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!


Using the DMC-6D MIDI Foot Controller with the iPad

In addition to being a great MIDI foot controler, the DMC-6D USB interface is also a class-compliant MIDI interface.  It may also be USB bus-powered, and that makes it a natural fit for using with the Apple iPad.


The iPad doesn’t have a built-in USB port, but you can use the Camera Connection Kit (CCK) to connect certain devices to your tablet.  Apple makes CCKs in both 30-pin and Lightning varieties.  They’re available at most retail stores that carry iPads for around $30.


30-pin (left,) Lightning (right.)

30-pin (left,) Lightning (right.)

Plug the CCK into your iPad’s connector, then connect a USB cable from the adaptor to the USB port of the DMC-6D.



In this pic, we’ve got the DMC-6D set up with the JamUp firmware, which sends MIDI Program Change messages to the iPad for preset selection.  We’ve also got a mode in the controller that sends MIDI CC messages for controlling the loop recorder in JamUp, and you can tap tempo to the metronome.

The DMC-6D can control lots of other iOS music applications as well – just hook it all up and look in your app’s settings for the “Disaster MIDI” interface!

We’ll have a video posted showing off what the DMC-6D can do with your iPad, so stay tuned!

You can order a DMC-6D in our secure online store here.

Help me! Or “How to Choose a MIDI Controller.”

We offer a lot of different MIDI controllers.  That’s great because we can make pretty much anything to fit your situation, connected devices, playing style. It’s also bad because you end up trying to decide between a ton of options and have no idea what to get.  We’re here to help.


Consideration 1:  Size.

The first thing to think about is how much board space you’re willing to devote to a MIDI controller.  We have controllers that range in size from Twinkie (DMC-2) to meat loaf (DMC-7.)  The bigger the controller, the more buttons it can accommodate, and the more control possibilities it allows.

Here’s a size reference.  There’s a 1 inch ruler at the bottom of the pic, so you can get an idea of overall size.

size comparison

Consideration 2:  Functionality

Even our smallest controllers can control your devices, but they’ll be more limited in functionality.  The DMC-2 is super compact and can handle scrolling banks, scrolling presets, or looper control, but the downside is that it can only do one of those things at a time.  Upgrading to one of our larger controllers gets you a mode switch, which lets you change the functions of the controller on the fly.  The DMC-3, 3XL, and 4 can do bank or preset scrolling, bypass, and full looper control of the Timeline.  If you’re using a different MIDI device we can control its functions, too – check the pages on the Shop for available firmware.

What happens if you have a MIDI device that isn’t listed?  Contact us.  We have written custom firmware for lots of different types of devices and device combinations, and we can probably come up with something that will work for your application.

If you want to scroll presets or banks, the DMC-2 will do it.

If you want to scroll presets AND use the looper on the Timeline or the additional functions on the BigSky / Mobius / Timefactor / Space / H9, then the DMC-3 is a god choice.

The DMC-3XL adds an expression wheel that sends MIDI or a 1/4″ jack that can connect to an expression pedal or tap tempo switch.

The DMC-4 can handle all of that stuff, but we take all the “hold” functions off the mode switch and move them over to the fourth button.  We can also make that fourth button a tap tempo switch instead.

DMC-6D Board

When you move up to the DMC-6 and DMC-7, everything changes.  Instead of being primarily for scrolling presets on your devices, the DMC-6 and DMC-7 allow you to save and recall combined presets on three devices.  One tap gets you 01A on your Timeline, 17B on your Mobius, and 68C on your BigSky.  We also send an extra program change that can control an Eventide or Line 6 pedal, plus it can interface with our SMARTLoop to engage a couple of analog pedals at the same time.  They do have a scrolling mode, and they have a full looper mode for the Timeline.

Loop Rig

The DMC-6 and DMC-7 are the same except for the size of the enclosure and the tap tempo switch on the DMC-7.  They’re designed more for quick preset recall than for scrolling around from preset to preset.

We also offer the DMC-6D, which is a DMC-6 with a bright blue LED display.  It’s easier to use than the standard DMC-6, and also includes a second expression pedal input plus a dual switch input for tap tempo and a “favorite” switch.


Consideration 3:  Number of controlled devices

The DMC-2 can control one device.  That’s it – if you need to control more stuff, then the larger controllers are the way to go.

The DMC-3, 3XL, and 4 can control two or three devices.  If they are set up for two devices, then the second device gets an extra mode added to the controller.  Tap on over to it and then you can scroll presets and engage / bypass the effect.  If we set them up for three devices, we disable the looper controls to reduce the amount of tap-dancing to switch between the device modes.

