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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » MIDI


Datalooper lets you play Ableton Live with your feet

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 15 Nov 2018 5:27 pm

It’s a looper, it’s a Session View controller. It’s USB powered, and you play it with your feet. But unlike other options, Datalooper integrates directly with how you work in Ableton Live – and it doesn’t require Max for Live to operate. Here’s a first look – and an exclusive discount.

http://www.datalooperpedal.com/cdmspecial

Ableton may have called their event “Loop,” but that doesn’t mean there’s an obvious way to control the software’s looping capability via hardware out of the box. And that’s essential – Ableton Push is great, but it doesn’t fit a lot of instrumental and vocal uses. It’s too complicated, and involves too much hand-eye coordination – stuff you want to focus elsewhere. I’m not sure what Ableton would have called their own foot hardware – Ableton Tap? Ableton Toes? But instead, users have been stepping up … sorry, unintentional pun … and giving Live the kind of immediacy you’d expect of a looper pedal.

Demand seems higher than ever – there were two projects floating around Ableton Loop in LA last week. I covered State of the Loop already:

Ableton Live Looping gets its own custom controller

That project focused mainly on the Looper instrument and the use of scenes, all via Max for Live. It also seems well suited to running a lot of loopers at once.

Datalooper – the work of musician/creator Vince Cimo – is a similar project, but finds its own niche. First off, Max for Live isn’t required, meaning any edition of Live will work. (It uses a standard Live Control Script to communicate with Live.)

We got hands-on with Datalooper at Ableton Loop this year.

Datalooper will use the Looper device if you want. In that mode, it’s basically a controller for the Looper instrument – and supports up to three at once by default (which will be enough for most people anyway).

But there’s not much difference between the Looper device and other plug-ins or dedicated looping tools. “Natively” looping in Live still logically involves Session View. Before Ableton had a Looper, the company would advise customers to just record into clips in the Session View. That’s all fine and well, except that users of hardware pedals were accustomed to being able to set a tempo with the length of their initial recording, so the loop kept time with them instead of having to adjust to an arbitrary metronome.

Datalooper does both. You can use Session View, taking advantage of all those clips and arrangement tools and track routing and effects chains. But you can also use the looper to set the tempo. As the developers describe it:

If you long press on the clear button, the metronome will turn off, and the tempo will re-calculate based on the next loop you record, so you can fluidly move between pieces without having to listen to a click track. Throughout this process, the transport never stops, meaning you can linearly record your whole set and capture every loop and overdub in pristine quality.

Datalooper is also a handy foot-powered control system for working with clips in general. So even if you weren’t necessarily in the market for a looper or looper pedal, you might want Datalooper in your studio just to facilitate working quickly with clips.

(And of course, this also makes it an ideal companion to Ableton Push … or Maschine with a Live template, or an APC, or a Launchpad, or whatever.)

Session Control mode lets you hop in and record quickly to wherever you wish. I imagine this will be great for improvisation not only solo but when you invite a friend to play with you.

For users that are more familiar with the clip system, the Datalooper also features a ‘session control’ mode, built to allow users to quickly record clips. In this mode, the Datalooper script will link up with a track, then ‘auto-scan’ and latch on to the first unused clip slot. You can then use the first the buttons in a row to control the recording, deletion and playback of the clip. Best of all, when you want to record another clip, you can simply press record again and the script will find you another unused clip slot. This is a game-changer if you’re trying to quickly record ideas and want your hands free.

Videos:

You get all of this in a nice, metal box – die-cast aluminum, weighing 3 lbs (1.4 kg), micro USB bus-powered standard MIDI device. The onboard LEDs light to show you status and feedback from the metronome.

By default, it uses three loopers, but all the behaviors are customizable. In fact, when you want to dive into customization, there’s drag-and-drop customization of commands.

A graphical controller editor lets you customize how the Datalooper works. This could be the future of all custom control.

US$199 is the target price, or $179 early bird (while supplies last). It’s now on Indiegogo; creator Vince Cimo needs enough supporters to be able to pull the trigger on a $10k manufacturing run or it wont’ happen.

Vince has offered CDM readers a special discount. Head here for another $20 off the already discounted price:

http://www.datalooperpedal.com/cdmspecial

(No promotional fee paid for that – he just asked if we wanted a discount, and I said sure!)

Having gotten hands on with this thing and seen how the integration and configuration works … I want one. I didn’t even know I wanted a pedal. I think it could well make Live use far more improvisatory. And the fact that we have two projects approaching this from different angles I think is great. I hope both find enough support to get manufactured – so if you want to see them, do spread the word to other musicians who might want them.

The post Datalooper lets you play Ableton Live with your feet appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Ableton Live Looping gets its own custom controller

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Thu 8 Nov 2018 12:45 am

A crowd-funded custom controller has just arrived on the scene, designed to assist live triggering and looping in Ableton Live. And there’s already a free download for Max for Live to get you started, even without the hardware.

Hardware like Ableton’s Push lets you play Live with your fingers – but what about your feet? (Ableton Sole?) And what about looping? Pierre-Antoine Grison, Ableton Certified Trainer and producer/musician signed to Ed Banger Records, has come up with his own solution – just in time to show it this weekend at Ableton’s aptly-titled Loop “summit for music makers.” “State Of The Loop” is a custom MIDI controller for Ableton Live’s built-in Looper device.

The Looper in Ableton Live has been around for a few versions, after loads of requests from users. It delivered the kind of looping workflows you’d expect form a looping pedal. But that doesn’t mean everyone knows how to use it, or use it effectively. There are some nice resources online, including:

Ableton Looper Cheat Sheet (Free Download) [Beat Lab Academy]

Ableton Live Devices – How To Use Live Looper [Loopmasters.com articles]

and a ton of tips here:
http://looping.me.uk/category/ableton/

The stomp-style hardware controls not only the Looper device itself but also scenes. So it works for both controlling entire sets and for pedal-style looping, and you can use multiple (software) loopers so you can layer using different on-screen devices.

