Beat Buddy Midi Controller Features:
OK, so let me talk about what I think you might need in a BB specific midi controller. It’s mostly based on what I do with my own rig now.
It would be nice if it would fit on a pedal board so that it could be permanently wired up both for connections (which might get complicated) and power. It did occur to me that you could make such a controller actually ‘house’ the BB. That is, have a space on the controller that the BB would sit in (using the usual Velcro attachment method) so basically the controller sits under the BB. That might save some real estate on the board.
I have found the need to adjust drum volume from time to time with my set up/act. There are a couple of ways of doing this that I can see:
An external volume control pedal between the BB output and the mixer or next effect.
An external midi based expression pedal that drives the BB volume via midi
Midi solutions Pedal controller (http://www.midisolutions.com/prodped.htm)and a pedal like an FC7 to basically create your own external midi based volume control.
An on board (integrated into a BB midi controller unit) expression pedal that can be programmed to control the BB volume (or anything else) via midi.
In this thread http://mybeatbuddy.com/forum/index.php?threads/external-tempo-control-pedal-for-the-beatbuddy.5712/ on the forum, kittycatonline described a foot switch operated tempo controller. The comments implied that they had tried an expression pedal based version previously but it did not work so well. I am not sure if that is because of the way the controller is implemented (I think it needs a physical mod to the BB)of it was a result of the inaccuracies of an expression pedal.
I did something similar using midi just to see how well it worked http://mybeatbuddy.com/forum/index.php?threads/tempo-buddy.5972/#post-24018
I suspect the switch based approach is better. For mine the only change I’d make is to make it so that press and hold stepped up/down through the tempo settings rapidly and the individual taps of the switch adjusted the tempo in single steps for fine tuning/final selection.
A lot of people use various software for their lyrics/ tabs etc and also use that same software to select various settings such as tempo and or song on the BB by sending it appropriate midi commands. Since a midi based BB controller would need to use the BB midi in, it would need to be able to merge an external midi source into it’s own stream so that people could still control the BB using their existing setup and yet still have access to additional features programmed into the BB midi controller.
Integration with the BB:
Generally any external controller is going to be operating blindly with respect to the BB. that it, although it sends signals to it via midi it really does not ‘know’ what the BB is doing, for example, playing, stopped, paused fill, intro etc. so it occurs to me there ‘might’ be some benefit being able to connect the BB midi out to the controller so that the BB can tell the controller what it is doing. That may offer the opportunity for the controller to be more intelligent in it’s operation. EG. An expression pedal could control volume when playing but something else when stopped.
It would require though that the midi in from the BB to the controller be exposed via midi through so that anyone using the midi out from the BB could still use it.
I’ve found LEDs tend to fade out in the sun. So do LCDs but not as much. You did such a great job of the BB display I think something similar on a controller would be better than an LED based display.
For home programming, USB based connection to software has to be easiest. Would also give you the ability to save and restore multiple configurations
If you use an LCD display for the unit, then manually programming the unit using an interface similar to what you have on the BB is probably the next best option. Also requires no additional hardware/software.
For anyone using a mobile device to talk to the BB already via midi means they have a midi interface of some sort so the ability to save/restore/modify settings from a mobile device (just need to plug the midi into the controller temporarily) via an app might be useful for last minute changes at gigs etc.
So, what features would I like to see given the above and my current setup?
Easy to program. One reason I don’t use the FCB1010 much is that I can never remember how to program it without the software and I did not have a midi interface on my PC for a long time (got a cheap singe usb to midi interface, works fine).
Volume control via an expression pedal. I am certainly going to add some some sort of volume control to my rig. I could just plug an external pedal between the BB out and mixer but that’s just something else to fail. I’ll probably add the capability to my Jamman to BB interface and control it via midi since I have an old FC7 pedal doing nothing.
Tempo up/down. For people not using midi to set the tempo, a couple of switches to let you quickly step up/down through the tempo (press and hold) and then single step (press and release) to set a specific tempo.
Folder/song select. Currently I use an external two button foot switch to step up down through the songs in a folder, works fine but I have no ability to change folder using it. Eventually I’ll get of my backside and set up a single folder with all the songs I need in it (I am just using a few of the presets for now) but I can see that some people might want to be able to select a folder and then song within folder without having to bend down and mess with buttons on the BB. The current BB midi implementation for folder/song select lets you select specific songs within specific folders but there is no way to simply step through them.
Midi in/merge for all those people currently using software/apps to preset BB settings via midi so that it and the controller can co-exist.
Small enough to fit on a pedal board and thus be permanently wired up, both for midi and power (in which case you can use a wall wart). If it has to live off pedal board then I suspect that direct mains power is a slightly better option than a wall wart) or batteries (enough capacity to give several hours of use) EG 8 x AA.