The World of Quarter-Inch MIDI.

It all started with Empress. At least, I think it did.

Empress released a couple of pedals that had these quarter-inch “control ports” that you could assign to a variety of functions using a setup menu. Stuff you’d expect, like expression pedal or tap tempo. Or… MIDI. You set up the pedal for MIDI, then interface with your controller using a little “MIDIBox” peripheral to convert the 5-pin current loop signal over to the 1/4″ voltage-mode signal. Worked great, and didn’t increase the size of the pedal.

A few years later, Joel over at Chase Bliss Audio started making this pedal called the Warped Vinyl. Really cool stuff, with a digital control processor interfacing an all-analogue chorus circuit. He added some very basic MIDI support using a 1/4″ jack as well. Joel eventually approached me about improving his MIDI implementation and we worked together to add in more functionality.

The Chase Bliss stuff really started to take off, so we added support for MIDI over quarter-inch starting with our Gen3 controllers back in 2016. Every Gen3 controller ever made has at least one 1/4″ jack that will send MIDI, and many of them have two or four outputs.

We’ve added support for a lot of other brands that use 1/4″ MIDI, including Empress, Bondi, Meris, and Alexander. We also recommend to any manufacturers new to MIDI consider 1/4″ support, since there is a huge installed base of customers that already have controllers that support it.

That’s great, I hear you say, but I have like 8 of these Chase Bliss pedals now! What the heck should I do? The easiest solution would be a MIDI controller with a lot of 1/4″ outputs that you could just plug in to all your pedals.

So. We made one. Introducing the qCONNECT, our Multi-output MIDI Controller. The qCONNECT has full MIDI input and output, USB MIDI, and 8 1/4″ jacks in a compact enclosure. The qCONNECT is capable of acting as a standalone MIDI controller or as an intelligent MIDIBOX / preset expander for an existing system.

qCONNECT Family Photo

The qCONNECT costs about the same as one of our other small controllers, but it has a set of features that make it work great with 1/4″ MIDI devices.

Full details here. We’ll have a few videos up in a couple of weeks that cover everything from configuration and use to best practices for wiring your MIDI pedalboard.


The All New DPC-5 Gen3

I’ve been asked many times for some more specifics and details regarding the new DPC-5 Gen3, especially comparing it to our other new MIDI controllers and switching systems.  The short answer is that the DPC-5 Gen3 is positioned between the DMC-3XL / DMC-4 Gen3 and the DMC-6 / DMC-8 Gen3 in terms of MIDI capabilities, but adds programmable effects loops and a TRS control output jack.  It’s designed to control small-to-medium pedal boards by itself, and may be expanded using a DPC-8EZ.


How many MIDI devices can the DPC-5 Gen3 control?  Up to four devices on their own MIDI channels, plus a fifth channel is dedicated to a DPC-8EZ.

How many non-MIDI pedals can the DPC-5 control?  Up to five in its effects loops.

How many amplifier functions can the DPC-5 control?  Two using a single TRS cable (tip and ring) plus one more using the MultiJack as a toggle output for a total of three.



Note that the connections for FX1-FX5 input / output are reversed! The corrected diagram is in the manual!


How many tap tempo devices can the DPC-5 control?  One using the MultiJack, up to two more using the TRS ouptut for a total of three.  If sending tap tempo using MIDI, an additional four devices may be controlled for a total of seven.

How many presets does the DPC-5 Gen3 have?  Up to 32 banks of 4 presets each, for a total of 128, plus two extra global bypass and favorite presets.

What kind of external control options does the DPC-5 Gen3 offer?  The expression input may connect to an expression pedal or a momentary footswitch to control a variety of functions.



What is this MultiJack you keep talking about?  The MultiJack is a multi-function connector that you can assign to perform one of several useful functions.  You can use it to send taps to a non-MIDI pedal that supports tap tempo, or to send MIDI to Chase Bliss or Empress pedals.  You can use it to read an expression pedal or footswitch, or you can use it to change channels or options on your amplifier.



We’re in the middle of shooting some technical instruction videos for the DPC-5, covering tasks like setting up your MIDI devices, creating presets, and using the MultiJack.  Is there something you’d like to see specifically covered?  Email us and let us know!

New Products for Fall 2014!