Features:

Display and control the state of Live’s Looper
Unlimited number of loopers !
2 Expression Pedal inputs with “dynamic mapping”
Scenes Mode to launch Scenes and display their color and name
Sturdy metal case
100% Made in France
USB or MIDI connection for longer distances (up to 15m/50ft)
USB powered
Very light on the CPU
Easy configuration
Weight : 1.7 kg / 3 lb
WxLxH : 30 x 13 x 6 cm / 12 x 5 x 2.5 inches

There’s even a free download that adds some features Ableton Live forgot – the equivalent of follow actions for scenes, plus a heads-up display so you can see what’s happening without hunching over your computer screen. (Seriously, Ableton, those belong as standard features in Live!)

You can use that download as long as you have a compatible version of Live and Max for Live; no hardware needed.

http://kblivesolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Scene-Launcher.zip

Dig this custom version too:

Pricing starts at 240EUR for an “early bird” price, 260EUR after that. (There’s also a 350EUR limited edition still available as I write this).

Project info on Kickstarter:

http://kck.st/2SH5gJE

The post Ableton Live Looping gets its own custom controller appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Teenage Engineering OP-Z has DMX track for lighting, Unity 3D integration

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 29 Oct 2018 6:21 pm

The OP-Z may be the hot digital synth of the moment, but it’s also the first consumer music instrument to have dedicated features for live visuals. And that starts with lighting (DMX) and 3D visuals (Unity 3D).

One of various surprises about the OP-Z launch is this: there’s a dedicated track for controlling DMX. That’s the MIDI-like protocol that’s an industry standard for stage lighting, supported by lighting instruments and light boards.

Not a whole lot revealed here, but you get the sense that Teenage Engineering are committed to live visual applications:

There’s also integration with Unity 3D, for 2D and 3D animations you can sequence. This integration relies on MIDI, but they’ve gone as far as developing a framework for MIDI-controlled animations. Since Unity runs happily both on mobile devices and beefy desktop rigs, it’s a good match both for doing fun things with your iOS display (which the OP-Z uses anyway), and desktop machines with serious GPUs for more advanced AV shows.

Check out the framework so far on their GitHub:

https://github.com/teenageengineering/videolab

We’ll talk to Teenage Engineering to find out more about what they’re planning here, because #createdigitalmotion.

https://teenageengineering.com/products/op-z

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Post folk: when a hurdy gurdy meets MIDI, a new hybrid is born

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Fri 19 Oct 2018 6:35 pm

Its origins may go back to 9th century Byzantium. But the hurdy gurdy is going digital – and the result is new, expanded musical possibilities for a familiar historical instrument.

Musician / composer/ luthier and builder Barnaby Walters has been hand crafting hurdy gurdy ..s … hurdies gurdy … uh these instruments. But he’s also been working on expanding its capabilities using MIDI, for connection to other gear and computers, and software that augments the traditional capabilities of the instrument with expanded sounds.

What kind of expanded sounds? Think chords, harmonies, layering different sounds, and more. He’s been developing this over a long period of time, but the documentation is now expanding. Watch:

Details:

Demonstration of some hybrid electronic-acoustic experiments using the prototype MIDI system installed on my hurdy gurdy.

0:22 Technique: Pitch-shifting Polyphony Gurdy MIDI and Audio → Apogee ONE → Macbook running a puredata patch

Monophonic acoustic gurdy signal is pitch-shifted down in real time to play chords and harmonies. Chords and intervals on the keyboard can also be used to pitch-shift the trompette signal (0:55) or the drones. Inspired by an idea from Sébastien Tron.

1:18 Technique: Expressive MIDI Controller Hurdy Gurdy MIDI → DIY Hybrid Poly Synth based off Mutable Instruments Ambika

The keyboard and wheel sensors send MIDI note, expression and polyphonic aftertouch messages to a polyphonic synthesizer. In this case a split keyboard effect is used to play two sounds.

1:36 Technique: Layered Acoustic and Electronic Sound

Hurdy Gurdy Acoustic audio, Gurdy MIDI → DIY Hybrid Poly Synth based off Mutable Instruments Ambika

1:36 The acoustic string plays a melody, the bottom half of the keyboard controls a synthesizer with a long release for subtle held chords

2:08 Using trompette technique can send MIDI messages, used here to play synthesized percussion on an Ambika voice assigned to MIDI channel 10, whilst the keyboard plays chords.

2:30 Acoustic trompette and melody string sound layered over subtle polyphonic synthesized chords

Playing, Instrument and Software:
Barnaby Walters
https://gurdy.is
https://waterpigs.co.uk

Polyphonic Pitch-shifting idea: Sébastien Tron

Filming, editing: Adriana Borger

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Novation’s SL MkIII has it all: sequencer, CV, MIDI, software control

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 10 Oct 2018 5:45 pm

One upon a time, there was a Novation keyboard called the ReMOTE SL. That’s as in “remote control” of software. Times have changed, and you’ve got a bunch of gear to connect – and you may want your keyboard to work standalone, too. So meet the SL MkIII.

The additional features are significant enough that Novation is dropping the “remote” from the name. Now it’s just SL, whatever those letters are meant to stand for.

The story here is, you get a full-featured, eight-track sequencer – so you no longer have to depend on a computer for that function. And Novation promise some higher-spec features like expanded dynamic range (via higher scan rate). With lots of keyboards out there, the sequencer is really the lead. Circuit just paid off for keyboardists. Novation gets to merge their experience with Launchpad, with Circuit, with Web connectivity, and with analog and digital gear.

Features:

  • The 8-track, polyphonic sequencer is both a step and live sequencer, it records automation, and you can edit right from the keyboard.
  • Arpeggiator onboard, too.
  • USB, MIDI in, MIDI out, second MIDI thru/out
  • Clock/transport controls for MIDI and analog, which also run standalone – route that to whatever you like.
  • Three pedal inputs
  • Eight faders and eight knobs, handy for mixing (there’s DAW support for all major DAWs, plus dedicated Logic and Reason integration)
  • Color LCDs
  • RGB everything: yep, over the keys, but also color-coded RGB on the pitch and mod wheel as track indicators. (I’m waiting for someone to release a monochromatic controller. You know it’s coming … back.)
  • Those RGB pads are not just velocity sensitive, but even have polyphonic aftertouch (more like higher-end dedicated pad controllers)
  • Cloud backup/restore of templates and sessions – a feature we saw unveiled on Novation’s Circuit

And of course there’s more mapping options with their InControl software and Mackie HUI support.

