DPC-8EZ vs. DPC-5?

Disaster Area Designs has just announced the DPC-8EZ pedalboard controller.  Wait, we hear you say, don’t you guys already make something like this?

Well, yes.

We’ve been making the DPC-5 pedalboard controller for over a year now, and they’ve been very popular.  However, the DPC-5 doesn’t fit the needs of all the players out there – nothing can!  There’s no way to make one product work for everyone, so we decided to offer a controller with a different feature set.

 DPCvsDPC

Both the DPC-5 and the new DPC-8EZ can switch your pedals on and off in preset combinations and one at a time.  Other than that basic similarity, the two controllers are different in a lot of important ways.  The DPC-8EZ was designed for the player who has more non-MIDI pedals than MIDI ones.  The DPC-5 was designed as a standalone controller for a small to medium sized pedalboard with a number of MIDI pedals.

If you are using 6-8 non-MIDI pedals that you’d like to be able to program into presets, or if you want to switch stereo non-MIDI pedals then the DPc-8EZ is a good choice.  It doesn’t have the MIDI controller or looper modes, so it’s always going to be switching pedals or presets.  It also plays well with other MIDI controllers and can be used as a “slave” unit to expand just about anything that sends MIDI program changes.  It has an “insert,” which is an always-on loop that may be used in a number of ways, such as splitting the controller into two sides for stereo use or for connecting some pedals in the preamp of your amp and others in the FX loop.

If you’re using a bunch of MIDI pedals and don’t have as much analog or non-MIDI devices, then the DPC-5 is the clear winner.  You can re-configure it on the fly to be a MIDI controller, preset effects switcher, manual bypass switcher, or even to control the looper on your Strymon Timeline.  Its MIDI mode can “map” programs on up to four devices to a single effects preset, and it has an expression input jack that lets you send MIDI to all four devices at once.  If you don’t have room for a full-sized expression pedal on your board, the DPC-5 is available with an optional side roller that mimics the expression control and is assignable to the same or different destinations – use the roller for looper level on your Timeline and the expression pedal for the Hotknob on your Eventide H9, etc.

And yes, the two devices play well together!  You can use either a DPC-5 or an 8EZ as the “master,” and the other device will follow along as a “slave.”  The DPC-5 is definitely better suited for the master device, since it has more directly accessible presets and a more powerful MIDI implementation.  Either device will also work well with one of our DMC Gen2 controllers as the master device.

Let’s compare the main features of the two controllers:

Number of Loops:

DPC-8EZ = 8

DPC-5 = 5

In addition to this, the DPC-8EZ has an “insert” between loops 4 and 5.  The DPC-5 insert is between the buffered input and the first loop.

Stereo:

DPC-8EZ = may be reconfigured into 4 stereo loops or the standard 8 mono loops.

DPC-5 = no.  All the loops are mono.

In addition, all of the effects loops on the DPC series are fixed in order. Loop 2 always comes after Loop 1, etc. and may not be re-routed.

Buffer:

DPC-8EZ = Z-Mode buffer.  An always-on buffer with selectable output impedance, it plays nice with vibe, wah, and fuzz pedals

DPC-5 = bypassable buffer.  The same basic buffer as the Z-Mode, but with fixed output impedance and a bypass jack.  Plug into the bypass jack for an entirely passive switching system.

MIDI Implementation:

DPC-8EZ = sends program changes (0-48) only, no MIDI mapping, receives continuous controller (CC) and program changes (PC) to control its loops.  No looper controls.  No tap tempo.  Full MIDI thru with merge.

DPC-5 = 4 mappable MIDI channels send any programs on a preset change.  Full looper control.  Sends tap tempo in MIDI mode and using an external footswitch / R2R.  Expression pedal and optional side roller inputs send MIDI CC.  Receives program change messages to recall its presets.  Full MIDI thru with merge.

