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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Ultimate Control review thread (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Dynamike
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What are your reviews from the ones who received Ultimate Control? Dan posted the following in a different thread:

Quote:
On Oct 5, 2012 11:28pm, Amazing Magic Co wrote:

I received my Ultimate Control today and can offer some initial impressions. The device and remote feel very lightweight and should easily Velcro to whatever you'd desire. The device seems pretty intuitive but does take a few minutes to get used to figuring through menu options and feeling comfortable which remote buttons do what. Brian's online video was very helpful in getting started but the User Manual has fine print and a challenge for folks who don't see as well as they used to. I must admit that I abandoned reading the User Manual and just dove into figuring out its operation. I did need to refer back to the manual a few times but have easily found answers to most of my questions. This seems to be rather clever and nicely thought out. The backlit screen does not remain illuminated and darkens after some time interval after . It would be nice if it flashed when the next track is cued up. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a control setting to adjust this ... I just haven't found it yet. Importing tracks, creating playlists and sequencing tracks in the playlist seems very simple though it does require a few clicks through some menu options for each step. My computer read the device and easily allowed me to transfer tracks to the device. The stereo output seems to play nicely with volume levels adjustable both in the playlist settings and live on the remote. I found the remote range to be about 50' in an open room but found it does not transmit through walls very well. So far, I would rate this device very highly as it works nicely exactly as described and should be a good value for the money. I am certain I'll have more questions as I gear up for a show while others also share their impressions.

Dan.

I am still playing with mine before I give a review.
Ken Dumm
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Thanks Dan and Mike. Mike, when you're testing yours, can you confirm Dan's findings on response from the mp3 player using it through walls?

Ken
Oliver Ross
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Hi everybody,

Just a short question : Is the Ultimate Control the product that got reviews and or ads in the Genii and Magic magazines ?

If not, what is the product I've heard about. I don't read the Magic or Genii magazines and I know it's a pitty, but that's the reason why I'm asking about this.

Thank you very much,

Oliver.
Amazing Magic Co
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Here is the link for the Ultimate Control from Happie Amp: http://www.happieamp.com/ultimatecontrol.html

Dan.
marknem7
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I only wish it could handle more than just bottom-of-the-barrel MP3 format. It's 2012.
Kevinh5
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I am still testing mine, but here are my thoughts so far:

1) The instruction book is written in about 6 point type, and I can't see that without reading glasses. Brian posted a link to the manual on the technical specifications page on his site, and I can see that a lot easier.

2) I had problems with syncing my remote to my UC MP3 player. The instructions said to change out the battery, so I did, to no avail. Brian sent me a new remote and new UC in exchange for sending the non-working one back. He gives great service. Apparantly, of the 100 or so initial units to ship, mine was the only problem one, although one other person posted that he couldn't sync either, until he changed the battery. The batteries are commonly found in drug stores for about $3.50.

3) Changing the remote battery is a delicate operation. I was afraid to bend the brass clip back, it is so tiny.

4) I find the screens on the UC to be a little hard to read - not enough contrast. Especially blue on black and green on black and red on black. OK, I guess that only leaves yellow as visible. Maybe there is a way of increasing the amount of light from it. I'd probably have to read the manual to find that. Brian said he didn't want a lot of light to come out and flash from the stage.

5) It only uses MP3 and WAV files, and some of my sound effects and music files were in different formats. You can search the web to find how to convert to MP3, but it is time consuming.

6) I wish it were sold with the sound patch cord you need to connect to the Happie Amp or other device. Luckily, I had one.

7) Well, once you get a bunch of music loaded THEN you can create playlists. I guess you should have one playlist per show, and not one per routine, because using the menu to go to the next playlist is a distraction.

8) Don't load too much music before creating your playlist. You'll have to scroll through it all each time you want to add a file to your playlist.

9) Who cares about the "About" menu? Seems like wasted valuable real estate.

