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Loupedeck CT Review: Total Control

Less time producing, more time creating

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Whether you’re working in Adobe Premiere Pro, OBS, or simply looking for a way to speed up your browsing experience, the Loupedeck CT has an answer for you. Coming in at $549, the Loupedeck CT is a powerful and premium input console made to speed up whatever it is you want to do. We previously reviewed the Loupedeck Live and were impressed by what a powerful device it was for streaming, but how does its bigger, more capable brother fare? Find out in our review. 

Specifications

  • Current Price: $549 (Loupedeck, Amazon)
  • Key Features (per Amazon):
    • Native Integrations : Adobe Lightroom Classic, Photoshop CC with Camera Raw, Premiere Pro CC, After Effects, Illustrator, Audition, Final Cut Pro X, Ableton Live 10, OBS Studio, and Streamlabs (Windows only)
    • Ready Right Out of the Box: By default, Loupedeck CT comes with a set of predefined tools and workspaces, to kickstart your creative journey, so you can begin to boost your productivity and focus on achieving the perfect edit.
    • Powerful Customizable Software: Assign tools and functions to almost any button, touchscreen, wheel or dial according to your workflow. Experience precision editing with features such as full-screen editing mode, available exclusively through the Loupedeck software.
    • Premium Grade Tool for Pros: With high-quality aluminum cover and dials, touchscreens, LED backlighting, machine-quality ball bearings Loupedeck CT delivers a powerful and precise experience within an array of creative environments and software.
    • Make It Your Own: Create Custom Profiles using shortcuts and macros for any application you wish to use. We have provided several profiles including, DaVinci Resolve, Cubase, and more to get you started with building and sharing your own Custom Profiles.
    • USB and Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Inputs:
    • 6 rotatable dials (with push functions)
    • Touch screen (with touch buttons)
    • 8 round buttons
    • 12 square buttons
    • Rotatable wheel with touch-sensitive wheel screen
  • Dimensions: 6.3 x 5.9 x 1.2"
  • Weight: 365g
  • System Requirements: 
    • Windows 10
    • macOS 10.13 or Later
    • Internet Connection to Download Loupedeck software

The Loupedeck CT has one key purpose: to make your life easier. More than most products, whether it succeeds at that goal will depend on your own perseverance. It’s an input device primarily targeted at creatives: people who work with photo, video, and inside audio workstations, but because of its incredible versatility, it can also control your live streams, media, and even productivity apps like Microsoft Excel. In a real way, this tiny device is designed to replace your keyboard in these situations. It has the potential to speed up your editing workflow and get you back to creating (or, frankly, not editing) faster.

You’ll notice that I’m leaning into the editing side of this device. That’s because the CT, or Creative Tool, is designed for creatives first and entertainment second. At $549, it’s really only going to be worth it if you’re spending a good amount of time editing and, I would wager, the majority of users will be using it to earn an income. But, it just so happens, that the very versatility that allows it to be such a good “creative tool” also allows it to become quite a good companion device for everyday use. If you’re not quite at the level of needing such a deep tool, the Loupedeck Live is an excellent alternative for less than half the price. 

At $549, you expect a certain level of quality and I’m happy to say that the Loupedeck CT delivers. The unboxing experience is very nice with the packaging unfolding like a jewelry box. The console is well protected and includes a braided USB cable for connecting to a PC, as well as some basic documentation. 

The unit itself feels solid and well-made. It features a metal top plate and ring around the central control dial. The twelve square buttons also seem to be mechanical, which is promising for their long-term durability. The six rotary encoders are also solid without any undue play and have nice tactile feedback that’s similar to the eight circular buttons. The main touch screen, which is divided into 12 additional buttons and two side panels, seems to be plastic but sits below the rest of the face, so should be well protected in the event of a drop. The screen on the dial feels like glass, which would be more prone to breakage, but Loupedeck has recessed it under the lip of the outer ring for added protection in the event of a drop. 

