Best portable controller for OP-Z (not keyboard)

There is great topic about compatible MIDI keyboards to work with OP-Z: Compatible midi keyboards that work direct from the op-z

But my question is about best portable companion controller for OP-Z with 4-8 faders and/or knobs to be able to map to different track on a fly (to change track parameters); easy to use via USB or 3.5 OpLab MIDI.

Currently most portable (and affordable) seems is Korg NanoKontrol2.

Any recommendations? Thanks.

I use the Korg NK2 for contolling mirack on the ipad, I really like it for that. Although I had to paint some white stripes on the knobs, to actually see their position. It also seems to draw quite a bit of power. I yet have to try it with the OP-Z.

Just be aware that the knobs on the NK2 are not endless encoders like on the OP-Z, which is better anyway as they will be assigned to a single MIDI CC.

Thanks, @RoutineDiscount! Also seen that it draws too much and can drain OP-Z quickly. Probably there is an option to use it via powered hub.

If you are willing to use a powered hub then the Launch Control XL is my preference.

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I have the Korg nanokey Studio and it is great with the OP-Z for performance. You can do combinations that are not possible with OP-Z interface.

8 knobs which can be assigned to individual tracks. I use it for filters on each audio track.

8 pads that can be assigned in different ways. I use that for punch-in effects.

A kaoss-style x/y pad. Very expressive, I don’t have the best touch with it yet, it will take practice. Enjoying hooking that up to master filter and resonance!

25 keys and an arpeggiator. Great for live playing and drum fills.

Plus a sustain button that can be assigned to any parameter.

You also have 8 scenes, so you can switch configurations as you like. I have a second scene for the tape track and all the parameters.

It works directly plugged into OP-Z via usb. No idea how much it decreases the battery by though. It also works via powered usb hub, but I have find that sometimes a bit more tricky to connect. Never tried Bluetooth.


How do you set up the nanoKey studio for this, and are the midi mappings persistent?

There is an application you download from Korg for your laptop where you set up the nanokey studio. The software is pretty easy to use. It was my first attempt at using midi CCs and it was fine.

The only bug I remember was with punch-in effects on the performance track and maybe the octave wasn’t right… but don’t hold me to that, I do remember having some confusion with that particular parameter and the pads on it.

When you’ve set up your midi CCs on your scene you upload the settings to your Nanokey studio and then it is good to plug in to your OP-Z. Pretty simple really.

The settings/scenes persist when you turn it on/off. As far as I know, you can only configure it through the software though.

Hope that helps.

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Earlier today stumbled across these which look very nicely done and are modular so you could build custom interfaces:

PBF4 might be interesting if you want faders

(No idea if they are as good as they look or if they work with OP-Z)


Thanks to the answers here I’ve found really great gear:

  • Korg NK2
  • Korg NK Studio
  • Launch Control XL
  • Intech Studio’s PBF4
    What is most valuable – I see that all this gear is widely used, so there shouldn’t be any problems getting info on how to solve a particular problem.

The one interesting device I’ve found myself is FaderFox UC4 - Universal Controller. It is a bit pricy but seems like it could be a great pair for OP-Z. I like the idea that it is autonomous, and could be controlled/setup without the need to connect to a PC even. Any thoughts on UC4?

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UC-4 looks great. As you say quite pricey. I also liked having some velocity sensitive keys so went with NanoKey studio.

No computer needed to configure is a big plus.

I think there is a YouTube video of someone getting into using UC-4 and OP-Z which might help you decide.

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Thanks! Yes, seems simple. Will try this weekend.

As it turned out there are a few videos on YouTube from different artists who use this combination:

Looks pretty great!

In case anyone is wondering, the Faderfox EC4 does work with the OP-Z, but you have to plug it through a powered USB hub. (unfortunately it’s as pricey as other FF gear so you’ll need to have a good justification for it!)


Can you change scenes on the fly on the device itself? Or do you need to use a computer or iPad?

Hi @HionHiFi yes you can change scenes on the nanokey studio on the fly very easily. Press the scene button and one of the 8 pads and it swaps it.

You can have 8 scenes. So I have scene 2 for general control of the whole op-z and scene 3 for controlling all the tape track parameters. 8 scenes is a lot in this context.

But to be clear you have to setup your scenes (and all controls) using some Korg software on a computer and load that onto your nanokey studio before using it. You can’t reprogram the unit on its own, which is a shame. However, I’ve only set it up it like once or twice; just need to thoughtfully plan how you intend to use the unit.

Just to add, great ios-based options are „x/y pal“ and „cc pal“, especially x/y is really fun with the OP-Z as you can control multiple parameters via kaoss-style pads, plus have 4 pads on the screen at the same time, so you you can use multiple fingers simultaneously for total expression & modulation madness. CC pal can record changes over time and loop them, so you can effectively create multiple lfos for any parameter.

Oh, and while the EC-4 looks tempting, I am waiting for a version with a better display and custom color coding… the Electra one is going into the right direction but way too pricey… there Must be cheaper options available somewhere down the line, fingers crossed…


X/Y pal was an insta buy, so cool! Thanks for sharing!

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That makes the Korg Nanokey Studio arguably the most versatile midi controller for the OP-Z around. I have a Keith McMillen QuNexus on the way. I think it’ll be a nice addition to the OP-Z.

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I think so too. I looked into akai and Novation controllers and I don’t believe they can be as flexibly assigned as nanokey studio—each interface element can be on a different midi channel which is amazing. Can’t speak for the qunexus, but people rave about it.

I just wish the nanokey studio had a trs or din midi port; then it would be perfect with the line module and not take up the USB port or have latency over Bluetooth.

What deficiencies do you see with it?