(Some notes from the specs: you do need separate 12V power, so you can’t use USB power. I don’t have weight notes yet, either.)

Novation must know a lot of their customer base use Ableton Live, as they’re quick to show off how their integation works and why those screens are handy.

Here it is in action:

We also see some cues from Native Instruments’ keyboards – the light guide indicators above the keys are copied directly, and while the pads and triggers are all Launchpad in character, we finally get a Novation keyboard with encoders and graphic displays. Unlike NI, this keyboard is still useful when the computer is shut off, though.

And wait – we’ve heard this before. It was called the AKAI Pro MAX25 and MAX49 – step sequencer built in (with faders and pads), plus MIDI, plus CV, plus remote control surface features. You just had to learn to like touch strips for the faders, and that garish racecar red. That AKAI is still worth a look as a used buy, though the hardware here is in a more standard layout / control complement, and a few years later, you get additional features.

The big rival to the Novation is probably Arturia’s KeyLab MKII. It also strikes a balance between studio hub and controller keyboard, and it comes from another maker who now produces analog synths, too. But the Novation has a step sequencer; Arturia makes step sequencers but left it out of their flagship controller keyboard.

Oh yeah, and if you just wanted an integrated controller keyboard for your DAW, Nektar have you covered, or of course you can opt for the Native Instruments-focused Komplete Kontrol. Each of those offerings also got revisions lately, so I’m guessing … a lot of people are buying keyboards.

But right now, Novation just jumped out to the front of the pack – this keyboard appears to tick all the boxes for hardware and software. And I’ll bet a lot of people are glad to do some sequencing without diving into the computer. (Even alongside a computer for tracking, that’s often useful.)

£539.99 49 keys; £629.99 61. (Both share the same layout.)

https://novationmusic.com/keys/sl-mkiii

What keyboard strikes your fantasy at the moment? What do you want a keyboard to do for you? Let us know in comments.

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Fred’s Envolver 2.1 gets even better

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Thu 27 Sep 2018 10:12 pm

FAC Envolver is a pretty cool audio unit. As are most if not all of Mr Corvest’s apps. In version 2.1 this AUv3 gets even better.

Here’s what’s new:

  • Replace MIDI Note Gate chart by dashed lines
  • Update rise and fall ranges
  • Update some labels and colours
  • Addition of a new preset (SQ BrB Tom)
  • Bug Fixes, Stability And Performance Enhancements

FAC Envolver costs $9.99 on the app store:

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Max 8: Multichannel, mappable, faster patching is here

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 25 Sep 2018 8:15 pm

Max 8 is released today, as the latest version of the audiovisual development environment brings new tools, faster performance, multichannel patching, MIDI learn, and more.

Max is now 30 years old, with a direct lineage to the beginning of visual programming for musicians – creating your own custom tools by connecting virtual cables on-screen instead of typing in code. Since then, its developers have incorporated additional facilities for other code languages (like JavaScript), different data types, real-time visuals (3D and video), and integrated support inside Ableton Live (with Max for Live). Max 8 actually hits all of those different points with improvements. Here’s what’s new:

MC multichannel patching.

It’s always been possible to do multichannel patching – and therefore support multichannel audio (as with spatial sound) – in Max and Pure Data. But Max’s new MC approach makes this far easier and more powerful.

  • Any sound object can be made into multiples, just by typing mc. in front of the object name.
  • A single patch cord can incorporate any number of channels.
  • You can edit multiple objects all at once.

So, yes, this is about multichannel audio output and spatial audio. But it’s also about way more than that – and it addresses one of the most significant limitations of the Max/Pd patching paradigm.

Polyphony? MC.

Synthesis approaches with loads of oscillators (like granular synthesis or complex additive synthesis)? MC.

MPE assignments (from controllers like the Linnstrument and ROLI Seaboard)? MC.

MC means the ability to use a small number of objects and cords to do a lot – from spatial sound to mass polyphony to anything else that involves multiples.

It’s just a much easier way to work with a lot of stuff at once. That was present in open code environment SuperCollider, for instance, if you were willing to put in some time learning SC’s code language. But it was never terribly easy in Max. (Pure Data, your move!)

MIDI mapping

Mappings lets you MIDI learn from controllers, keyboards, and whatnot, just by selecting a control, and moving your controller.

Computer keyboard mappings work the same way.

The whole implementation looks very much borrowed from Ableton Live, down to the list of mappings for keyboard and MIDI. It’s slightly disappointing they didn’t cover OSC messages with the same interface, though, given this is Max.

It’s faster

Max 8 has various performance optimizations, says Cycling ’74. But in particular, look for 2x (Mac) – 20x (Windows) faster launch times, 4x faster patching loading, and performance enhancements in the UI, Jitter, physics, and objects like coll.

Also, Max 8’s Vizzie library of video modules is now OpenGL-accelerated, which additionally means you can mix and match with Jitter OpenGL patching. (No word yet on what that means for OpenGL deprecation by Apple.)

Node.JS

This is I suspect a pretty big deal for a lot of Max patchers who moonlight in some JavaScript coding. NodeJS support lets you run Node applications from inside a patch – for extending what Max can do, running servers, connecting to the outside world, and whatnot.

There’s full NPM support, which is to say all the ability to share code via that package manager is now available inside Max.

Patching works better, and other stuff that will make you say “finally”

Actually, this may be the bit that a lot of long-time Max users find most exciting, even despite the banner features.