10) I may be dreaming and wishing, but it MIGHT be nice to be able to quickly go out of a playlist to a few key sound effect files. For example, I will be using mine in my continuing education classes for professionals. When someone is taking a long time to answer a question, some 'thinking time' or 'jeopardy' type music might be fun to have. then back to my regularly scheduled program.
Kevinh5
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As for price/value, I am happy. I had been using old technology with a Show Tech before, and that was quite clunky with all of the required connecting wires and DAT player.
Kevinh5
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(or whatever that thing was - mini-disc I think)
Ken Dumm
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Kevin, have you tested the range of the remote and if it will work through walls?

Ken
Kevinh5
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Not yet. I only got the good set on Thursday. I will play with it some today though.
korttihai_82
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Nice to hear about some honest feedback Kevin. Really appreciate it.

How is the remote and player themselves? Do they work? Like on every click, is there a long delay between songs, are the auto fade in and fade out working? Those are my main conserns. I don't really mind even if is pain in the "peep" to make a playlist if the thing works Smile After all, it is almost 1000$ cheaper than mediastar.

Juha-Matti
Kevinh5
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OK I've played with it some more today. I'll pick up where I left off:

11) Range - easily 50 feet, I went 75, but not 100. I'd have to go outside to get 100.

12) Through walls? Yes and no. My office has 1/2 inch sheetrock filled with fiberglass insulation then another 1/2 sheetrock. Heavy wood core (not foam core) doors. Designed to maximize sound minimization leaking to the next room (it is an income tax office, I wouldn't want other clients hearing the advice I might be giving to a different client, he he).

Worked through 1 wall with door closed very reliably. Worked through 2 sets with doors closed reliably. Only worked semi-reliably through 3 sets of walls. Did not work well at all through 4 sets of walls. Of course, there is also furniture and metal filing cabinets in the direct way. Thus, depending on the wall construction, your results may vary.

The most unreliable part through the walls was the fade out button, which is what Juha-Matti is concerned with. I had to turn up the volume in order to hear it from 3 and 4 rooms away. The 'next song advance' worked much better than the fade-out through walls. I don't know why.

13) I tried re-naming some song files through Windows on my computer using the UC as a drive. When I turned the UC back on, all of the songs said 'deleted'. Hmmmf. That's not nice. Now I'll have to actually delete them, rename them on my desktop, then copy them to the UC again. Not fun. But a learning experience. There, you don't have to learn that yourself, I learned it for you.

14) I don't have my songs set up to play one after the other (I don't think, at least). I only want them to come on when I hit the button. Not a delay at all hitting the 'play' button and the music starting. You CAN add a blank space (one or two second blank track) in between tracks if you want to. Brian emailed us that blank sound file.

15) Auto fade in? I haven't tried that. You can set the volume for a certain track to start on, then manually increase or decrease the volume via the remote, but I don't know how to auto fade in. Maybe that's in the instruction manual in 6 point type. I can't see it if it is.
Kevinh5
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Oh, the problem that I had originally: Brian had sent me both a replacement UC and a replacement remote. The replacements worked fine out of the box. The original remote worked fine with the replacement UC, so it must have been the original UC and not the remote that was bad.

I'm taking someone's advice on another thread and buying that 2nd remote from Brian and will just ship him back the non-working UC device. He even sent me a check to cover the postage back to him AND enough to cover the battery I had bought trying to get the original to work.

I think that is pretty good service on his behalf!
Kevinh5
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16) I haven't figured out how to use the remote to get to a different playlist, but without seeing the UC screen, I'd be afraid of selecting the wrong playlist. That means you have to access the UC MP3 player to change playlists. Like I wrote earlier, better to have one playlist per show, rather than multiple playlists.

Where this MIGHT matter: You might have a playlist for while the audience is getting seated (Ladies and gentlemen, 15 minutes until showtime.....music.....Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats, 10 minutes till showtime....), then another playlist for the actual show, then a playlist for after the show as the audience leaves.

