Pok DAW Wireless Controller
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by Barry Rudolph
Originally Published Online At PSW
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I go for any "crutch" that gets me out of a work rut. You know where you find yourself doing the same things over and over for each gig. Even though I rely on certain gear and plug-ins to get "my sound," it's a good idea to try and take a fresh approach for each project. For me, using new gear, software or a new accessory are good ways to enliven my spirit. And if the accessory also saves time and energy, then it becomes a "must have." Ever since I got one of the first prototypes about a year ago, one accessory that saves time, energy and makes work more fun is Pok.
Pok, from X-Tempo, is a wireless footswitch controller that transmits pre-programmed DAW keyboard shortcuts over a radio channel back to your computer. Hands-free control over a DAW is an immediate winner for any musician or vocalist who wants to work alone or not rely on (or pay) someone else to operate the rig while he/she records.
Pok can also work for a DJ or live sound mixer when two hands are not enough.
When mixing in Pro Tools, my sitting posture is better because in order to have my left hand on the QWERTY keyboard, right hand on my Turbo TrackBall and my right foot in reach of Pok, I have to sit upright and straight ahead in my Miller Aeron chair.
Pok has two parts. The main footswitch box measures about twelve by seven inches and is made of tough ABS plastic with a clear anodized aluminum faceplate and steel base plate bottom cover. It's available in graphite black or moon rock finishes. There are eight, easy-working switches made by Alps that are rugged enough for foot taps but I wouldn't stand on them. Since Pok transmits only very short bursts of digital data, the unit runs for months on three AA batteries. There are also three LEDs that show: low battery, low signal strength and recent pedal activity.
The second part of Pok is a USB receiver dongle that plugs into your computer. About the size of a memory stick, the Pok footswitch and receiver uses the USB wireless standard on 2.483Ghz.
Pok requires no driver installation and supports MAC or PCs running Digital Performer, Logic, Cubase, GarageBand and Ableton Live. Although it comes with pre-programmed profile to work with Pro Tools as default, the included Pok Editor software lets you remap the footswitches in any way you want for any computer program you want. Don't want to learn the editor? You can download many free pre-configured profiles for many other DAW and music creation programs like Sonar, Reason, Acid Pro 6, Audition, Quicktime, and iTunes.
I use the Pok everyday: for punching in, dropping markers and stopping the song when I'm not in reach of the space bar. Each footswitch can store up to three commands with switch eight acting as a shift/function key. Up to 22 commands per profile or are possible.
There is no latency or uncertain operation making it perfect for operating your rig from out in the studio while overdubbing vocals or acoustic guitar. The same goes for punching in--getting into record is at the speed of light.
The manual says Pok operates within 80 feet of your DAW--in reality I was running my rig from three houses down the street. I'm not sure of the utility of that 'feature' but it is good to know you have a solid radio link--walls, metallic objects and electrical wiring don't matter. It's more solid than my cell phone!
During initial setup the USB receiver dongle finds and pairs up with the footswitch creating a new digital radio link. This means you can use more than one Pok in the same room--either on a second computer or on the same computer for second program.
When I'm working with a nervous artist, after I've gotten a record level, I leave the studio and give them the Pok footswitch. The keys are well marked using the included set of removable adhesive labels so the artist can start, stop rewind record etc. I get a break and the artist gets to go it alone. What's not to love here?!?!
Pok sells for $429 MSRP complete with carrying case or $399 without case. Also included is all software, a 2-year warranty and manual.
For more information, go to: www.x-tempozone.com.
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