Patching is now significantly enhanced. You can patch and unpatch objects just by dragging them in and out of patch cords, instead of doing this in multiple steps. Group dragging and whatnot finally works the way it should, without accidentally selecting other objects. And you get real “probing” of data flowing through patch cords by hovering over the cords.

There’s also finally an “Operate While Unlocked” option so you can use controls without constantly locking and unlocking patches.

There’s also a refreshed console, color themes, and a search sidebar for quickly bringing up help.

Plus there’s external editor support (coll, JavaScript, etc.). You can use “waypoints” to print stuff to the console.

And additionally, essential:

High definition and multitouch support on Windows
UI support for the latest Mac OS
Plug-in scanning

And of course a ton of new improvements for Max objects and Jitter.

What about Max for Live?

Okay, Ableton and Cycling ’74 did talk about “lockstep” releases of Max and Max for Live. But… what’s happening is not what lockstep usually means. Maybe it’s better to say that the releases of the two will be better coordinated.

Max 8 today is ahead of the Max for Live that ships with Ableton Live. But we know Max for Live incorporated elements of Max 8, even before its release.

For their part, Cycling ’74 today say that “in the coming months, Max 8 will become the basis of Max for Live.”

Based on past conversations, that means that as much functionality as possibly can be practically delivered in Max for Live will be there. And with all these Max 8 improvements, that’s good news. I’ll try to get more clarity on this as information becomes available.

Max 8 now…

Ther’s a 30-day free trial. Upgrades are US$149; full version is US$399, plus subscription and academic discount options.

Full details on the new release are neatly laid out on Cycling’s website today:

https://cycling74.com/products/max-features?utm_source=press&utm_campaign=max8-release

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Touché now puts expressive control at hand for $229

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 18 Sep 2018 5:10 pm

“Expressive control” has largely translated to “wiggly keyboards” and “squishy grids,” with one notable exception – the unique, paddle-like Touché from Expressive E. And while keeping essentially the same design, they’ve gotten the price down to just US$/EUR229, making this potentially a no-brainer.

The result: add this little device to your rig, and play gesturally with a whole bunch of instruments, either using provided examples or creating your own.

Preset-packed paddle?

Expressive E’s approach has set itself apart in two key ways. First, they’ve gone with a design that’s completely different than anyone else working in expressive control. It’s not a ribbon, not a grid, not an X/Y pad, and not a keyboard, in other words.

The Touché is best described as a paddle, a standalone object that you sit next to your computer or instrument. There’s a patented mechanism in there that responds to mechanical movements, so with the slightest pressure or tap, you can activate it, or push harder for multi-axis control.

And that, in turn, opens this up to lots of different control applications. Expressive E market this mainly for controlling instruments, like synthesizers, but any music or visual performance input could be relevant.

The second clever element in Expressive E’s approach is to bundle a whole bunch of presets. The first Touché had loads of support even for hardware synths. The new one is focused more on software. But together, this means that while you can map your own ideas, you’ve got a load of places to start.

Touché SE

The original Touché is US$/EUR 399.

Touché SE is just $/EUR 229.

Here’s the cool thing about that price break: the only real sacrifice here is the standalone operation with hardware. (The SE works with bus-powered USB only.)

Other than that, it’s the same hardware as before, though with a polycarbonate touch plate.

In fact, otherwise you get more:

  • Lié hosting software, with VST hosting so you can use your own plug-ins
  • UVI-powered internal sound engine with leads and mallets and loads of other things
  • 200 ready-to-play internal sounds, which you can call up using dedicated buttons on the device
  • 200+ presets for popular plug-ins (like Native Instruments’ Massive and Prism, Serum, Arturia software, etc.)

So connect this USB bus-powered device (they put a huge four-foot cable in the box), and you get multi-dimensional gestural control.

Standalone, VST, AU, Mac, Windows. (Would love to see a Linux/Raspi version!)

I’ve been playing one for a bit and – it’s hugely powerful, likely of appeal both to plug-in and synth lovers and DIYers alike.

http://www.expressivee.com/touche-se

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Hack a Launchpad Pro into a 16-channel step sequencer, free

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 11 Sep 2018 4:59 pm

Novation’s Launchpad Pro is unique among controller hardware: not only does it operate in standalone mode, but it has an easy-to-modify, open source firmware. This mod lets you exploit that to transform it into a 32-step sequencer.

French musician and engineer Quentin Lamerand writes us to share his mod for Novation’s firmware. And you don’t have to be a coder to use this – you can easily install it without any coding background, which was part of the idea of opening up the firmware in the first place.

The project looks really useful. You get 16 channels (for controlling multiple sound parts or devices), plus 32-steps for longer phrases. And since the Launchpad Pro works as standalone hardware, you could use all of this without a computer. (You can output notes on either the USB port – even in standalone mode – or the MIDI DIN out port.)

You’ll need something else to supply clock – the sequencer only works in slave mode – but once you do that (hihi, drum machine), you’re good to go.

Bonus features:

  • Note input with velocity (adjustable using aftertouch on the pads)
  • Repeat notes
  • Adjustable octave
  • Setup mode with track selection, parameters, mute, clear, and MIDI thru toggle
  • Tap steps to select track length
  • Adjust step length (to 32nd, 16th, 16th note triplet, 8th, 8th note triplet, quarter, quarter note triplet, half note)
  • Rotate steps

On one hand, this is what I think most of us believe Novation should have shipped in the first place. On the other hand, look at some of those power-user features – by opening up the firmware, we get some extras the manufacturer probably wouldn’t have added. And if you are handy with some simple code, you can modify this further to get it exactly how you want.

It’s a shame, actually, that we haven’t seen more hackable tools like this. But that’s all the more reason to go grab this – especially as Launchpads Pro can be had on the cheap. (Time to dust mine off, which was the other beauty of this project!)

Go try Quentin’s work and let us know what you think:

http://faqtor.fr/launchpadpro.html

Got some hacks of your own, or inspired by this to give it a try? Definitely give a shout.

