This single iPad knob costs almost $400

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My, what a beautiful knob!
My, what a beautiful knob!
Photo: Synclavier

The Synclavier is a digital synthesizer from the early 1980s. Synclavier Go! is an iPad app that mimics the classic synth. But this post isn’t about those. It’s about the Synclavier Knob, an accessory for the app.

The Synclavier Knob is a single knob on a mounting plate the size of an iPad mini. That’s it. Oh, and it costs $399.

Synclavier Knob

A $400 knob? What does it do that could justify such a cost? The short answer is, “Not much.” The longer answer is “almost nothing.”

There are all manner of accessories that add physical knobs, buttons and sliders to the iPad, usually via MIDI. They vary in quality, and in number of knobs, but very rarely do they cost anywhere near $400, even for many-knobbed units.

Just grab the Synclavier Knob and twist.
Just grab it and twist.
Photo: Synclavier

The Synclavier Knob is a USB-powered MIDI controller. It is intended to be an exact copy of the knob on the original Synclavier. Check out the blurb.

The weight and feel of the knob are identical, as we have used the exact measurements and a balanced spring arrangement. The two-inch diameter knob is milled from a solid bar of instrument-grade aluminium (yes, we were doing this long before Apple). The interface software and hysteresis algorithm are taken from Synclavier II.

OG aluminium

I love how they got in a little dig at Apple, even though Apple doesn’t claim to be the inventor of milled aluminum. “Instrument-grade aluminium,” by the way, seems to refer not to musical instruments, but medical instruments and other tools. It’s hard to tell because, despite their pride, the makers don’t mention the aluminum grade. (If you want to read up on the various kinds of aluminum alloy, then check out this list from aluminum.org.)

Still, as the Synclavier Knob will not be used to pull teeth, or jack open a ribcage, the metal is surely up to the job. In fact, for this price you must be getting a seriously well-built unit, right? Right? Maybe not:

This initial version of Synclavier Knob is sold as test apparatus. As such, please note that the product has not undergone substantial domestic or emissions testing. It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that this product may interfere with other electronic equipment nearby.

Quality

The Synclavier Knob fits many iPad mini stands.
Fits many iPad mini stands.
Photo: Synclavier

Still, it’s only a knob. Even if it somehow stops your microwave from zapping popcorn, who cares. This is modeled on a 1980s device, and is nice and simple. And just like classic ’80s synth, the Synclavier Knob should last you for almost 40 years, right? Right? Oh no, not again:

Synclavier Knob comes with a 90 day warranty, from date of purchase, which covers manufacturing faults.

So you get 90 days. Such confidence.

Still here? Then I have a bonus for you. Another quote, pasted straight from the Synclavier site, that will make this whole débâcle worthwhile. Ready?

To protect against tarnishing or finger printing, it is advised you occasionally clean your knob.

Have a nice day.