, working mostly form a couple of other computers, more in the box, yet I still need that ‘hands on’ workflow. I got to run my hands over the newest member of the PreSonus family at NAMM this year, but luckily I was able to spend some more time with the FaderPort 8 upon my return.
AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
For all my years using the original FaderPort, I never had any problems with it and would have continued to use it had my workflow requirements not changed so dramatically. I can attest to the build quality, having punished the rotary encoder, faders and most of the buttons on a daily basis – only ever having issues when I updated computer systems and had to get drivers to be happy once again. Other than that, it was and still is a great unit. So, the introduction of the FaderPort 8 this year was a real treat to discover as it now offers what the original was lacking, plus a little extra too.
For those of you looking to work more within the box, but still want to maintain some hands on workflow, this is a great unit that feels at home on any desktop, no matter what computer setup you are running. It’s a good size, allowing enough space for all the controllers to be carefully laid out for optimum access, but not being so big that you won’t fit it on your desk. The curved from panel is great too, offering a comfortable rest for your hands when working through long sessions mixing. As far as ergonomics go, this is a nicely designed unit. I wasn’t a fan of the placement of the big knob on the right side of the unit, and this isn’t the fault of the PreSonus designers in any way, it is more to do with me still being very much used to the layout of the smaller model. That said, everything was in a slightly different location, so it was a little off-putting to begin with, but one soon got the hang of the new layout. It all works well; even though I sometimes think it would be good to have all the transport controls under the left hand while the right hand rides the mouse.
Of course, the big difference, aside from a clever workflow integration, and the big knob and additional buttons for more control is… yes, there are eight faders on the FaderPort 8, as the name suggests. There is still only one pan pot encoder, but it is all that is needed, as you never really adjust multiple pan pots at one time. Each motorized fader has an LED scribble strip above it to relay information back from your DAW so you know exactly what you are controlling. This is great given that you can jump from one channel to the next easily by simply clicking on a channel with your mouse, making it easy to lose track of what is going on at your fingertips. The scribble strips keep you in the loop, especially when you jump through entire banks of channels to adjust a new one.
Setting up the unit is fairly simple, with a quick install of drivers and applying the correct setting to your DAW software and it is fully functioning without the need to map out any features. The faders snap into position quickly and quietly when you jump from one bank to the next, so you are always in the right place when adjusting volume levels. The big, prominent transport controls on the lower right side of the unit make it so easy to jump around through your session with a reduced use of the mouse. All the buttons have that familiar firm snap to them, so I have no doubts in their ability to go the distance and, aside from my personal dislike of one knob’s placement, I have to say this is really an excellent controller that will improve your workflow no matter what you do with your DAW.
Hits and Misses
Easy setup for great software control
Solid build and ergonomic layout
Motorised faders are just so much fun to play with
Nothing worth mentioning again