The open firmware project you’ll find on Novation’s GitHub:

https://github.com/dvhdr/launchpad-pro

More:

Hack a Grid: Novation Makes Launchpad Pro Firmware Open Source

Launchpad Pro Grid Controller: Hands-on Comprehensive Guide

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Inside Cypher2, and what could be a more expressive future for synths

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 3 Sep 2018 11:01 am

For all the great sounds they can make, software synths eventually fit a repetitive mold: lots of knobs onscreen, simplistic keyboard controls when you actually play. ROLI’s Cypher2 could change that. Lead developer Angus chats with us about why.

Angus Hewlett has been in the plug-in synth game a while, having founded his own FXpansion, maker of various wonderful software instruments and drums. That London company is now part of another London company, fast-paced ROLI, and thus has a unique charge to make instruments that can exploit the additional control potential of ROLI’s controllers. The old MIDI model – note on, note off, and wheels and aftertouch that impact all notes at once – gives way to something that maps more of the synth’s sounds to the gestures you make with your hands.

So let’s nerd out with Angus a bit about what they’ve done with Cypher2, the new instrument. Background:

A soft synth that’s made to be played with futuristic, expressive control

Peter: Okay, Cypher2 is sounding terrific! Who made the demos and so on?

Angus: Demos – Rafael Szaban, Heen-Wah Wai, Rory Dow. Sound Design – Rory Dow, Mayur Maha, Lawrence King & Rafael Szaban

Can you tell us a little bit about what architecture lies under the hood here?

Sure – think of it as a multi-oscillator subtractive synth. Three oscillators with audio-rate intermodulation (FM, S&H, waveshape modulation and ring mod), each switchable between Saw and Sin cores. Then you’ve got two waveshapers (each with a selection of analogue circuit models and tone controls, and a couple of digital wavefolders), and two filters, each with a choice of five different analogue filter circuit models – two variations on the diode ladder type, OTA ladder, state variable, Sallen-Key – and a digital comb filter. Finally, you’ve got a polyphonic, twin stereo output amp stage which gives you a lot of control over how the signal hits the effects chain – for example, you can send just the attack of every note to the “A” chain and the sustain/release phase to the “B” chain, all manner of possibilities there.

Controlling all of that, you’ve got our most powerful TransMod yet. 16 assignable modulation slots, each with over a hundred possible sources to choose from, everything from basics like Velocity and LFO through to function processors, step sequencers, paraphonic mod sources and other exotics. Then there’s eight fixed-function mod slots to support the five dimensions of MPE control and the three performance macros. So 24 TransMods in total, three times as many as v1.

Okay, so Cypher2 is built around MPE, or MIDI Polyphonic Expression. For those readers just joining us, this is a development of the existing MIDI specification that standardizes additional control around polyphonic inputs – that is, instead of adding expression to the whole sound all at once, you can get control under each finger, which makes way more sense and is more fun to play. What does it mean to build a synth around MPE control? How did you think about that in designing it?

It’s all about giving the sound designers maximum possibility to create expressive sound, and to manage how their sound behaves across the instrument’s range. When you’re patching for a conventional synth, you really only need to think about pitch and velocity: does the sound play nicely across the keyboard. With 5D MPE sounds, sound designers start having to think more like a software engineer or a game world designer – there’s so many possibilities for how the player might interact with the sound, and they’ve got to have the tools to make it sound musical and believable across the whole range.

What this translates to in the specific case of Cypher2 is adapting our TransMod system (which is, at its heart, a sophisticated modulation matrix) to make it easy for sound designers to map the various MPE control inputs, via dynamically controllable transfer function curves, on to any and every parameter on the synth.

How does this relate to your past line of instruments?

Clearly, Cypher2 is a successor to the original Cypher which was one of the DCAM Synth Squad synths; it inherits many of the same functional upgrades that Strobe 2 gained over its predecessor a couple of years ago – the extended TransMod system, the effects engine, the Retina-friendly, scalable, skinnable GUI – but goes further, and builds on a lot of user and sound-designer feedback we had from Strobe2. So the modulation system is friendlier, the effects engine is more powerful, and it’s got a brand new and much more powerful step-sequencer and arpeggiator. In terms of its relationship to the original Cypher – the overall layout is similar, but the oscillator section has been upgraded with the sine cores and additional FM paths; the shaper section gains wavefolders and tone controls; the filters have six circuits to chose from, up from two in the original, so there’s a much wider range of tones available there; the envelopes give you more choice of curve responses; the LFOs each have a sub oscillator and quadrature outputs; and obviously there’s MPE as described above.

Of course, ROLI hope that folks will use this with their hardware, naturally. But since part of the beauty is that this is open on MPE, any interesting applications working with some other MPE hardware; have you tried it out on non-ROLI stuff (or with testers, etc.)?

Yes, we’ve tried it (with Linnstrument, mainly), and yes, it very much works – although with one caveat. Namely, MPE, as with MIDI, is a protocol which specifies how devices should talk to one another – but it doesn’t specify, at a higher level, what the interaction between the musician and their sound should feel like.

That’s a problem that I actually first encountered during the development of BFD2 in the mid-2000s: “MIDI Velocity 0-127” is adequate to specify the interaction between a basic keyboard and a sound module, and some of the more sophisticated stage controller boards (Kurzweil, etc.) have had velocity curves at least since the 90s. But as you increase the realism and resolution of the sounds – and BFD2 was the first time we really did so in software to the extent that it became a problem – it becomes apparent that MIDI doesn’t specify how velocity should map on to dB, or foot-pounds-per-second force equivalent, or any real-world units.

That’s tolerable for a keyboard, where a discerning user can set one range for the whole instrument, but when you’re dealing with a V-Drums kit with, potentially, ten or twelve pads, of different types, to set up, and little in the way of a standard curve to aim for, the process becomes cumbersome and off-putting for the end-user. What does “Velocity 72” actually mean from Manufacturer A’s snare drum controller, at a sensitivity setting B, via drum brain C triggering sample D?

