PreSonus Faderport 8 by mdme_sadie
So first off, this really is a 5 star product, unfortunately the areas that you can score here aren't completely reflective of the value of this product itself.
It's easy to use... with Studio One. With other DAW software though there are limitations.
The Feature set is great for Studio One, but it could be so much more.
It's not the cheapest thing when you consider it's just a MIDI control surface, but it's as cheap as you can get for 8 flying faders right now.
What makes this greater than the sum of it's parts is just what a huge difference in workflow it can make for you. It gives your mouse and keyboard a real break and allows you to give more focus on recording and mixing and less to programming. It's built pretty solidly, it's a very clean and clear overall interface, and it's interaction with Studio One is fantastic, the buttons are nice and soft (unlike the QCon) and the faders feel great and are pretty quiet for this end of the spectrum. It's also incredibly compact, barely any bigger than an LP with a nice ergonomic low profile that means you're not working uncomfortably with it sitting too high on your desk.
Downsides are the LCD's which don't have great viewing angles and would have benefited by being angled so you don't have to prop the unit up itself, they're optimized for viewing from the bottom left (good for right handed folk). The rotaries... there's not enough of them, and the two that are there are clicky... in a rough feeling way. It's like sandpaper on your fingertips, this will get wearing very fast and especially the smaller rotary feels like something I will be avoiding. Instead of levels LED's the track level is displayed in the barely visible LCD's. Timecode likewise, only in the Faderport's Fadedisplay(tm).
These are all things I expect Presonus to fix in a second generation unit.
Working with DAW's other than Presonus I found things a little more strained. Reason in particular was awkward with it's quirky approach to MCU. I've outlined my experiences elsewhere, and hopefully the Props will make tracks into improving this.
So why is this a 5 star unit when there are still problems? Because while it may have a couple of rough corners and it not have every bell and whistle, what it does have it does right. It streamlines things down to the essentials rather than just being a glorified weirdly laid out keyboard that some other units seem to become. It's about transport, about mixing, about getting the job done quicker and in a more fun way. In this it achieves everything with aplomb. This is not going to replace a full on mixing desk, but it will radically improve your workflow if you're a Studio One user, make great strides if you're a user of most other traditional DAW's that support MCU, and even in Reason where things are decidedly funky it'll still brighten your day and improve your workstation experience no end.
For me the whole purpose of this sort of unit is just to control the mixer in my DAW in a tactile way, and have quick control over the transport. I don't care about trying to force plugins or other interfaces into an ill suited UI, nor about controlling every single feature and button in my DAW. The Faderport 8 focuses on what I need. Now the only tasks I need to resort to my mouse and keyboard are creating new tracks and routing and loading/saving/exporting sessions.