We're talking presets here folks! Preset knobs, preset bypass and routing status, preset tempos, and all totally saveable to memory and instantly recallable. The DIYers among us are gonna dig this.
(NOTE: I know some of the info I posted here is basic and foundation-level, but I had to assume that people other than "hard-cores" would read this thread. Out of respect for folks that are just learning, I included a few basic notions). To Quote:
- here's a quote from the manufacturer's website .... Imagine ... you've got your rig dialed in ... DIALED! Hold down a button on the Master Controller and BOOM! Your analogue pedals, modular synths, rack gear, and amps simultaneously self-program and save on one of 128 setups.
Pot positions, switch settings, bypass status, tempo. All stored. All of your oscillating devices synchronized to the same clock, making a swirling syncopated symphony.
Design simple. Design sublime.
The future just showed up.
There are kit bits and pcbs out there that permit a person to replace analog potentiometers with some little trinkets, and actually control those parts via MIDI signals. You may also store up to 128 (one hundred and twenty eight) separate settings. There are also teensy little pcbs that have microchips and relays on them that allow you to (true) bypass .. well .. anything! So where ever you might imagine placing either a standard pot or a standard analog toggle switch (up to 3 poles and two throws), you can replace them with little tiny circuit boards and control them via MIDI signal. IMPLICATIONS - APPLICATIONS:
What this means is you can actually have midi controllable PRESETS and still have the audio path remain fully and totally ANALOG! Unlike using something like a POD or the like ... (where your audio signal is converted to binary ones and zeroes, processed all to hell by moving around ones and zeros, then re-converting that language back into an analog volts and amps audio signal)
... the signal remains fully analog. Resist the Digi!
For the uninitiated, "digital sound" requires that your analog audio signal (which is comprised of VOLTS - AMPS - at a given FREQUENCY), the analog volts and amps are sent through a thing called an AD/DA Converter. That stands for "Analog to Digital - Digital to Analog Converter". What it means is that your precious and most genuine analog audio signal is sent into a gizmo that converts it from analog to digital form, then once in that digital form it is sent into ~whatever~ to tweak it to your liking (y'know, run it through various FX, amp modelers, and so on). Then to put the signal into a form that is most used by the industry, it must be re-converted back to analog again. So your sound has gone through all of these converters, manipulators, and changers then handed back to you. The hope is that the tone is at least CLOSE to being as natural and genuine as it was before it went through all of that. The main issue about digital is that none of these digital devices produce any better tone than their AD/DA converters will produce.
So an amp modeler or digital FX unit sounds no better than the AD/DA that it uses within it. No matter how trick or innovative the actual modeling or manipulations are, in the end it won't sound any better than the AD/DA circuitry that the manufacturer elected to invest in. There are good AD/DA chips, and crappy AD/DA chips, and everything in between.
The AD/DA has been the death of many good and well thought out digital devices. The manufacturers of such things may decide to use cheaper/less expensive (read "crappy sounding") AD/DA circuits to keep overall prices down (or to increase overall profit margins) ... in doing so they end up killing something that may have otherwise been really nice sounding. Any time those bean counters in the accounting division get involved, quality usually takes a total nosedive.
Ahem ... sorry ... rambling again ... apologies. So then ... a-n-y-h-o-w ......
These preset setups do not convert the audio signal to binary (ones and zeros - aka "digital") in any way. All they do is provide digital control over the analog pots and switches. Think of it like having a robot flicking the switches and turning the knobs for you. And that robot has a memory so that when it is asked to repeat any certain settings of those knobs and switches, it can do so with exacting accuracy. The robot is the digital controller, but your signal has not been converted into anything at all. There's just a digitally controlled ~thing~ making the adjustments and settings for you. Is that cool or what?!?!??
With the bypass relays you may set up various routings .... run the bass through various FX (or whatever), and save those routings to memory. You can also save the individual devices' actual settings to memory. So if you select (let's say) program #10, it will configure the system to route the bass signal into any given FX or processors, and change those processors' settings to whatever you set them at. Just like a fully digital device does. The difference being:
You get to decide what devices are in the system, and what routings the signal pathway takes. The hard part:
Yea, see now this is where this notion is lost on some folks. A lot of this stuff has to be installed manually, most times that means soldering them into place. The actual routing pcbs (tje "bypass realys") may be placed inside of a box or enclosure that has standard jacks that permit you to simply plug in/out any device desired. No different than using a "true bypass looper box" that many pedalboard freaks are very familiar with. The only difference is that the bypass footswitches are replaced with relay bypass modules (each one is roughly no larger than a standard 9 volt battery).
So if you want MIDI control over bypassing/engaging several types of stompboxes and/or rack units you can simply construct a looper box with this type of digital control stuff and you're golden.
