Behringer redefine the price of MIDI control, how does it perform?
For a long time now, I’ve been a fan of the MIDI control surface. The ability to assign various functions of a sequencer, soft synth or other software tool to the faders, knobs and buttons of a control surface really does make life easier – allowing us to find the “sweet spots” where the sound really comes to life, often involving tweaking two or more knobs simultaneously (for example filter cut-off and resonance often need to be adjusted together).
One problem with existing low-end surfaces, however, is a lack of visual feedback. Although the surface may be used to automate the mix, play it back and all the controls stubbornly sit in the position they were last used. Higher end surfaces have addressed this problem for a while now with a combination of automated faders and displays showing the current settings for other controls, but at a price beyond the reach of many home studios.
Enter the Behringer BCF 2000 and BCR 2000. These two devices finally bring the world of automation and feedback to the home studio’s budget. The two devices have similar styling and purpose – the only difference being that the BCF 2000 sports 8 automated faders and 8 rotary encoders, while for the BCR 2000 the faders are replaced with a set of 24 extra rotary encoders for a total of 32. While the faders are automated, the rotary encoders provide visual feedback through a circle of LED’s arranged around the encoders that illuminate to indicate the current “position” of the knobs. Additionally, 16 push-buttons can be used for toggle (on/off) or command messages (play, rewind, etc.).
This review is based on the BCF 2000. It can be assumed that most of the functions are similar between the two units – indeed the operating manual is identical for the two.
The BCF 2000 comes with everything you need in the box – the control surface itself, a USB cable to connect it to your computer, and a power supply, and an operation manual.
Connection to the computer is via the aforementioned USB cable, or via a MIDI cable. Behringer thoughtfully make the unit work as a standard USB MIDI device, so connecting the USB cable to a PC allows Windows XP to automatically detect and seamlessly install the device – no need for a software disk, I didn’t even get a request for the original XP disk, so installation couldn’t be easier.
Alternatively, the unit sports a MIDI in and 2 MIDI outs (the second of which doubles as a thru), allowing control information to be sent over MIDI for those with sufficient MIDI capabilities on their computer, or for direct control of hardware devices with no computers involved.
The first stage of use is to select an operating mode. This governs how the BCF2000 connects to other equipment, using the USB and MIDI connections. Four USB modes and three standalone modes are available. The modes differ in how incoming MIDI data and control data is routed to the MIDI outputs (whether physical or “virtual” USB ports available on a computer). Suffice to say, the modes are sufficiently flexible to support most routing situations. Additionally, one of the USB modes is designed for combining the control elements of 2 B-Control units and sending output to the computer through a single USB connection.
Everyone thinks that the BCR and BCF can send Sysex only on the buttons . Not true. The BCR and the BCF2000 can send Sysex messages with the rotary encoders and faders. Go to http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/bc2000/ and look for the editors (Birdy Editor and the Script editor) and post a message if you need help.
25-May-07 08:52 AM
If you are trying to get the BCF2000 by Behringer to hook up with your copy of Logic Express 7.2 please check out my How-To post at: http://n0d3.org/how-to-setting-up-the-behringer-bcf2000-for-logic-express-72/
Ultimately it's a great piece of gear with bad documentation, par for the course with Behringer.
But if you can suffer through you'll get a great mix with the Behringer BCF2000 and Logic Express.
16-Jun-07 09:43 PM
18-May-08 08:26 PM
14-Jun-08 07:08 AM
is it wrong to grip about it not having dedicated transport controls? I'm about to buy an m-audio projectmix just for it's control surface (though i do need an I/o with 8 trs inputs and adat also, but i hear the PM has bad pre's) it would be great to have somthen at this price point that also had transport (not just 4 lil unamed buttons.)
25-Oct-08 01:29 AM