hardware and software for electronic music 

thetechnobear's Recent Posts

Wed, Jul 29, 2015, 15:28

1.3 ... like the splits, fun with Aalto! ... look forward to kaivo 1.2
btw: the note names are wrong, on at least split example 1, not checked others...
doesn't matter I will change the layout anyway, but perhaps might be worth correcting in a future release?

Thu, Jul 23, 2015, 03:20

email sent... thanks.
yeah, I suspect better TT/Calibration will help, but it may be spacing also plays a role.

touch tracker 'bug' -yeah I fully recognise why its doing it, the 'sucking in' is a really noticeable phenomena, but I think even that should be 'curtailed' to some distance (perhaps closer than the normal 'new touch'?) because this sucking in, if done too close will start generating ghosts notes as well.

I think the rule is 'reasonably' firm, you cannot have 2 notes that are closer than N, because once you get this, chaos follows pretty quickly, regardless of the original cause.
(e.g even if I slide two notes close together the TT will soon start having issues).

perhaps its possible, that perhaps N may be slightly different for different scenarios, e.g. sliding together (touch age?) or very new touches, or perhaps even touch thresholds.

but I look at it this way, I can get the SP into a position, where with one sustained touch, can be playing two (sustained) notes on adjacent cells... for me this is breaking a precondition... id be firing code asserts :)

you can see it in my video - https://www.dropbox.com/s/kkh009ykcd80u0d/SpCalib2.mov?dl=0 @ 0:50
ok, this is edge of the board, but I get this in the centre of the board too.

anyway, I only said an 'easy fix' as I thought it might be doing an additional inhibit check, but I do recognise the TT code is complex, and there are lots of 'use cases' so improving one thing, may make something else worst/stop working... so just an idea, one that you are in a much better position to judge, it could well be time much better spent on the new TT.

Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 11:13

Sorry, been busy trying to get Axoloti ready for its release :)

my soundplane, is #54 I guess from second batch? (yes from a guy in Norway)

Heat, agreed two SP is not much of a sample set, could be a wide variety of other things.
I guess my hypothesis is not so much about stretching, more that the rubber is warmer, and so is taking longer to return to rest state, which I think would lead to false touches, as the other touches are not properly released yet.
its hard to say if it is, but it does feel a bit more 'sluggish'... but perhaps Im imagining it :)

I tried recalibrating with a CD case to get an even pressure... and its different, but not really better.

I guess I'm still a bit vague on what I should use for extra spacing material, don't really have any spacer that I can think of, and not sure where to get some, but will have a look around... (perhaps I can order something online?)

one thing has struck me, that may be an 'easy temporary fix' for the touch tracker.
Its pretty obvious that the ghosts notes are usually just one cell from the actual touch, but this should be impossible as a new touch should not start within 1 cell range... its suppose to inhibit close touches... so this seems like it might actually be a small bug.

ok, it wont solve the issue of the tracking being out, but it might help reduce ghost notes, and also (in my experience) sometimes fixing such bugs can reveal other issues.

Sat, Jul 18, 2015, 04:45

If you want to intervene mechanically, adding a bit of material to the rightmost spacer bar will hold the sensor more tightly together, and should reduce the spreading

Im a little confused about this, Ive watched your disassembly video (a few times), but don't see any spacers... are you saying that you thing the two sensors boards could be separating slightly?

Im sure i will see if I open up, but kind of want to check what I need before I dive in :)

try normalizing again being sure to press very evenly. You can use an phone or a CD case for this!

this also confuses me a bit, really the difference between the first step (with palm) and second.. are they calibrating different things? It would I think be useful to know a little more about this.

as Ive mentioned before, I do wonder if an 'editor' for the calibrated data would be useful,
perhaps were we could select regions, and increase/decrease/smooth out the difference, and retry... I know it could be fiddly and perhaps would need good 'explanations' to stop fumbling around in the dark.

but one of the problems Ive had in the past is, I have an issue, so recalibrate, it fixes one area of the board, but another gets worst. (so sometimes I have lived with a bad area of the board, getting a worst compromise)

You could just wait and accept the ghost notes into your life until the next software update. I am sure that they will be improved by the next touch tracker. Meanwhile the thing with ghost notes is that they are tiny, so when using direct envelope control via z they may not even be heard.

ghosts notes, true to some extent,it is more the tracking thats my main issue. and in some ways I have lived with it till now (its always existed to some extent), but its just got to a point where its pretty hard to play... it not very gratifying playing an instrument that doesn't have consistent/repeatable behaviour, which is pretty fundamental for any instrument (imho)

I'm eager to work on the new touch tracker, but meanwhile I also need to release another plugin.

