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New from M-Audio is the iControl control surface, a dedicated hardware controller specifically designed for Apple's GarageBand music software.

The iControl control surface gives users total tactile control over GarageBand, melding the best of the software and hardware worlds. Dedicated transport buttons put all recording and playback functions at the musician's fingertips: play, stop, record, fast forward, rewind, rewind to start, and project cycle on/off. A jog wheel also allows freely scrubbing the playback position. A master volume fader occupies a prominent position, as well.

Another one of the main features of the iControl control surface is a bank of controls for eight tracks at a time. These include dedicated buttons for solo, mute and record, as well as eight rotary encoders that users can easily assign to control volume and pan. Pressing the up/down buttons assigns the eight sets of track controls to the higher or lower groupings of tracks.

The controls on the left side of the iControl front panel assign the rotary encoder functionality. In Volume or Pan mode, they function in a one-per-channel configuration, for up to eight channels at a time. For the remaining modes, the user selects the desired track via the bank of eight Select buttons, and the rotary controllers will then function as multiple controls of the selected mode. Selecting Generator, for example, instantly provides tactile control over eight parameters of the track's Generator instrument. Additional mode buttons allow assignments to a track's channel strip, EQ, Effect 1 and Effect 2. When the assigned function has more than eight parameters, the up/down buttons allow shifts through the full range of parameters. The rotary controls also work in conjunction with any assigned AU plug-in.

The iControl control surface communicates with your Mac and GarageBand via a single USB connector. Users can also connect a traditional MIDI keyboard to the 5-pin MIDI input to play any GarageBand instruments. The unit is USB bus-powered, class-compliant and automatically recognized by GarageBand for extremely easy integration. There is also an Option button for extending functionality. The iControl control surface will also be supported in upcoming updates of Logic Express 7 and Logic Pro 7 to provide an easy and seamless upgrade path for GarageBand users who are ready to graduate to a more advanced audio production tool.

The iControl control surface requires GarageBand 2.0.1 and is currently shipping an MSRP of USD$179.95

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