Thoughts on BB (after only a few days)

I’m really new to this so I’m still getting my head around the possibilities but I’d like to share a few thoughts. Forgive me if I’m way off the mark on a few things & am missing vital points.

Firstly, great forum, some super knowledgeable & friendly folk here, respect.

BB, a great albeit pricey product with some fantastic potential.

Here come the gripes.

Individual song volumes. How is it possible that they can’t be saved either on the pedal or the BB manager? This is basic stuff & anyone who’s has ever gigged with drum machines or rhythm loops knows that it’s one of the most important things to get right. I’m reading that folk are getting around it adding volume pedal & sound levelers? Come on, we shouldn’t be having to do this, this is a fundamental issue. Controlling the volume via midi control on a app like Onsong seems the most practical way to deal with this & I’m curious to know if anyone who uses Onsong in this way can walk me through how it can be achieved?

Fills, why are they so freakin’ loud & in many cases way over the top in complexity?
IMO it’s a machine & shouldn’t be calling that much attention to itself, the main thing the audience should be focused on are the humans playing not the BB. Be subtle.

Intros, I know this can be switched off but do you really want the 1st thing that the audience hears at the beginning of a song to be the drum machine? I’ve played with real drummers for 40 years + & pretty much the only time a drummer will do a fancy fill at the start is in reggae music. Probably the best way is to remove the intros from the songs where you don’t want them in BB manager. Which brings me to BB Manager.

OMG what a poor piece of software, it should & could be so much better. I’m having to export my midi files into Cubase where I can edit them properly. This brings mapping issues which makes everything so time consuming going back & forth.

It’s going to take me weeks if not months to get this thing up to gigging standard & that’s disappointing tbh.

It would seem to me that the main use for BB is in solo/duo/trio gig situations where the performer/s need an adaptable backing rhythm with a couple of good grooving, realistic sounding parts for each song & maybe some subtle fills for changes outros etc.

Other than that it’s just a hobbyist’s bedroom toy for those with pretty deep pockets.

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Hey! Welcome!

We’ve been playing 60+ shows a year with ours, from pubs to festivals. The only real change I’ve made to the pedal is I’ve rebuilt the original Standard kit with more live-style EQ and gates on (mostly) the toms, and it works, because my biggest issue out of the box was that the toms are way too lively and ring for-freakin’-ever. I do program parts (not very often fills) for almost all of my songs because I am a little anal (okay, a lot anal) about the drummer playing the exact right thing.

The only fills I regularly tweak are the intros (I still need a four-count).

The BB MIDI editor was created by a user here, and was added to the BBM as a reluctant response to popular demand. The bigger issue, in my mind, is that they don’t have a native MIDI editor. But I’m not sure that would make people happy if they did because of the way people work: I really like the MIDI editor in Reaper, and really don’t the editor in Cubase. But it IS a hole, for sure.

It sounds like you have the original parts rather than the Rev.02 parts, which are much more tame, so you might want to consider looking for the current content download on the main site to see if that helps. If not, you may want to sample some of the songs uploaded by users here on the forum, some of them are beyond excellent.

All that said, welcome to the BB family. Stick with it, it’ll come together a lot quicker than it feels like right now.

Good luck!

Thanks for your responses John.

I do have everything updated.

I guess the way forward is really to make my own custom kit & stick to that.

Joe, actually.

There’s a thread on the forum about drums for live use (Best BB drumkit for live use). Might be worth a read. I believe it includes my remastered kit as well. If you try it, please let me know how you get on with it.

Joe

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@braziliansway Hello.

I can help you with changing the BB Master volume on a per song basis via Onsong.

If I’m not mistaken, you should have downloaded the PDF file I shared recently, regarding connecting and controlling the BB via Onsong.

The same principle applies in this case but instead of Program Change (PC) messages you’ll be sending a Control Change (CC) message associated with the BB master volumen, namely CC 108, with a value between 0 and 100.
The procedure is the same as shown in the PDF file but select Control Change instead, and the menu will change accordingly and should be self explanatory.

You could do that for each song if you are that meticulous. I only do it for a few songs and for the rest I use a global volume (80) which I code either within the same song in Onsong (but it requires a manual action and you may forget) or use my MC6 MIDI Controller.