Essentially, you run into something of an Uncanny Valley effect (a term from the world of movies / games where, as computer generated graphics moved from obviously artificial 8-bit pixel art to today’s motion-captured, super-sampled cinematic epics, paradoxically audiences would in some cases be less satisfied with the result). So it’s certainly a necessary step to get expressive hardware and software talking to one another – and MPE accomplishes that very nicely indeed – but it’s not sufficient to guarantee that a patch will result in a satisfactory, believable playing experience OOTB.

Some sound-synth-controller-player combinations will be fine, others may not quite live up to expectations, but right now I think it’s natural to expect that it may be a bit hit-and-miss. Feedback on this is something I’d like to actively encourage, we have a great dialogue with the other hardware vendors and are keen for to achieve a high standard of interoperation, but it’s a learning process for all involved.

Thanks, Angus! I’ll be playing with Cypher2 and seeing what I can do with it – but fascinating to hear this take on synths and control mapping. More food for thought.

https://fxpansion.com/products/cypher2/

http://roli.com/

The post Inside Cypher2, and what could be a more expressive future for synths appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Inside Cypher2, and what could be a more expressive future for synths

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 3 Sep 2018 11:01 am

For all the great sounds they can make, software synths eventually fit a repetitive mold: lots of knobs onscreen, simplistic keyboard controls when you actually play. ROLI’s Cypher2 could change that. Lead developer Angus chats with us about why.

Angus Hewlett has been in the plug-in synth game a while, having founded his own FXpansion, maker of various wonderful software instruments and drums. That London company is now part of another London company, fast-paced ROLI, and thus has a unique charge to make instruments that can exploit the additional control potential of ROLI’s controllers. The old MIDI model – note on, note off, and wheels and aftertouch that impact all notes at once – gives way to something that maps more of the synth’s sounds to the gestures you make with your hands.

So let’s nerd out with Angus a bit about what they’ve done with Cypher2, the new instrument. Background:

A soft synth that’s made to be played with futuristic, expressive control

Peter: Okay, Cypher2 is sounding terrific! Who made the demos and so on?

Angus: Demos – Rafael Szaban, Heen-Wah Wai, Rory Dow. Sound Design – Rory Dow, Mayur Maha, Lawrence King & Rafael Szaban

Can you tell us a little bit about what architecture lies under the hood here?

Sure – think of it as a multi-oscillator subtractive synth. Three oscillators with audio-rate intermodulation (FM, S&H, waveshape modulation and ring mod), each switchable between Saw and Sin cores. Then you’ve got two waveshapers (each with a selection of analogue circuit models and tone controls, and a couple of digital wavefolders), and two filters, each with a choice of five different analogue filter circuit models – two variations on the diode ladder type, OTA ladder, state variable, Sallen-Key – and a digital comb filter. Finally, you’ve got a polyphonic, twin stereo output amp stage which gives you a lot of control over how the signal hits the effects chain – for example, you can send just the attack of every note to the “A” chain and the sustain/release phase to the “B” chain, all manner of possibilities there.

Controlling all of that, you’ve got our most powerful TransMod yet. 16 assignable modulation slots, each with over a hundred possible sources to choose from, everything from basics like Velocity and LFO through to function processors, step sequencers, paraphonic mod sources and other exotics. Then there’s eight fixed-function mod slots to support the five dimensions of MPE control and the three performance macros. So 24 TransMods in total, three times as many as v1.

Okay, so Cypher2 is built around MPE, or MIDI Polyphonic Expression. For those readers just joining us, this is a development of the existing MIDI specification that standardizes additional control around polyphonic inputs – that is, instead of adding expression to the whole sound all at once, you can get control under each finger, which makes way more sense and is more fun to play. What does it mean to build a synth around MPE control? How did you think about that in designing it?

It’s all about giving the sound designers maximum possibility to create expressive sound, and to manage how their sound behaves across the instrument’s range. When you’re patching for a conventional synth, you really only need to think about pitch and velocity: does the sound play nicely across the keyboard. With 5D MPE sounds, sound designers start having to think more like a software engineer or a game world designer – there’s so many possibilities for how the player might interact with the sound, and they’ve got to have the tools to make it sound musical and believable across the whole range.

What this translates to in the specific case of Cypher2 is adapting our TransMod system (which is, at its heart, a sophisticated modulation matrix) to make it easy for sound designers to map the various MPE control inputs, via dynamically controllable transfer function curves, on to any and every parameter on the synth.

How does this relate to your past line of instruments?

Clearly, Cypher2 is a successor to the original Cypher which was one of the DCAM Synth Squad synths; it inherits many of the same functional upgrades that Strobe 2 gained over its predecessor a couple of years ago – the extended TransMod system, the effects engine, the Retina-friendly, scalable, skinnable GUI – but goes further, and builds on a lot of user and sound-designer feedback we had from Strobe2. So the modulation system is friendlier, the effects engine is more powerful, and it’s got a brand new and much more powerful step-sequencer and arpeggiator. In terms of its relationship to the original Cypher – the overall layout is similar, but the oscillator section has been upgraded with the sine cores and additional FM paths; the shaper section gains wavefolders and tone controls; the filters have six circuits to chose from, up from two in the original, so there’s a much wider range of tones available there; the envelopes give you more choice of curve responses; the LFOs each have a sub oscillator and quadrature outputs; and obviously there’s MPE as described above.

Of course, ROLI hope that folks will use this with their hardware, naturally. But since part of the beauty is that this is open on MPE, any interesting applications working with some other MPE hardware; have you tried it out on non-ROLI stuff (or with testers, etc.)?

Yes, we’ve tried it (with Linnstrument, mainly), and yes, it very much works – although with one caveat. Namely, MPE, as with MIDI, is a protocol which specifies how devices should talk to one another – but it doesn’t specify, at a higher level, what the interaction between the musician and their sound should feel like.

That’s a problem that I actually first encountered during the development of BFD2 in the mid-2000s: “MIDI Velocity 0-127” is adequate to specify the interaction between a basic keyboard and a sound module, and some of the more sophisticated stage controller boards (Kurzweil, etc.) have had velocity curves at least since the 90s. But as you increase the realism and resolution of the sounds – and BFD2 was the first time we really did so in software to the extent that it became a problem – it becomes apparent that MIDI doesn’t specify how velocity should map on to dB, or foot-pounds-per-second force equivalent, or any real-world units.