I haven't figured out how to auto-advance to play the entire playlist for the pre-and-post-show playlists yet. I'm sure it can be done, at least I think it can be done. Will have to play some more with it.
Dynamike
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I'm sorry I took so long. Thanks for waiting. My first time using mine in my show was last Saturday. It was like a new magic trick to me. I had to quickly think about what to push. I made a couple of mistakes.

1. I wish the instruction booklet was written better. It would have been better if there was a diagram of the remote and MP3 inside. It takes a little to get use to what it is explaining.

2. When I first got the package I turned on the MP3 to see if it would work. There was no connection. I thought the battery was low, even though there was a light coming from both items. Later I noticed the remote will have to be programed to the MP3. After I programed it, it worked.

3. The buttons on the MP3 are kinda flimsy. I wish they were also further apart so it will be easier to push each individually. I do not like the cheap plastic of the MP3. It would be better if it had durable rubber around it like the remote.

4. I love the grip and durable rubber with the remote. If it is dropped, the rubber will soften the fall. The rubber makes a great grip for the remote too. The raised buttons are super. Because it makes the buttons easy to recognize feeling through your pocket. I had the remote in my pocket during my performance. It stayed in place without moving its position.

5. I like the features of optionally keeping the lights on with the MP3. There are also timing segments on how long you would like the MP3 to stay on.

6. Everything with the MP3 cannot be programed through the computer. And everything can not be programed through the MP3 either. That will make a big plus if everything could be programed by only one of the two items.

7. The songs first downloaded to the MP3 are on a music list. The songs you would like to use can also be placed in a playlist. The songs can not be switched from the music list to the playlist by computer. That would be very helpful by consuming a lot of time. If there are a lot of songs (50 plus) you would like to download to the music list, it can be very frustrating going up and down the list to search for songs placing them in the playlist. Whatever songs you place in the playlist will be deleted if you delete them from the music list.

8. There are really two music list. #1 are the songs that are downloaded to the MP3. When one of the titles in the playlist are opened, is shows music list again. I was confused at times which music list I was in. I wish the second music list was titled song list.

9. The distance range can be extended if a Happie Amp transmitter is used. The transmitter will translate to the MP3 at its maximum distance. The MP3 is plugged into a transmitter of the Happie Amp. The Happie Amp PA is at its maximum distance from the transmitter.

10. I did not measure the distance to the range. The MP3 was downstairs. I walked around my house. When I was upstairs, the range never failed. When I walked in different rooms of my house downstairs, it would connect on and off going to different rooms.

11. Continuous play will work when playing the songs in the music list. The play button must be pushed again for each song in the playlist.

12. I did not like the distortion when programming the MP3 while it is connected to the PA.

13. It would be a big plus if a 8"X10" sized screen could be included to see the songs order far away.

14. Sorry Brian, but because of number 3, 6, 7 and 8 I think the value of Ultimate Control should be less. But because of the easy to push transmitter, I will keep what I have.
Kevinh5
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Brian sent me an email in regards to my number 13 a few posts above. If I'll copy the music over from the UC to a new folder on my desktop, then delete the songs from the UC Music list, then re-copy them over to the UC (while the UC is ON - this is a very important step) they will show up correctly as the re-named titles. (The files haven't really been deleted from the UC even though the music list says they have, because I had renamed them from my laptop).

Always have the UC ON when copying from the computer. If you do not have the UC ON when copying files to it from the computer, then the UC will not recognize the files as being there when you do turn it on. Brian had written this in an email when he first mailed the UCs, but I had apparantly slept between the time I read that and the time I started playing with the UC.
Kevinh5
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I found out how to have the tracks play one right after the other instead of pausing (for my pre-show playlist). You have to set the track to "cue and play" rather than "cue and pause" on the UC device.
Kevinh5
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17) You CANNOT edit the order of music in a playlist from the computer, only from the UC device.

18) You CANNOT edit the name of a playlist from the UC device, only from the computer.