Setting up various FX and processors so their knobs have digital control ability is more difficult than the signal routing is. You must actually get inside the device and add one of "digital pots" or replace the standard pot with the digitally controlled ones. And there are problems and hassles that go along with that as well. COST:
If you are willing to do the work, the ability is there! And it is a lot less expensive than you may think!
A switch or logic controlled bypass relay setup is about $13 (thirteen bucks) per switch. So think of it like a $13 bypass footswitch that is conrollable with MIDI!
The digitally controlled pots sell for roughly $6 (six dollars) each. Then there is a controller pcb that is needed as well to provide the memory slots. About $30 (thirty) bucks, and each controller may control up to NINE separate pots or switches.
I've ordered in some of this stuff to try out and get my feet wet with it. SYSTEM INTEGRATION; putting them midi-bass pedals to work! (whoda thunk that 60+ year old Hammond organ bass pedals would be so useful!)
The other implication is expansion of the functionality of my midi-bass pedals. Keep in mind that those are essentially just thirteen normally open (or normally closed, whichever way you want to set them up) momentary footswitches. They can be used in any of the same ways that ANY momentary switch could be used. So I could set this system up to use my bass pedals to select various routing presets by simply stepping on a bass pedal! So no added crap on the floor to control stuff with.
So I can't wait to get started with all of this. The bass pedals will now be fully integrated into this rig. They'll do much more than just play MIDI notes ... they'll control my modular synth, control the parallel processor, play MIDI notes, engage and bypass various FX and processors, as well as provide input impedance buffers to keep my bass's signal nice and clear.
(I forgot to mention I also bought some input buffers that solder directly to footswitches! So that's all a part of this new bunch of ~stuffs~ that are on their way to my eager hands!).
Frelling cool. Ok, here's just a few of the goodies ..... Digitally Controlled POT:
- here it is, about the size of a standard 8-pin DIP IC ("chip") ... about 2/3rds the size of a U.S. dime. It's called the "Hi-V" pot, for "high voltage". It can handle up to 18volts through it's circuit. That's pretty high! Four Pots Controller:
- see the four little "Hi-V Pot pcbs" on this main pcb? This controller houses four of them and controls four of them as well. The entire main board with the four HiV pots installed is smaller than 2" x 2" total size! Naked 4-pots controller:
- you can see the pads (holes in the pcb) for the little "pot" pcbs on the board there .... the little pot-pcbs just solder right in ... OR .. 8-pin DIP sockets may be soldered in so the pots can be socketted into place without soldering. 4-Pots controller board with IC chips instead of the Hi-V pot-pcbs:
- The Hi-V pot-pcbs are used for applications where the signal is rather hot and beefy (as high as 18volts and 5mA!!). But if your application has a lower power signal to be adjusted, a standard "digipot" on an IC chip may be used. Here's a 4-Pot board with four MCP4151 Digipots installed (the four 8-pin DIP IC chips) By the way .. "IC" simply means "integrated circuit", it does NOT mean that it is a "digital chip" and that it is the root of everything digitally evil. The most basic stompbox circuits use IC chips, some of the most beloved classic analogue stompboxes use loads of ICs. The adored and well known "Tube Screamer" uses an IC chip. "Integrated Circuit" just means that a larger circuit normally installed on a circuit board has been miniaturized and "integrated" into a small package called a chip. It is nothing to fear or dislike. A circuit board the size of a piece of notebook paper can be reduced into an 8-pin DIP IC. Thank the "transistorization age" of the 1950s and 1960s "space race" for that! Digitally Controlled Bypass Relay
- the size of a standard 9volt battery. Actually it can be logic controlled (digitally controlled) OR a momentary footswitch may be used as well. Any type of "logic" signal (as in on-off, to ground) can be used to trigger it. So a footswitch, or something as simple as a SPST toggle switch - or organ bass pedal switches!
(wink wink). Think of it as a bypass footswitch on a pcb. The advantage being that it may be activated with other stuff (like a toggle switch or a MIDI signal) and also it is far more reliable than a stomp switch. Companies like Boss have been using this type of system for 50+ years. Every Boss stompbox has this type of system in it (except they use a different means of actually switching the signal, but it is the same basic idea - using a tactile switch to trigger a pcb mounted bypass relay. Essentially Boss just uses a solid state relay rather than an electro-mechanical relay). Bypass relay board with I/O jacks already preinstalled on it:
- Same as the bypass relay pcb above but it has the 1/4 inch in-out jacks installed on it to simplify installation. Cooly, right?
So there ya go. Oh ... right ... "who makes this stuff?" .... http://www.pedalsync.com/
There .. that might help!
TONS more info on their website .... datasheets, application suggestions, dealer links, and so on.