Yeah, I recognise this, bills to be paid and all that :) same for all of us, and of course there is only so much one man can do at a time. so fully appreciate priorities etc.

I only hope this can receive some future priority, against all the calls for new versions of Aalto/ Kaivo/ new plugin/ Modular interface... which perhaps generate more revenue, than software that is given away free and has less than 100 users (albeit its part of an expensive hardware product)

Id dive into the touch tracking software myself, but frankly, when I checked it out, its obvious the amount of knowledge/experience you have built up in this area, my efforts are pretty futile by comparison... a few hours of your time, are worth hundreds on mine.

So I hope some of these tips give you something to chew on, and I'll thank you in advance for your patience.

Of course, I will try... as Ive said (repeatedly) , I love playing the soundplane, its a wonderful experience and its noticeable how much its teaching me too, so I really don't want to put it away until it cooler (3+ months here) or a newer software version is out.

anything I can do in the meantime I will definitely try, and of course try to be patience :)
(let me know about the spacer / calibration and I will look into this.)

thanks for your help

Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 07:52

oops realised that was the dev version... anyway same on production version,
this is with 1.2.5, just some general movements, showing edge issues, and also how its also not predicable with intervals.

(I play intervals like this, as not enough room to do horizontal, and this formation prevents having to play adjacent cells ... and I don't like playing in row 1/5 which I find has less Y range, and can be more unpredictable.)

Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 07:36

ok, uploaded a video as you requested... here : https://www.dropbox.com/s/ocr32uct37mk5iy/SpCalibIssue.mov?dl=0

(fyi, here is a picture of the calibration

I ran my finger over row 1 , then 5, 2,3,4 (and then over the end columns) as evenly as possible.

you can see some unevenness, and in particular around column 26 (in all rows), which is noticeably,when playing, more sensitive that any where else on the board.

the I switch to touch mode.and first play a M7 interval (carefully centred on both cells!) (so 1 up, and across), you can see the root is okay(ish) but the G is half a cell away, and this typically will randomly choose between the D and G... so its unpredictable... also of course even if it is the right note... its now got Y = 0, what I played was Y=0.5

after this i just play D and G, and you can clearly see the ghosts notes firing...
(Ive tried with higher thresh, but it doesn't make any difference unless its at about 0.022, which means you have to almost hammer notes, no subtlety.

Ive tried manually altering template, usually it calcuales around 0.3, but I've tried much lower and much higher, again which no perceptible difference in getting reliable touches.

Ive watched the videos of you opening.. but looks easy enough, but not tried myself as wouldn't really know what to adjust or how to make it better :)

Thu, Jul 16, 2015, 04:00

FYI, after a request for the T3D macro, Ive added a newer version to the Reaktor User Library T3D OSC macro

Wed, Jun 03, 2015, 11:32

Adding per note expression to Reaktor using T3d

In this video I show how to add per note expression to Geetar (Chet Singer) and NI Sparks, but the techniques are applicable to most polyphonic Reaktor ensembles.
and there are lots of those, so this opens up a rich selection of expressive synths for us to use with the Soundplane

Expressive Reaktor video

Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 10:41

"some way to offset / scale the data more easily after it comes from the source"

+1 ... and also to mix multiple inputs too.

Bazille/Ace have quite a nice MOD module that can do this kind of thing.

uhe's are quite big because of the dials, but with your dials on the inlets, you could actually have quite a small module.
( though the issue is, the patch bay is where the big space restriction is I guess at he moment, so more input is going to be hard to find space for)

perhaps some kind of pop up control on the inlet, that allows mix/scale/offset, for the few occasions its really useful. (I know not clean UI, but takes no additional space)

Thu, May 28, 2015, 13:30

Oscillot for the Soundplane

Oscillot (Max4Live/Ableton) is alot of fun, and is developing quite nicely...

its a virtual modular that runs within Ableton usually driven by midi,
but I wanted to have some voice per channel goodness, something often lacking in Ableton, so... Ive created my own Oscillot Soundplane object which you can use instead to get up to 6 independent voices... works really nicely :)

Oscillot for the Soundplane

Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 07:00

Interesting read, I think haptic feedback could be a really interesting extension for expressive music controllers.

