203’s Matrix Pro is a “next-gen” MIDI grid controller to rival the Launchpad

Supreme portability and an open-source operating system may make this a must-buy for live performers

203 Matrix Pro Grid controller
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Watch out, Novation – music technology newcomer 203 has announced the Matrix MIDI grid controller, alongside an advanced model, Matrix Pro, that boast “extreme portability” and an open-source operating system.

Designed as a composition, live performance and light show tool, the Matrix and Matrix Pro are made up of 64 RGB-backlit pads with multiple modes of functionality. The difference between the Matrix models is that the Pro has velocity-sensitive pads, a translucent bottom cover and grey silicon pads. Matrix standard, meanwhile, has a solid green bottom cover.

In addition, the Pro model has an additional 32 RGB underglow LEDs. 203 says that, with this, the controller is “significantly brighter than its competitors and [is] optimised for outstanding visibility. The brand touts the Matrix as “one of the thinnest and most portable MIDI devices available” at 13.2mm thick and 205mm x 205mm in size. Plus, there’s a small function control button at the centre and two hidden touch strips on the sides.

Matrix comes with its own software that is entirely open-source. This means you can ‘hack’ the OS to manually map any of the 64 pads to a function of your choosing. By default, there are three main operating modes: Note and Scale, Performance, and Visual.

Note and Scale lets you select from 32 musical modes – from Dorian and Blues to BeBop Minor and Hirajoshi – to quickly play notes and chords in a key of your choosing. Performance mode lets you take control of your DAW or instrument setup and play notes, trigger samples and more.

Visual mode is natively compatible with Ableton Live, Unipad and 203’s own Amethyst Player (a beginner-friendly browser app), and is primed for creating light show performances using the grid.

And you’re not restricted to music-making; 203 says that the controller supports mouse, keyboard and gamepad outputs, which you can map in whichever way you wish. You can integrate Matrix and Matrix Pro into your setup via USB-C, Bluetooth MIDI and wifi.
Matrix and Matrix Pro are currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter, with 203’s goal of £4,031 having already been exceeded by £1,500, at the time of writing. To grab yourself an early bird Matrix bundle, you can pledge £80 ($99), and get your hands on a Matrix Pro by pledging £136 ($169).

Learn more at kickstarter.com

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