The TEControl USB MIDI Breath Controller

I’ve been going through some major system and studio upgrades lately. I’ve migrated from FL Studio 11 Signature Edition to Cubase 7.5 (which will be covered in another upcoming post), replaced my M-AUDIO Axiom 49 with an Akai Pro MPK61, and my Lexicon Lambda interface with a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 to power my upcoming surround sound setup for music, and film audio post-production.

In comparison to those upgrades, the TEControl USB MIDI Breath Controller I’ve added to my setup might seem insignificant, but it’s every bit as impressive, and indispensable as any audio production tool I have purchased in the past, hardware, or software.

Being a wind player (trumpet and sax), I’ve always felt that the application of the mod wheel on a MIDI keyboard controller for sampled wind instrument dynamics was less than satisfactory in both the “feel” of the performance, and the realism of the instrument output. Simply put, this breath controller solves that problem for me, and with flying colors.

The device is deceptively simple in appearance. It looks to be just another standard USB memory stick, with one exception: It has a tiny nozzle on the upper side to which the user attaches a small rubber hose and mouthpiece. That’s it. It doesn’t even require the installation of a driver, though I highly recommend installing the calibration software that’s included to custom-tailor the sensitivity of the controller.

The calibration software is light on resources, and can be run alongside your host of choice, allowing the option of changing the output MIDI CC on-the-fly, as well. That means you can use the controller to manage volume, expression, or any other MIDI CCs that your sampled, or synth instruments offer.

The controller works with all the best professional orchestral VIs, from the more modern (Hollywood Orchestra, Cinesamples, Orchestral Tools), to the older stuff (Symphonic Orchestra, Symphobia, etc). In fact, it’s given the older libraries a new life, at least for me. The Symphonic Orchestra wind instruments have NEVER sounded so good, so expressive, and so believable in the past!

If you consider purchasing the TEControl MIDI Breath Controller, and you’ll be using virtual wind instruments of any type, I recommend applying the “T” mouthpiece, as well as the yellow “bleed valve.” This valve will allow you to customize the response, and sensitivity of the controller quickly. Need your horns a bit more powerful, punchy? Reduce the amount of air bleeding out through the valve with a twist of it’s adjustment knob. Want your sweet, airy flute solo to sound more delicate? Open the valve until there’s little resistance when you blow through the mouthpiece. Others suggest setting the air-bleed amount at a constant value, but I prefer adjusting to the specific instrument, section, or articulation I’m using.

Finally, don’t be afraid to try the controller out with your favorite synths. As with the sampled acoustic virtual instruments, the TEControl can handle the manipulation of any soft-synth that responds to MIDI CCs, including Spectrasonics Omnisphere, and Trilian, NI Massive, and Steinberg’s Halion, just to name a few I’ve tested it with.

Check out the controller at http://tecontrol.se/products/usb-midi-breath-controller

14 thoughts on “The TEControl USB MIDI Breath Controller

    • You’re welcome! TEControl is a great company, and their breath controller gets daily use in my studio.

      If you get a chance, comment back when you’ve gotten your controller, and give me your opinion on it.

      Thanks!

      Like

  1. Hi Jason,
    I received it some days ago, it is really a great tool. I used it with some Sample modeling instruments and it sound wonderful. I’ve used it with EWQL, with some Kontakt patchs and with synfull, no problem..I experienced some troubles with 8dio Adagietto, it works great when recording, but when I try playback, sometimes it seems that kontakt loose the patch samples (no sound) and I have to reload the kontakt sampler (not only the patch) to make it work…the the same problem appears. I don’t think that this problem came from Tecontroller, but from 8dio scripting..
    I must confesse that I didn’t find yet the good calibration for the controller, or may be I have to test other mouth pieces. Did you found a video tuto showing how to use the mouth pieces and the calibration tool?

    Any way, this controller is just amazing and great tool!!!!
    “Sorry for my English”
    All the best.

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    • Great! I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

      If everything works fine for other Kontakt-based instruments, I’d say the problem is likely due to some programming issues in the 8dio products.

      It took me some time to get my controller calibrated the way I like it. Initially, I only attached the standard, static-pressure mouthpiece, and focused on using the calibration software. Once I got that set correctly, I added on the “T” mouthpiece, and “air-bleed valve.” Now I only use the yellow bleed valve to make minor adjustments for each instrument.

      If you’d like, I will send you my customized calibration software file for you to try out. It might work for you with only small adjustments. I set it up based on what feels most natural for wind instrument players, and use the bleed valve to keep myself within certain dynamic layers. If, for instance, I need a specific flute solo to remain mostly within what I perceive as forté, I can tighten up the bleed valve so that I’m staying within that range most of the time.

      I hope that helps, and definitely let me know if you’d like a copy of my calibration file to test.

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  2. Hello,
    Yes i’ll be very happy to try your calibration setting…I made some presets, one for 8dio adagietto and one for SM Trombone i can send it to you if you want, ..
    since I’m not a wind or brass player i have difficulties to make long melodies at higher level 😉 and the only way i’ve found with TEcontrol calibration software is to change the max input level, but this way i reduce the dynamic of the instrument, I’m trying to find a way to make the controller more sensitive without reducing the dynamic…
    wich DAW do you use? I use Cubase and there’s a lot of tools to manipulate the midi data, so I’m trying with this tools but nothing for the moment 😉
    This does not change the fact that TEControler is a unique and a great controller, I enjoy using it every day more and more…

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  3. Hi Jason,

    I’ve recently bought the TEControl USB MIDI Breath Controller, and it seems to be a lovely little device for a former woodwind player in the world of computer music.

    But… I have a little issue that you might know the answer to, because I’m not super familiar with MIDI configuration.

    The problem that I am stuck with is how to setup the TEControl USB MIDI Breath Controller in Cubase.

    How do you do it?

    Unfortunatley I use Cubase 6.5, but the MIDI setup should be about the same, I hope.

    I have tested like everything from various MIDI CC from CC1 and CC2 to CC7 and CC11. Tried the Logical Editor and the Input Transformer. And i get it to function, exept that when I blow it the channel fader jumps up and down all the time along with the air preasure . It also means that it will go to like max of +6dB and distort the sound. Can’t the fader stay the same like when I just use the keyboard alone? Because I have seen clips on YouTube where the channel is at a set level.

    Best regards
    Richard

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    • Hi, Richard!

      I will try to help solve the issue you’re experiencing.

      When I plugged mine in for the first time, it automatically worked for me, but I had to adjust the sensitivity via the app that accompanies the device, and I also use the yellow bleed valve to make minor adjustments based on how heavily, or lightly I want the instrument in question to perform. For instance, if I’m going to perform a very solid forte melody with horns, I tighten up the bleed valve. For lighter, airy stuff, I loosen the valve.

      The first thing I’d suggest doing, just for simplicity’s sake, is make sure that my virtual instruments can be programmed to use CC2 breath control for the dynamic crossfades. If not, use the app to switch the device’s MIDI output to CC1, and make sure your mod wheel on your keyboard controller is turned off, or to 0 to avoid data conflicts.

      The next step is to make sure that the instrument is set to receive MIDI from all controllers, so your keyboard, and the breath controller are both routing into the instrument. A lot of people simply have their instruments set to respond only to their MIDI controller keyboard, and in that scenario, the instrument may respond to the breath controller, but not properly.

      The next step I’d suggest is making sure that you don’t have any Quick Controls in Cubase set for the CC your breath controller is outputting. If there are any, this will create serious data input conflicts.

      When you say that the channel fader adjusts with input from the breath controller, are you referring to the mixer channel for that instrument?

      Thanks for checking out my blog, and I will work with you until we get the problem solved, so that you don’t have to create a support ticket, and wait for an answer.

      Jason

      Like

  4. Hi Jason,
    My piece of Breath Controller worked great right out of the box for a month or so. But it has not been detected by my system (Win 7, 64 bit) and even in my Mac (Yosemite). What may be the problem? Can you assist me please. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for visiting the blog, and I will do my best to help.

      The controller doesn’t actually install a driver as other standard USB devices do. In other words, in Windows Device Manager you will not see it listed.

      The only way to know for certain that it isn’t working is to test it with a stand-alone virtual instrument. Try loading an instrument outside of your host software. Does it respond to the breath controller?

      If so, then it is your host software that is not detecting the device, and that is typically solved by checking if it’s enabled within your devices settings within Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools, or whatever host you use.

      If the stand-alone instrument does not respond to the controller, I’m afraid it may need to be replaced.

      Please let me know if this helps! If not, perhaps I can come up with another solution.

      Thanks!

      Like

      • Dear Jason,
        Thanks a lot for quick response. Actually my BC is not detecting in Configuration Utility and previously is was in the list and working fine with Cubase 5.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Since there is no driver, and the configuration utility should detect the controller immediately, I think it may need replacing.

    I wish I could offer some other suggestions, but if there is a fix, it’s beyond my knowledge. I would suggest contacting TEControl. It is possible they could offer a fix without replacing the controller.

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    • That doesn’t surprise me, Josh, though I’ve never tried it with my powered USB hub.

      In fact, I’ve never had much luck getting any MIDI controllers to function optimally on a hub, so now only my wireless keyboard/mouse combo, and external drives are connected to mine.

      Like

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