Well, clearly, these two pieces of gear are entirely different. I’m sure Behringer didn’t rip off the Roland. They’ve got two expression pedals. Totally different.

Brad Sucks, the one-man band known for Internet stardom and Brad’s brilliant title “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing”, is taking on laptop performance. First job: find a way to use limbs on your body other than your arms and hands, since those need to play the guitar.

Like many Ableton Live users, Brad finds his way to the Behringer FCB1010 foot pedal. Before you scoff at the brand name, this foot pedal’s configuration is unusual (ten stomp pedals, two “scene” pedals, and two expression pedals), and the price is ridiculously cheap (often US$150 or less).

Of course, it is from Behringer, which means there are lots of things wrong with it: it doesn’t work out of the box with Ableton Live, and it’s a pain to program. Enter an aggressive community with tutorials, homebrewed Windows editor software, patches, hardware mods, and even a $10 firmware hack. Brad has rounded up all of them in a central location so you can skip Googling and get straight to modding:

Behringer FCB1010

Brad has a great idea: Behringer should open source the firmware. Unfortunately, I think the odds of Behringer doing that are about the same odds as CDM naming Behringer our “Product Manufacturer of the Year.” We’re just getting over our rage and frustration involving Behringer’s BCD2000. Short version of that story: Behringer finally fixes the screwed-up firmware on that model, but orphans its existing users, repaints the thing, and renames it the BCD3000. No, thanks.

So, I have mixed feelings. I love hardware mods and user communities and cheap gear. But if you’re curious which gear Behringer ripped off to create the FCB1010, it’s this:

Roland FC-200

More than a passing resemblance, huh? Now, the Roland costs twice as much — US$300 — and it lacks the second expression pedal. (Oh, yeah, and Behringer moved the display. And that is a slightly different typeface.) But a quick look through the product manual reveals Roland’s MIDI implementation makes a lot more sense, even if Roland also failed to produce a software editor. Programming is actually logical, and the manual is great. Well, okay, it’s a music gear manual, so “great” might be the wrong word — let’s just say accurate, detailed, and far better than Behringer’s.

Just one paid gig could make up the difference in price. I’m torn. As much as I love the community support, I’m about ready to toss my FCB1010 for the Roland on principle alone. I can mod the Roland’s gear, too — and I probably won’t need to touch the firmware.

  • Aahzekiel

    The FCB1010 is what it is… but I paid less than $100 for it, gigged with it – used it to trigger samples out of Reason during a live rock show – and had no problems with it. I had to learn how to program it, but I'm new to the world of MIDI anyway, and I didn't find it particularly difficult to program. Is other hardware out there easier? That'd be nice…

    I had a guy I found online burn the updated firmware to an EPROM and mail it to me (for $9, not bad) and installed it myself to get the tap tempo working. The tap tempo never worked well or predictably, so after all the pain my ass of updating the firmware, I never used the feature I updated it for.

    I plan to use the FCB1010 in the near future to trigger backing loops and samples in Live, but haven't tried to get it working with Live yet. I'll let you know. :) I'd love to hear from anyone who IS using it to wrangle Live.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Believe me, I'm not knocking anyone who went with the FCB1010, especially at the price — going rate seems to be $140 *new*, or even less. When I got mine, I couldn't even track down something like the FC-200 (now they seem to be more available).

    But I will say, it's useful because of the users far more than because of the manufacturer. More power to the users.

  • Tyler

    I have had the Behringer’s FCB1010 for months now. For the price, nothing can beat it. Yes, its tedious to program, but its not impossible. I have always thought that programing MIDI controllers was never that intuitive in the first place.

    I mean these two products juxtaposed together does not make sense. Really, twice as much for half the hardware?

    I use this for live. Not for triggering clips, but controlling effect parameters. Wah, flange, filters, beat gates, sends, ect.

    I had heard about the EPROM problem with the firmware. I managed to get one after they had fixed the firmware, so I never had to deal with it.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, they're juxtaposed for one reason alone: the Roland came first, and the Behringer rips off almost every single detail of it, like a lot of their other hardware. I'm all for cheapness, but there would be ways of running smaller margins, making cheaper products, without copying the exact paint job of someone else's design. I've met a lot of these engineers, so I sort of feel what must be their frustration when they see their work essentially stolen.

    I still love the idea of hacking the Behringer, though.

  • http://www.retrothing.com James Grahame

    Roland has been concerned about Behringer copying their products for some time. They sued Behringer in 2005, claiming that some Behringer pedals were essentially knock-offs of their BOSS line.

    The parties reached an out of court settlement and Roland's US president commented, "We are satisfied that Behringer's current line of guitar pedals is now sufficiently different from the trade dress of the famous BOSS brand of pedals."

  • Michael Pearson

    Is there anybody who's used both (or even just the B) that can comment about the action of the expression pedal, and the durability of the other pedals?

    Because that's where I'd like to see my other $100 US going.

  • Adrian Anders

    I would say it takes about an evening to learn how to program the FCB1010 from reading the manual and having the board in front of you.

    Killer for triggering live looping, I used this in a small solo gig I did last fall. I used the board to trigger Slayer 2 stomp-box effects as well as the free VST live looper Loopy Llama.

  • Gerry

    I've been using an FCB1010 for over a year now to control a Yamaha vl70-m synth used with a Yamaha WX-5 windcontroller.

    Zero problems and the patch changes worked "out of the box".

    Well worth the price.

  • Julian

    I bought the fcb1010 yesterday mainly to use it with live 6.0 while playing bass and guitar.

    The manual is really bad. It took me some time to turn the program change commands off and the midi note comand onoff on. Live now respondes to the bfc1010 and you can startstop the program, or loop audio in realtime. Anyway i´ve problems with the expression pedals. Live wont responde to any pedal movement. Anyone an idea how to get the pedals working? Maybe some CC problems?

    I´ve also tested playing the b4 organ with my feet but you can only play one note if no other note is pushed down. Also the buttons are very hard to push so it didnt worked very well.

  • http://jackit.sf.net/ Paul Davis

    Love: works out of the box with SooperLooper, the greatest live looper on the planet (maybe 2nd after Freewheeling).

    Hate: has an IEU plug on the back suggesting universal power compat. I killed my first one doing a demo in the Netherlands, plugged my US-sourced unit direclty into the 220V power.

    Dislike: I thought i would understand the basic programming model, so i failed to read the manual. Only after much frustration did I read it and discovered that the model was totally different from what I had imagined.

  • Adrian Anders

    Live Loopers for the PC set:

    Loopy Llama

    Mobius

    Both free, and both come with VST integration right out of the box (or archive as it were).

    Would love if Sooper or Freewheeling were on the PC (and had VST integration)… but they don't, but these VST plugs are just as powerful (if not more so), and can be dropped into Windows Ableton Live, Project 5 v.2, or FLStudio quick and easy.

    ATA

  • http://br-an.blogspot.com BG

    Some detailed reviews of the and foot boards at musicplayers.com.

  • Capt Brent

    I've had the Behringer FCB1010 for over a year and a half. I had some trouble doing more complicated things with it. I emailed Behringer Tech support, and got about 15 documents emailed back within 6 hours. Say all the bad things you want about Behringer, they've never treated me badly… And I've actually never had one of their products break, or not work right. I must just be lucky. Anyway, some researched advice for the whole Behringer ripped off x y z arguers out there… first off, it's not your place to call out IP disputes. Secondly, you're not privy to contracts, and licensing. I remember a lot of people claiming the EP2500 power amp is ripped off of QSC.. but when you research enough, you find out, QSC just licensed it from a chinese company… that licensed the same thing out to 2 other companies, Behringer and Tasco… makes you wonder why the QSC is twice as expensive, because it's not R&D, and it's not quality… higher price, doesn't equate to higher quality.

    Julian, my expression pedal problem was that my exp pedals were sending out on different channels… maybe check that?

  • http://www.allthingsaudio.org Francis

    I've had no real problems with my FCB1010. Had to recalibrate it once, and certainly the thing isn't operational without the manual, but I used it for quite a while with a POD 2.0 with no real issues (I'm not actively using either now that I have a POD XT Live, but it's still in regular use by someone else).