And last but not least, I program most of my songs using the BBManager, believe it or not. It’s very rudimentary, no doubt (e v e r y o n e here agrees), but after a while I got pretty good with it and I’ve been coding the beats reasonably fast. I suppose all I’m saying is breathe in, put your patience to the test and give it a try… many tries, that is. You may find it “usable” after all (…the time spent :))

Cheers!

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Thanks Joe.

I read that thread, the kit sounds nice too.

I often play with cajon in a trio or quartet so I’m finding the Flamenco kit quite useful & just adding extra instruments into it that I need from other sources.
The bass cajon (kick equivalent) is a bit toppy though & has reverb that I don’t like but I have loads of good cajon samples so I’ve swapped them, Sounding pretty good so far but it’s a work in progress.

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Great info, thanks so much. Yes I downloaded your PDF.

I’m likely to have many questions for you if you don’t mind?

I don’t generally use Onsong although I have it, my charts are all on IReal Pro. I can however import these as PDF’s into Onsong. Will it work by editing some text into them in Onsong but still using the imported file instead of the Onsong format?

And what connection do you use from ipad to BB, wired or bluetooth?

I don’t know iRealPro but I can speak for Onsong and today I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s not just that I can’t remember all the lyrics but Onsong is a marvel when it comes to simplifying my live performance. If you use backing tracks with it (which I don’t) you can tell the BB what to do at each section of the song -which you could emulate by using One-Press (OP) songs, granted, but that’s another BB realm.

I use a Yamaha MD-BT01 Bluetooth adapter for a wireless MIDI connection, but nowadays there are a couple of other adapters, the CME WIDI Master being the most popular one, I think (I mention them on the first PDF I mistakenly uploaded on the other thread)
The Onsong version I have is a relatively old one because I have a 3rd Gen iPad and they stopped supporting iOS versions lower than… 9.3 or something. But their latest version is a lot more powerful than the one I have.

Anyway, I’m writing this much because I have some free time :stuck_out_tongue: But I’ll be happy to try to respond your questions.
EDIT: About editing some text into them (your PDF files?), I don’t think Onsong will be able to provide many of its features. All my songs are in Onsong (text) format, so I can’t be 100% sure.

Cheers!

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Yes I downloaded that 1st PDF too, thanks.

I don’t want to use a midi controller like the Morning Star I’m trying to cut down on the amount of boxes & do less tap dancing. I’m already having to look down to my feet far too often in a gig situation I really want to be looking more to the public. Having a certain amount of control from the ipad via Onsong & bluetooth is very appealing to me.

My version of Onsong is 2020 so I guess that’s pretty decent even though my ipad is not a new model?

So far I’ve only managed to connect my BB to my RC-5 which works very well as a slave to the BB master. Do you think the Onsong being the master will affect the BB’s ability to sync with the Rc-5 looper?

I have the BB breakout cable & would presumably just connect the bluetooth adapter to the in of the breakout cable? The Widi adapter looks interesting, I’ve looked at the videos for it but can’t quite understand if I can just use the din part to connect ipad to BB & then use the other bit (din to TRS) to connect to the RC-5? It would be very handy if I could as that little male midi din to TRS adapter is just the thing that seems impossible to buy. All the other such connectors are all at least a foot long that I have found.

@braziliansway The “Master” lingo in MIDI refers to the unit that sends the MIDI Clock. While Onsong can send a MIDI Clock signal you need to have this option disabled (it’s disabled by default) because the latency/delay over Bluetooth renders it unusable. The BB needs to be the MIDI Master Clock unit and the parameters contained on my PDF take care of that (I think!, It’s been a while since I looked at it)

So, in nutshell, having Onsong sending PC and CC messages to the other units down the MIDI Daisy chain doesn’t make it the Master. The BB is the Master.

Regarding the WIDI Master and its connection:
since you want to sync your RC-5 (MIDI Clock wise) you need to connect the CME-instructed 5-Pin socket of the WIDI to the BB lN cable socket, then from the BB OUT to the RC-5 IN (physical MIDI 5-pin cable) and finally the RC-5 OUT to the other WIDI socket. This is called a MIDI Daisy chain. The WIDI mini TRS needs to be connected to its counterpart (afaik)

This way you can send MIDI messages from Onsong to both the BB and RC-5 (think PC and CC messages) and the BB will relay the ones sent to the RC-5 (via its chosen channel) when in MERGE Output mode (see PDF). Additionally, you could control some features of your RC-5 and Onsong with your BB, since the WIDI will relay them to Onsong (which needs to have its own channel, also).