USB MIDI:

DPC-8EZ = yes!  The DPC-8EZ’s USB port shows up as a class-compliant MIDI interface if you plug it in to your Mac or Windows PC.   You can also connect it to an iPad using the Camera Connection Kit (CCK,) available from most places that sell iPads.  When the DPC-8EZ is connected to the host device (computer / iPad, etc.) the DPC will show up as a MIDI interface on the host.  The MIDI link is two-way, meaning you can use the DPC-8EZ to send messages like program change back to the host, and you can send messages from the host back to the 8EZ.  Possible applications for this are using the DPC-8EZ as a master controller for selecting presets on your live performance DAW like Mainstage or JamUp XT, or for controlling your pedals from a sequencer DAW such as Ableton Live.  The USB MIDI interface also works in concert with the hardware MIDI interface on the DPC-8EZ to let you connect other MIDI devices to your Mac, PC, or iPad through the DPC-8EZ.

DPC-5 = no.  The USB port on the DPC-5 is only used for firmware updates.  You can still control the DPC-5 using MIDI but you’ll need to use another MIDI interface if you want to connect it to your Mac, PC, or iPad.  You CAN use a DPC-8EZ or a Gen2 DMC controller as a USB interface and then connect your DPC-5 to it using a standard MIDI cable.

 

Which controller is right for you?

This really depends on your board, pedal selection, and workflow.  Let’s look at 4 possible setups:

DPC-5 Only – 5 loops, 4 MIDI pedals.  This is great for a small to medium pedalboard with a few MIDI devices (Timeline, BigSky, H9, etc.)  The DPC-5 loops are great for stacking drives, and the DPC-5’s TRS amp control jack can change channels on your amp along with your presets.

DPC-8EZ only – 8 mono loops (or 4 stereo loops,) 1 MIDI device.  The DPC-8EZ will send out a program change message for every preset you recall.  If you connect this to a MIDI pedal you’ll be able to select up to 48 presets on that MIDI pedal along with your loops.  You can also use a MIDI pedal as the master controller, so that every time you select a scene or preset on your pedal the DPC-8EZ will follow along.  If you prefer to switch your loops manually you can leave the DPC-8EZ in manual mode and tap away.  The 8EZ gives you access to loops 1-4 or 5-8 at any time, selectable with the bank button.  You’re never more than two taps away from any loop.

DMC-7D + DPC-8EZ – 8 mono loops (or 4 stereo loops,) 3 MIDI devices.  Timeline, Mobius, BigSky, H9, M9, Timefactor, Space, etc. – pick any THREE devices and that’s what you can control with this setup.  The 8EZ will auto configure and follow along; so every preset you select on the DMC-7D will engage the matching preset on the DPC-8EZ.  You can leave the 8EZ in manual mode to change up your loops on the fly, even if they’re not part of your preset.  If you don’t want your analog pedals as part of your MIDI presets, you can program the DPC-8EZ to ignore any preset.

DPC-5 + DPC-8EZ – 5 mono loops + 8 mono loops (or 4 stereo loops,) 4 MIDI devices.  The DPC-5 has a dedicated MIDI channel for the DPC-8EZ so it doesn’t take away any of its MIDI capabilities.  Since the loops in the DPC controllers are separate, you can route your signal in any order.  You can place the DPC-5 loops in your amp preamp, then use the DPC-8EZ in your amp’s preamp AND FX loop.  That would get you 9 loops in the preamp and 4 in the loop, which is enough for a fairly complex setup.  Need more loops?  Chain together some more DPC-8EZs.  We’ve been able to control 5 of them from a single master with no problems, and you can theoretically add many many more with a MIDI splitter.

 

It’s a lot to take in!  There are some big considerations to make, and a quality switching system is not a trivial purchase.  We do our best to make these systems easy to configure and use but they’re not for everyone.  Remember, there’s no one best way to configure your rig!  What works for one player might be a miserable failure for another, so please feel free to contact us and we can help you decide if a DPC-5 or DPC-8EZ is right for you.

 

Using the DMC-6D without a computer?!

The DMC-6D is great for players integrating looping playback or backing tracks in their arsenal, but what about everybody else?  There are a lot of folks using Live or Mainstage, but it’s still a fairly small percentage of all the players out there.

The USB port on the back of the DMC-6D acts as a MIDI interface for your Mac, PC, or iPad, but it can also be used to upload new firmware into the DMC.  The stock Ableton firmware is just one possibility!

Here’s a board equipped with a range of pedals:

DMC-6D Board

 

The bottom row has a Micro POG, a Walrus Audio Voyager, and a Paul C. Timmy.  The top row holds a Polytune Mini Noir, a Strymon Mobius and Timeline, and an Eventide H9.  Those last pedals all have MIDI capability and can be controlled by the DMC-6D!

The DMC-6D can work just like our popular DMC-6 and DMC-7, but with the added benefit of the LED display.  The upper-right button changes the operating mode of the controller, and the remaining buttons select presets or control the looper on the Timeline.

MIDI Control:

The DMC-6D can scroll presets on all three MIDI pedals, and it indicates the selected preset on its display.  When you get to a sound you like, you can exit into the normal operating mode of the controller and save the combined preset in one of 20 locations.  Once your preset is saved, one tap will recall it.  Tapping the currently selected preset bypasses all three pedals.  You can save a preset on the DMC-6D that will bypass one or more of the MIDI pedals, or you can set it up so that the pedals ignore the preset – we call this “don’t care.”  By setting up a page of presets as “don’t care” for one device, you can select presets for each pedal separately if that’s your style.  So with one tap you can pull up any combination of presets or bypass on all three pedals at once, in a fraction of a second.  The DMC-6D has an expression pedal input that sends MIDI continuous controller messages (MIDI CC) to all three pedals at once, for some pretty amazing real-time control.  You can sweep the depth and feedback of your delay, change the speed of your chorus effect, and alter the delay time of your reverb all at once!  And since you can save expression parameters per preset on your MIDI pedals, you’re never locked in to a hard-coded expression setting.  The expander switch input accommodates a momentary tap tempo switch and sends taps to all connected MIDI devices.

Live Looping:

The DMC-6D has the full looper mode from the DMC-6 and DMC-7, too.  The Timeline has a very good looper, but it’s hard to cycle back and forth between presets and looping since it requires a long press-hold on the Timeline’s tap button.  With the DMC-6D, you can access the Timeline’s looper without placing the Timeline in looper mode.  The DMC-6D offers separate buttons for Record / Overdub, Play / Stop, Undo / Redo, Half-Speed, and Reverse.  You can also change the looper routing, placing it before the Timeline’s delay (“pre”) or after (“post.”)  The second expression pedal input allows foot control of the Timeline looper volume for fade and swell effects.  Not looping live?  That’s OK – looping is a fantastic tool for songwriting or working on ideas at home, too.  Many Timeline owners report that they considered the looper unusable until “unlocking” its potential with a DMC controller, so try it out!

Mac, PC, and iPad:

Want to integrate your laptop with this setup?  Easy.  You can connect to the DMC-6D to your Mac or Windows PC using USB.  Add in an iPad Camera Connection Kit and you can interface the DMC-6D with your iPad running such apps as JamUp or Amplitube for live performance.  One tap on the DMC-6D can change settings on your MIDI pedals plus switch up your presets on your laptop or iPad for unlimited performance potential.  While the stock Ableton firmware is fantastic for triggering clips, it’s not a lot of use without a computer hooked up.  The universal firmware slants back in the other direction – it’s mainly designed for controlling external devices but it does have a lot of potential with computer and iPad.

What about other devices?

MIDI is pretty universal, so if you’re not using the pedals on the board pictured above we can probably still help you control them.  The DMC-6D can send MIDI program change, continuous controller, and note on messages for different types of control.  With customized firmware, it can send MIDI System Exclusive (SysEx) commands as well.  If there’s something you need to control, please let us know and we can make it happen.

Where can I get one?

Right here!

DMC-6D_924