As you can tell, this is a device with a lot of inputs, but Loupedeck does a good job of keeping things organized. Every set of inputs is tied to an app, even if that app is Windows or MacOS. With the touch screen included, there are a total of 38 buttons. The touch screen supports multiple pages of actions, however, and those groups of pages can further be divided into workspaces, so the total amount of actions could be dozens and dozens deep. These can be customized and should be, to really make the most of the device.

The magic of the Loupedeck comes with its rotary encoders. For creative applications with lots of tools and parameters, the presence of programmable encoders is a game-changer. Being able to quickly scrub a timeline, adjust brush size, scale opacity, adjust media volume, color grade, control a gradient — these are all things the Loupedeck CT makes faster and easier. For some actions, using the six notched dials surrounding the touch screen is better thanks to the tactile feedback. For others, like color grading in Adobe Premiere Pro, the smooth glide of the central dial is a much better fit and feels far more natural than a mouse. 

These examples only scratch the surface of what the CT can do once it’s fully dialed in for your creative style. Frankly, it can be a little overwhelming since there are so many tools, options, and shortcuts inside the Adobe suite in particular. I’m hardly a master at every shortcut hidden inside Photoshop, and even people with years more experience than me wouldn’t claim to be. These are deep programs that take years to master and are constantly evolving. 

That’s where the Profiles come in. The team at Loupedeck has created profiles for many of the most popular pieces of creative software, as well as streaming apps like OBS and even Spotify. These give you a starting point, putting the most common commands right at your fingertips. Final Cut Pro X, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and many more are ready right out of the box.  There are also custom profiles available for download for a wide array of other programs, like Audacity, Blender, Da Vinci Resolve, Firefox, Cubase, and even Zoom. 

The company has also done a great job of refining the product over time. Most recently, the company added MIDI support an improved volume mixer to better work within DAWs. It’s also been diligent about refining the profiles it provides and adding functionality. Take a look at the most recent patch notes to see for yourself. It’s important to note that this product and others like it are what this company does. Supporting it with added functionality, fixes, and feature updates are a core part of the business.

Everything probably sounds quite rosy at this point, but there’s another side to this: this is a device that needs to be customized. It really, really does. The included profiles are a good starting point, but at least for me, I found they actually slowed me down at first. The unit does a decent job of giving you a basic overview in the beginning, and I like that you have to actually engage with the hardware to progress it, but it took me days to get the Loupedeck CT to a place where I felt like I was on par with my mouse and keyboard muscle memory.

Here’s the thing: your workflow isn’t going to be the same as mine. We approach these programs in ways that work best for us. For me, that meant taking the starting point of the Premiere Pro Profile and completely reworking the workspaces. Even now after three weeks, I’m still going in there and editing pages and shortcuts. 

The software is also a hurdle. I don’t find it as difficult as some other users do, but it’s still more complicated than it should be. Finding commands involves scrolling long lists or searching keywords. Once you find the command you want, you can drag and drop it, but it feels like you should be able to go in and see how Loupedeck has put them together (similar to custom actions), but this isn’t possible across the board. Loupedeck has created a dictionary of commands and the ability to craft custom actions and thrown it to the left of the window, with graphics of the CT in the middle, and workspace organization all along the right. It’s… a lot.

But — and this is the most important part — once you do wrap your head around it and get it set up for you, it can completely change how you work. This is the kind of device that becomes so personal to you, it can be hard to go without it. That honestly scares me a little bit because if anything ever happens to this device, I’ll feel handicapped. The only thing I regularly need to reach for the keyboard for is applying preset effects and transitions I’ve purchased, which is a huge improvement from those early days and has streamlined how I approach editing.

Final Thoughts

The Loupedeck CT isn’t for everyone. Normal streamers will be better suited reaching for the Loupedeck Live and investing the leftover money into core PC upgrades. If you’re someone who works in a creative field, however, the CT will make creating and editing feel natural — after you’ve spent the time to make it your own. For the users willing to invest time, money, and effort learning its ins and outs, it can be a substantial upgrade to the ease and pace of your work.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
9.0Amazing
Pros
  • Extremely powerful tool for content creators
  • Very customizable
  • Lots of support apps with many more available as free downloads
  • Well-bulit and feels great to use
  • Plentiful updates
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Demands customization but has a steep learning curve


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight