SoftStep 2
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Author:  gpoorman [ Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:05 am ]
Post subject:  SoftStep 2

Hi all,

I know this particular piece of gear has come up in conversation already but I picked up my very first SoftStep over the weekend. I haven't had enough time to really dive deep yet but just wanted to share some initial thoughts.

I've dabbled with most of the more popular MIDI foot controllers on the market and back in 2003 I wrote a fairly exhaustive paper on controlling gear via MIDI which you can find at:

I was fairly convinced at the time (and remained so through today) that the Rocktron All Access (now called the MIDI Raider) was the absolute best all around controller. My only complaint about this unit is that it's fairly large and quite heavy.

I'm still using the Rocktron for my Stick rig but I wanted to pick up a second controller to control my computer-based keyboard setup and to run my software looper. So I decided to give the SoftStep a go.

First off, the size and weight is completely opposite to the All Access. Just the right size for the buttons but not too big. Also ultra-thin and the weight is a little over a pound. For most simple setups, the "Basic Editor" is extremely easy to follow and use. If you want to get more complicated, there is an "Advanced Editor". I haven't used this yet and just firing it up ... it looks complicated. Nothing a little reading up won't solve but you're not likely to figure it out just by looking at it. It dives down into some real egghead details.

The pedals themselves are a little small and there's not any real tactile feedback so they're going to take some getting used to. Plus you can program them to respond to up/down and left/right movements. There's also a 1/8" TRS port for plugging in an external expression pedal. I tried it with one of my Ernie Ball volume pedals I use for the same purpose on the Rocktron and the results were very wild and not usable. It's likely it was made for a different pedal though (like a Roland or Moog expression pedal) so I'll need to try that.

I set it up to do what I need on the computer very quickly and love it. But now I'm eyeing the old Rocktron and wondering if I might be able to use one of these to drive my Stick rig. Right out of the box though, the SoftStep only has the USB output so I would need to purchase the MIDI expander which adds traditional MIDI ports to it.

Author:  Jzzb8ovn [ Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SoftStep 2

I have the midi expander and control my timeline and big sky with it and am planning on using it on a mod duo when I get my hands on it. The advanced editor is a bit overwhelming but I’ve been able to figure things out eventually. I love the soft step 2 I have

Author:  gpoorman [ Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SoftStep 2

The way I use the Rocktron for my Stick rig is such that the bank up/down buttons actually increment patches one at a time. All the rest of the buttons are setup to send CC or NOTE messages. I need several buttons available to control loops.

So the only way this unit will work for me is if I can program the NAV up/down buttons to increment/decrement patches one at a time. I'm guessing I probably can but I need to get comfy with the advanced editor.

Author:  Jzzb8ovn [ Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SoftStep 2

There was a link from someone on YouTube where they shared the programming with a timeline so that each step was a preset so you wouldn’t have to scroll. I have my softstep set to do either scrol or preset.

Author:  Claire [ Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SoftStep 2

The default behavior for the Nav Pad is that L/R changes presets and Up/Down sets the “decade”. The PGRM preset uses the decade function so you can step up or down and alter which decade of preset numbers you select with the 10 pads.

It is possible to change the behavior of the Nav Pad up/down buttons, but it’s not quite as programmable as the rest of the pads. Most pads can have a counter function, so that you increment on each step. Just checking the editor quickly, I don’t see that as an option for the Nav Pad. You might check the KMI forums and see if you find any info on it.

As far as the pedal, I trust you ran the calibration? It’s expecting an expression pedal. If your pedal is a volume pedal, it might work using a Y/insert cable running to the in/out of the pedal.

Author:  gpoorman [ Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SoftStep 2

I have, in fact, NOT done the calibration so I'll give that a whirl later today. Historically most hardware that expects expression pedal input will work with a standard passive volume pedal using an insert cable. The Rocktron guys actually recommend it and their units generally work better with a volume pedal. I do have both laying around though.

As for the rest of it, I'm pretty sure I can make it work. I just might have to take a somewhat different approach to achieving the same results.

Wondering if either of you are using the SoftStep keys as volume or wah pedals. I'm wondering how long it look you to get use to using them as such. Right now it just feels a bit off as there's no real feedback that you can feel like there is with buttons that click or move.

Author:  gpoorman [ Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SoftStep 2

Just to follow up ... I grabbed an old Boss expression pedal and ran it through the calibration process. While perusing the manual page on how to do that, I noted a section where they specifically say that a standard passive volume pedal will NOT work.

So there's that :-)

Author:  atracksler [ Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SoftStep 2

Ive been using it with my macbook pro and mainstage, the ability to tweak pedal knobs with a controller at your foot is pretty awesome. Its like those Ernie Ball new pedals, but for almost any effect and any parameter.

Author:  Claire [ Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SoftStep 2

I generally prefer a volume pedal, I prefer the taper on them. I have a Dunlop Volume X pedal (DVP3), which can do volume and expression. I generally use a Y-cable to connect it to gear that can do that. With my SoftStep, it technically works, but really only registers the very upper portion of the pedal throw. Going with the expression connection, it works as expected with the SoftStep. It’s a shame KMI don’t let you set a curve for the pedal.

I have a SoftStep 1 and the keys are different. With my SoftStep, most of the up/down/left/right stuff can feel odd, I think it’s mostly because the keys on the SoftStep 1 are square and the sensors are in the corners. I imagine that is much improved in the SoftStep 2. The SoftStep is excellent for pressure control, something that most other gear won’t do. I’ve generally found I need to be standing to control it well, but you can adjust the sensitivity. To be honest, I mostly use my RJM MMGT, because I prefer switches. I also found that a lot of what I wanted to do with LED feedback and interaction between the keys only works in hosted mode, which makes it less ideal in terms of something portable to use without my laptop.

Author:  TappistRT [ Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SoftStep 2

atracksler wrote:
Ive been using it with my macbook pro and mainstage, the ability to tweak pedal knobs with a controller at your foot is pretty awesome. Its like those Ernie Ball new pedals, but for almost any effect and any parameter.

I'm actually curious about doing the same, except with a Windows laptop. Lots of great options available now in terms of software for doing live performance this way.

What audio interface do you use? Do you bring some sort of a folding table with you for the laptop? I'm trying to find a PA speaker that is going to fit the bill for being relatively compact while having a decent amount of low frequency extension for bass in a small open mic night/coffee shop sort of thing.


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