19) You CANNOT add music to a playlist from the computer, only from the UC device.
bhappie
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Just found this thread and I feel like I am listening in on gossip about myself LOL! Thank you all so much for your honest comments here! This info is INVALUABLE to me. I am always wanting to make improvements. Here are some answers good and bad about the issues/questions brought up here.

REVIEWS- none yet. I received 150 units from the factory as the initial run. Those quickly were used up. I am expecting 350 more on Thursday. Samples will be sent to MAGIC, MUM, Genii, FCM, KIDabra, Linking Ring, MAGIE (in Germany), and any other publications worthy/willing to review.

MP3 FORMAT- We could have made the UC accept many formats however, since it is not just possible, but simple to get the file format changed with other programs it was much smarter to use the KISS theory. (Keep it simple stupid). More firmware just means more possible problems and slower running units.

PATCH CORD TO AMP- very good point! It will now be incuded with all sales. Anyone who bought one and needs the cord I will send you one just let me know.

ABOUT MENU- Version # is very important incase updates are needed. The http://www.HappieAmp.com/PAC.html address is where all the FAQ and videos are (loading a new one right now).

REMOTE DOESN'T GO THRU 4 WALLS- Kevin, where are you performing? LOL! I hadn't taken into consideration someone might be 4 walls away from the speaker trying to use it! I'm just kidding. I did consider that.

FADE IN- no, it does not fade in. Songs have a natural start to them.

RENAMING FILES- We found that in Windows XP you have to use the right click, rename function. By just clicking and changing the name of the file, it will delete the extension on the file and make it unusable on the UC or most other mp3 players. They corrected that in Windows 7.

USING DIFFERENT PLAYLISTS- I recommend having all your songs for a show in one playlist. Preshow music can be set to "cue and play" all except the last preshow song set to "cue and pause" then if you run out of preshow music it WON'T skip right into your show music. Then, if you want to skip to your show, just fade out the song that is running then once it fades out, press the play/pause button so the next track doesn't start and use the next track button (all on the remote) to advance to your first show song. That way you never need to touch the UC, just the remote.

MP3 PLAYER BUTTONS AND CASING- yes, buttons are loose feeling. I went thru a lot of options and wanted to keep the price under $500 retail. This was the best casing available to us that fit everything we needed to fit inside.

SCREEN SIZE- I like the idea of the external screen. It has been discussed but isn't an option right now. Maybe for the future. You would be surprised the colored screen feature is VERY visible from a distance! I use it and just a glance and I know what song I am on... but for the most part once you know your playlist you don't even need to do that.

ON DEMAND TRACKS- The idea of having a couple on demand tracks (such as jeopardy theme or symbol crash) has been discussed a lot. We had no easy way to do it and keep the price low. Its a thought for the future maybe. If you know when you need it just put it in the playlist or buy a second Ultimate Control and put only those tracks and attach it thru another input and put the remote in your other pocket! I really like that solution :o)

VALUE- A ton of thought went into the price. This was a six figure investment to bring this product to the magic community. No, I am not joking. I wanted to bring to market a reliable music device for under $500. $499 is what I figured it would be. $449 is where we landed. Getting used to the device, setting up playlists, reading the screen is what everyone is concerned about at first...

but when all is said and done,
when the curtain opens,
the suits gather in the conference room,
or the kids sit down in the grass
what really matters is:
you have a reliable remote in your pocket that will work with every button press,
wont flip over without you knowing it,
wont stop working if you sweat on it,
has raised buttons so you know you are pressing the right one.
It wasn't overcomplicated with software so it is reliable.
http://www.HappieAmp.com/ultimatecontrol.html

Not to mention for $4.99/month the UNLIMITED warranty covers ANY AND ALL possible problems, accidents, drops, spills, natural disasters.... what happens if your current device falls into the pool? If it's the UC and you have the warranty, I mail you a new device the next day (overnight it if needed) and THEN you return your broken parts at your convenience.
bhappie
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Here are a couple instructional videos for the UC. They are also available on our site.

http://youtu.be/uPnqp-xFLsg

http://youtu.be/s7kSs4s9BhA
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