January 9, 2008

MIDI Feets...

by Chris Randall

I need to get a MIDI foot controller, mostly for driving Live. It seems like my options are limited to the Yamaha MFC10 (pictured above) at $279.00, the Roland FC300 for $295, and the Behringer FCB1010 (which is essentially "inspired by" the Roland piece) for $149. Obviously, the last is out of the question, so it's either the Roland or Yamaha boxes...


Voodoo Labs makes a box call the Ground Control Pro which looks like it might do the trick. It's a little more expensive than the others, at $399 or thereabouts, but it seems to be of a quality that I would normally think is "not bad," as opposed to the plastic-o-rama of the others. I can use expression (or volume) pedals of my choice, rather than built-in ones. It seems to be a fairly nice choice, despite the expense. You gets what you pays for.

The only other realistic option is to build one myself, using an Arduino or Doepfer Control or something. This is obviously low on my list of favorite things to do, but it is a possibility.

What's the easiest way to control Live from a floorboard? Anyone have experience with the above boxes? What should I be looking out for?



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Jan.09.2008 @ 12:33 PM
It strikes me that the Ground Control Pro was the board used by Kid Beyond, the beatboxer who does the Live videos.

Chances are there's some useful copycat information about the two somewhere on the Ableton forum.

[edit]As it turns out, after some searching, it seems very little of interest has been said on the Ableton forum on the subject.

I did come across an interesting alternative, though I know nothing about it:

link [www.abilityconter.co...]">link [www.abilityconter.co...]


Jan.09.2008 @ 12:58 PM
Roll your own with a USB keyboard for $10?

link [createdigitalmuic.co...]">link [createdigitalmuic.co...]


Jan.09.2008 @ 1:04 PM
Chris Randall
Fuck that noise. That's for Furby-bending pot-smoking dropouts.

The aBility one is interesting, albeit a bit thin. If the GCP is the one used by Kid Beyond, then it is probably the one I want to use myself.



Jan.09.2008 @ 1:17 PM
I think having a pedal is really worth it ... well, in this case, you spend less money and get more.

The Behringer is, admittedly, one of the few pieces made by them that is decent. But as usual, even there, there's a catch: lousy MIDI setup, though I think there's a hacked firmware out there that addresses that.

Honestly, my choice would be the Roland. It's an excellent, versatile piece of kit.

And yeah, Mike's foot controller also works really nicely, for $10. :) I'd love to see someone do an implementation of that with a fancy case. Hmm... maybe I should give it a go.


Jan.09.2008 @ 2:02 PM
"Fuck that noise. That's for Furby-bending pot-smoking dropouts."

Oi!!, I don't smoke pot ;-)



Jan.09.2008 @ 2:06 PM
Stefan Goodchild
I've got the Behringer and it's as shit as you'd expect. As for controlling Live the more versatile the midi spec of the board the better..

Can it send CCs from the buttons? Can the buttons be setup to toggle between two values? Can the buttons send more than one message at a time?

All those things are proper handy for setting up with live as it means you can do things like set up one button to do a range of things with one hit.

Without that you can always get round the limitations of any pedal board with liberal use of Midipipe (if you're on a mac) or the PC equivalent, forget what it's called. Also you can use the Live Racks to do a bit of that as well.

It's all about what you want it to do in Live, and how far you are prepared to hack about to get it working I guess.


Jan.09.2008 @ 2:50 PM
"What's the easiest way to control Live from a floorboard?"

get on your knees and use your hands?

or for further furby bending wankery get one of those dance dance revolution game pads and bend to send midi.. doesn't that modus operandi fit your live sets just perfectly? ;)

i say go for the voodoo labs thing. it looks more solid and guitarist-like.


Jan.09.2008 @ 2:56 PM
Chris Randall
Also, it can control their effect switcher doo-hickie (that is actually what it is for, really) in fine order, and that's something I could conceivably find use for in Real Life, so that makes a certain amount of sense. I've gone from using only a Tube Screamer live to having fucking mountains of guitar effects, so a switcher would be handy regardless.

As far as I can tell from reading the manual (I know, I know...) you can set 10 of the buttons to be anything MIDI, up to and including transport control. Plus you get 128 scenes, and it has a MIDI in to make the scenes auto-select, which is nice. I think this is the box.



Jan.09.2008 @ 3:14 PM
bome's Midi Translator is the PC equivalent to midipipe.

link [www.bome.com]">link [www.bome.com]

i use a boss gt-3 pedal for infrequent midi-foot-control duties with live. it's virtually the same hardware (-1 exp pedal) as the roland box. it works fine, but the foot switches don't really instill confidence... is it on? is it off? did i hit it right?

the GCP looks to be the proper tool for the job. nice switches, well-spaced, and they all have status LEDs.


Jan.09.2008 @ 3:31 PM
The FCB hardware is built like a tank, except the pedals, but compared to the GCP i actually prefer the FCB. Programming the board is a bit awkward, but for what it's worth I wrote this:
link [bl0rg.net]">link [bl0rg.net]

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