Feel the smooth gliding of an original Technics SL1200 pitch fader
Dark Fader raises the experience in your MIDI controller world
New Firmware Updates (since 2021-02-22):
The Dark Fader community grows. Meanwhile our friends are using Dark Fader in use cases we never thought about, far beyond DJ’ing. Real-life stories: Video cutting / broadcasting / film scoring production / control of lighting system / MIDI instrument extension in live performance events / studio music production.
This flexibility is possible since the latest firmware version: Each control on the Dark Fader sends MIDI CC (0xB) messages, e.g. the fader sends a 7bit CC09 in addition to the 14bit pitch bend (0xE). All used CC (9, 20-26) are free of purpose in the midi specification, so you can map your individual actions. Let us know if you prefer dedicated CCs (e.g. Volume, Breath, Modulation etc.), so even no further mapping needed at all. Enjoy ; )
The idea behind Dark Fader
We love the amazing tactile feeling of an original Technics SL1200 pitch fader. We wished to have this fader available as a MIDI controller for our favourite DJ applications. But we couldn’t find anything on the market.
So we started our own project: we had to embed the SL fader into its own MIDI environment, and created a ‘black box’, called Dark Fader. Complying with the quality of the SL1200 fader, we decided to use the best components: a full metal chassis, stainless steel buttons for pitch bending, MIDI channel and shift layer. And it is Plug & Play, MIDI class compliant, so no driver needed.
Dark Fader is ready. It is the first controller based on our Dark Board printed circuit board. Dark Fader works great and it feels great.
Welcome the Technics SL1200 pitch fader into the MIDI world!
We build on your request
The hand made concept, focus on quality, and best components (metal design and portability) will never allow keeping up with the competition of (plastic) mass products. But in case you like Dark Fader as we do … we can offer to build one for you too.
How we build: we designed the printed circuit and case panels in CAD, and CNC manufacturers and professional PCB vendors build to our plans/specifications. Each device is mount and soldered by ourselves, all are hand made. We code and support the firmware.
Interested ? .. then Contact us! … We hope you enjoy your Dark Fader the same as we do.
Retail Price (this may change in future)
Dark Fader: 368 € (USB/In version, no hub).
Please let us also know if you want a mounted USB hub (with additional USB/Out, DC/In connector, DC cable). We can add for currently 39 €.
The dimensions are same on all Dark Controller and compatible to our new Dark Xpander. So let us know if you are interested in a double height version, matching perfectly to height of professional mixer and club equipment.
The retail prices are mainly driven by material costs, we also included a fair margin which motivates us to spend the soldering and mounting effort in building your controller in our spare time.
As we got 2 questions often in past: Yes, we can deliver world wide, insured shipping costs and PayPal fee will be added to the invoice amount. And yes, in case you are interested in more than one Dark Controller, we are happy to offer an individual discount.
If you are sincerely interested in a Dark Fader, then please contact us. We would be happy to build a Dark Fader for you. Current delivery time is about 2 weeks, each Dark Fader is handmade on request, we guarantee on quality.
Last not least: Some user asked and ordered modified ‘custom made’ Dark Fader (e.g. 2 or 3 fader assembled). Swipe to the end of our pictures gallery above to see their amazing ideas. So let us know your wishes, all is very welcome ; ).
