For the record, I love the foot controller. I bought mine used 5 years ago and replaced the switches just as a matter ot course. I also measured all the
resistors and replaced one that had drifted pretty far off value. Not a single problem (knock on wood) since then with fairly constant gigging and
rehearsing, including five trips to burning man where *everything* one owns gets permeated with corrosive alkali dust. Upon returning home, I blow the
switches out with compressed air and spray in some contact cleaner. No problems. I'm actually amazed at robustness off the design. I bought a bunch of
replacemnet switches just so I'd have them on hand, and they are still just sitting in a drawer 5 years later.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Kim Flint" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: EDP Footpedal vs. FCB1010 ? ?
Date: Tue, 13 Sep 2005 01:45:56 -0700
At 08:49 AM 9/11/2005, Adrian Bartholomew wrote:
ITS PERFECT. go with the 1010.
hmmm, I would say the FCB1010 is ok, but only compared to other
midi controllers currently available. But that is only because most
of the others available today are really horrible. Only the
Rocktron All Access seems better than the Behringer FCB1010, but
much more expensive.
Compared to some past midi controllers however, the Behringer
FCB1010 is really weak. The Digitech PMC-10 and the Lake-Butler
RFC-1 Midigator were really exceptional, full-featured midi pedals,
and completely blow away anything available today. Both are long
out of production. They are really hard to find today because
people really treasure them. If you can find one, get it.
It is really sad that nobody makes something comparable. I wish
somebody would just copy the old Digitech PMC-10 architecture.
the EDP foot controller response time is good. dont get me wrong.
but the reliability is NOT. from what i understand, its not
voltage controlled, its RESISTANCE controlled. maybe that is the
problem in the 1st place. others may refute me but i have one and
it sucks. any contamination of the buttons can set off the
resistances and ur then screwed...ONSTAGE.
I've seen you make these accusations about our poor pedal design a
few times Adrian, so allow me to explain the design goals we sought
in creating the Echoplex footpedal controller.
First of all, the people involved in the Echoplex design are all
musicians in addition to engineers. In fact we were all musicians
before we were engineers. We've used many different pieces of gear
as musicians. We've dragged our gear around for rehearsals and
gigs. We've experienced problematic gear over time that irritated
us or broke on us or couldn't be worked around at the last minute,
and we sought to do better with the Echoplex. We designed the
Echoplex pedal to hopefully address many of these problems that we
had been irritated by in other gear.
So despite what you say, reliability was one of the key design
goals. (I'll come back to the issue of what "reliability" means a
First, let's cover the design requirements we came up with for the
- The pedal should not use a proprietary cable. Cables will go bad.
We've all experienced it. If you can't replace the cable at the
last minute because it is some proprietary special-order thing, you
are screwed. So, the pedal must use a cable anybody can get easily,
or preferably something they likely have anyway.
- The cable must not be fixed to the unit. Since we don't know how
big your stage is, we want to let you choose how long of a cable
you need. We also want you to be able to replace it easily if the
cable dies. Especially for transporting gear, attached cables get
bent in strange ways and suffer tremendous strain. It will be
better if it is easily detached.
- There should only be one cable between pedal and rack. More
cables means more points of failure. More cost to the user. More
crap cluttering up the stage. More connections to be made while
setting up before the gig. More things to connect the wrong way by
mistake. More jacks to fail. One cable must be enough for the
- The pedal should not require power. Power supplies fail often,
especially power supplies out on stage where they deal with beer,
power surges, booted stage divers and etc., and therefore anything
requiring a power supply is less reliable than a passive device. A
power supply requirement also adds to the inconvenience. This
requires power brought out to the stage, and an additional cable
connection be made to the pedal.
- The pedal must be very simple in design, so it is easy to repair
on the road. Anything on the floor of a stage will get broken
eventually, so assume field repairable is essential. This pedal
will be getting stomped on, kicked around, getting beer spilled on
it, getting rained on, sitting in the hot sun in the summer,
freezing in the winter, etc. No matter what you do it will break
for somebody. It should be easy for the user to open the pedal up
and fix it.
- It should be easy for people to make custom controllers. Most
people probably want a pedal, but not all. Some want to make their
own custom pedal. We have no idea what the others may want. It
should be easy for those who want something different to create
their own controller without much engineering knowledge or other
sophistication. The pedal design should be very simple for this to
- The pedal design must be very inexpensive to produce. People are
spending their money on the EDP, the foot controller should not be
a huge extra expense. The target manufacturing cost for parts,
fabrication, assembly, packaging, etc. should be less than $20.
- The switches themselves must a) be quiet when pressed, b) have
reasonably low force required for activation, c) have a reasonably
short throw length, d) have a good tactile feel. This is so the
musician can easily feel the connection point for tapping loop
functions, which a generally very rhythmic and demand precision.
