Hello, everyone (and Randy, particularly). I recently bought a half-size Continuum Fingerboard (it's shipping right now), and even more recently I discovered the Soundplane. Both seem to be the cutting edge of continuous pressure-sensitive multi-touch for music right now (congrats!). There are a few reasons why I don't regret my somewhat expensive decision, but I still have some questions/suggestions:
When will the next batch be ready? Just kidding, but you should expect that question from a lot of gear-heads in the future. :)
I read this page (http://madronalabs.com/news/40) to say that x and y position have 12-bit precision, just like pressure. Is this true? Because 30 keys lengthwise with 2 ^ 12 x-values in continuous surface mode is sub-cent resolution, just like the Continuum.
I'm not a tuning grid person, so I see the Soundplane A as being limited to a 30-key range, or 2.5 octaves with the default tuning. Do you have eventual plans for a model that's much longer, to rival what the Continuum has to offer? Would the additional data overtax the USB connection? Of course, interfaces and protocol tech marches on. Could the price still be lower than that of a half-size Continuum? Because the growing combination of capability and accessibility might be the key to more widespread interest and experimentation with 3D continuous music controllers.
I'm going to ask the Continuum inventor the same thing, but how improvable do you think sub-semitone-interval finger sensing is? Maybe small spherical finger attachments could create a mathematically optimal solution? I know it sounds silly, and it would remove the element of really feeling the instrument, but sillier things have been done with music interfaces with much less potential, and perhaps finger attachments could enable more noise reduction.
While still maturing, the Soundplane is a serious competitor to the Continuum. Thanks to discovering the Soundplane, I see that music-worthy pressure-sensitive multi-touch technology is already progressing further. I believe that this type of technology, in addition to motion sensing, is what's beginning to give electronic instruments truly expressive potential. So thank you.
I'm just back from vacation and getting to this reply-- if the answers are too short for you, please feel free to ask for more clarification.
I'll announce more about the second round of Soundplanes in a couple of weeks.
X and Y precision are determined from pressure information via a fairly complicated piece of software. Because results from many sensor points are used for a single touch, the question of resolution in those axes is not a simple one to answer. The best thing to do is probably measure it and make a video. In my experience there is sub-cent resolution.
You can map the surface to any tuning or combination of notes you like. If you want one semitone per x space only, then yes there are 30 such divisions. I would probably have to sell a lot more Soundplanes at the current size before I made a bigger one. It seems so far that there is less demand for that. But I see no big technological barriers to doing so. Between the Continuum, Soundplane, and the forthcoming Linnstrument, there will be quite a few choices in pressure-sensitive instruments soon, and of course I hope this leads to the instrument category being more visible and widely understood as a more sensitive alternative to MIDI keyboards.
I am going to rethink this substantial software challenge when there is time. A physical prosthetic would not help. The difficulty is between sensors and data, not mechanical. There is definitely a lot of improvement left to gain.
Thanks for your comments.
Nope, good answers! I'm good to hear you do have some vision for this instrument category. As far as I understand the Linnstrument, you can't really slide between sensors like you can with the Soundplane or Continuum, so it's a little behind the curve right now. The Eigenharp is the same way, and those are the only notable instruments in this category that I know of.
By the way, I don't know if you or someone will want to respond to this thread, but it'd be nice if the forum had email notifications. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone has something to say to me. I don't think I have anything else to say here, though, since I'm satisfied with the Continuum. So goodbye and good luck with all Soundplane-related projects!
- To further clarify, the entire length of the Soundplane in the x dimension is not limited to a single 12-bit range. Each of the 30 divisions has approximately 12 bits of resolution, and these numbers are combined to determine subdivision positioning. As Randy explained, it's not simple to determine an exact bit precision. However, I wanted to point out that it's a lot more precise than stretching one 12-bit number across the entire range. The same is true in the y dimension, although there are fewer than 30 divisions in that direction.
edit: wrong post