Tourbox
$169 | Tourbox Tech

Tourbox's tactile controls are meant to be used by the non-dominant hand to help speed up workflow.

The Tourbox is a plug-in editing console intended to be used with editing (sound, photo and video) software, to speed up a professional's workflow. Tourbox can be customized to work with just about any type of software (as long as there are keyboard shortcuts) and for this review, we tested it with Adobe Photoshop and DaVinci Resolve.

Key features:

  • 3 assignable dials, one with a clicking function
  • 11 buttons in 7 different sizes, all user-assignable
  • Support for any software with existing shortcuts
  • USB pass-through

Compared to its peers

At less than $200, Tourbox comes in at a unique price-point. Competitive options like the Loupedeck CT ($550) and Monogram ($330) offer similar functionality but at a price level that some might find difficult to justify. There are cheaper options like Streamdeck from Elgato ($92), but these don’t offer quite the same tactile interface as Tourbox. Initially offered via Kickstarter and after a successful campaign, Tourbox now retails for $170.

The first non-linear controller I ever used was the often praised Lightroom console some 25+ years ago. Since then I’ve been on the lookout for something as effective and tactile – is the Tourbox going to be the one?

Design and handling

After opening the box, what first struck me about Tourbox is how dense the product is. It weighs in at 13.6oz / 385g, more than its small 4.6 x 4 x 2in / 11.7 x 10.2 x 5cm size might suggest. This is likely because it's designed not to move around on your desk. Included in the box is the unit itself, a user manual, quick start guide and a 5ft braided USB-C to USB-A cable.

The body is finished in a soft-to-touch rubber which initially rang alarm bells with me: I've had other products featuring a similar finish that turned into sticky messes over time due to chemical decomposition. I hope that this is not going to become a problem with Tourbox a few years down the road. Even if it doesn't, keeping the unit free from fingerprints and smudges is a full-time occupation.

As a tactile interface Tourbox generally succeeds

As a tactile interface, Tourbox generally succeeds: The main 4 large buttons (3 on the main surface, 1 on the left side) are easy-to-use and have a mouse-like click with minimal travel. The main central knob feels a little loose and could do with a bit more friction. The scroll wheel (top left) is just about right in terms of resistance and can be clicked inward, providing additional functionality. The dial (bottom left) could benefit from a sensitivity adjustment; it’s a little too responsive for me and tends to slip around a bit.

The 4 D-pad buttons are a little on the small side for me and the placement it slightly too close the the central dial. They also sit a little too flush as well, especially the top one. The round C1 and C2 buttons (upper right) are also on the small side.

Setup and installation

Tourbox has two ports: USB-C for connection to your machine and USB 3.0 for pass-through.

To get things working you first need to download and install the Tourbox Console app which is available for Mac and PC – there’s no support for Andriod, iOS or Linux at the moment. The installation of the software is a little more complicated than usual as you have to install the drivers separately. I've been using it on a self-built Ryzen PC (1700X) running Windows 10 and I would have liked the installation process to be a little more streamlined.

At the moment the Tourbox Console also does not auto load with Windows or MacOS

At the moment the Tourbox Console also does not auto load with Windows or MacOS. It needs to first be started up before you run your selected editing software (although a fix for this is planned for a future software version). One way around this is to manually create a shortcut in your startup items folder.

The Tourbox connects to your computer via the included cable, and there’s also the handy ability to pass-through another USB device using the USB A 3.0 socket.

Using Tourbox

Each control point on Tourbox has a unique name.

As mentioned, the Tourbox offers a number of different buttons and dials of varying sizes, shapes and feel that can be used on their own or in combination with one another. At time of publication it can be set up to have 38 user-defined functions, correlating to software keyboard shortcuts. These functions can be set up differently for each piece of software you'd like to use Tourbox with.

The software comes pre-loaded with shortcuts for Lightroom and Photoshop, but it's easy to change these and to set up new ones

The software itself is very responsive and easy-to-use – I had no stability problems – and it only takes a couple of seconds to run and recognize a connected Tourbox.

However more than once I accidentally typed into the key assignment field when I meant to enter a description. This is because you actually have to select the edit icon before adding a description, you can't type directly into the field.

The main console interface gives you the ability to create multiple presets.

The software comes preloaded with shortcuts for Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop, and it's easy to change these and to set up new ones. I've primarily been using it with DaVinci Resolve and Photoshop. It definitely takes some time and several iterations to find out exactly which control is best for assigning to a function.

It definitely takes some time to find out which control is best for which function

I've found the main dial most useful for scrubbing though a timeline one frame at a time in Resolve, or changing the size of a brush in Photoshop. The mouse-like wheel at the top left I've assigned in both programs to zoom in and out of the image. The large buttons can be assigned to the usual modifiers like CTRL or ALT but equally they can be used for other functions.

This is just a small example of the way these controls can be used.

With my right hand on my mouse, the Tourbox can easily be used with my left, which is the way it was designed. However there's really no reason why you can't use this with your right hand, in fact I think some of the controls are better placed this way, mainly the side button and the dials.

Possible limitations

The rotary controls would benefit from adjustable sensitivity

It's worth noting that black/grey controls on a black/grey body may prove difficult to see in low-light environments like an editing or grading suite. However, with time and experience, you should be able to use the Tourbox without actually looking at it.

Size is also always going to be an issue for some people – for me to comfortably use Tourbox, it would ideally need to be about 20% larger overall (and I do not have big hands). However the distributor, Ikan, has assured me that a lot of the physical issues are being looked at for a future version of this product (and the current version will soon be available in white).

Will it work for you?

Any editing console like this can be a difficult sell, as first of all the physical dimensions and design may not suit all users. And while it should ultimately speed of your workflow, there is an initial learning curve as you get it set up.

It took me about eight days of semi-regular use to get a grip with the Tourbox, and some of this time was down to reassigning buttons and dials to better suit the way I work. Setting up the main controls is quick, but it's getting button combinations that work well together that takes quite a bit longer.

After initial setup this has sped up my workflow, which means that my hands spend less time on the keyboard. Admittedly, it can be easy to lapse back into old ways of working. The biggest change is that there's a certain satisfaction in using wheels to adjust things like brush sizes and navigating through video timelines – it's a more tactile way of fine controlling a virtual tool.

The Tourbox's unique combination of different controls sets itself apart from much of the competition, as does its price. However the product could benefit from some more development work both in the hardware and software departments. And who knows, maybe a Pro version won't be far down the line?

What we like

  • Nice variety of different tactile controls
  • Dense, stays put on desk
  • USB pass-though
  • Detachable Cable
  • Compatibility with tons of software

What we don’t like

  • Somewhat small in size (very subjective)
  • Lack of friction on the central dial
  • Software needs some improvements
  • There's a learning curve to working it successfully into one's workflow

Star Rating