Searching for high-torque encoders

Hey people,

I tested a lot of encoders. PEC11L, PEC12R, PEC16, EC12, EC16… but none of them has a good feel. They are all very “light” when turning. I’m looking for encoders that needs more torque to get turned.

Do you have any ideas where to find those?


I have good experience with these optical encoders that I used in my Monome Arc clone project. They were also used in the original monome arc. When I made that project they were about 9€ each, which is high but fair. Now they are 26€ a piece which is just ridiculous. I wouldn’t buy them anymore but maybe they’re right for you. They feel nice, and the resistance on mine is almost potentiometer-like. Unfortunately the switch-version wobbles quite a bit. It’s okay, but not worthy of the silly high price tag.

If you are willing to write some more code, you can also try sin/cos potentiometers. I recently bought a couple of these. They have two wipers that output two 90° phase-shifted triangle signals. With some glue code you can get super high resolution from them. AFAIK they are also used in the latest Elektron devices, but the version with a switch is not available from any seller online, it seems. The feel from those is just superb. They require a lot of torque but are butter smooth - with a good knob they feel just perfect. I haven’t put them to use yet, so I can’t help with the required software code to make them work, but it shouldn’t be too hard.

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Hi @TheSlowGrowth,

at first thanks for the reply.
Last week I ordered a bunch of encoders from mouser. Also the EM14 which you recommended. Today I received the package.
The EM14 feels really great!! But I understand what you mean with the switch. But to be honest: To me it feels better than on other encoders because the switch is soft.

Anyway: 26€ is too heavy… If i only need one… okay. But for my projects I need 10pc each time. So this is a lot…

I’ll look through the other encoders and will give a feedback here tomorrow or next week.


Yes, the switch is soft - it doesn’t have a clear tactile bump. But that was not the problem with mine. It was the sideways-wobble of the shaft. When I attached a large knob (monome arc, y’know?) I found that the knob would tilt noticably when pressed off-center due to the wobbly shaft. A good potentiometer doesn’t have that much play. But I bought 6 of them and there was a noticable spread between them. Some were better, some worse. Maybe the price bump means they changed their manufacturing and the tolerances are better now. I don’t know. 26€ is too much anyway.

The Alpha Sin/Cos potentiometers from my previous post feel A LOT better. It’ll take some software trickery but the hardware itself is superior to the EM14 encoders in terms of mechanical resistance / smoothness and build quality. Mouser has the 20k version available at 4.27€/piece with no minimum order quantity. It’s worth a shot.

Oh yes, please report back!

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I’ll add them to my mouser cart :slight_smile:

I want to use those encoders for a midi controller. The whole electronic (incl pcb routing) is done already and I now search for great encoders. With that said I would need a way to convert the sin/con pots to digital signals that look like encoder output… Not sure if there is an easy way to do so…

They don’t have a switch, right?

Alright… so here is my sum up:

Bourns EM14R0D: Great encoder. It runs very smooth. It has a switch integrated which felt great at first glance. But when looking at it more detailed it doesn’t give a “defined” feedback if the switch is pressed or not. About 27€ / pc. Too expensive in my opinion…

Bourns EPS1D-F19-AE0024L: Also a great encoder and with 6,50€ less expensive. Also the switch feels great because it is not tactile. The encoder-shaft moves about 2-3mm into the housing and gives a nice feedback. It runs also very smooth. But: It has a big housing. Its about 20x22mm. And the biggest drawback: It’s shaft is only 4,7mm thick though you can not use standard knobs. :frowning:

Bourns PEC09-2020F-S0015: Only 2,75€ / pc. It feels okay but feels way cheaper as the encoders mentioned before. It requires more torque to start turning the encoder as on other encoders I’ve tested (like PEC11L). The running-torque seems to be the same as on PEC11L. The integrated switch is standard like on any other encoders. Nothing special here.

CTS 290VAB0R201B1: Do not buy it! It costs little less than 4€ but it feels totally cheap. It requires almost no torque to turn the encoder.

Bourns 3315R: If you are look for very small encoders without switch and great running torque, you should take a look at these buddys. The feel great, but are miniature. They have a very small shaft. But it gives you a nice potentiometer-feeling.

I think I’ll go the step you recommended above. I will try the sin/con-pots. A friend of mine is able to write the necessary code for a small MSP-IC. So this may work out very well…

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Hey, thanks for the update!

No unfortunately not. But Elektron use the very same part except with a switch. So Alps DO make them with a switch I just didn’t find and reseller that sells the switch version online. You could ask Alps directly if you want enough of them. Or maybe even ask mouser to add them to their inventory? I’d certainly buy a couple of these and I guess I’m not the only one.

I found them already and you can order them at Mouser:

Also it’s not ALPS… the company is ALPHA. :slight_smile: