“Stand-by, and super important, oh my God, cue. Go! I said Go. No, really, GO.” The space bar can only take you so far in life.

Meet the MR-4 from Duck’s Echo Sound. It’s a brilliantly simple little box that does four things, and does them well: Go, Stop, Next, Previous. What could be better than that? The MR-4 is a four-button MIDI remote (get it?) that can be used with any MIDI-compatible playback system. I’ve used it with both Figure 53 QLab and Stage Research SFX, and it’s been incredibly easy and 100% reliable. It’s so good that I’ve even had an engineer comment on it—not bad for a plastic box.

The MR-4 is made of durable ABS plastic and has four excellent, environmentally sealed push-buttons. These buttons were tested extensively and selected to provide what the manufacturer calls “a solid ‘click’ feel to the operator, while still being quiet enough that you can use it in a front-of-house mixing position without distracting audience members.” The locking power supply connector has a user-friendly wall-wart plug. And the slickest part? The MR-4 connects to your system via a MIDI cable—no DB-9 cables, no MIDI Solutions boxes. Plug and play. And play. And play.

The MR-4 was developed by Andy Leviss, a New York based sound engineer who has spent many years working with sound systems and computers and running shows. He became tired of adapting other technologies to do the job and decided to build a new, smarter and easier box from the ground up. He programs the controller to send a note-on command when a button is pressed and a note-off command on its release. With the hard part done, all you have to do is tell your software what to listen for and how to react. Setting this unit up takes no time.

The MR-4 is a great addition to any playback system, but it is also incredibly useful in any kind of redundant playback system, where you need two computers to fire simultaneously. The MR-4 does this fine, but the MR-6 is also worth looking at. You guessed it, the MR-6 has six buttons. These two auxiliary buttons can be programmed to do whatever makes the most sense in your system. Typical applications include using a button to engage your audio switcher to the back-up machine, or switch your KVM, or even fire a specific cue. The MR-6 also has a footswitch input that can be programmed to be an alternate Go button.

Say goodbye to your worn out space bar, your USB-extended keypad, your DB-9 to TRS to F8, or even your blue-glowing Powermate. The MR-4 and MR-6 are so smart, you can tell they were designed by someone who does what you do.