Here’s a short rundown of the new stuff we are releasing this fall:


1.  SMARTClock Intelligent Tempo Controller

The SMARTClock is a compact MIDI clock and tap tempo source for your pedalboard.  It’s small with a big blue LED display and a cool flashing knob.  Connect it to your MIDI pedals to synchronize them all to its super accurate master clock.  Connect it to your non-MIDI tap tempo compatible pedals to send them taps with nine different subdivisions (whole, half, quarter, dotted eighth, triplets and more.)  Up to 128 presets and full USB MIDI support round out this incredibly useful stage and studio tool.

SMARTClock Frontpage

2.  SMARTSwitch 2

This one has been a long time coming!  The SMARTSwitch 2 is a MIDI-controlled dual remote switch with some cool options.  Each output is fully isolated, so you can use one SMARTSwitch to control two different effects or amps.  The “A” output supports a stereo / TRS connection for stuff that supports that style of switching, or you can use two cables to connect to separate functions on amps like the Mesa Mark series, etc.  The SMARTSwitch 2 supports MIDI CC control and full USB MIDI implementation so there are lots of ways to control your gear.  The

SMARTSwitch Frontpage

3.  DPC-5 Gen2 Update

We’ve updated the DPC-5 with the Gen2 chipset.  Starting with serial number 0419, the DPC-5 now supports USB MIDI communication.  We’ve also updated the TRS relays with the same optical technology found in the SMARTSwitch 2 and the SMARTClock, and added the Z-Mode Buffer from our popular DPC-8EZ.

DPC-5 Front Angle



SMARTClock Frequently Asked Questions

It’s been a while since the last post, during which time we have released some interesting new devices like the DPC-4EZ and DMC series gHOST Output.  We’re going to be offering our new SMARTClock Intelligent Tempo Controller very soon, and here are some of the answers to the questions we’ve received.


What is the SMARTClock?

The SMARTClock is an intelligent tap tempo and clock source for your pedalboard.  It is designed to synchronize your tap tempo and MIDI devices to a single master clock.

Does it work with my (insert pedal name here?)

Probably.  Any pedal that accepts tap tempo control from an external momentary foot switch should work with the SMARTClock.

Does it send MIDI Clock?

Yes.  The internal MIDI clock source is accurate to within 0.07% across the entire range of tempo the SMARTClock sends.

How many devices can the SMARTClock synchronize?

The SMARTClock has two isolated tap tempo outputs for non-MIDI devices, and it also sends MIDI clock.  In theory, the MIDI clock could be used to synchronize LOTS of MIDI devices, in practice you can usually sync 3 or 4 with good results.  In some cases, the MIDI “through” ports on your device may introduce a slight lag that can throw off really perfect timing.  If you find this to be the case, a high-speed hardware based MIDI thru unit will send the clock signal out to all devices with much less lag and timing errors.

Can it receive MIDI Clock from Ableton Live / my DAW / my drum machine?

Yes.  The SMARTClock will accept MIDI clock, Start, and Stop messages from your DAW or other MIDI device.  The clock information is then converted to tap tempo pulses for your non-MIDI devices.

Will it send MIDI to my iPad over the USB port?

Yes, but you’ll need to use the Apple Camera Connection Kit to connect the SMARTClock to the Lightning or 30-pin port on your device.  The USB MIDI connection works with Macs and Windows machines as well, and is fully bi-directional.

How do I send dotted-eighth notes (or other subdivision) to my delay pedal?

The SMARTClock supports nine different subdivisions of the main clock:  whole note, half note, half note triplet, quarter note, dotted eighth note, quarter note triplet, eighth note, eighth note triplet, and sixteenth note.  You can even set up different subdivisions for each output, and each preset can have its own set of subdivisions.

To set the subdivisions for the current preset, just tap the knob on the SMARTClock while in the tap tempo mode.  Turn the encoder to set the subdivision for the A output, then tap and turn to set the B output subdivision.  Hold the tap tempo footswitch to save and you’re done.

How big is the SMARTClock?

It’s roughly the size of a standard Boss pedal – 4.77″ x 2.6″ x 1.39″ (121.1mm x 66mm x 35.3mm.)  It weighs less than a pound.

What kind of power does the SMARTClock need?

The SMARTClock needs 9V center negative, 64mA minimum.  The SMARTClock should not be powered on more than 9V.

How do BPM presets work?  How many presets does the SMARTClock have?

The SMARTClock has a preset mode that allows the user to recall up to 12 presets at varying tempo and subdivision settings.  If fewer than 12 presets are required, the user can limit the presets to as few as one.  If an external MIDI controller is connected up to 128 presets are available.

