Using the MIDI controller with hardware

Can I use hardware with the KNTRL9?

This is a question I get often so I’ve decided to write an article about it. Yes, indeed you can! Even though the KNTRL9 only has a USB connection, using a MIDI host you can actually perform with your favorite hardware as well!

In the video you can see Georg Paul from Atlantik using the KNTRL9 to control his Analog Rytm MK2. He uses a Miditech USB MIDI host (which you can find at Thomann for €79. You can also find cheaper ones, for instance the Doremi for €30 at Wish or, if you prefer high end, a Kenton for €124).

How do I setup the KNTRL9 for my specific hardware?

There are two ways of doing this: using MIDI learn, or by setting up a template on the KNTRL9 to match the MIDI specification of your hardware.

Using MIDI learn

Most DAWs support MIDI learn, but there also is hardware that supports this. How to setup MIDI learn for your hardware depends on the device. For instance, the Akai MPC (see this video). For your specific hardware, check the manual of your device.

Setting up the KNTRL9 templates

The other way to setup your KNTRL9 to work with your hardware is to set the correct MIDI CC or NRPN values for your specific hardware product.

We will need the manual to look up the MIDI specification. We’ll use the Analog Rytm MK2 as example again. On page 79 of the manual, we find the MIDI specification of the Analog Rytm MK2:

Analog Rytm Manual page 79

Here we see that for example the performance parameters can be setup using regular CC or NRPN. Since the KNTRL9 supports NRPN, we’ll use that because it gives us a higher resolution than regular CC. To setup the KNTRL9, either use the online web application at https://midique.com/kntrl9-editor/ (works in Chrome), or download the tool as soon as it’s available for download (planned after the Kickstarter campaign).

Much thanks goes out to Shiko from Shik.tech for making his tool open source!

We’ll use the online version for now, which is basically the same as the downloadable tool.

When we open the editor without the KNTRL9 connected, we’ll see this:

Connect KNTRL9

When we connect the KNTRL9, we get the editor.

KINTRL9 Editor

We can now select each knob and edit it. In this example, we are editing the second knob (Named knob 11, counting starts at the LEDs) which we want to map to Performance parameter 2.

For type, we select NRPN. For the NRPN LSB and MSB, we look up the value in the manual. MSB should be 0, LSB should be 1.

Setup NRPN

You can also edit some other options, but let’s leave those as they are.

When you have done this for all knobs, you can also edit the LED colors by clicking on them and selecting a color to the right.

Setting a color

When you’re done, it’s a good idea to save the template first. Click “Save preset” and save it at a location of your choice. After that, you can upload the template to the controller. Select the preferred preset and click “Write to device” to upload the template.

Depending on which preset you chose, you can find your new template by browsing through the different templates on the KNTRL9. To do so, hold the shift button on the KNTRL9 and simultaneously click the left or right button. The LED that lights up corresponds to the template. When you release the shift button, you’ll see a change in the LEDs, meaning you have selected another template.

Of course, the above procedure also works for regular CC by selecting Control Change and entering the corresponding CC identifier and channel. Note that when using regular CC, you’ll only have 7 bits precision, in stead of 10 bits!

You can always load the saved template into the editor by clicking “Load preset” and selecting the file you saved earlier.