Mon, Jun 15, 2015, 16:24

Thats a really nice idea, using the soundplane surface to 'open a portal' into the sound that is underneath... not something I would have thought of, and gets your mind racing with ideas :)

look forward to hearing/seeing more :)

Mon, Jun 15, 2015, 05:10

Thanks Randy... really loving the Soundplane (and Aalto!) its so enjoyable to sit down and noodle and experiment with, and just see what it brings to you :)

Sun, Dec 07, 2014, 14:14

soundplane + aalto, a first go...

So, had my soundplane for a few days, so decided to put something simple together using Aalto (which makes anything sound great) to show my lowly starting point.

you tube video - Soundplane#1

my plan is to produce regular videos (as I've done with the eigenharp), so I can show my progress over time.

Mon, Jun 15, 2015, 05:06

very interesting performances... Id be really interested to know how in Juglans you are getting the different sounds, sometimes seems to be percussive and other times orchestral, but I cant see how you move between them :)
"Chantepleure pour une planche à sons" is very dynamic, and I love the way your interacting with the sounds through the soundplanes surface.

Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 11:55

ok, been too long in between, but put together something else this afternoon

If only, YouTube

Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 08:02

I own a Soundplane (and an Eigenharp Alpha) but not a Continuum, however I was recently lucky enough have an opportunity to play with a Continuum for a few hours , and explore it... (so some of this may not be 100% accurate, and consider as an 'initial' impression)

First Id say... they are completely different instruments, each has its own merits, both are fantastically made by people who are passionate about what they do.

because of this its 'dangerous' to compare, by 'specs' alone, the feel and the way you play with each is quite each is different, and because both are so expressive, this will come across in the music.

the most obvious difference is the feel, the Soundplane has a wooden easy gliding surface, which gives a little bit... the Continuum a very soft surface which you can really dig into. (the newest models are very sensitive on the surface too).
Neither is better or worst, just different...
Id say I preferred the Soundplane BUT I believe that was due to familiarity - Ive really no idea, if after a month it would still be the case... I think, probably Id end up thinking both have there merits. (my friend who owns the continuum, really liked the soundplane too)

one thing, that is very surprising, is the surface area of the Soundplane is close to the size of the (half size) continuum ... yes the continuum has 44 notes, and the Soundplane 30 cells, BUT the cells on the Soundplane are quite a bit wider. In fact, I was quite surprised how narrow the stripes were on the continuum.
(again no issues either way, but was a surprise to all, when we put them side by side)

and yes, I do love the grid nature of the Soundplane, to give you a bigger note range... or you can use it as 30 'long' keys like a continuum, best of both worlds :)

Next big difference - the continuum is completely standalone, no computer required (assuming you are talking a newer one, which includes the DSP), as well as MIDI output (unfortunately only MIDI DIN, oh it also has CV output)
the Soundplane requires a computer (currently Mac), initially might seem a disadvantage, but it does have the advantage of 'flexibility' which I like (its also open source software)

both Soundplane and Continuum have good midi options, so called 'voice per channel' midi, done in the same way... and yes you can connect to any synth.
additionally the Soundplane has OSC which has many advantages (resolution/speed) , but is not frequently supported.

assuming its a newer continuum, then it has a built in sound generator, which produces some 'native' sounds, and also the Eagan Matrix.
You almost certainly have been hearing the EaganMatrix, which frankly, is fantastic!
The reason for this, is Edmund Eagan has produced (100+ ?) presets which are built explicitly for the continuum, and make use of its x/y/z very intricately, its his skill in building these presets which is amazing, they aren't built as normal synths sounds and then added expression... the expression is the starting point!
( It does seem though, that the Eagan Matrix seems pretty complex to program yourself, and even seasoned Continuum players are over the moon when Edmund releases new presets)

Is this possible with the Soundplane?
the short answer is yes, but you will have to build the presets yourself.

there is no lack of synths to do this with, and you can connect anything...
the obvious choice are Madrona Labs Aaalto and Kaivo (Aalto you get with a Soundplane),
also I can recommend most of U-HE synths (Bazille/Ace are really fun), also Reaktor is great fun too and something I'm using more recently.

the only 'drawback' is we don't seem to have many people sharing Soundplane specific presets, and it takes a bit of learning, to come up with ones that are good... let alone to the level of detail that Edmund Eagan has put into his.

Im actually seeing this as a challenge, and have started working hard on building some more complex patches, trying to use Edmunds approach of using expression as the corner stone... lots to learn, but its a fun journey into sound design!

So fundamentally the Soundplane can 'sound' as good as the Continuum, but the Continuum has an built-in sound engine which shows it off really well.

(BTW, you can actually plug a Soundplane into a Continuum and play the EagenMatrix synth... we didn't get around to trying this, but my friend has plugged his Eigenharp into it, and it worked well)

a parting thought...
the soundplane is connected by a single USB cable to my computer, and is compact (and slim), this means it permanently lives in front of me on my desk. which means I use it all the time... I think sometimes just its look makes me want to touch and play it.
Ive been very surprised how often I just start noodling with it unconsciously... my Eigenharp has been getting jealous :)

I doubt that would be the case with the continuum (due to its depth/connections etc), which Id probably put on a stand like my other synth...

anyway back to the beginning... seriously they are really different, each with its merits, each having a different approach... if you can try both that would be ideal

I would be happy with either/both... in the same way as my Soundplane and Eigenharp complement each other rather then compete.

(sorry for long essay :))

(p.s. of course I've not mentioned the price difference which is quite large... but you know that already :))

Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 07:10

ok, with quantisation ON,
when you slide it will slide automatically to a quantised note.
the portamento dial helps control the rate of the slide, so that you get a smooth slide (so no bumps unless you you set it to 0). the vibrato control allows you to adjust the amount of 'movement' within a cell.

(there is also a note-lock and glissando feature)
it actually works well, and when using quantised, I leave on defaults and its great.

I believe (and it feels like) if you turn quantising off, then vibrato/portamento have no effect, as you can obviously control this directly (as quantisation is not 'interfering'

yes, both X and Y (and Z) are completely continuous.

One thing to be aware, y is not note quantised.
i.e. if you have the SP in 'rows in fourth mode', i.e. tuned like a guitar,
you don't slide UP/DOWN for notes, only across ...
this makes sense... as you are using y for timbre control, so it wouldn't make sense to slide to the cell above/below.

so like the continuum, Y is never quantised.

the continuum has a slightly different note quantisation 'modes', its probably best to read the manual to understand them. (explains better than I can), but in practice they are similar.

Im planning on making a small addition to the Soundplane software (its awesome that its open source, so we can make our own mods), which will allow for a 'percentage' of quantisation, rather than just on/off. This the continuum allows, and I think could be useful, particularly when you start to learn to play un-quantised. (as i am at the moment)

so summary, soundplane and continuum, have slightly different models, but to the musicians /end result - I think they are pretty similar, and both even with quantisation on, you cant really hear it... except that you are always in tune :)

Wed, Jun 03, 2015, 03:11

Soundplane - playing position

ok, I feel a bit dumb about this... Ive just realised I can get a much more comfortable position playing the soundplane if I tilt it by 25-30 degrees!

I should have tried this much sooner... not only did i experiment alot with playing position on the eigenharp, but Ive also seen lots of musicians doing this with the continuum!

for me it not only is much more comfortable, getting a much better wrist and elbow position (similar to the one taught for piano), but also much better board visibility.

having a look back at YT videos, Id say about 50% tilt the continuum, and at quite different angles, YT example

Im going to make a small stand, with an adjustable angle to see how I get on with it....
im also considering trying to find a position such that it can place above my conventional keyboard. perhaps a bit like this

are others using a non-flat or different playing position..

Mon, Jun 01, 2015, 10:51

"computer-based configuration side " cool - but without access to the firmware, there is not much someone could do to extend the functionality of the module?

