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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


DPC-5 v1.05 Firmware Update

Version 1.05 of the DPC-5 firmware is now available.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS UPDATE WILL OVERWRITE YOUR EXISTING PRESETS!  We had to re-arrange the contents of the memory to get everything in.  Please factory reset your controller following the update by pressing and holding buttons 1 and 5 at power-up until the select LEDs blink.


Preset Folders:

Press and hold buttons 1 & 2 while in any preset mode (red, green, blue) to select a preset folder.  Preset folders are indicated by the AUX LEDs above the select LEDs.  Folder 1 = blue, 2 = red, 3 = yellow, 4 = green.

Press button 5 to save and return to preset mode.  The last selected folder will be saved in memory and will be enabled on power-up.  Each folder has 15 additional presets, for a total of 60.

Power-on Configuration:

Press and hold the mode button at power-up to enter configuration.  Tap the mode button while in configuration to move between pages.

Mode Select (indicated by the Yellow AUX LED) – each button enables or disables one of the modes of the controller.

Button 1 = red mode, 2 = green mode, 3 = blue mode, 4 = looper mode (blue LED), single-MIDI mode (red LED), dual-MIDI mode (green LED), 5 = manual mode.

Expression Configuration (indicated by the red RGB LED) – each button enables or disables one of the expression destinations or configures tap tempo sending.

Button 1 = tap for Ext. Channel A.  Disables / enables sending MIDI tap on Ext. Channel A.

Button 2 = Side roller configuration.  Blue = looper, upper blue = expression Ext. Channel A, red = expression Ext. Channel B, off = disable.

Button 3 = Expression pedal input configuration.  Blue = looper, yellow = expression Ext. Channel A, green = expression Ext. Channel B, Blue + Yellow + Green = tap, off = disable.

Button 4 = TRS Tap.  Disables or enables sending analog tap using the “tip” of the TRS output jack (black, upper.)  If TRS Tap is active, manual mode and recalled presets will not activate the TRS relays.

Button 5 = tap for Ext. Channel B.  Disables / enables sending MIDI tap on Ext. Channel B.

Press and hold the mode button to save power-on configuration.

Reworked MIDI / Looper Modes:

White Mode is now Looper Mode.

Button 1 = Undo / Redo (hold for looper Pre / Post)

Button 2 = Half-Speed

Button 3 = Reverse

Button 4 = Play / Stop

Button 5 = Record / Overdub

Violet Mode is now configurable for single or dual device operation.

Single MIDI Mode

Button 1 = Tap Tempo

Button 2 = (Hold for infinite repeat, same as holding down A or B on Timeline)

Button 3 = Bypass / Engage

Button 4 = Preset Up (Hold for scroll up)

Button 5 = Preset Down (Hold for scroll down)

Dual MIDI Mode

Button 1 = Tap Tempo (Hold for bypass / engage B)

Button 2 = Preset B Up (Hold for scroll up)

Button 3 = Preset B Down (Hold for scroll down)

Button 4 = Preset A Up (Hold for scroll up)

Button 5 = Preset A Down (Hold for scroll down)

Mode Button = (Hold for bypass / engage A)


In Dual MIDI Mode, the left footswitches form a triangle that is identical to the “blue” mode on the current DMC-3.

If Violet mode is entered from White mode for preset editing, press and hold button 1 (far right) to enter the save dialog instead of the previous button 3.


Manual Mode (orange.)

If manual mode is enabled in the startup configuration, it may be activated by cycling the mode switch as the current red, green, blue modes.  If manual mode is entered in this manner, pressing and holding the mode button engages the mute function.


Lots of changes, lots of new functionality.  The good news is that if you just want it like it was before, you can still have it, minus the tap tempo in looper mode.  If you just want to use the controller as a Timeline or Timeline + Mobius controller and a direct-select loop switcher, you can do that too.  We’ll have the firmware update posted on the Files page later today, as well as some videos showing all the config details later in the week.

DPC-5 Firmware Update available soon!

The DPC-5s have been flying out of the shop lately, and the comments we’ve been getting back have been overwhelmingly good!  That’s great, but we are continuing to improve them based on customer requests and feedback.

We released v1.01 a few weeks ago, which fixes a couple of annoying issues with the LEDs not showing the current active loops when entering manual mode, as well as allowing players to send MIDI bypass or “don’t care” to connected MIDI pedals from Strymon.

This week, we’ll be releasing v1.02, which incorporates the following new features:

1.  Bypass config:  While in preset save mode, tap the mode switch to cycle between red, green, blue, and now white banks.  Press and hold any select footswitch while in white bank save to store the current relay config in the bypass slot.  This is valuable for the folks using the TRS contacts for amp control, and it can also be used as a “favorite” patch accessible from any bank.  Likewise, in MIDI mapping mode the mode button can now cycle to white for bypass saving.

2.  Preset folders:  Press and hold buttons 1 and 2 (rightmost two buttons) to enter Folder Select mode.  Tap select footswitches 1-4 to select a preset folder, indicated by the AUX LEDs.  Folder 1 = Blue, 2 = Red, 3 = Yellow, 4 = Green.  Tap button 5 to exit Folder Select mode.  The mute relay will be engaged when entering Folder Select mode, and the DPC will enter the new folder in Bypass mode to avoid potential issues with stored high-gain patches.  Each folder behaves like a completely independent DPC-5, with its own MIDI program change and loop settings.

We’ll be posting a video with more details and the file for download on Monday the 28th.