Like the ginger one in Girls Aloud, the ReMOTE LE is destined to struggle for attention. It’s not that it’s a bad product, it’s just that the ReMOTE SL – its more desirable big brother – is appreciably better. The SL, lest we forget, includes Novation’s groundbreaking Automap technology, where the controller adapts itself to work with the software you’re currently using – a feature the LE is lacking.
But let’s not be disheartened. Although it may pale in comparison to the SL, the ReMOTE LE is actually a pretty well-equipped keyboard. It comes in 25-, 49- and 61-note versions, and each offers the same control set. This comprises nine assignable knobs, nine assignable buttons, four function buttons, a set of transport controls, a data entry knob, a pitch/mod joystick and an X/Y touchpad. The latter is pressure sensitive and enables you to tweak up to four parameters at once. Great fun. Other features include a (blue LED) backlit display, and buttons to move up or down an octave and control the unit’s general operation.
The ReMOTE LE’s connections are found on its rear: you’ll find USB and MIDI Out ports, a socket for the optional power supply, a sustain pedal input and a switch to select your chosen ‘powering’ method. Like most portable MIDI controllers, this one can draw its juice over USB, though mobile musicians will be pleased to learn that it can also be sustained by four AA batteries. The keyboard is class compliant, meaning you can plug in and play without installing any drivers.
The ReMOTE LE is undoubtedly a cut above most portable keyboards we’ve seen. Its plastic casing feels durable, and the weighted keys are good to play. Twelve preset templates come supplied, covering a range of popular soft synths and DAWs, with plastic overlays to tell you what each knob and button is controlling. Usefully, each of these can be dual-assigned, so you can use 18 knobs and 18 buttons in each template. Up to 16 templates can be stored in the LE’s memory, and more can be downloaded.
The likes of Edirol’s PCR-M1 and M-Audio’s O2 are slightly more portable, but thanks to an above average feature set and impressive ease of use, the ReMOTE LE shines.
Novation understand the needs of today’s computer musicians, and this understanding is reflected in their well-designed range of keyboards. If the SL isn’t for you, there’s a good chance that the LE will be.