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Audio Innovate Innofader
Reviewer: Mr BrownDate: March 2009 • Price: $119/£96/€100 • Link: Innofader

Mr Brown's Review

Audio Innovate Innofader review

It seems that in the last few years, the days of cleaning, tweaking and modding your cross fader are now long gone. It’s been a fair few years since I have felt the need to tweak and fiddle with a cross fader to get it right for me - the faders in both my Vestax 08 and Rane 56 still remain untweaked, and even the Penny and Giles in my old 07 is tip top. But hearing all the talk about the Innofader made me want to see what all the fuss was about.

First Impressions

Audio Innovate Innofader review

Replacement faders in the past have come in a poorly packaged plain box (sometimes not even that) with no extra parts or info. So It was a pleasant surprise when I opened up my mail to find a very well presented and packaged cross fader. Upon opening the box I was a bit WTF!!! What are all these wires, circuit boards and such? And what… no installation instructions? The fact that you get all the bits you need to install the fader is very good but, having to refer to the website for installation was a bit of a pain, as was initial installation of the fader. I found all the different plugs and the amount of adjustability kind of confusing at first, and it took me a while to get my head around. The tension adjust and cut in/curve adjustments are very good but it seems like they took that way too far. It took me ages to get it just right and to do so I had to keep removing the fader which became a real annoyance.

The Fader

Audio Innovate Innofader review

The fader itself is extremely solid - probably the most solid and well made fader I have ever used. You're definitely not going to break one of these unless you're some kind of club handed lunatic. The stem is wide and has none of that slight up on down movement that you find on pretty much all other faders. Once installed (in my 08) it did take a short time to get used to, which I think is due to the fact that it’s so solid. It cuts very clean and precise and runs very smoothly from side to side. It reminded me a little of the eternal fader but with more weight and feel and of a much higher build quality.


When it comes to the actual fader in use, I have no issues in any way - great feel, quality and function and definitely a top class fader. My only real concerns (which don’t really apply to me) are that they have tried to hard to make this fader compatible with all mixers and I’m not sure why. I mean if you have a crappy old mixer are you really going to spend nearly £100 on fader for said crap mixer or would you rather put that money towards buying an altogether better mixer? Also do you need that much adjustability? I think much more simple controls for curve and cut it would quite suffice.

Well packaged and presented
Top build quality and feel
Clean and precise sound
Once installed definitely the best fader I have used

Online instructions only
Compatibility overkill
Adjustability overkill

Comment from Elliot at Audio Innovate

"One comment I will make is the reason for not including instructions in the unit is that the Innofader fitting is a fluid process. As we hear back from customers, we can better advise others of the glitches they may run into on certain models, and even on glitches that might happen on older versions of the same mixer. Printed instructions would become obsolete by the time they reach the customer. Our forum combined with the website, especially the compatibility chart, always has the latest pictoral and sometimes even movie instructions showing how to do installations on certain mixers."


Some words from Professor BX

Audio Innovate Innofader review

The first thing that anyone asks obviously about the Innofader will be “Why?” It is an understandable question, as the ProX has dominated the aftermarket fader upgrade scene for over 3 years now, and non-contact faders are available in many manufacturer’s products. I guess if I were trying to answer this question for someone, my first inclination would be that thinking of the Innofader as another aftermarket fader would be doing both the product and the market a disservice. The Innofader isn’t just an upgraded fader, it is a product that can completely change the feel of your mixer, and provide an entry into the world of non-contact faders that was previously unavailable unless you were to purchase an entire mixer around the fader.

“Read the Manual”

Innofader review

Contained in a classy retail box with a myriad of tools and circuit boards, the Innofader can be somewhat daunting at first. To the average user, I can see why many have said that they felt intimidated when installing the unit. Truth be told though, most of these tools are simply there to make your life easier IF YOU NEED THEM. The Innofader website includes installation instructions for most popular mixers, most of which involve “Plug in to the adapter board, tape up, plug in to mixer”. The calibration pots on the side of the mixer allow for almost any cut in/curve you desire, but most users should be able to simply install the fader stock and get a reasonable fader curve.
The beauty of the included adapter and testing boards are that one can test their mixer if it is not in the included list and most likely get it working in no time. If this is not the case, Emarx has also made himself available almost 24/7 for users to ask him questions directly, something that no other fader designer (not employee of the company, but actual engineer) from an aftermarket upgrade company does that I know of. Good stuff.

Installing the fader into my A&H Xone:02, I was informed that there is an issue with using the crossfader reverse switch, due to A&H deciding to use a fader reverse method that no other fader manufacturer uses. While this could be a problem, Emarx has not only provided mod instructions on the website, but has actually offered to fix any user’s mixer and fader if the Innofader causes any issues. In the world of customer service, it doesn’t get much better than that.

“Touchy Feely”

Audio Innovate Innofader review

Upon install, the first thing I noticed is how unlike any other fader I have tested the Innofader feels like. Based on the venerable Alps long body design (and its many descendents), I was expecting something in that ballpark. That said, even having modded my old Alps faders long ago to be smooth enough to blow across the entire fader throw, the Innofader felt smoother. Weighted somewhere in between the old Alps and the somewhat heavier ProX, the Innofader has a glide and feel that is most reminiscent of what I would think the Ecler Magnetic would feel like with a bit more weight. Tension control has a fair amount of range, with no tension to almost enough torque to actually be able to pick up the mixer available.

