The GAMO2 group joined DJ DAO under the Skystar Company to produce their first controller, the IIDX ‘C33‘, in 2012. Since then, they’ve been creating interesting and unique controllers that are not restricted to an ‘arcade-accurate’ design, yet which remain beautiful and highly functional.
That’s in comparison to their ‘big sister brand’ DJDAO, which has been in the Arcade-style Controller business for 15 years. DAO’s controllers focus on replicating the arcade experiences, especially in terms of design.
Thanks to GAMO2, we were fortunate enough to get our hands on an early review sample so we could test it out and give you all the information you need to know. So, if you’re in the market for a new SOUND VOLTEX controller, keep reading to see what we think about it.
Now, as we’ve touched on many times, home controllers have been an important aspect of building the popularity and following for rhythm games globally.
Way back in 2006, ‘DJ DAO’ released their first original controller for beatmania IIDX, the FP7. However, the market was very different back then. If you wanted to play at home, you had to pony up a large fortune for a Konami ASC, or grab some cheaper, unreliable options, many of which might not have been available to ship to you.
Back in my day…
Now, we have many companies (and individuals) producing completely custom PCBs and controllers for the world. Konami finally noticed this in recent years and started to ramp up their Konami Game Station (Konasute/eAMUSEMENT Cloud) offerings.
Now IIDX, GITADORA, pop’n music, SDVX, and even Nostalgia have their own full home releases on PC, and the situation seems to have improved since the PS3 was released and Konami stopped producing console releases back in 2009 – starting the 6-year void until beatmania IIDX INFINITAS was announced.
After INFINITAS, Konami saw potential in SOUND VOLTEX (SDVX) and built a new payment model with Tickets for the GRAVITY WARS Cloud release, alongside a subscription-based model. This new combination and ability to choose was immediately popular, and the game took off from there.
Since then, we’ve seen a huge amount of songs added to the game, with nearly the entire arcade song catalog available now.
On to controller support for this game; this was limited at first. VIRGOO had released a controller in 2014, and they updated it in 2017, but they seem to be not producing them anymore.
Konami released their own ‘SOUND VOLTEX CONSOLE -NEMSYS- Ultimate Model‘ when the game launched, but it was pricey and only sold in one limited batch. The ‘Entry Model‘ controller was then released at a lower price with support for the supposedly upcoming/canceled ULTIMATE MOBILE release for smartphones (no information as of 2021…)
YuanCon also released their own controller for the game just before the official launch, which is sold in limited-production batches every so often.
Enter the FAUCETWO (F2).
After creating the IIDX PHOENIXWAN, GAMO2 looked at what was needed in the market now and created a beautiful and highly functional controller that looks great in-person, and just as cool during your live streams.
Much like the PHOENIXWAN, the FAUCETWO ships surrounded by foam in a sturdy, stylish box, wrapped in plastic before being dropped into the larger shipping box, with even more foam packing material. Clearly, GAMO2 has learned from past experiences, and is now able to ship a controller with full confidence that it should look and work perfectly on arrival:
Fair disclosure: when we received ours, the aluminum rings around the PVC feet had come slightly loose. After pushing them into place, and even after two months of play, they haven’t loosened one bit:
Aside from that, the controller arrived in perfect condition, and somehow, even during a global pandemic, it shipped from the warehouse in China to my door in Japan…in just 4 days! Nice.
Opening the box, we of course see the familiar 2-knob layout that SDVX is known for. All the foam packing pieces were made specifically to fit the controller, and it manages to look good at the same time.
Peeling off the top layer reveals the controller in all its glory:
It looks… pretty damn awesome.
The styling is noticeably SDVX-themed, with design elements reminiscent of VIVIDWAVE. I can only speculate/hope that this was done assuming SDVX Cloud will be updated to VW spec at some point in the near future.
Lifting the controller out and looking under another layer of foam, we find a few items:
- USB-A to USB-B cable (Data)
- USB-A to USB-C cable (Power)
- The English/Japanese manual sheet
- A box of 10 replacement dampening rubber inserts for the default knobs
According to the GAMO2 team, these dampening sheets may (or may not) need to be replaced after 3-4 months of normal usage. However, this depends on the amount of play (knob usage) and the specific environment the controller is kept in.
