Who Is This For?
Let's start here first, as this is a very unique piece of gear and might not be for everyone. Who might benefit from getting Dubler? This kit is for producers looking for a new way to input MIDI signals into their DAW and are not necessarily proficient with drum programming or playing the keys. If you are making music and struggle to get what's in your head down into your DAW, then Dubler could serve as a powerful tool. As with many new producers, you might not have any music theory or percussion talent, but you certainly know what you want your tracks and drums to sound like.
The Dubler mic allows you to control either drum triggers via beatboxing or melodic instruments by humming or singing. For drums, you simply build a profile and match your beatboxing to the drum sounds you want to trigger, which allows you to beatbox in basic drum programming quickly.
If your beatboxing is not great, this could prove to be more frustrating than helpful, but a little practice should get you headed in the right direction. See the video below.
For more melodic instruments like synths, strings, pianos, you simply hum the song/sounds into the mic and it shows you what key they are in and you'll see the MIDI notes being recorded in real time. Had a melody in your head but can't play it, well problem solved. Just sing it in!
Who This Isn't For
If you are a musician, have strong drum programming skills, understand music theory, or just play the piano well, this might be more trouble than it's worth.
Percussion: If you can sit in front of your drum machine and punch out great rhythms or even program them into a sequencer like Logic's Ultrabeat, you might find Dubler cool but not worth the hassle. However, if you are looking for a quick way to throw down some test beats, sketch ideas, and get more "human" with your beats - then you might want to give it a try.
Melody: For those that can take something from their head to a keyboard with ease, then you just don't need this. Unless you are just a total gear nerd, you are better off saving your money and investing in an excellent MIDI keyboard with weighted keys and nice action.
So What Is Dubler Exactly?
The kit consists of a proprietary low-latency USB mic and the Dubler software interface to control everything. Yes, you have to use their mic or it won't work - just a heads up.
The user interface software gives you two types of control, melodic, and drum triggers for your DAW or external gear routed into your DAW, like a synth. Simply put, you use your voice to hum in melodies and beatbox beats to get what's in your brain musically to the DAW instead of playing it out. Pretty insane, actually, and a game-changer for the musically challenged. Dubler's software is agnostic and works with most DAWS, you can check out the tutorials HERE.
The Dubler tutorials help get you set up with both their software and integration into your DAW. The first thing you will do is get comfortable with the Dubler software and the two main control areas: Trigger (drums) and Controls for pitched and melodic sounds.
Don't expect to just plug in the mic and create instant beats and harmonies; you need to get Dubler Studio set up first. The software needs to be trained to recognize your voice and sounds to ensure accuracy, especially for the Trigger section. Using Controls for pitched sounds takes a little practice to get it right, so don't get frustrated; you will need to learn the mic's nuances and your voice to get consistency. The good thing about Control section is there no set up required, and if you can't sing that well, the default setting will help key correct voice.
Dubler's super dope function is the ability to map it to effects and parameters to tweak filters, reverb, delay, etc. This opens up another level of possibilities, but might not be for everyone as it's just as easy to map your MIDI controller knobs or use something like the Wave Ring for more of a performance aspect. The cool thing, is that you can do it if you want, as well as route to external gear like synths, drum machines, etc.
Another workaround is to skip the mic altogether - whaaaaaat? This one is for the geeeeks, but it's a cool hack. You can bypass the Dubler mic and use an input of your choice. Say what? Yes, in the advanced preferences, there is the option to choose another input, we tried it with our Apollo X6 and an electric Ukelele. Is it worth the time? Not for us, we prefer the mic functionality - but hey, you do you Cricket.
Should You Buy This?
If you are a producer that lacks the musical skill to play in a melody or plunk down some drum programming, the Dubler could be quite useful. It comes in at about $340, which is by no means inexpensive, but it will give you a beneficial edge if you lack the skills mentioned above. The unit works pretty well for what it is supposed to do, although it does have a learning curve and takes some time to get full dialed in, so don't expect instant results.
This piece of kit might not be worth the money for more advanced users and will never replace your MIDI controller/keyboard if you have musical skills. However, it is an entertaining way to quickly lay down ideas and a fun change to a traditional workflow. The ability to go nuts on the customization is also a plus and will no doubt inspire some creative applications.