The Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro (formerly Digital Music Ground Control Pro) offers many features we require in a MIDI foot controller: flexible control options over multiple MIDI devices, phantom power support, expandability to control analog gear, easy programmability, a great user interface, and solid construction.
|Documentation & Support||10%|
|OVERALL RATING = 3.2
3.6 stars or better: Outstanding, WIHO Award
3 stars or better: Worth considering
2 stars or better: Suited to specific needs
1 star or less: Not recommended
We had no trouble using the Ground Control Pro to control a rack full of pro guitar equipment from Mesa/Boogie, TC Electronic, and Lexicon, and in fact liked the foot controller so much that we decided to keep it. (Yes, we paid for it.)
If you’re new to using MIDI foot controllers, we have an in-depth tutorial that you may wish to read before diving into our foot controller product reviews.
- Control of up to eight MIDI devices.
- Eight direct-access buttons for sending MIDI Continuous Controller (CC) messages.
- Two expression pedal input jacks. We would have liked the option to connect external momentary or latching pedals to these expression pedal jacks for additional flexibility, perhaps to keep our Tuner Mute or Tap Tempo controls separate from the eight CC pedals being used to turn effect blocks On/Off.
- Phantom power over Din-7 or Din-5 cables.
- Ability to transmit (or not transmit) Program Change messages on an individual patch basis. If you want button #3 to call up preset #24 in one device but not send a program change to another, you can do this. Neat!
- An alphanumeric display that can show program and device names.
- Rugged metal construction with heavy-duty switches.
- Expandable to control audio switching products from DMC (see our Other Comments section for more details).
- Automatic configuration when used with the following products: Line 6 Pod and Flextone II, TC Electronic G-Force, Fender Cyber Twin.
The Ground Control Pro can be configured for two different modes of operation. By default, ten numbered buttons are used in combination with bank Up/Down buttons to select patches in your MIDI gear. Additionally, the Yes/No buttons used during editing can be used in this mode to scroll Up/Down incrementally through your patches.
We were able to easily configure the Ground Control Pro to send correct Program Change values based on whether or not our MIDI gear started its patch numbering at #1 or #0.
The second mode of operation was great for our style of live performance work. In this mode, the bottom four buttons select patches (plus the bank Up/Down buttons) and send Program Change messages, but the eight buttons above these are used for sending Continuous Controller (CC) messages.
We were able to select patches on our MIDI gear (TC Electronics G-Major and Lexicon MPX-1) from the four direct-access buttons on the bottom, and then use the eight buttons above to selectively turn effects blocks On or Off. LEDs above the numbers light up to indicate when a pedal is in the On effect state.
Additionally, we connected a Roland EV-5 Expression pedal to one of the two available expression pedal jacks and had no trouble controlling our MIDI gear for volume and wah style effects (settings in the MIDI gear; not the foot controller).
While this mode of operation is particularly useful, we would have loved a third option that would toggle between Program Change mode and CC mode (as with some other MIDI foot controllers) to enable us to utilize all twelve buttons for sending CC messages. Since the Ground Control Pro makes it easy to control multiple MIDI devices, we could envision using a different row of buttons for sending CC messages to different pieces of MIDI gear in our rack.
Configuring the Ground Control Pro was straightforward and used simple pedal-based selections. Thanks to the easily readable alphanumeric display, features and settings have actual names on the display, which makes programming much simpler than with many other units. We were able to store the names of our MIDI devices, too, for easy visual reference when programming more complex operations, and we could name our individual patches with useful descriptors such as our song titles.
The Ground Control Pro includes preset configurations for use with a few different MIDI-controllable products, but we didn’t own those specific items for testing (the Line 6 settings were mapped appropriately to control a Pod XT Pro that we had in our studio, but the patch names were different).
Documentation and Product Support
The documentation provided with the Ground Control Pro was excellent. It stepped us through very simple procedures for most of our configuration efforts. Even musicians new to setting up MIDI devices should have little difficulty understanding the owner’s manual – just be sure to read it from the beginning to get a handle on how things are laid out inside the Ground Control Pro.
The DMC Ground Control Pro ($599) typically sells for just over $400. While musicians just stepping up to rack setups might be put off by the price, we consider it a reasonable value. At this price, we expect to get a well-built, purposeful controller that is easy to configure, and the Ground Control Pro delivers.
The DMC GCX Audio Switcher is a separate product that has eight loops for switching stomp boxes In/Out of your signal chain, changing amp channels, and amp switching. Up to four of these can be fully controlled from the Ground Control Pro making for a pretty powerful totally integrated solution. We plan to look at devices like this in the future.