For example, I have songs that start scrolling as soon as I start the BB. Onsong is constantly reading incoming MIDI messages, your just need to tell it what to do with them (plenty of videos on their website)

I hope that wasn’t too complicated. I’ll upload another instructional PDF that a BB/Voicelive 3 user made (Jan Koskela) after interchanging messages with me, a long time ago. It’s more comprehensive than mine and I think it might be useful too.

Cheers
Jan Koskela - Onsong setup.pdf (1.3 MB)

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Agree totally with your post. I have owned mine since buying it as a pre order before it was released and decided not to gig with it due to the complexity of using it. The BB manger is just terrible. Would I recommend it NO, but obviously some people do like it and use it so I suppose you would need to try it.

What do you find complex? The unit or MIDI?

One way to change individual song volumes, is to send CC:108 - value 0-100 for Mix-Vol.
See the updated manual page 34 at BeatBuddy Firmware 4.0.x "Playlists!"

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Joel, I am not sure why I am unable to download this drumset to my beatbuddy. I have added many drums but for some reason it will not transfer. Do you have any ideas?
Cheers

I responded on the other thread as well. I’m not a Mac person (although I do have an ancient Mac Mini). I tagged a couple of people in that thread who might be more helpful.

Sorry I’m not much help.

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I read the previous problems you were having with your SD card.

  • Delete the existing drum set you downloaded to your computer.
  • Download a fresh copy.
  • Read the note from this link When the BeatBuddy Manager (BBM) doesn’t launch in newer versions of the macOS
  • Install the notarized version of the BeatBuddy Manager (BBM)
  • Try to import and activate the drum set now; hint: scroll to the bottom of the Drum Sets tab to see if the kit appears with an unmarked checkbox
  • Let us know if this helped
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I use a combination of BB Manager, Reaper and Audacity to create my own drum sets. Lots of WAVs that don’t work straight out the box will work if opened and saved in Audacity. I’m one of the few people who seem to like BB Manager. Maybe I’m just too patient. I alter the volumes of instruments/drums for individual songs in BBM and venues can often change what you thought works fine. Still use a music stand which, as a duo I share, even though we write our own songs. I admire those musicians whose memory means they know the notes/chords, words and when to change drumbeat. Unfortunately I don’t, and get round the looking-down problem by using a head mic.

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Thanks persist, I will try these things and see how it goes. Regards

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It’s been a few weeks now & I’m getting my head around what this pedal can & can’t do.

I hope my original post wasn’t too negative but as I said before the potential is huge but after a couple of weeks of quite intense tweaking/programming & adjusting it’s still not in a state where I’m comfortable to gig with it.

Things I like are that the pedal plus footswitch is fairly well programable & has dual functions when running or stopped which means I can pretty much control what I need to by my feet.

Creating your own custom kit seems to be the way to go, albeit this is time consuming & probably an ever evolving process.

If I understand correctly each drum hit for each sound has at least 3 different samples for every velocity meaning that it won’t ever sound exactly the same twice & introducing a live feel that I haven’t experienced with other drum machines. Am I right in thinking that the choice of samples is random within the velocity parameters or is there a set pattern of how samples are chosen? Anyway it sounds good.

This pedal is mostly useful for gigging as far as I can understand as I don’t understand why anyone would want to record with it as other software drum programs (superior drummer etc.) would be better choices & far easier to edit.

So for me the whole thing of changing drum kits within a gig or set is a bit redundant. It might be cool that your drums can sound like John Bonham for one song & Carlton Barret the next but that would be pretty unrealistic in a gig situation & be very inconsistent. Any live drummer is going to have 1 kit & maybe use certain instruments in some songs & not in others but changing the whole sound would never be an option.

So for me finding 1 kit you like best & adding any custom sounds to it is way to go. That way kit loading times between songs does not become an issue & controlling volume levels song to song also becomes easier.

Fills are IMO mostly way too loud & busy. If I called a live drummer for my larger band & he played like that, words would be exchanged. Almost all of the fills have to be severely edited to be useable for me.