That’s tolerable for a keyboard, where a discerning user can set one range for the whole instrument, but when you’re dealing with a V-Drums kit with, potentially, ten or twelve pads, of different types, to set up, and little in the way of a standard curve to aim for, the process becomes cumbersome and off-putting for the end-user. What does “Velocity 72” actually mean from Manufacturer A’s snare drum controller, at a sensitivity setting B, via drum brain C triggering sample D?

Essentially, you run into something of an Uncanny Valley effect (a term from the world of movies / games where, as computer generated graphics moved from obviously artificial 8-bit pixel art to today’s motion-captured, super-sampled cinematic epics, paradoxically audiences would in some cases be less satisfied with the result). So it’s certainly a necessary step to get expressive hardware and software talking to one another – and MPE accomplishes that very nicely indeed – but it’s not sufficient to guarantee that a patch will result in a satisfactory, believable playing experience OOTB.

Some sound-synth-controller-player combinations will be fine, others may not quite live up to expectations, but right now I think it’s natural to expect that it may be a bit hit-and-miss. Feedback on this is something I’d like to actively encourage, we have a great dialogue with the other hardware vendors and are keen for to achieve a high standard of interoperation, but it’s a learning process for all involved.

Thanks, Angus! I’ll be playing with Cypher2 and seeing what I can do with it – but fascinating to hear this take on synths and control mapping. More food for thought.

https://fxpansion.com/products/cypher2/

http://roli.com/

The post Inside Cypher2, and what could be a more expressive future for synths appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Numerical Audio brings us a new virtual tape machine in RE-1

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Mon 27 Aug 2018 10:51 pm

Numerical Audio / Kai Aras brings us yet another highly capable audio unit for giving your iOS sound a distinctive and unique sound. Some of Numerical’s other audio units are pretty special. Some of my favourites include RF-1 and RP-1, Volt (an excellent synth) and Theremidi.

Now we get RE-1, a full featured virtual Tape Machine capable of delivering authentic tape based echo and chorus effects. It doesn’t stop there.RE-1 is an interactive tape player, sample, loop and overdub features it’s possible to use it like a virtual tape recorder, sample player, looper or simply as a master effect.

Overview:

  • Virtual Tape deck including 3 individually controllable read heads, variable delay time and feedback
  • Interactive user interface and realtime visualisation of various parameters related to the tape simulation
  • Dedicated controls for Wow, Flutter, Color, Tape Hiss & saturation amount
  • Tape Loop mode with overdub, tape reverse and time-stretching
  • Sample/Loop library loads wave files onto the virtual tape loop
  • Transport and Tempo Sync
  • Stereo Spread & Stereo Panner
  • Input processing: Highpass filter
  • Output processing: 2 band eq

Tape Echo:

  • Authentic tape echo emulation
  • Multi-tap delay with 3 individually controllable read heads
  • Color Control adjusts the echo’s tone from dark to bright
  • Delay Time: 5ms – 1000ms (or 1/32th to 1/1)
  • Wow & Flutter
  • Tape Hiss and Saturation
  • Stereo spread
  • Stereo panner

Looper / Sample Player:

  • Uses the tape like a traditional looper with unlimited overdubs
  • Configurable Loop length with 1 – 8 bars and tempo sync and tape reverse
  • Tape transport can be linked to the host’s transport controls
  • Time stretching keeps loops in sync
  • Samples/loops can be loaded onto the tape directly
  • Samples can be created from the tape loop and stored in the sample library at any time
  • Factory content includes a variety of loops grouped by style
  • Samples/loops can be imported from and exported to other apps

Connectivity:

  • Standalone
  • AUv3
  • InterApp-Audio
  • Audiobus
  • Ableton Link
  • MIDI (Tempo, CC, Program Change)

RE-1 requires iOS 11+

RE-1 costs $4.99 on the app store now

The post Numerical Audio brings us a new virtual tape machine in RE-1 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

It’s official: minijack connections are now kosher for MIDI

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 21 Aug 2018 8:40 pm

For years, manufacturers have been substituting small minijack connectors for MIDI – but there wasn’t any official word on how to do that, or how to wire them. That changes now, as these space saving connections get official.

Our story so far:

MIDI, the de facto standard first introduced in the early 1980s, specifies a really big physical connector. That’ll be the 5-pin DIN connection, named for the earlier German standard connector, one that once served other serial connections but nowadays is seen more or less exclusively on MIDI devices. It’s rugged. It’s time tested. It’s … too big to fit in a lot of smaller housings.

So, manufacturers have solved the problem by substituting 2.5mm “minijack” connections and providing adapters in the box. Here’s the problem: since there wasn’t a standard, no one knew which way to wire them. A jack connection is called TRS because it has three electrical points – tip, ring, and sleeve. There are three necessary electrical connections for MIDI. And sure enough, not everyone did it the same way.

In the summer of 2015, I had been talking to a handful of people interested in getting some kind of convention:

What if we used stereo minijack cables for MIDI?

That in turn was based on a 2011 forum discussion of people making their own adapters.

Some manufacturers even used that diagram as the basis for their own wiring, but since no one was really checking with anyone else, two half-standards emerged. KORG, Akai, and others did it one way … Novation, Arturia, and ilk did it another.

The good news is, we now have an official standard from the MIDI Manufacturers Association (MMA). The bad news is, there can be only one – the KORG standard beat out the Arturia one, so sorry, BeatStep Pro.

Wiring diagram. The “mating face” is also what I put on when I start a flirtatious conversation about TRS wiring.

That said, now that there is a standard, you could certainly wire up an adapter.

2.5mm is recommended, though bigger TRS jack (1/4″) is also possibly. Mainly, your caveat is this: standard audio cables are not

If you’re thinking this now means you can use standard audio minijack cables The MMA document adds that you should use specialized cables with shielded twisted pair internal wiring. Shhh — audio cables probably would work, but you might have signal quality issues.