Can you override presets with a tap on the fly?

Yes.  Exit the preset mode by holding the knob, then tap in any tempo desired.  You can also start and stop the clock by holding the footswitch in preset mode.

Can I say in tap tempo mode all the time if I use an external MIDI controller?

Yes.  If you recall presets using a MIDI controller, the display on the SMARTClock will show the preset number and then the BPM.  You can tap to override the preset tempo or even save a new tempo to the current preset.

Can I use my MIDI controller to change BPM presets?

Yes.  The SMARTClock can listen for incoming MIDI program change messages and will change its tempo if it gets a valid program change message on its MIDI channel.

What MIDI Channel should the SMARTClock be set to?

The default setting is 16, but you can change the SMARTClock MIDI channel in its setup menu.

If you’re using a DMC-3XL Gen2 or DMC-4 Gen2 as a master controller, set the SMARTClock to channel 16.  If your master is a DMC-6D, set the SMARTClock to channel 4.  The DMC-8D uses channel 5, and the DPC-5 uses channel 1.

Can the SMARTClock take tempo from my MIDI delay pedal and send it to other tap tempo pedals?

That depends – if your MIDI pedal sends MIDI clock then the answer is YES.  If your pedal is not capable of acting like a master clock source, then no.  That’s not the end of the world though!  You can use the SMARTClock as a master clock source for both your MIDI and non-MIDI pedals so that they are all synchronized.


So you have a BigSky…

The Strymon BigSky has just been released, and it is amazing.  There are a lot of folks out there looking to get some more control over the BigSky, perhaps wanting to integrate it with another MIDI device, so we thought we would put together a little guide to help make an informed decision about a MIDI controller.

First up – the Strymon devices all have “MIDI Thru” capability.  This means that they can pass MIDI messages from their MIDI inputs to their MIDI outputs.  Connecting several to the same MIDI controller is easy, just add another MIDI cable.  We set each device to a different MIDI “channel,” so that they will only listen to the correct messages coming from the controller.  The MIDI order can be the same or different than the audio order.  Sometimes it’s easier to route the MIDI cables in a different order based on your pedalboard layout, so don’t worry about it!

Next, our controllers are largely plug-and-play, but you will need to set up the Globals on your devices.  Press-hold the PARAMS encoder to enter the Globals menu.



















We recommend the use of the buffered bypass on the Timeline and BigSky.  This allows you to have delay and reverb trails, and also allows the use of the Timeline’s looper with the delay bypassed OR engaged.

Third, you’ll need to set up the MIDICH global setting for each device.  We generally use Channel 1 for the Timeline, and Channel 2 and 3 for additional devices.  If you’re connecting to a DPC-5, bump all of those up by 1 (2, 3, 4.)


So now that you have all of the setup stuff done, what kind of control can we get?  Let’s start with JUST a BigSky.  You can control this with a DMC-2 for preset  or bank scrolling, or upgrade to a DMC-3 for all of that plus a second mode that offers expression and a tap + freeze / infinite button.

If you have a Timeline, then you can control both units with a single MIDI controller like our DMC-3XL.


So one DMC-3XL and two MIDI cables will get the job done.  We can control everything on both units – Timeline looper, bank / preset scrolling on both units, bypass, the works.  The expression roller on the side can send expression to both pedals, or looper level to the Timeline.

If you’d like to add in a third MIDI device like a Mobius or an H9, then you can still use a DMC-3XL to control them all.  Since we now have three modes on the controller dedicated to bank / preset scrolling, we lose the looper controls.  If you’re not using the looper then this is not a huge deal, and it gets you a lot of control in a really small package.



Same setup as before – we have full bypass and banking / preset scrolling on all three devices, plus a shared expression control.  Neat!

If you have a DMC-4, you can use it in a similar fashion.  We have an extra button on the 4, so it serves as a combined tap + infinite hold.


What if you want more control?  Maybe you use the looper a lot, or you want to be able to pull up a combined preset with sounds from all of these devices?  Then you’re going to need a bigger controller!



