ForumsSoftware ← Aalto - independent voice handling and sequencer

Hi everyone,

So I read the whole Aalto manual, and I (think that) I understood most of it, except for the way voices are handled, and which parts are independent.

Supposedly, each voice has at least a sequencer to itself (correct me if I'm wrong here... it might be that the whole modulation panel is independent for each part). However, suppose I want to turn the sequencer on; I reckon there is no way to control exactly when each voice starts (for instance, syncing them all at will, or triggering one per step). Instead, you have to rely on some random trigger that is output every time you turn the "voice" dial to change the number of voices and thence, each new voice appears cumulatively in a way you can't control.

I think Aalto is outstanding, and I agree with your (Randy) philosophy of putting everything in the front panel, WYSIWYG, for more intuitive and musical interplay. However, this aspect of Aalto I really don't understand and I think it does not go well with that philosophy.

Please do explain how this in-the-hood routing works. I apologise beforehand if I seem a bit arrogant due to my writing. I can assure you it is not the case ;)

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 :)

It's true—each voice has a sequencer that is a completely separate processor from the other voices. Looking at a patch like "techniques / seq multirate" is the best way to see this. Each voice has a different signal created at the KEY module vox output. These signals are sent to the "rate" input of each SEQUENCER. And so each runs at a different rate.

There are lots of little examples in the Aalto techniques folder that may show interesting ways of using control. I wish that each example had a nice verbal description with it, but that's a feature I will have to add later.

The key trig input is the one way of controlling the position of each sequencer precisely. If you turn on key trig in this patch, each sequencer restarts whenever a note is send to that voice. So I believe this is the "syncing them all at will" you want.

There is no precise way to send just one of the sequencers forward one step. However, you can set the rate to the lowest nonzero value, then use an envelope to turn up the rate of just one of the voices for a time when a note is played. (setting the rate to 0 will not allow the modulation through, so a rate of 0.002 is needed currently)

In Kaivo there is a trig input to the sequencer, that increases the flexibility of what can be done.

The changes when you turn the number of voices are not well defined. when a voice is off, its sequencer may be in an undefined state if the number of steps has changed, for example, while it was off. This can definitely be improved.

There are a lot of things I could make controllable (put into the front panel) but haven't. This is to make the design approachable. There is always a tradeoff between flexibility and usability. I try to make the modules work together so that once you know them a little better, interesting and surprising things can be done.

You don't seem arrogant—I am always happy to discuss ideas about what makes a better synthesizer.

Thank you both for taking your time to write such comprehensive replies. Alas, thetechnobear, I don't have a Soundplane; right now money is just for eating. Hopefully that will be remedied soon. But there are some nice tips nonetheless in your post.

randy: I think Aalto is pretty straight-forward, and the manual is one of the best I've read (actually, the only one I've read completely precisely because of this reason). I'm going to experiment with it now, but I would like to know a few more things as well:

– Just to make things clear, the sequencer is the only part in Aalto that is independent for each voice, right?

  • Regarding VOX, I've been playing Aalto without any keyboard input, just to see the effect of the signal being output. I reckon that if I connect it to the sequencer, then each VOX signal will be allocated to each corresponding sequencer. Thus the scope-dials with the spread out signals in the sequencer would represent each independent sequencer. But if I were to connect the VOX output to something like oscillator pitch, then all these VOX signals (1,2...4) would be summed up, and the scope-dials would represent that, instead of overlapping layers of signals working at the same time but without effecting each other. Am I right?

Shit, that was a bit complicated, I'm sorry about that. Because I have one more question:

  • Regarding the Waveguide/Delay module, could you please put in order which effect (filter, waveshaper) goes first within the feedback loop?


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.

Everything is independent for each voice, except the reverb. You can see this by looking at the dial animations. If you see four pointers in the dials at different locations, those are the values of the four voices. There is an illustration in the manual about this.

A few controls have no signal inputs, and thus no way to set a different value for each voice. These have dials that do not show a signal view. The gate decay is one example.

The delay comes before the filter in the waveguide/delay. If you turn the frequency down to 1 sec or something, you can hear this.

Greetings. Read everything here and have tried repeatedly but I still haven't succeeded in gaining control over the aligning of independent parameters with independent voices in Aalto; I fear the same problem in Kaivo which I do plan to purchase before the current sale ends. I truly love Aalto, it's wonderful, but would gladly pay for a step by step manual or video instruction addressing in detail the use of the independent voices. All best to you.

I wonder what you are expecting out of independently controlling the voices that you are not able to do. It's easy to send different signals to each voice using the vox output or pitch output of the KEY module. These signals can affect any parameter connected to a patcher output. But there are some constraints—from the vox output they are all spaced apart by a constant value.

Also if you want to use the sequencer, you can send just about any set of four values to the four voices. Look at the "seq chord" patch in the Aalto techniques category.

I guess you have checked out the manual PDF? We explained it there with words and drawings as best we could. Maybe with your feedback we can improve the explanation.

As always, thanks for your response. The vox output constant is clear and yes, I have studied the manual start to finish. It's a wonderful manual; I'm apparently just not grasping some concept re how to address each voice individually. Perhaps the various technique patches will become clearer to me in time. Right now though I'm wondering why BEACONHILL is being rejected as a code on the Kaivo sale. When entered it's returned as "Unknown coupon code: BEACONHILL". I'd love to buy it while it's still on sale.

The patch you see is the same for each voice, but each voice can have a different depth or setting for many of the parameters (just not different wiring) each voice can sound quite different even though they all share the same architecture
To get to hear each voice version you can keep tapping on the MIDI key input and it will likely rotate through the voices - where you have random mod sources this will be reflected every time, but if you have a parameter solely modulated by the vox param then you will hear the distinction in the voice every time
An easy example .. take pan and an otherwise simple vanilla patch, hard pan the patch left, modulate with vox, increase the mod depth until the fingers spread out to touch the far right pan position - this now means voice 1 is hard left, 2 is near centre left 3 centre right and 4 hard right

every time you rotate through those voices or play a chord this is the way to check which voice you hear - even simpler if you modulate pitch with vox

it is therefore possible to play all four voices without midi by patching vox direct to pitch and pan or whatever and just have the voice amp open - no need to trig or use midi - all 4 voices will be very evident, including any other vox or other varying params you may use as sources

hth ... Sep 1 was the offer date on that flyer fyi

Thank you so much; greatly appreciated. Re the sale, the Madrona facebook page announced an extension to the sale thru September 7 and advised we (continue to) use the same sale code. At least one other person has also commented on that post about their inability to use the sale code but hope springs eternal… or for another few days anyway, ha. Thanks again!

sorry hadn't seen that, I better join the Facebook group !

I fixed the code for the sale, sorry for the glitch

No prob and thank you. Now I'm a happy licensee of all your software.

Thanks for your support. I would like to do more tutorial videos, and will add a "multiple voice control" one to the list.