Behringer FCB1010

fcb1010This is a highly flexible (and cheap) midi device controller – I’ve tried several other similar devices and none come close in terms of value for money. It transmits patch changes, CC changes, has 2 exterrnal jack sockets that can be programmed into a patch, plus 2 assignable expression pedals. I’ve had it talking to almost all of my midi devices. Many people use it to control ableton live, but I haven’t gone there yet. Behringer seem to have little interest in developing the range, which is a shame, since the main drawback of the FCB is the footprint – it takes up an awful lot of floor space, always a rare commodity onstage. Some brave souls have even taken a proverbial axe to it, separating the pedals from he main body. Other modifications include phantom powering down the midi cable. You can read about these at the FCB yahoo group, links below.

fcbeditorThe pedal is officially programmed by a series of commands send using the footpedals. Whilst this isn’t hugely difficult, there are software packages to make life vastly easier. You can program everything you want, then send it in a single sysex file using midi. This makes it easy to set up application specific sysex files, or to do things like copying or swapping banks, all in a matter of seconds.

Below is a link to the sysex file that I use to control the lexicon jamman with, offering loop, echo, fade, reset and switching channels – the jamman allows you to record multiple phrases (determined by the mximum delay length), then play them back in any combination. This can only be practically achieved using midi. I’ve set it up so the two expression pedals control the volume of two channels – handy if your loops aren’t quite balanced properly. It does require a modicum of thinking and some skills at tap-dancing, but we love that stuff, don’t we?

gordius2There’s precious little you can’t do with it, but as ever, those little things start to annoy you! Luckily there are people outthere with the time and energy to take on the manufacturers job and develop/extend the possibilities of the unit. One such person is Xavier De Donde of Belgium, who started by addressing the bugs in the firmware, then added extrafunctionality, such as the ability to have the upper or lower bank of pedals acting as stomp boxes – in my case I use them to switch effects on & off on my GP100. The lights are latching so you know where you are at any time. All this comes in the rorm of a cheap replacement chip under the name of Uno.

Xavier hit a brick wall during development, the memory limitations of the unit ruled out useful extras such as stompbox being assignable per bank or even per pedal. To get around this, he designed and manufactured his own GORDIUS external FCB controller, then built this into two alternative pedal units. Guys like this deserve all the support they can get, so I urge you to check out his website and invest – small manufacturers like these are vital for creative musicians.

Links
Yahoo FCB group Huge amounts of information, files, hints & tips – a superb resource
Yahoo FCB Uno group For those who have or wish to upgrade to the extended features offered by the Uno firmware. I can’t recommend the upgrade highly enough.
Ripwerks FCB editor Mike Riley’s Java based interface. Supports Macs and allows full control of the Uno facilities – Use this is you’re a Uno user.
FCB PC Editor Ed Dixon’s graphical FCB interface. If you don’t have the stompbox extension, I’d use this.
Behringers FCB page The offical site, manuals, specs etc.
The Uno chip You can buy the chip from here, at a rock-bottom price. Other sites sell it, but this is the guy who wrote it, so buy from here. Those who can burn eeproms can get it for free!
GORDIUS midi devices Amongst other things, an extension module to turn your FCB into a unit with a midi brain the size of a planet! They also do alternative pedal units.
Jamman sysex A simple syx file allowing control of the lexicon jamman using the FCB1010, with my notes.

 


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