Id guess its unlikely the firmware will have features, that are not already exposed in some way by the configuration software.... the only thing, that would allow is probably porting to a different platform ... but you could write it cross platform to start with - no?

I think the posts here, show that there are quite alot of ideas, about what the module could do (even within hardware limits)... some of these could be 'niche' and not work ML pursuing, also microprocessor boards are limited in resources, so even if you could add all features, its possible the board would not have the cpu/memory to do so.

no big deal either way... I'm sure you will do a great job, it was more a question, and something I don't really see a downside too...

Mon, Jun 01, 2015, 02:24

Using Max/BEAP to create an poly expressive synth w/ Soundplane

Recently Ive been exploring how to use virtual modular synths to create expressive synths for the soundplane (and other expressive controllers), these video show how to do create a synth using Max7, for use either standalone or with Ableton Live.

if you enjoy, let me know.. and I could cover some more advanced concepts (e.g voice muting)


part 1 of video

Sun, May 31, 2015, 16:35

personally.... (and hence why I asked, as I'm interested!)

  • I have contributed quite alot to the Eigenharps software (EigenD), created about 5 agents ... including ones that integrate with Madrona Labs software (t3d/soundplane), and recently added MPE support, and got the Eigenharps working on a Raspberry PI2 !

  • I'm actively contributing to Axoloti , added MPE support, and also USB midi output capablities (and have contributions 'in the works' ), its also getting me used to micro-controller coding :) (STM32F4)

  • and contributed a little bit here too (for the soundplane)

... and I've got more ideas, ask Randy :)

from others... on the modular side... the most obvious are new firmware (extensions) for mutable instruments... 'bees in the trees' and 'parasites' (and sheep?)

then there is the OWL pedal, which has a bit of a following.

probably are more, but those are the ones i know of... (but the 'makers' community is full of projects)

on the software side, Reaktor user library is kind of 'open source' code... and its absolutely huge :) (also Max projects)
(whilst not strictly open source contributions to the original product... they do extend the original product, are free/open, and end-users download them)

don't get me wrong, open source, is not 'easy', if your lucky you will get a few dedicated followers/contributors who can 'help out' or add features for the community, how many depends on interested parties with the correct skill set.

also interestingly for you (ML) open source, potentially opens the door for 'bending', your module if its keenly priced, some buyers might 'bend' it to other needs, i.e. just using the hardware but for a different purpose (e.g. they might create a midi to cv firmware for it), thus increasing your market.
(there are quite a few circuit bending examples out there... or the classic 'robot hoover' story)

Sun, May 31, 2015, 02:53

Cool - will start building my modular once you start taking pre-orders :)

Voices - I guess most won't have high poly count ( I can't afford it) so think some of the extra touches will be more about zones. Eg 4 voices + a couple of sliders / x/y grids - the later of course could use less cv outputs ( eg a vertical slider only needs y) .
Due to this, i think it would make sense for this info to be in the zones presets - so setup on a computer.
I like the idea of alway having a default preset available, in case you haven't loaded one etc.

Will the firmware be open sourced? of course "voids warranty" as you may need jtag to unbrick. ( works for mutable )

Sat, May 30, 2015, 02:49

Btw on virtual modulars I rarely use gate with the SP, I just use Z, and can derive a gate from it.
if you do this, then 9 cv could give you 3 voices?
( but perhaps gate is more necessary on a real modular ?)

Note in practice I tend to use z as an envelope, so gate is a mute point.

Sat, May 30, 2015, 02:41

Will you have an expansion board (or something) to allow for more touches, I'd like 4 :)

Also, yarns has a mode that allows you to choose how to distribute the cv outputs, eg you can choose to have 2 outputs with G/P/V/CC (=8 outputs) or 4 with just G/P

Sat, May 30, 2015, 02:34

No, everything is voice independent.

The best way to experiment with this:
In a daw create multiple tracks, that send into the same instance of Aalto on different midi channels. ( how you do this varies from daw to daw)
Then put notes on each track, as also modulate a Cc ( eg mod wheel / 1) differently in each track
The experiment routing the CC in Aalto to different targets

You will see each voice/channel is independent.

