Sunday, 23 March 2014

Add a Sustain pedal to Symphonix Evolution with iRig BlueBoard

Recently IK Multimedia introduced the iRig BlueBoard, which provides four programmable buttons and two external controllers.

The BlueBoard is an excellent way to add a sustain or expression pedal to Symphonix Evolution.  It's a wireless solution and is battery-powered for maximum portability.  When combined with a USB keyboard controller via a suitable MIDI adapter, you can quickly create a piano or keyboard setup for live gigs that uses Symphonix Evolution as the sound engine.  Guitar players and vocalists will also find the BlueBoard useful as a way to quickly switch through a playlist of backing tracks.
The iRig BlueBoard allows a Sustain pedal to be connected
Setting up a sustain pedal is very easy:  Simply start the BlueBoard’s own control app, connect the pedal to one of the ports on the side of the BlueBoard itself and then tell the iRig BlueBoard to use MIDI controller #64.  Symphonix Evolution will immediately “see” it as a sustain controller.

The four buttons marked "A", "B", "C", and "D" on the BlueBoard can be used in either a program change or MIDI controller mode.   When in Program Change mode, pressing a button will send a MIDI "program change" message, and Controller mode treats each button as a control "toggle" where the button is either on or off (the buttons stay lit when they are "on").

 Symphonix Evolution can use either mode, but the BlueBoard’s controller mode only sends “toggle” type messages so it is of limited use in our app when controlling functions because you have to press a button twice to toggle between "on" and "off".  However, Program Change mode is much more useful; by using the External Command function in Symphonix Evolution it’s possible to map the program change messages to different functions, and this works much better.  For example, I was able to map the buttons to “Next Track in Playlist”, “Previous Track in Playlist”, “Play” and “Stop” by setting these up on the BlueBoard as program changes 124, 125, 126 and 127 (I chose these preset numbers because I don't use them often on my other MIDI gear, which limits the potential for conflict).

If you are currently using a keyboard controller that doesn’t allow you to connect an external sustain or expression pedal, or if you just want a set of foot switches for triggering the different functions in Symphonix Evolution, then the iRig BlueBoard is highly recommended.


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