The DMC-6D was designed from the ground up to talk to three MIDI devices.  It has a bright blue LED display that lets you know exactly what presets you’re on, TWO expression jacks (one can also connect to a side roller,) plus a remote footswitch jack for a tap tempo and a “favorite” switch.  You can still scroll presets on all three devices, including all 300 presets on the BigSky.  Once you have the sound you want, you can save the status of all three devices to a combined preset.  You can pull up sounds on all three devices, or you can bypass the units you’re not using, all with one tap.  The DMC-6D also has a full looper mode for the Timeline, and it can be disabled if you’re not using it.

Finally, we offer the DPC-5, which is a combined MIDI controller and true-bypass loop switcher.  It’s got five effects loops that you can use to control your non-MIDI pedals, plus full control of up to FOUR MIDI devices.  You can set up the same kind of presets as the DMC-6D, but you have up to 60 of them instead of 20.  It’s got a looper mode for the Timeline, two expression inputs (one jack on the back, and an optional side roller,) plus you can use the expression jack for a tap tempo or our R2R footswitch.




So there you have it – there are a lot of options for controlling your BigSky, especially if you’d like to add in your Timeline or your Mobius, H9, M9, etc.  We’ve got all of these solutions available in our shop:




Don’t forget the MIDI cables!

We’re always happy to answer any questions about controlling your rig, email us here.

If you are already a DMC pedal owner, we will be releasing updated firmware this week.  Updating your pedal is easy and requires only your Mac or Windows PC and a standard USB cable.  We’ll have Timeline + BigSky combo and TL + MO + BigSky versions available for the DMC-3, DMC-3XL, and DMC-4, and the new DMC-6 + DMC-7 firmware is compatible with the BigSky as well.  These will all be available on our Files page. 


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:




SMARTLoop Now Available!

The new SMARTLoop is officially available.  The SMARTLoop is a dual-stereo loop switcher with MIDI in and out.  It may be reconfigured using a set of internal DIP switches to a quad-mono setup.

The SMARTLoop will work with your existing MIDI controller or multi-effects unit.  Simply connect the SMARTLoop to the MIDI out of your controller, and patch your pedals into its sends and returns.  Tap the SMARTLoop footswitches to select the effects you’d like to hear, then press-hold the left button to enable the SMARTLoop’s MIDI learn.  Send a program change message from your controller and the SMARTLoop will remember those settings – the next time you access that program on your controller the SMARTLoop will automatically engage your pedals.  The SMARTLoop switches remain active so you always have access to your effects.

By reconfiguring the SMARTLoop to mono mode, you can use stereo Y-cables to split the signal chain to allow connecting four pedals.  Check out the video below for a demo of four-channel mode:



The SMARTLoop is designed to work with most MIDI controllers, but it really shines when paired with our DPC-5 and DMC-6 / 6L / 7.  The SMARTLoop adds two or four extra loops to the DPC-5, and can turn your DMC-6, DMC-6L, or DMC-7 into the heart of a pedal switching system.

We’re offering a $20 discount on the SMARTLoop to existing DPC-5 and DMC-6 / 6L / 7 owners.  We’re also offering a bundle pack combining either the DPC-5 or DMC-7 with a SMARTLoop at the same discount.  Please contact us for details regarding the DPC-5 discount.

Check out the SMARTLoop in the shop!

DPC-5 v1.08 Firmware Update

OK, so after some intense coding, we have a new version of the DPC-5 firmware ready. It’s not a “feature” release, so it doesn’t have anything new, but it does fix the issues with the looper level on Timeline v1.33.

If you’re using your DPC-5 with the Timeline v1.23, this update will break your looper level controls, so don’t do it! However, the v1.33 update fixes some big looper issues so we definitely recommend updating your Timeline with it.

One big change is that we’re now scanning the buttons a little differently, so that in looper mode the DPC will send record, play, stop, half-speed, and reverse commands immediately upon a button press. Previously the commands were sent on the button _release,_ so it was a little hard to keep loops in rhythm. Thanks to a couple of our customers we now have this thing looping like a champ!

Here’s the changelog:

Changed buttonRead() function to allow for instant action
All MIDI mode buttons now use instant action
Added send MIDI PC on DPC channel on preset save for chaining
Changed looper level CC range from 0-17 to 0-127 for Timeline v1.33 update

This update will NOT break your presets if you start from v1.05 or up. You should also not need to perform a factory reset after this update.

Get it on the Files page here.

DMC-3 + DMC-3XL Universal Strymon Timeline & Mobius Combo Firmware Released!