( you can also send different pitchbends on different channels)

Btw: I think this is from v1.6 onwards.

Fri, May 29, 2015, 01:39

I think everything ( most ?) , is voice independent

I think the misunderstand is, you are thinking the sequencer activates the voice?, but it's the other way around ... The voice is triggering the sequencer. In that sense I suppose it's closer to an arp than a sequencer.
In practice with free running oscillators the difference can be pretty subtle.

EDIT: got to play with it a bit more, which I've been meaning too for sometime.

Yup as I said, its voice independent...
so you can do neat things, like run the loop at different rates... this is how it can become an envelope, or a cycling LFO for a voice... this also works nicely in combination with the envelopers, when move to seq mode... so your key trigger initiates the seq and then the sequencer trigs the envelopes... (great fun in combo with the soundplane altering seq rate and gate level)

with key trig on/loop off, its very obvious as you can start the seq independently, and hear as the rate etc affects.
but its also true when key trig is off (and loop on, so its free running) here you will only hear the independence, if you are changing its parameters differently per voice.
(in this sense it works exactly the same as the LFO)

its great fun to play with this on a soundplane.

but if you have got a soundplane then you can still have the same fun,
in midi, send different notes and CCs on different midi channels and the route the CC to the sequencer controls.

its very cool, I remember reading in the manual how the sequencer could be used as a Env/LFO or even an oscillator (for FM), but never got around to playing with it... but its actually very simple to do. (mixing with the repeating ENV2 is fun too)

the only thing I wish is could do, is to mix (multiply) the sequencers output with another modulator (in particular Y axis), so that I could increase/reduce its overall impact on a target from the controller.

ooohhh.... so now I have to go play with it in Kaivo :)

Mon, Mar 30, 2015, 02:15

MIDI Polyphonic Expression specification

Roger Linn - "Next month the 5 main Polyphonic Multidimentional Controllers (PMCs)-- LinnStrument, Continuum, Seaboard, Eigenharp and SoundPlane--are announcing a new MIDI Polyphonic Expression specification"

Randy, do you have any info on this, are Aalto/Kaivo/Soundplane going to support this?\
I guess if its just settling on the continuum messages, then the Soundplane already supports this, assuming its not a requirement that its supports 14bit, though this would be easy enough to add.

Tue, May 26, 2015, 03:41

MPE could, hopefully, make things a lot simpler for expressive controllers, and with more controllers appearing hopefully adoption will be more likely.

I do love my soundplane, it brings synths alive :)

Tue, May 26, 2015, 03:38

I like using the matrix on Xils version of VCS3, and it does have the advantage of almost unlimited expansion, and I think provides a better overview of current modulations and routings (as wires don't cross) than the patch-bay.

but on the flip side, Aalto is MUCH less fiddly to use, and I think more intuitive initially.

my fear is the patcher is getting hemmed in, there are a few extra modulation sources (e.g OSC strips) and targets (e.g. envelope control, wet/dry levels) that would appear a lot of work to add in the UI... whereas the matrix would be easy.

I cannot imagine, how this concept is going to work with the 'future' full ML modular, I don't think they'll be enough exposed space on one edge of each modular.

but having both, I think may be a lot of extra dev work, for little benefit.

perhaps, Aalto could move to a system similar to the make noise modular?
so allow wires to go between any location in a module (like bazille/ace etc), but have a CV shared bus, which allow some of the more common CVs to be made tidy in the middle.

I say this, as I think in UI terms, this shared bus could be quite similar to the current patch bay concept, but perhaps just a little more organised (=rigid) e.g. run the bus in parallel lines, with same colour cables, and possibly take a little less space, so that the modules can have more space... which could then be used for the extra CV inlet and outlets.

another idea, would be to extend the patch bay, along the edges of the modules, so have some space between each module, and route the cabled up there and into the side...
not very conventional, but would keep the module face clean, and the inlets could be closed to the associated control (vertically).

but hey, UI design is hard... cramming too much functionality in, makes things complicated and ultimately less useable, and I think the clean design is one of the reasons why I use Aalto so much. ( I also use Valhalla plugins for a similar reason), and Im confident Randy has considered all the above before, and decide against, or has 'a plan' :)