A decade or so ago, I had the pleasure of using a Tangent Wave control module for a couple of months. I remember that it was built like a tank, looked like a tank, weighed as much and cost a small fortune, but the user experience was unparalleled. So many years later, Loupedeck has released the Loupedeck CT, a controller that perhaps won’t unseat Tangent, but retails at half the price, has a touch screen, a wheel, dials and buttons, and carries the promise to be usable with multiple applications.
The box inside the shipping box that houses a Loupedeck CT uses an eye-popping design. Inside is the Loupedeck CT device and a braided nylon USB-C type cable with an angled connector so you can place the device wherever you want with the cable flush to the side. The CT communicates with your Windows 10 or macOS 10.13 or better computer — this review was done on a mid-2018 27in iMac with macOS Catalina on board — through an editing/driver app. The app serves all of Loupedeck’s models and comes with a large number of preset workspaces, most of which are Adobe-oriented. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find also find Final Cut Pro X and Mac System in the list. For the time being, the Loupedeck CT does not support Aurora HDR and Capture One Pro; it does support After Effects, Premiere Pro, Lightroom, Photoshop and even Camera Raw.
The USB-powered device has an anodised aluminium topside and an “industrial plastic” bottom. The topside is home to six dial caps with press functionality, eight round buttons with heavy-duty dome switches, 12 square buttons with gaming switches, a touch screen, and a wheel with a touch-sensitive wheel screen in the centre. Except for the dials, everything on the topside is illuminated with RGB LED backlights.
Four rubber feet and a weight of about 300 grams keep the Loupedeck CT firmly in place on your desk. The device has 8GB of built-in memory which shows up as an external disk drive to store and transfer files and settings between different hosts. There’s also a Bluetooth chip inside, but the software doesn’t yet support it.
All of the round and some of the square buttons can be fully customised. The settings for the dials, touch buttons and wheel depend on the software you’re using and can only be customised in that context.
The Loupedeck app assigns different colours to different actions and functions; it’s a good idea to first read the user guide to understand how it all works. Even then, it takes a bit of an effort to create your own setup. I would love to see a PDF with a listing of all the parameters and configuration options you can set as there are so many.
People who are using the Loupedeck CT and have Little Snitch installed on their Mac, will notice the app seems to continuously send information to an unknown spot in the Atlantic Ocean. Loupedeck’s customer service ensured me that every piece of information their service sends to the CT device is classified as network traffic as the Loupedeck CT announces itself to the Mac as a local network node.
As with other Loupedeck devices, you just launch the app you want to work with and the controls will automatically switch to the right preset.
I tested with Final Cut Pro X and scrolled through all of the controls that are available. I lost count after some 50 potential commands which have been subdivided into “Edit”, “Color” and “Audio” workspaces — each available by tapping an icon on the touch screen. The Edit mode worked very well with almost all offering full control from the CT. The Color mode was a bit less easy to use at first, mainly because I lacked the Final Cut Pro X user guide. Once I had that, I realised the Loupedeck CT lets you control Final Cut Pro X’s built-in colour wheels in full, but manipulates curves with its wheel-as-a-mouse feature. I could then change points on a curve easily, but you can’t release a point without using the regular mouse. The combination mouse/Loupedeck CT needs some learning but makes you work faster when you’re used to it.
My user experience showed that the Loupedeck CT has a lot of potential to be the control surface of choice for several multiple apps, offering the ability to switch between them and even more so as it can be used as a portable control panel.
The Loupedeck CT is bound to become even more efficient as Loupedeck schedules point updates on a very regular basis to not only fix bugs but also support more apps and improve the functionality. The Loupedeck CT retails at $549.