In my case, I’ve been playing moderately for the last 6 months and it feels good as new, but of course, your mileage will vary.
These can be changed out by removing some screws and nuts if needed. But do note: you’ll need to have your own tools as they’re not included in the box:
Back to the design…
I really like how this controller looks.
The rounded edges reminded me of the PHOENIXWAN (and half of the TurboCharger) but compared to those, this is one solid piece all the way around. Although the controller is light, it feels solid, and there’s barely any flex to it.
The clear panel on top will probably not have any customization options, one thing we confirmed with DAO’s Design Team. That said, I would have no issue keeping this as-is for many years:
The front and side edges of the controller and totally plain while, with three things on the rear edge:
- A Function ‘FN’ button for changing the knob trigger distance (more on this later)
- A USB-C port for powering the controller’s extra lights*
- A USB-B port for data
*As noted by the design team, while the USB-C cable is not necessary for gameplay, it does make the experience better! Although this cable is NOT required for the button lights, it IS required to power the aesthetic RGB lightbars.
I’m personally a huge fan of how the lightbars look on the FAUCETWO, although the scrolling ‘heartbeat monitor’ seems to go a little too fast when the default knobs/encoders are used as opposed to arcade-style Copals. But overall, it’s not annoying or out-of-place at all.
As seen in the above video, the light changes direction and speed depending on the knob input. During gameplay, this didn’t bother me at all, but there is the option to toggle off all lights, including the button ones, by pressing START + BT-A, B, C, D at the same time. This may be useful during a Livestream for example, depending on your preference.
Speaking of lights, although it looks pretty cool, don’t press ALL THE BUTTONS like I accidentally did before reading the manual…
If I’d read the manual I would have known that this is only for use when changing between Default and Copal encoders. Oops! It can be changed back any time though:
So, let’s talk about some of the features of this controller. In line with the recently released PHOENIXWAN, the FAUCETWO also offers a high amount of customization through a custom-designed PCB and specialized firmware.
By holding down Function + FX-L/R, you can adjust the knob’s trigger distance of 6 levels of sensitivity for the knob’s dead zone. Playing with the default of Level 1, I had no issues with misfires or knobs going the wrong way/not enough, but you can adjust this to your liking:
Let’s get to where the magic happens: inside the controller.
On the back of the controller, we have… nothing but the feet!
Opening it up is similar to many DJDAO controllers of the past, you just pull on the feet/legs to remove the whole panel. I had no problem using my non-dominant hand for this, and the magnets had a good strength to them:
And once we’re inside, we see…
Wait, this isn’t a IIDX controller, is it?
(In fact it is not!)
To explain, DJDAO has always been known for innovation and placing a top priority on functionality. However, the recent DJDAO Design Team has seriously stepped up their game, and instead of focusing on replicating the ‘perfect arcade experience’ they instead go for a more relaxed but unique approach.
One clear example is here, where they’ve opted to ignore the whole SDVX knob standard and instead go for an optical encoder design that’s closer to how beatmania/IIDX has been doing it since the beginning of the series.
What does this mean for the controller? Well, for one we have an arguably less failure-prone sensor method here, which can be changed out easier than standard encoders. According to the Design Team, this method gives the knobs a lower input delay and higher resolution.
Using this design also lets them use the above-mentioned dame
But how do they actually feel?
Honestly, I can only say ‘Perfect.’
I had a feeling I’d enjoy the PHOENIXWAN’s new turntable grip when I got it, and I do, to this day. It’s the same feeling here.
Although I’m not a pro by any means, I can clear a few 15s, and I have enough skill to know when there are misfires or issues with the sensor, or how to ‘glitch’ the inputs for certain patterns, etc.
I have played on a LOT of different SDVX controllers, from home controllers to unreleased prototypes, to brand-new arcade setups, and more… But I’ve never felt a nicer set of knobs than these.