In our opinion, these design goals were very friendly towards
musicians, at least according to our real-world experience as
So my challenge to you Adrian, is what would you design to meet
these requirements? You think our design sucks, so I would very
much like to hear your better idea. Perhaps you are a brilliant
engineer, and we can all learn from you!
Now, given the design goals above, allow me to tell you how we
chose to meet them when we designed the Echoplex Digital Pro. Our
Echoplex pedal design used 7 resistors, 7 switches, one mono 1/4"
patch cable (just like you would use for a guitar, or even a
speaker cable), one cable jack, steel chassis, and no external
power. This means:
- Very few components, so there is little there to break.
- It is really easy to figure out how the pedal works if you open
it, so most anybody can figure out how to repair it quickly if
there is a problem.
- We published the resistor values in the manual, so anybody could
make their own controller if they wished. It's really easy to do.
- The switches are common momentary switches, and there are
numerous options for those if you want to use something different
from what we used. However we did spend a lot of time trying
switches, and we did not find anything that met our goals for
remotely close to the cost of the ones we used.
We created the pedal itself to be a very simple design to ensure
reliability, while all the smarts are in the rack unit. Simple
stuff has less ways to break. The pedal simply sets a voltage, and
the rack unit reads the voltage with an a/d convertor to interpret
the function. Contrary to recent claims here on the LD list, the
switch is debounced twice. First it is debounced in the rack with a
capacitor before the a/d convertor , and then debounced again in
software, where the value is checked multiple times to ensure it is
correctly read. There is a wide tolerance given to the voltage
range for each function, so even if things are off a bit, it should
I thought our design was rather clever, and I was always proud that
we managed to get 7 buttons of control communicated through just a
simple patch cord. But I'm now looking forward to Adrian educating
me on better ideas.
Our Echoplex design has been working pretty well since 1994. Many
pedals have been working that long without problems (including
mine). The design itself generally does not fail. Usually the only
problems seen are with switches failing in various ways. (like
getting dirty.) A failing switch is a failing switch. Any pedal
will have a problem if the switches fail, so that is not a problem
unique to the Echoplex.
And that brings up an interesting point. If you are into looping,
you will be tapping buttons and switches a lot. Probably much more
than on any other device you use. Switches wear out when used
frequently. (you may not be used to this.) They get dirty. They
break. They become intermittent. You need to start thinking about
switches similar to the way guitarists think about strings, or DJ's
think about crossfaders, or saxophonists think about reeds, or
drummers think about drum heads, or like the oil in your car.
Looper switches are commodities that wear out and need regular
replacement and/or care. It has nothing to do with it being an
Echoplex pedal or a boss or a digitech or whatever. If you are
stepping on it a lot, the switch will wear out. Be prepared or be
And I can guarantee you - you know those switches on your FCB1010?
If you use it for looping, their gonna break also. It's just a
matter of time. Do you know how to fix them?
Now, let's talk about reliability. What is more reliable, the
Echoplex pedal, or a midi pedal like the Behringer FCB1010? How do
you determine that objectively?
Reliability is an engineering science. It is not a guessing game.
It is also not my engineering specialty, but I work with
reliability engineers who are very good. I don't know exactly how
they do their reliability calculations, but I do know what
information I need to specify to them, and what results they
provide back. (another reason why I think it is funny when people
think laptops are a good thing to bring on stage, but that is
another topic.) Here are some parameters that go into a reliability
- how many components are used
- what is the individual reliability of each component in the usage conditions
- how many component pins are connected
- how many electrical connection points (solder joints, connectors,
- what sort of shock and vibration will it experience
- Is the device powered
- If it is powered, what voltages and voltage tolerances are used
(and how do they affect individual device reliability
characteristics, as each device will be different depending on its
own manufacturing process.)
- if powered, What are the temperature ranges where it operates
- what are humidity ranges where it operates
All these factors go into calculating the MTBF (mean time before
failure). Half the units made will fail before that time, and half
after, with some statistical distribution. (I think it is gaussian,
but I'm not sure.)
Now, considering all that, any midi pedal (including the Behringer
FCB) will have far more parts, far more device pins, far more
connection points, will be powered, will have more external
connections, will be more affected by temperature, more affected by
humidity, etc., than the overwhelmingly simple Echoplex pedal.
In other words, if you really do a serious reliability analysis, a
midi pedal will always prove to be less reliable than the Echoplex
pedal, and probably it is the least reliable device you are using.
On the other hand, if you do use a good midi controller pedal with
the Echoplex, you will have far more flexibility and access to
commands than you do with the pedal or the Echoplex front panel
(assuming you are using LoopIV in your Echoplex, LoopIII wasn't so
interesting for midi). A good midi pedal is far more useful with
the Echoplex, and that may be an excellent reason to choose the
midi pedal option!
It is great to have choices,
Kim Flint | Looper's Delight
email@example.com | http://www.loopers-delight.com
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