The MOD family of products is growing this year and the first new member that we are welcoming is the MOD Footswitch, a Control Chain controller that extends your Duo with four footswitches, four LEDs and two LCD screens. It’s the perfect companion to your MOD Duo, granting extra control with a minimal footprint.
The MOD Footswitch in a nutshell
With its two programmable knobs and two assignable footswitches, the MOD Duo was always considered the brains of the operation, to which musicians would add their controls in order to fit their specific needs. We weren’t sure what peripherals people would want to use but we did know that extra footswitches would greatly increase the versatility of the device.
That was confirmed on our Kickstarter campaign back in late 2014, when almost half of our backers decided to add the MOD Footswitch to their pledges. At that time, most of our user base was composed of guitarists and bass players, and having more controls seemed like a pretty obvious next step.
Last year, with our software release 1.4 (by the way, 1.6 just came out), we enabled the use of Control Chain devices and shipped 100 beta test units of the MOD Footswitch in order to collect feedback from early users and correct any firmware or hardware issues. The response was very positive and as our user base grew, more and more people have asked for the device.
We are now launching it as a full-fledged product and feel that it’s a great addition to the family. With just 500 grams of extra weight, it provides more controls, visual feedback and a seamless connection with the MOD Duo and its interface. This makes the Duo+Footswitch combo probably the lightest, most compact and most powerful setup available right now.
The MOD Footswitch in all its glory
Fueled via Control Chain
There are so many fantastic MIDI controllers out there and, on our forum, users have been exploring the best options for the Duo (there seems to be a lot of love for Keith McMillen’s devices, an affection that we share here at MOD HQ). But MIDI has inherent restrictions that limit the Duo’s endless adaptability and potential, something that we felt we could avoid. That’s why we created a new communications protocol called Control Chain.
[Sidenote: We are planning on doing a blog post specifically about Control Chain in the next couple of weeks to delve deeper on why we opted to create our own control protocol rather than just using MIDI.]
Indeed, the MOD Footswitch (as well as the Arduino Shield and the upcoming Expression Pedal) is fueled by something more than your typical MIDI event messages. By using Control Chain communication, we are able to use all the information that is attributed to a given parameter on a plugin or pedalboard. This means that you can control parameters with a much higher resolution than MIDI’s 7-bit values, that data ranges aren’t limited by the 128 steps that MIDI provides, that you can easily assign tap-tempo controls to the footswitches with LED feedback, that the LCD screens actually show what is assigned (you can even edit the names on the “Advanced” settings of each plugin you are mapping),
We’ve also made the conscious choice of using a serial port for the Control Chain connection, allowing the devices to communicate and be powered via an RJ-45 connector. This design decision carries many benefits: it simplifies the setup, the CAT-5 cables are pretty cheap and easy to find, and it is possible to have the MOD Footswitch several meters away from your MOD Duo without any significant interference or latency issues.
The back of the MOD Footswitch actually has two Control Chain ports and one USB Mini B entry. The two Control Chain ports mean that the device can be daisy chained with other Control Chain controllers in series. The USB port, on the other hand, is used to upgrade the controller’s firmware, as new features are developed, in keeping with the evolving nature of all MOD devices.
Control Chain is also an open protocol, which means that the developments we are making on it can benefit others and also that, conversely, it can evolve with the help of a broader community of developers.
The MOD Footswitch’s exquisite “derrière” showing the Control Chain ports
Adding it to your setup
One of the biggest perks of enhancing your MOD Duo with a MOD Footswitch is in how seamlessly it fits into your workflow. Upon connection, the Footswitch is instantly recognized by your Duo and added to the list of actuators that you can map.
It behaves like a natural extension of the MOD Duo and provides more control options for your board such as:
- Toggling individual plugins on and off
- Defining tap tempos
- Scrolling through plugin presets
- Scrolling through snapshots of your pedalboard (pedalboard presets)
Another great use case is its use with the Sooperlooper plugin, which has 5 buttons (Play/Pause, Record, Undo, Redo and Reset) and was a bit awkward to use with the Duo’s footswitches only. Now, however, the MOD Footswitch can be configured as a hardware version of Sooperlooper and become a looping station in its own right.
There are several features on our roadmap that will grant the MOD Footswitch even more special powers. Do you have any particular use cases for which the MOD Footswitch is the answer? Are there any features that you would like us to develop for it? Tell us in the comments!