Blackstar have released a new MIDI/USB Foot controller and it’s unexpectedly awesome. Foot controllers aren’t something musicians get excited about often but this one manages to get a lot of things right (including the sub $300 AUD price) and it genuinely fills a niche in a manner that will likely appeal to a wide range of players.
Foot controllers are often associated exclusively with guitar players, particularly those toting MIDI controllable rigs such as amp modellers, but it’s apparent from the outset that Blackstar’s Live Logic is equally geared towards computer-based musicians. On top of the fact that Ableton Live Lite is included in the box, USB connectivity provides bus power (optionally via battery or power supply) and also direct control over DAWs or plugins with no MIDI interface required.
A fairly diminutive and unassuming little unit, the Blackstar Live Logic packs a lot into its compact chassis. The metal construction has an assuring amount of weight and switches click with a fulfilling level of tactility. The rear panel sports 5-pin MIDI in and out ports, 2 expression pedal inputs, Custom/Patch mode switch (see below), USB port, DC power socket (PSU optional) and power button.
The two-position ‘mode’ switch optimizes Live Logic for various scenarios with minimal fuss. Patch mode will likely be used via the 5-pin MIDI connectors for recalling presets on hardware effects units and digital amps.
Custom mode is where things get very interesting when used as a USB controller. For those not afraid to get their hands dirty, the free editor software allows plenty of customization of every function to fit just about any conceivable use case. Powerful as this is, tweaking may not be necessary at all for those interested in performing with Ableton Live. Simply import the included MIDI remote script into your Ableton Live install folder then select Custom mode and Live Logic turns Ableton Live into a powerful 6 track looper. Be sure to watch our ‘feet on’ video for a demonstration of this capability.
We were amazed at just how easily and seamlessly this looping functionality worked. The pedal’s 6 footswitches are mapped to your first 6 tracks in Session View, either audio tracks for external instruments (e.g. guitars, basses or synths) or MIDI tracks for software instruments. Pressing a switch starts recording a new clip in its associated track, press again to stop recording while your recorded clip continues to loop. Double tap to delete the last recording, or single click to record a new clip into the next empty clip slot.
Live Logic’s little LED display comes in super handy here displaying lapsed bars and beats as they roll by. Lights above each switch indicate tracks with loops present and flash during recording at your set’s tempo.
Ableton Live’s loop friendly nature means everything stays perfectly in sync and record quantization can be applied to MIDI tracks for instant correction (if desired). For added fun, why not plug in an expression pedal (not included) mapped to control your set’s tempo and speed up or slow down your song with your foot. Clip warping means your recordings will follow your tempo changes, even maintaining pitch (unless you specify re-pitch warp mode which will make your song sound like a record changing speed).
For the price, there’s a lot to like about Blackstar’s Live Logic and we’re sure you’ll be seeing in on stages and in bedrooms across the world soon enough being stomped on by all sorts of musicians from metal guitarists to experimental electronic acts.
Live Logic is available now from Australian Blackstar dealers with an expected price of under $300. For more information, find a dealer near you via the link below: