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