- Full metal chassis
- CNC made panels, brushed black anodized 3mm aluminium, hand polished edges
- Engraved pitch scale (no painting, no laser cut)
- Dimension (L/W/H): 207 x 65 x 38 (48) mm
- Weight: 430 grams
- Original Technics(R) SL12000 fader (click-less version mk3/4/5), 100mm, A/D voltage conversion in full 14Bit resolution
- 4 stainless steel buttons (12mm anti vandal switch, smooth low pressure versions)
- 2 bicolored LEDs (green/red) indicate current active MIDI channel and pitch fader status (MIDI messages and fader zero position)
PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD
- Dark Board: CAD factory made PCB, dual layer, black glossy surface, immersion gold contacts
- Mounted CPU: Teensy 3.2 (72 MHz 32 bit ARM processor)
- USB-B IN: Connects Dark Fader to MIDI host
- USB-A OUT (optionally): Available if an active hub is mounted on board. Intended use: connect additional MIDI devices in daisy chain
- DC Power IN (5.5/2.5mm, center pin +5V): Only available if USB A OUT and hub is mounted. DC Power IN is not needed for Dark Fader operation (USB self powered, consumption less 80mA). Intended use: Optional power for USB OUT connected devices and Dark Fader
- MIDI class compliant, no driver needed
Dark Fader Features
- Original Technics SL1200 fader offers the wonderful smooth and still resistant tactile feeling of real turntables as MIDI control
- The full metal chassis design is the perfect complement to the haptic experience of the portable SL1200 fader
- Dark Fader firmware converts the bent signal of an analogue fader element into a linear MIDI 14bit pitchbend protocol
- Inbuilt Low Pass Filter (R/C element) on circuit board and the intelligent noise reduction algorithm in firmware allow highest sensitivity
- Fader behaviour is highly user configurable (see customizing and calibration)
SL1200 FADER MID POSITION LED
- Bicolored LED on the left side of the fader is used for multiple purposes:
- LED RED flash: As soon as any fader movement is detected, the LED flashes red to indicate a sent MIDI message. This gives an intuitive and immediate feedback on small fader movements
- LED GREEN: indicates that the last sent MIDI value was in exact mid zero position. Permanently GREEN if pitch reset is active
- LED OFF (despite fader movements): Indicates MIDI Soft Takeover is active, fader waits until user catches the earlier fader position in actual MIDI channel
MIDI CHANNEL BUTTON
- MIDI CHANNEL button (on top) toggles MIDI channel (1/2) for each control element. Allows the usage of one Dark Fader for several decks
- Bicolored LED above button indicates the current active MIDI channel (1=green, 2=red)
LEFT / RIGHT BUTTONS
- Free for mapping, typically used for pitch bend, in SHIFT mode e.g. to fader range or Cue/Play
SHIFT LAYER BUTTON
- SHIFT button (on bottom) offers a 2nd layer, modifying the MIDI notes of the other buttons
PITCH RESET FEATURE
- Dark Fader offers two options to set pitch to zero, combining best of all SL versions: MOVING to green and LOCKING to green
- MOVING the fader into mid position range (similar SL1200mk2) switches mid LED to green and sends exact MIDI message pitchbend mid value
- LOCKING via pressing SHIFT and MIDI CHANNEL BUTTON together. This simulates the PITCH RESET knob of the SL1200mk3 (deactivates fader and locks the pitch to zero)
- Pitch Reset switches the bicolored LED at fader mid position to permanently GREEN
MIDI SOFT TAKEOVER FEATURE
- Dark Fader offers an inbuilt hardware MIDI Soft Takeover feature on fader movements after deck change (MIDI channel change)
- This ensures that the pitch tempo will not jump abruptly after deck changes even in DJ application with limited MSTO features
CUSTOMIZING & CALIBRATION
- Holding a BUTTON during power on activates the ‘Power-On Setup Mode’, allowing customizing Dark Fader to user specific needs. All changes get stored permanently
- FADER MID POSITION: Calibrate exact zero position (green LED)
- FADER MID RANGE: From zero (no green mid size via movements (similar SL1200mk3) to maximum snapping (similar SL1200mk2)
- FADER SENSITIVITY: Customize fader threshold for small movements
- MIDI SOFT TAKEOVER: Enable or disable inbuilt MSTO
- RESET to factory settings
How to upDate your Dark fader Firmware
Many tools are available to upload firmware into Teensy based controller. We recommend the tool ‘TyCommander’, part of the open source TyTools project (from Koromix). TyCommander is easy to use, available for Windows, Linux and macOX, no install procedure needed; you can directly launch TyCommander after unzip. A big ‘Thank you’ to Koromix!. Workflow instructions:
- Download latest version of our firmware collection, use left ‘Firmware’ link.
- Open the zip file, inside you will find all firmware (.hex files) of all Dark Controller
- Download latest TyTools (use left ‘Uploader’ link), extract TyCommander
- Launch TyCommander (no install needed)
- Open 2nd tab ‘Serial’ (between Information and Options) to open serial monitor
- Connect your Dark Fader, the current installed firmware version gets displayed
- Check your current version: the prefix prior date (e.g. DF2.0-32-N114-) must match to one of the downloaded .hex files. Contact us if you can’t find a matching download version
- Press arrow button ‘Upload’ and select your downloaded Dark Fader hex file with same prefix
- Wait few seconds until upload process finished. Disconnect Dark Fader .. DONE
- Let us know if you need support at any step – always welcome!