Twisted what? That’s literally twisting the wires together and adding an extra layer of shielding, which reduces electrical interference and improves reliability. (See Wikipedia for an explanation, plus the fun factoid that you can thank Alexander Graham Bell.)

The recommendation is made by the MMA together with the Association of Musical Electronics Industry (AMEI), and was ratified over the summer:

MMA Technical Standards Board/ AMEI MIDI Committee
Letter of Agreement for Recommend Practice
Specification for use of TRS Connectors with MIDI Devices [RP-054]

News and (for members) link to the PDF download on the MMA blog:

Specification for TRS Adapters Adopted and Released

Updated: I feel specifically obligated to respond to this:

Actually, no, not really.

The most likely use case would be users plugging in minijack headphone adapters. But part of the reason to use 2.5mm minijack is, those other examples – microphones and guitar jacks – don’t typically use the smaller plug.

Anyway, to the extent that people would do this, presumably they were already doing it wrong on gear from various manufacturers that use these adapters. Those makers helpfully include adapter dongles in the box, though, and as the MMA/AMEI doc recommends, manufacturers may still want to include electrical protection so someone doesn’t accidentally fry their hardware. (And engineers do try to anticipate all those mistakes as best they can, in my experience.)

Really, nothing much changes here apart from because there’s an official MMA document out there, it’s more likely makers will choose one system of wiring for these plugs so those dongles and cables are interchangeable. And that’s good.

The post It’s official: minijack connections are now kosher for MIDI appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Fred Anton Corvest’s Envolver app takes a big step forward with version 2

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Wed 8 Aug 2018 6:07 am

Apps from the FAC stable are fast becoming some of my most used AUv3 apps at the moment. Fred’s Maxima, and Transient seem to get used almost all the time, but his Envolver app is one that had, so far, not really hit my radar. That is, until now, with version 2, and the reason that version 2 has caught my attention, is that it is a seriously significant upgrade in this app’s capability. First it’s probably worth giving you a quick idea of what the app itself does. Here’s the description from the app store.

Being a MIDI effect in its essence, controlling your synthesizers parameters (e.g volume, cutoff, res) with MIDI CC and notes, FAC Envolver is also able to transform the input audio via two exclusive effects: a Noise Gate and a Trance Gate. This combination is the key to breathe life into your sound, providing interesting natural modulation and sequences that will always be different by nature.

Under the hood, FAC Envolver is an envelope follower delivering MIDI data generated from the contour of a signal. The source of this signal may come from two distinctive circuits: the first one is a classic envelope follower and the second one is a rythmical pattern called trigger gate. Both circuits are responsible for providing a signal envelope that can be altered by a set of parameters and delivered as MIDI control change messages (CC).

The generated signal envelope also passes through a gate detection mechanism driven by a threshold. When the signal goes above the threshold, the gate is open and when the signal goes below, the gate is closed. This open/close sequence provides a second envelope which is delivered as MIDI CC (on/off) and notes. The pitch of the note may be set within the effect or from an external value provided by MIDI input. Both may follow a particular scale progression.

The envelope follower circuit also provides a noise gate to control precisely the level of your audio signal. This uses the same open/close sequence built by the gate detection mechanism that delivers MIDI data but acts on the audio. Following the same logic, when the second circuit – the trigger gate – is engaged, the open/close sequence provides a trance gate style effect to the audio.

FAC Envolver is a stereo effect and provides two slots, one slot per channel. Both can be linked to facilitate the manipulation. The audio can also be turned to mono and the dry and wet audio can be mixed.

What’s arrived in version 2.0 really does take this AUv3 up to the next level though:

• Two circuits: Env Follower and Trigger Gate (Audio/MIDI fx)
• Each circuit provides MIDI out (CC/Note) and optional audio transformation
• Env Follower provides a Noise Gate with threshold, hysteresis and curve smoother
• Trigger Gate provides a Trance Gate Style fx with optional resolution and patterns
• Stereo/Mono processing – a slot per channel
• Fine tuning of each slot; rising and falling time, bias, depth and inverter
• MIDI IN/OUT support: CC#, channels, int/ext note pitch and scale progression
• Multi-waveform graph: input signal, env contour, gate signal and threshold
• Host tempo sync

Note: The MIDI/AUDIO combo makes FAC Envolver usable in every host, even the ones that still do not provide MIDI out support, in this case the MIDI generator is disabled and the fx can be used as standard AUDIO fx.

I’m really looking forward to getting to grips with FAC Envolver very soon, as I can image that it’s going to be yet another FAC app that ends up being heavily used by me on a regular basis.

FAC Envolver is on the app store and costs $9.99

The post Fred Anton Corvest’s Envolver app takes a big step forward with version 2 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Put some physics in your MIDI with this iOS Audio Unit

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Wed 1 Aug 2018 11:25 pm

We seem to be getting more and more unusual and interesting audio units these days. Which, in my view, can only be a good thing. It reminds me that these days you can do almost everything that you might want to do on a desktop, but now on mobile. A new audio unit I’ve just noticed is Physicles. The app is a container of physics-based MIDI Audio Unit plugins. These AU MIDI plugins generate MIDI messages through the use of an underlying physics engine, which models the physical interactions between various entities.

In some ways it shares some similarities with Bram Bos Rozeta Sequencer Suite.

In the current version, only the following plugin is included:

  • Physicle Bouncy: In this playground, multiple balls bounce inside a polygon. MIDI messages are generated whenever a ball collides with the side of the polygon.

I’m guessing that the developer is planning on adding additional units / functionality over time. The app’s description sort of suggests that.

Physicles is currently free on the app store

Please Note:

  • The plugin requires a compatible AU Host to work. You could use AUM, AudioBus 3, apeMatrix, Beatmaker, Cubasis 2, or Sequencism
  • The plugin does not generate any sound at all, and only creates and sends MIDI messages

The post Put some physics in your MIDI with this iOS Audio Unit appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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