If I listen to a small group that uses a drum machine I do not want to notice the programmed drums it should be there helping as a tool IMO providing a groove & adding subtle variations or fills but never being the centre of attention. It seems to me that the whole thing has been made by drummers adding complex fills & dynamics that they would maybe want to add in live performances. But one important thing seems to have been overlooked here, it’s not a live player, it’s a machine & therefore should never be calling too much attention IMO.

Editing is a bit of a pain. The BeatBuddy manager is cool for editing the kits, adding sounds, editing your songs & putting them in order but editing the midi is a nightmare.

I understand that a user from here invented it & they added it to the BB manager as there was no midi editing facility in it at all previously. So marks for trying & it’s probably better than nothing but tbh not a lot better.
The 2 choices you have of quantised or tick system is very basic & the just seeing where the notes are in this tick system is difficult. Basic functions such as hearing the individual drum sounds within the editor or looping the pattern are not available.

If you manage some basic editing of the midi in BBmanager & subsequently want to export that & refine it further in another application the ‘export midi file’ function seems to be very hit or miss. Sometimes it works fine, other times it exports only the first hit of each sound & elongates the notes for the length of the pattern. This appears to be totally random but very frustrating.

I’m editing the patterns in Cubase & then importing them into BB. This is ok but I can’t really hear exactly how the patterns will sound with exactly the same sounds on cubase as on the pedal. Maybe there is a way to export or map the BB customised kit to hear it on cubase but if there is I haven’t worked out how to?
So this means a lot of back & forth between Cubase & BB until I’m happy.

My music has a lot of breaks & programming the transition fills to play these breaks is great. Even odd bar numbers appear to be possible by just keeping the pedal pressed for the duration needed. I haven’t seem that mentioned anywhere but it’s a very cool feature. Before I would just stop my player & then start again after the break leaving the actual break drummer free.

Midi communication with my RC-5 looper has been great so far without me having to anything at all from default settings which is amazing & quite unexpected tbh.

But I haven’t managed midi control from Onsong yet. I’m probably doing something wrong & I have bought the widi but nothing I do will make it work. I have now bought a wired lightning to midi connection but I haven’t had time to experiment with it yet. If that doesn’t work I may try another app like Songbook or similar.

Meanwhile I’m just programming the songs I need to do my regular Thursday & Sunday night duo gig. We play about 25-30 songs a night drawn from list of say 70 songs. I’ve done about 30 so far, when I’ve added another 10 or so I’ll be ready to gig.

I enjoyed your post, as I had many of the same reactions years ago when I started with the BB. I want to try to address your observations point by point with my recommendations.

Agreed, but considering you address owing Cubase and possibly Superior Drummer, this is the means to your end. You can create wav files from Superior Drummer, and create your own BB kit to match the mapping in Superior Drummer. Then, you can create whatever patterns you want within Cubase, and bring them directly over to the BB without remapping.

Not necessarily. Some sounds have only 1 sample per velocity. The problem you run into is the BB maximum kit size of 100Mb. You would need to pick and choose which instruments you sample less heavily. I believe the BB chooses from within the samples set randomly. I created a a Sampler instrument in Logic Pro, and it uses a “Round Robin” system, wherein it plays the samples in order. This still sound realistic. I do not know what facilities you may have for creating an instrument within Cubase.

This was an observation I also made. My recommendation is that one either treat the BB as a “real drummer,” where the kit does not change, or that you try to create exact copies like some kind of ultimate tribute cover band. I would think with the single kit approach that you might need two kits, one with sticks and one with brushes.

Agreed. This is why you would want to create your own patterns with Cubase. The stock BB midi patterns are available for download on the Singular Web Page. You don’t need to rely on the Export Midi feature, unless you are dealing with user files or premium content.

Amen. This is why you should create your custom kit from your drums in Cubase, and edit patterns in Cubase. BB Manager is a lousy editor, but it is a very nice sequencer.

I use Onsong just for selecting the song from the BB and pulling up a lead sheet for the song. I realize Onsong can do more, but I chose not complicate the process. For example, I do not use Onsong’s scrolling feature, and I instead can scroll manually with a IK Multimedia Blue Board.

I think you are well on your way to achieving what you want.

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