Review: PreSonus Faderport with Sonar PE

The Faderport by Presonus

The Faderport by Presonus

This week I purchased the Presonus Faderport for use with my DAW, Sonar Producer Edition 8.31.  I have been finding that I really like the immediate control and hand/ear coordination that a real fader provides because I have been working a lot on the API Vision at U. Mass Lowell.  I read a zillion comparisons between the Faderport and Frontier Design’s Alphatrack, a similar single fader automation encoding device. Here’s a very interesting video that compared the speed of the faders on both units.

As you can see from the video, the Faderport’s reaction time is significantly faster than the Alphatrack.  It should be noted that fades as fast as the ones in the video are pretty rare.  For something this fast, most of us would do a mute automation and not a super fast fader move.  The fader on the Faderport is very nice feeling.  It’s quite smooth and although it is a little noisy, it is clearly the highlight of the unit.

The pan knob frankly sucks.  It is a detented pot, so it clicks as you turn it.  There is no specific center detent and in Sonar after you move the pan control the closest you can get to center is +/- 1%.  You also need to rotate the knob completely several times before you get a hard pan left or right.  The pan control is actually more cumbersome than doing fade automation with a mouse.

The instructions for install are really poor.  For individual DAWs you can’t use the included CD-ROM for the installation.  Rather you need to go to the PreSonus website and download a specific driver/plugin for your DAW, but they don’t tell you this in the instructions.  The Sonar driver doesn’t include the feature of being able to program the single user-assigned button with a task and the PROJ button (which is supposed to open the track/edit view in Sonar) doesn’t work at all.  You can open the Mix window and the Transport control, but not the Edit window which is the most commonly used window in Sonar.

It also isn’t clear if you can assign the fader or the pan control to anything other than volume or pan, so you are REALLY limited as to what you can control and automate from the device.  All in all I found the Faderport pretty disappointing and I plan on returning it and getting an Alphatrack.

Here’s the video overview of the PreSonus:

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