The inside of the FAUCETWO is a pretty nice sight. If I had a ‘gaming space’ I would totally get a clear back panel made, and mount the F2 above my monitor. I sometimes wonder how many photos of a controller are needed, especially when most of you have seen plenty of them before… but you can’t deny that this one just has the right aesthetic.
As for buttons and switches, mine came with DAO Buttons and Omron Switches. I think I’d recommend this one overall.
Of course, you can choose between DJDAO custom buttons and springs at 60/100g (40g for FX), or arcade-accurate Sanwa switches at the same 60g/100g. The microswitch options are also plentiful, with a choice of Honeywell 15g (V15S05-EZ015-K01) or the usual 25g/50g/100g Omrons. (D2MV-01-1C2/1C3 / V-10-1A4)
As usual, if you’re looking to save money, the default Honeywell/DAO config is just fine. But if you’re picky about your switches and buttons, you’ll probably prefer the top-spec Sanwa/Omron upgrade or at least somewhere in the middle. This chart from the product page gives some common combinations:
For more details on what’s available, check out the official Specs page.
Recent DJDAO controllers have had a pretty clean and well-thought-out interior layout, and the FAUCETWO continues this trend:
Like the PHOENIXWAN, the connectors are fairly easy to take off for switch maintenance, etc. I did my standard ‘shake test’ (holding down all buttons and then shaking the controller violently to see if any wires come loose/un-triggered) and there were no issues.
To commemorate the launch of this controller, DJDAO put together a special ‘Limited-Edition‘ set with free choice of Sanwa/Omron combinations, plus the ability to customize each of the button LED lights separately, PLUS neat Pink knobs, the choice to make all buttons white, and to top it all off, a wall scroll and custom Acrylic art panel!
The price for this is
only a little bit more than if you’d maxed out the regular ed ition, so this is definitely a good option if you were already considering that! SOLD OUT!! Restock not yet confirmed, but keep an eye out!
Okay, final thoughts: Honestly, this is probably the best controller you can buy at the moment, unless you absolutely have to have the ‘arcade-style’ SVRE9, or if you just can’t afford it. But if you’re able to, I would highly recommend saving some money so you can get one of these, as they will not disappoint you.
If you’re looking for a nice SOUND VOLTEX controller with some unique features and great quality, the FAUCETWO can be pre-ordered on the GAMO2 official pages below for shipment in July. The default configuration includes custom DJDAO buttons with 60g springs and 15g Honeywell microswitches. Express EMS shipping to the US is about $68 at the time of writing.
Thanks to the DJDAO crew for hooking us up with this review unit! We also have a special message from the Design Team for our readers:
The knob system is a new design, so there may be some unexpected things/problems. Please contact us as soon as possible, and we will do our best to solve our problems.
Thanks to support us. We will keep working on new designs and new products for rhythm game.
- Strong and high-quality custom case, clean but fun design
- Highly accurate and durable knob/sensor combination
- Customizable RGB lighting colors
- Convenient maintenance access
- Moderate-size design that’s not too big or too small
- Full support for SDVX Cloud and other games with easy mode switching
- If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest/smallest/most portable controller, this is not that.
- A few small features would have been nice (see below).
REVIEW SCORE: 9/10
- Styling/Cool Factor ➡ 8.
Looks great as a player and spectator. Design will eventually be outdated but should still pop after 10 years.
- Performance (Default) ➡ 8.5.
Default buttons and switches are fine, but Sanwas/Omrons are just better.
- Knobs/Encoders (Default) ➡ 9.5.
Absolutely awesome – the only downside is disassembly/maintenance.
- Fun Factor/Features ➡ 8.
Not super groundbreaking, but still has some perks over the competition.
- Quality/Comfort/Touch ➡ 9.5.
Compared to controllers from 10+ years ago, F2 feels very premium and modern.
- Practicality/Portability ➡ 9.
Detachable cables are nice, but internal storage and/or a single-cable design would have been appreciated too.
- Value ➡ 9.5.
It’s amazing to see a controller this nice at an affordable price. It should last and retain value for a long time.