Durability wise I can’t think of any issues that would cause any immediate alarm.  The fader stem is quite thick, almost identical to that of the ProX and the old school Panasonic (pre-magnetic) Rane faders. One really nice touch is that the walls of the fader cap are thicker than that of the ProX, so durability of the cap itself should be longer than that of the ProX cap. The unit also has the now ubiquitous built in dust cover, which should help extend the time needed between cleanings. If I had one gripe, it is that the fader body is sealed a bit too well, making opening the fader a little bit of a chore.

“Cutting and Scratching, the Fader He’s Slapping”

Innofader review

None of these positives would be worth much if the fader itself didn’t have a razor sharp cut. While some of this is dependent on the mixer obviously, I will say that I had no issues at all. Installed in my A&H Xone:02, I noticed that the decay time (time it takes for fader movements to be registered and heard) was shorter by a noticeable amount than both the stock P&G fader as well as the Alpha short body fader that I swapped from the line fader spot for testing. The main thing I noticed though while scratching was that it felt like I had a new mixer. The Innofader feels so unlike any other fader that it really is almost like purchasing a new mixer. The goal of any upgrade should be to reinvigorate interest in the product being upgraded, and in that respect the Innofader succeeds with flying colors.

"Quite the Upgrade, Inn’it?”

At the end of the day, the Innofader is really a great concept. In this day and age of people choosing new mixers strictly on the merits of the fader, the Innofader opens up a world of aftermarket upgrades. It isn’t just an upgrade in feel, it is an upgrade in piece of mind, as the Innofader brings the world of no-maintenance faders to the world at large. Barring every other benefit (and there are many), the Innofader would be worth it simply for that reason alone.

A few words from Gizmo

Audio Innovate Innofader review

Normally, I'd rattle off this review without even thinking. But because I've had a small but financial web slinging involvement in making the Innofader site, I'd rather not have my impartiality questioned, thus OG skratchworker Professor BX and the mighty Mr Brown from UK Turntablist stepped up to the (face)plate to give the Innofader a solid hammering. But it's worth sharing my thoughts with you - feel free to regard or disregard these words as you see fit.

Having watched Elliot Marx's fledgling and revolutionary idea of a capacitance fader take shape, I could see that he wanted the Innofader to offer everything and a bit more that no other 3rd party fader has done before. He wanted onboard i.e. electrical cut-in and lag adjust, as well as physical tension adjust too. And at the same time, he was hell bent on making the Innofader fit every damned mixer on the planet. Not exactly an easy task by any means, given the near total absence of standards in the fader fitting department. But undaunted, he set about finding a way to achieve this near impossible task, and within reason he's done just that, including fitting previously untouched Rane 56s, Pioneer DJM-800s and Ecler HAKs.

Audio Innovate Innofader review

Granted, the Innofader is quite a marvel of engineering, coming complete with onboard cut in and lag controls, but in the quest to be a universal plug and play solution, it has become a seriously complex solution for the less technically savvy. Indeed - part of the installation process for some mixer owners involves using the adaptor inside the mixer, resulting in quite a birds nest. The added slightly scary complication here is that unless you solidly insulate the adaptor board, you run a strong chance of shorting out your prized mixing machine. My advice - put the boards and cables in a small plastic bag and secure with a cable tie.

Audio Innovate Innofader review

Now this does sound like fitting the Innofader could see you dicing with death, but it's nothing like that at all. On the whole, for the vast majority of Innofader customers, it's off with the knobs and faceplate, a quick fader swap and you're done. There's nothing to fear at all. The constant in and out suffered by Mr Brown can be a little annoying as well, plus the possible clash between your existing onboard controls and the Innofader's own. But believe me when I say the effort is well worth it. I would also have liked easy access to the insides for rail cleaning and lubing, but without bending back the clips on the case that isn't possible. It's a shame because the prototype I had was a simple push fit. You still lube with the supplied thin tubes, and because of the non-contact technology, cleaning shouldn't be required.

Audio Innovate Innofader review

In an ideal world - a mythical fairy tale land where there are standards between manufacturers - the Innofader would be a very simple beast, with one connector that fits everything. But this is the real world, and the proposition of such a thing is quite impossible. And what Elliot provides is a fader for all occasions - one that will happily fit into almost any modern mixer you own now or in the future. The Innofader is designed to move with you, rather than being a permanent fixture in your current mixer. I'd say that in most cases, because of the pain in the arse that is fader removal, it's likely to remain inside your mixer of choice.

Audio Innovate Innofader review

My bottom line - the Innofader is a dream come true for DJs. It adds features to mixers that don't have fader controls, and offers more choice to people who didn't have that before. And provided you're careful when you install and be a little over zealous with insulation, the Innofader will give your mixer a whole new life. Right now, it is probably the best 3rd party fader money can buy.


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