I’m much more of a modular and acoustic instruments person than a MIDI person, and for my own music, I’m not interested in percussion lines that don’t groove and evolve with a 100% human or organic feel. Modular doesn’t do that well. The only way is via sample playback, or, better, by playing the drums with my own hands in real time. Aside from a utility polysynth MIDI keyboard (in my studio only under protest), my sole use for the BomeBox was to correct the problematic velocity response I experience between the only and best MIDI drum controller I’m willing to use and a particular sound module that will provide electronic drum sounds that can respond musically to full-range dynamics. I’m well covered for sampled acoustic drum kits (128 velocity layers with a zillion drum pieces), but for electronic percussion sounds that respond humanly to a human touch, there are only two, and the best one has an unusable velocity curve that can’t be modified. It’s fine with something like a KeyStep, but I guess the inventor didn’t foresee a quality drum controller. To correct this oversight, I had to spend further on the BomeBox to provide this basic capability because my lovely controller’s firmware is from the 90’s, and it only does one single thing well: trigger drums. It has highly touch-sensitive MIDI triggers on it and no other MIDI controls whatsoever. These super-sensitive triggers play with full dynamics and zero crosstalk, but choice of velocity curves in the firmware is too limited. We discussed this on Elektronauts, where I originally thought that MIDI velocity compression in a module didn’t yet exist. People there recommended the BomeBox, and I’ve now set up the BomeBox to remap velocity for that one module, problem solved.
I originally followed the models in the BomeBox’s documentation—which worked—but then came to realize my setup could be greatly simplified, so I tried that, too. I expect to only ever need one or two additional modules, so I won’t face the problem of running out of channels, making KISS the best choice. With percussion, I need MIDI latency less than 12ms, and there is no detectable latency in this configuration. Great, but for future reference I’ve posted here to make sure of what capabilities I might be excluding.
In that case, I have another question: you’re saying that configurations of the BomeBox allow it to output MIDI to specific modules instead of everything-to-everything. Can you explain that? I mean, if I have everything daisy chained, it looks to me like every MIDI message has to pass through every box because the BomeBox certainly doesn’t intervene past its own MIDI out. Do you somehow split the MIDI chains in hardware? See, I’m not a MIDI person.
One of my drum controller’s antique firmware’s other limitations is that program changes on it are relatively tedious: you have to stop playing, re-position the heavy instrument, then punch in codes that require some concentration and physical effort. These patch changes bring the music to a grinding halt. I guess, 25 years ago, the inventor figured players would settle on the best patch for a session, then set it and forget it without really needing real-time changes. That’s still reasonably practical, but my next project will be to enable the equivalent of program changes on the controller by creating presets of remappings of the MIDI outs of its 30 triggers. I’ll just leave the controller on its BomeBox preset, then remap its controllers externally with BomeBox presets.
My second question: I intend to activate and deactivate combinations of these controller remapping presets via a USB keyboard hooked up to the BomeBox’s USB port. The plan is to allow the instantaneous patch switching impossible on the controller itself. That will maintain the KISS configuration, right? Do you foresee any issues?