We’ve just released the new Strymon combo firmware.  It works great with the Timeline and Mobius, integrating the two pedals into a single cohesive unit.  The Timeline + Mobius combo firmware performs all of the standard Timeline functions, plus it adds an extra mode to control the Mobius.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  The Timeline must be set to MIDI Channel 1, and the Mobius must be set to Channel 2 in the Timeline Globals.  Both pedals should have MIDITH set to ON in the Globals.  The Timeline should have LPEXIT set to PLAY, and needs to be in buffered / DSP bypass.

The firmware updater is on our Files page here.

Violet – Mobius Control

1:  Bank Down (Program down in Program Change mode) (hold for scroll)

2:  Bank Up (Program up in Program Change mode) (hold for scroll)

3:  Mode Change (hold for bypass)

Configuration is performed by pressing and holding button 3 (center) at power-up.

Press the center button to select expression configuration.  Press and hold the center button once the expression selection has been made.  The RGB LED indicates the expression mode:

Off – disable

Red – Timeline expression

Orange – TL + MO expression

Green – Mobius Expression

Blue-Green – Timeline Tap (3XL J only)

Violet – TL + MO tap (3XL J only)

Blue – Mobius tap (3XLJ only)

White – Timeline Looper Level

The DMC-3 (non-XL) should be set to disable.  The tap modes will not operate correctly on a DMC-3XL with the expression roller.

The program / bank mode and instant / delayed stop mode are selected the same way as with the DMC-3XL firmware.


DXI Added to the shop!

Our new DXI pedal is in the works.  The first run will be shipping the 2nd week in January.

DXIThis is the production prototype, the final version will have the knob labels silk-screened.  The basis for the DXI is a vintage radio circuit, rather than a copy of an old guitar pedal.  The real magic of the DXI is the Contour control, which allows the player to dial in as much or as little non-linearity as desired.  It can be an almost completely clean boost or a very dirty, gritty drive.  It adds some low-end push and fattens up the lower mids without being too muddy.

Sound samples and more details are available on the product page here.

DPC-5 Batch 2 now shipping!

You’ve waited patiently, and now the wait is over.  The DPC-5 Disaster Pedalboard Controller is now shipping.  We have several units in Batch 2 that are scheduled to go out over the next week, and then the Batch 3 units will be shipping.


Here’s the first unit from Batch 2:


The firmware is still under test to make sure it’s as good as it can be, but we will be done testing early next week and these will be flying their way to you.

DMC-0 now shipping!

The DMC-0 pedals are now ready to ship.  Most colours will take 3-4 business days to ship.


The DMC-0 is an ultra-compact MIDI controller with a single foot switch.  The DMC-0 footswitch will execute one action on a “tap” and a different action on a “hold.”  The DMC-0 is great for tap tempo, tuner / mute settings, half-speed or reverse on the Timeline looper, program up and down, or for just about any other MIDI utility task.

The DMC-0 has a USB port on the side and may be customized using a serial terminal application on any modern operating system.  The tap and hold actions may be changed, and the LED may be set to different colours for each mode.  We are working to have a software application in the next few months with a nice GUI to make customization a little prettier.  The same app will work on the DPC-5 pedalboard controller as well.

The DMC-0 and DPC-5 are available in the Store now.

DFS-1 and DFS-2 footswitches available in the Shop!

The DFS-1 and DFS-2 are non-MIDI foot switches, designed to work with a variety of amplifiers or other devices.  We have them available for applications like channel and reverb switching, tap tempo, expression control, and more.

They are super-small, 3.6″ x 1.2″ x 1.25″, and fit just about anywhere on a pedalboard.  The DFS-2 has the rear switch installed higher than the front switch to make stomp control easier.

More info in the Shop.

Continue reading

DMC Series Line 6 Firmware

Short demo video of the Line 6 M-Series firmware for the DMC-3.  It’s similar to the Strymon firmware but allows for scene select rather than for bank up / down.  The M-Series do not allow looper control via MIDI, so that is removed but all of the other functions are present.

The Line 6 firmware allows the following:

Blue Mode

Left:  Scene Down (hold to scroll)

Right: Scene Up (hold to scroll)

Center: Mode Change (hold to bypass all)


Green Mode

Left: Looper record / overdub

Right: Looper play / stop

Center:  Mode Change (hold for looper undo / redo)


Red Mode:

Left:  Looper Reverse

Right: Looper Half-Speed

Center:  Mode Change (hold for looper pre/post)


Check out the video here: