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Torn about keeping Blackbox or returning it within my grace period

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  • Torn about keeping Blackbox or returning it within my grace period

    Hi everyone,

    (TL/DR: BB is lovely; but too fiddly as stand alone; too buggy with midi controller; I want to keep it but not sure I should)

    I'm feeling really torn about whether to return the BB while I can still get a full refund.

    I'd be very happy to be convinced otherwise.

    It is SUCH a lovely piece of kit. The hardware is simply superb and well thought out - midi host, sdcard, MULTIPLE outs, beautiful and responsive screen, long files, stereo - it goes on and on. And that's not even mentioning the lovely community here and friendly and responsive 1010music.

    All that said, I'm afraid I might be keeping it for what it 'might' do in the future and not what it can do now.

    I think part of it's strength and ironically weakness is that it's so small - if I could just walk on stage with this and an FX unit and do a set, that would be quite remarkable. For me at a minimum - I would need to be able trigger pads and on the same page adjust the volume of each pad (so I could trigger, fade in, trigger - fade in another, scroll to a previous pad - fade out etc). What would make it even more powerful would be if the bottom two knobs could be assigned to two other parameters, or more with a shift. This would mean I could take advantage of the BB's small yet powerful design as a purely stand-alone device. Add some LFOs and mind = blown.

    Unfortunately this doesn't seem possible just now. As it is (and I might be mistaken) it seems I can trigger a pad, then I need to go to the mixer page, fade volume up, then return to pads page, trigger etc etc. This is proving difficult for me in practice and I can't get into a performance flow state with all the screen changes just to adjust basic parameters.

    I guess I'm asking for a 'stand alone performance mode'.

    I really originally purchased the BB as an addition to the Digitakt - so its small size was definitely a plus. But to use it effectively (as I had hoped to) I'd really like to be able to trigger recorded tracks on the BB and be able to adjust the volume all from the same page. Having to bounce around from one screen to another, while also manning two or three other pieces of kit is just too distracting/fiddly.

    It seems to really make the most of it I would need a midi controller. I've experimented with this and when it works, it's quite remarkable. Using the BB + midi controller to mangle sounds is quite powerful and was the other reason/use I had in mind. As it is though I seem to only be able to map 5 parameters per pad (Aaron has informed me that at present it's max 8 per pad but I can't seem to achieve that consistently). I have been able to trick the BB to do 6 per pad but the 6th one doesn't 'show' that it's assigned, although it seems to be responding to the controller. Without more mapping capability, this detracts from fully exploiting its combination with a midi controller and seems to defeat it on that end too.

    So it seems at present the BB feels a bit limited and a bit buggy - at least for how I would like to use it.

    Reading this over I feel like all I've done is bitch - and I'm really not meaning to - I seriously love how solid this piece of kit feels and can practically taste it's potential. I'm sure 1010 will get it there but I don't think (or I don't think i don't think) that I can really use it as is. Which sucks - as I REALLY want to (LOL).

    Anyway - I'm going to keep experimenting over the weekend and make a decision on Monday.

    Open to any comments/thoughts/suggestions on if/how others have achieved good workflows.



  • #2
    Thanks for outlining your dilemma. Please try version 1.3.3 and let us know.


    • #3
      I haven’t totally given up Aaron and sorry for whining - if I wasn’t so completely impressed with the device I would have probably just shrugged and returned it...but it’s so damn close to being perfect for me I couldn’t resist posting. I’m going to keep experimenting with it over the weekend and will try the update.



      • #4
        Originally posted by Aaron View Post
        Thanks for outlining your dilemma. Please try version 1.3.3 and let us know.
        Hi Aaron,

        Thank you for increasing the number of mappable locations per pad - works great and really makes the BB much more viable. If there was any way to be able to map the master out (I guess Headphone) that would be great - it would mean I could fade out the BB directly from the midi controller and not have to changes screens on BB or reach to master mixer. Having a dedicated Vol on my midi controller is also a nice failsafe if I need to pull down the overall levels quickly during a gig.

        Thanks again!



        • #5
          What MIDI controller are you using? I might need to get something like a beatstep to keep me engaged. Elektron flow has spoiled me for sure..


          • #6
            Well sadly I returned the BB. I had bought it for very specific purposes and it just didn't do what I needed.

            That said, I was least interested in it's sequencing function as the lack of interface made itt feel like I was using a phone.

            The midi controller I used was a Livid DS1 which was great.. really opened up the editing potential of the BB. If I had kept the BB I'd probably consider a Faderfox also. But it really depends on what you're trying to control.

            Hope that helps,


            • #7
              As to one of the OPs questions, what if there was a toggle to turn the velocity slider (left side of Pads Screen) into a real-time volume slider for the currently selected pad?


              • #8
                I was going to return mine as well. I've been spoiled by the work flow of the MPC Live, which I kind of thought as the BB as a mini version that I could take out with me but after countless video watching, I couldnt even get a simple sequence to do what I wanted. I felt like I was hopping around within the BB just to make a simple beat loop. The device itself looks and feel real dope but I'm just gonna pass it over to my brother as a x-mas present. He wanted the BB as well and I was able to get it before him. Plus he's more into menu diving compared to me. If I had known the diving would be more than what the videos lead on, then I would have probably passed on it. Too bad too cuz the look and feel of it is incredible.


                • #9
                  Yes - I didn't want to post anything once I returned it as I know for some people, this is a perfect unit. It is built to loving standards - quality kit. But didn't work out for me unfortunately. I'm betting/hoping it will improve over time and maybe have 2.0 version later that I might look to pick up once the wrinkles are ironed out. I think I was probably just the wrong user for the unit at this time.


                  • #10
                    It's too bad Blackbox didn't work out for you guys. I guess the work flow isn't for everybody. I do wish you both luck in finding the device that suits your needs.

                    I personally like BB for it's portability. I can easily put it in a back pack and take it with me for a mobile sampling, scratch pad, or beat making solution. It really packs a lot of features in a small box, and even has some features that the more expensive boxes don't (granular, & disk streaming- hello Akai?)

                    Along with the awesome features, a big part of the BB's appeal for me has been this forum, and BB's developers. It seems Aaron and company are committed to not only improving the device with regular updates, but listening to their customers as well. Most people with questions or inquiries on this forum, get a response within one day. You don't find this kind of transparency, participation, and willingness to help on most companies forums and this goes a long way for me.
                    Last edited by jdg179; 11-21-2019, 07:50 AM.


                    • #11
                      Thanks very much for the discussion. Instruments are a very personal thing that depend on what you want to do.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Aaron View Post
                        Thanks very much for the discussion. Instruments are a very personal thing that depend on what you want to do.
                        it's true. I have a synthstrom deluge here, which is about 18 months old now. there have been some changes to the OS, some new features, but basically I've been working with the same UI since I got it... so why can't I gig it? I love the sound, the functionality, the size, shape, looks..... but I couldn't gig it. whereas the BB- no hesitation at all. I could do pretty much a whole set with just the BB & a blofeld, & one decent mid keyboard with assignable knobs & stuff.
                        ideally, I'd like a bit more from the sequencer- easier on-the-fly editing, a dedicated button (or midi note number) for deleting unwanted events, CCs recorded.... but really, I'm this close (holds fingertips a few mm apart) to selling my octatrack & buying a second BB.


                        • #13
                          I was going to return it as well and then I discovered how tight it records something like a DFAM in Clip mode with Quantize on. Beat length changing parameters completely blew my mind especially with the DFAM. Also changing Quantize and beat params ended making some pretty interesting beats that the DFAM could only dream of doing. Unbelievable accident on my end, but I am absolutely keeping it now. Happy little accidents make you realize what you have sometimes..

                          I shared an example in the tunes thread (Post your blackbox joints here) if you are curious. More of a test video but yea, sold me on keeping the unit for sure.
                          Last edited by selfup; 11-27-2019, 01:19 AM.