The DMC-6D, DMC-6, and DMC-7 have three “mappable” MIDI channels.  This means that you can scroll three devices from the scrolling mode, and save a preset that has different settings for each device.  These controllers also send messages on a fourth channel that isn’t mappable.  Every time you press red 1 (for example,) we send MIDI program change 1.  This channel may be used for our SMARTLoop, or it may be mapped on a device that can “learn” MIDI presets like the Eventide pedals.  These controllers have up to 20 presets, in 4 banks of 5 each.




Here’s a chart showing all of the specs in mind-numbing detail.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 12.26.23 AM


What we recommend is the biggest controller you can fit.  If that’s the DMC-2, then great – it will still make your life on stage or in church easier.  If you have more complicated requirements, like two or more devices, or you need an expression input or side roller, then the DMC-3XL is very popular.  The DMC-6 / DMC-7 are a great choice for the multi-device setups that are becoming more common these days.  Finally, the DMC-6D can also integrate with a DAW or Ableton Live for controlling loops in live performance.

We hope this post will help you make a decision about the MIDI controller that’s right for you.  If you’ve got any questions, please contact us!  We’re always happy to help you get the right gear for your situation.

DMC-6D MIDI Foot Controller for Ableton Live – USB MIDI Demo

The new DMC-6D MIDI foot controller has some killer features that can definitely make your life on-stage easier.  Whether you’re leading worship or rocking at the club, adding loops and effects from Ableton Live can really expand your musical horizons.  By adding in a DMC-6D, you can use Ableton Live to actually switch MIDI-capable pedals on your pedalboard!

Here’s how it works:

The DMC-6D appears as a MIDI interface to your Mac or PC.  It’s class-compliant and requires no drivers, just plug and play.

Create a new MIDI track in Ableton Live.  Open up the IO panel and set its output to the Disaster MIDI device.  Optionally, set its channel to the channel number of the device you’re controlling.  We’re using Channel 2 to send to the Timeline in our video.

Create a new clip in the MIDI track by double-clicking on a slot.  If you want to send a patch change when you start the verse of your song then create a clip on the same line (scene) as the clips for that song section.  If you want to make your Timeline switch to 00A in the verse, for example, create a MIDI clip on the same line as the verse clip.  Go down to the MIDI details at the bottom of the window and select Program 1.

That’s it!  You’re all done.

The video also shows how to sync up the tempo using MIDI clock – if you’re going to do this with a Strymon Timeline then we recommend you update your Timeline to v1.43.  Set your Globals to disable both MC SWEEP and MC RESET to avoid glitchy sounds when changing tempo using MIDI clock.

For more information about the DMC-6D or to pre-order a pedal, head over to the Shop.  We’ll be ready to ship these in black and white in mid-October.

DMC-6D Ableton Live / DAW Controller

We have had a TON of requests for a MIDI controller designed to launch clips in Ableton Live over the last 2 years.  There were a couple of competing products in the market, and we worked with our customers to identify their strengths and weaknesses in order to design the best controller available.

We’re proud to announce the Disaster Area DMC-6D.  This controller is built on our DMC-6 platform, and incorporates a 4-digit LED display to give instant visual feedback to the performer.

The DMC-6D lets you access 20 banks, each of which can trigger 6 MIDI notes.  A dedicated “All Access” bank provides six more commands that are accessible from any bank.

In addition to the 6 buttons on the controller itself, the DMC-6D has two inputs for expression pedals, and one expander input for connecting two footswitches.  The expression inputs may be mapped to any of 127 different MIDI CC messages.  The expander input may be assigned to bank up / down, two dedicated messages (like Stop or Tap,) or it can expand the controller to operate with 15 banks of 8 footswitches instead of 20 * 6.

The DMC-6D incorporates both USB MIDI and standard 5-pin DIN MIDI, and the two MIDI interfaces are bridged together internally.  This means that you can send MIDI from your host DAW or Ableton Live, and the DMC-6D will pass these messages along to a DIN-connected device.  You can thus launch audio clips for your worship service and the DMC-6D can tell your Timeline, M9, H9, etc. to change patches.  If you’re already using our DPC-5, then you can change all of your non-MIDI pedals too!

Here’s a few videos showing the basic use and setup of the DMC-6D:


The DMC-6D will begin shipping in October, and we have it available for pre-order in our shop right now: