Very often you see mixing engineers using a trackball in professional studios to control their on-screen mouse cursor when making music..
But the question.. is a trackball better than a mouse for music production?
After years of experience using a trackball and mouse in FL Studio, here’s my thoughts!
It’s important to think about ergonomics, especially as you get older, like a nice music studio chair, a comfortable for music production mouse, and posture!
In short, a trackball reduces strain of repetitive tasks, but a mouse is more accurate and natural feeling in music production software.
What You Will Learn:
- Trackball vs. Mouse for Music Production (FL Studio)
- What is a Trackball? (Ergonomic Mouse for Music Production)
- What to Look for in a Mouse for Music Production (Gaming Mouse)
Trackball vs. Mouse for Music Production (FL Studio)
A trackball is a type of ergonomic mouse to reduce strain of repetitive tasks when using a computer that eventually hurt your joints (knuckles, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and even back!)
A trackball is better than a mouse for reducing pain from repetitive tasks.. however, a trackball isn’t the best mouse for music production when making beats, from my experience.
A trackball really shines for computer tasks like:
- Mixing Music and Mastering Music
- Using a Music Computer to Manage your Files
- Opening Up VST Plugins
- Browsing the Internet
- (Or just writing this article here)
However, I’ve found a trackball to be bad for beatmaking and editing MIDI Notes.
When editing MIDI Notes after using a MIDI Keyboard, I feel a trackball mouse is incredibly awkward, especially if you have to hold down RIGHT-CLICK and move the ball for mouse movement.
Nowadays, I often switch between a mouse and trackball…
I use the trackball for the majority of my daily tasks to reduce strain on my elbow and knuckles [Repetitive strain injury (RSI)]. So blogging, or light mixing in FL Studio, the trackball is great.
If I’m teaching a FL Studio Course, the dexterity a mouse gives you is unmatched. (A mouse feels like it’s apart of your arm.. and feels so natural).
So in short, a mouse is definitely better. A trackball reduces strain, but at times it feels awkward for very critical tasks.
What is a Trackball? (Ergonomic Mouse for Music Production)
There’s actually a couple different types of trackball mice available.
I’ve only used the dedicated standalone ergonomic trackballs.
You use the ball to move the mouse cursor, and it usually has 4 buttons for a similar mouse experience, like LEFT-CLICK, RIGHT-CLICK, and MIDDLE-CLICK.
Trackballs often come with software to program how you want the buttons to work in general, or you can assign them uniquely for different software..
For example, in FL Studio I could assign a button to be MIDDLE-CLICK, or I could swap LEFT/RIGHT-CLICK. You can even reverse the scroll direction.
Another trackball option is a mouse trackball.. it’s still a mouse which you hold in your hand and click normally, but has a trackball for very fine adjustments. I have no experience with these.. leave a comment if you do!
In short, I’m happy with my Kensington Expert Trackball Mouse.
But.. for critical situations, like if I were teaching, and I need the mouse to do EXACTLY what I want it to do for the best learning experience of the student, I’d look at a mouse instead.
What to Look for in a Mouse for Music Production (Gaming Mouse)
View this link to see my current mouse, where I explain more in-depth about what’s the best mouse for music production (and FL Studio).
It’s actually really hard to find a good mouse.
Because of gaming, mice have become expensive, feature-rich, and very sensitive and accurate. This is good and bad.
Good because mice now give the user the best experience.. bad because the prices have jumped drastically.
In short, I like a mouse that is:
- Wired (Not Wireless)
- Has the forward/back buttons by the thumb
- Feels natural
Most often, you’ll want to buy a gaming mouse for music production because the sensors are designed for accurate movement, as well as comfort for long hours of use at a time.
Again, read my best mouse for FL Studio article.
Conclusion: Trackball vs. Mouse for FL Studio?
I would personally recommend a mouse for FL Studio while making beats.
However, in the mixing stage and using plugins, a trackball is quite enjoyable when just hovering over a knob and using the scroll wheel. There are times when using the Trackball’s ball for mouse movement is really nice for fine-tuning because you just move the mouse ball very gently..
The most annoying thing of the trackball is holding RIGHT-CLICK and moving the ball at the same time, it’s VERY awkward.
Questions about what a trackball is used for, why a mouse is better than a trackball, or any other disadvantages of a trackball?
Leave a comment with your thoughts!