Roland FC-200 MIDI Foot Controller
Review by: Scott Kahn
|Features Usability Documentation & Product Support Price Other Comments
Contact Info Overall Rating—Product Summary
The Roland FC-200 is a well-constructed and easy-to-use MIDI foot controller with a built-in expression pedal. We loved that it can use all thirteen pedals for sending Continuous Controller (CC) messages, and if this isn’t enough for you, six pedal inputs enable you to add more switches or expression pedals. Additionally, you can use the FC-200 to trigger MIDI notes on a keyboard, and the battery-power option is useful for gigging with rack equipment that lacks phantom power capabilities.
There are a few limitations with this foot controller however, starting with the fact that it only controls a single MIDI device. Additionally, for optimal guitar performance use, you’ll need to add a Boss FS-5U switch pedal in order to toggle between Program Change and CC modes of operation.
The FC-200 works well, and we wouldn’t hesitate to use it for controlling a single complex piece of MIDI gear, but given its single-product limitation, the FC-200’s usefulness for some guitar players will be limited.
If you’re new to using MIDI foot controllers, we have an in-depth tutorial on the subject that you may wish to read before diving into our foot controller product reviews.
Click here to read our MIDI foot controller tutorial.
The FC-200 is easy to use, and we had no trouble controlling a TC Electronic G-Major and a Line 6 Pod XT Pro (individually) with it.
The foot controller starts out in Program Change mode, and there is a small button (requires a finger press – not your foot) that switches the FC-200 sequentially between four modes: Program Change mode, CC mode, Note mode (for playing a keyboard), and MIDI Exclusive mode (for communicating with devices that use MIDI sys-ex messages). Hitting the button again returns to the beginning – Program Change mode.
When using the FC-200 with a guitar rig, you only need the first two modes, and we consider it essential that if you use the FC-200, you spend an extra $30 to purchase a Boss FS-5U switch pedal. This pedal, plugged into a special “mode” jack, toggles the FC-200 between Program Change and CC mode.
By default, the switches on the FC-200 are configured for momentary operation (think of a sustain pedal on a keyboard), and it was reasonably straightforward to program the FC-200 so that the pedals operated in latch mode (traditional On/Off operation).
This configuration change is essential for controlling effect blocks and Tap Tempo functions in some non-Roland rack gear (see our tutorial for further details on this topic). For specialized needs, you can further configure individual pedals to operate in momentary or latching mode.
The display only has two digits, so visual information is abbreviated, and there is therefore no provision for naming your patches or setups. For guitar purposes, since the FC-200 only controls a single device, the simple display wasn’t a serious limitation for programming.
We loved having access to thirteen pedals for CC messages. With our G-Major, this gave us more than enough pedals to control all of our effects blocks plus the Tuner Mute, Tap Tempo, and Solo Boost functions.
Documentation and Product Support
The documentation provided with the FC-200 was excellent. It stepped us through easy procedures for most of our configuration efforts. Even musicians new to setting up MIDI devices should have little difficulty understanding the owner’s manual. We were up and running with our equipment in a matter of minutes thanks to the well-written owner’s manual.
The Roland FC-200 ($449) typically sells for near $350. Considering its support of only a single device, we think the FC-200 is slightly overpriced compared to products with similar functionality.
If Roland’s next-generation foot controller were to include a larger alphanumeric display, support for controlling multiple MIDI devices, a built-in foot switch for toggling between Program Change and CC modes, and phantom power, it would be able to compete directly with the bigger foot controllers used by many pros.
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