ForumsHardware ← You want knobs with that?

So, the Soundplane A has a blank area on the left side, where the DSP board lives. There is some room inside the case here for a bit more sensing hardware, and we are leaving extra ADC channels available on the board for it.

So, my question to you is: should we put a few sliders up there? Or a big knob? Or something else? Or leave it blank?

The "blank" option has the advantages of keeping the costs of the Soundplane A down as much as possible, and getting us to a finished product faster. If we do add something, it will have to be done with the level of quality the rest of the product has, so it might add a significant cost in materials and assembly time. And you can get a bunch of USB sliders or knobs pretty cheaply, as you like, and set them there.

On the other hand it's nice to only bring one controller to a gig, and it's very useful to have a knob or slider that you can set to a value and leave there.


OK...I'll jump in & be the first poster aside from you Randy ;)
I found you through NUIgroup, and this is a very intriguing concept you've created here, my compliments.
As for the question at hand, my vote would be nothing. At least initially. Any fader type adjustments can be coded into the UI of the particular instrument or application in use. This eliminates the inevitable issue of, 'if I only had one more control, drat it' that comes with ANY number of physical controls provided.
At the same time the clean simplicity of a blank musical slate is very appealing. It leaves the mind free to express instead of having a collection of controls calling attention to themselves by virtue of their existence, their maladjustment, or their failure...
'Course that's just one opinion ;)

Hi, thanks for the reply! Most of the feedback I've gotten so far has been in agreement. We hope to include some extra A/D channels so people can customize their own instruments, so that covers all the bases in a way.

Hi Randy let me tell you that your invention is the way to go in terms of musical expression in this new era, I have been looking for a controller or should i say an instrument that make me feel when i am playing it that i`m really expressing all the energy that comes from my hands in it, organic, like an acoustic instrument or maybe beyond because it is made to control electronic devices. the point is that I have been chasing A continuum fingerboard but i think the price is out of my lead, then I saw this page and let me tell you I think you are doing an excellent job, my thought is very simple I like electronic sounds, but I don´t like the controllers in the market they tend to be focus more in a cold way to make music, oposite to that I find your invention to be expresive, intimate and organic. I hope the price won´t be so high when you finish it and start to sell it. on the other hand I think you should leave it blank to let your imagination runs when you put your hands on it, so no Knobs or faders at all
My thoughts
Keep on the good work
from venezuela...Regards

First off, let me just say that i greatly anticipate the release of the Soundplane A into the public hoping it is more affordable than the monome. That said, i'm not a button pusher, i often use the mouse pad on my laptop as the main controller for all my patches, but i miss the z-plane. So my vote would be no buttons, no sliders. Been looking for something like the Soundplane A for so long, Jaime Olivers "Silent Drum" comes close, but the Soundplane looks much more durable, which i need, cuz i get physical with my computer (i have already broken one).

Hi Chuck, and thanks for writing.

Durability is definitely an important design goal for the Soundplane. I think that the ability to use a wide range of gestures from light ones to really heavy ones is important.

The Soundplane A is probably going to cost more than a monome. It has a lot of analog electronics and its own DSP inside. Recall that the prototype uses up an 8x8 audio interface---the resolution of the Soundplane A will be more like 64x8.

I am definitely hearing the need for lower cost controllers though. Keep in touch and keep checking out our DIY section...

Ok I have calmed down now!

My vote would be for some discrete foot pedal socket. Perhaps as you suggest you could leave a spare A/D, but dedicated couple of jacks would be great. I want my hands free to play the Soundplane and switch with feet

The problem that I find when I play the continuum is the resolution when two fingers are adjacent can lead to erroneous (pitch) information. Will the Soundplane be similar in this regard?

I agree with some of the other posts this is defiantly the way to go. Much as I love the ethos of the Monome it feels like I am typing music which given that we are in a computer age and the main interface is a keyboard makes sense. But hopefully with the onset of the ipod touch and other touch screen interfaces people will appreciate more expressive hand touch interfaces.

I have always been drawn to multi-touch because of its multi-dimensionality. I don't compose to a strict rhythm I am more interested in sonic gestures to wit this is the type of controller for me. I think the thing to get right is the playing surface, the Continuum for all its floors plays like an instrument, I want the Soundplane to be an instrument to master. Whilst I like the general discreet pitch/pitchbend paradigm of the Continuum I think there is, in addition, now space for new performance gestures based on the Ipod Touch interface where pinches, finger sprays and swipes etc can be mapped for directly translatable sonic gestures.

I for one will use it with Max/Msp, Reaktor/Kore, Kyma, Alchemy, AudioMulch. For sound design and live performance. Initially I would like to be able to plug-in and play, simple correlation between pitch volume and say brightness. A good sounding basic synth demo would be good for getting the feel of it and practice. Then obviously I would like to get my hands dirty with the Soundplane data. Whilst I don't recommend the closed nature of the Lemur, some of their physical modeling modulators would expand new ways to interact with the board. I mention this because you had visual feedback in some of your demos. There is a beauty to playing without reference to the screen, but I would like the option of a nice visual interface whilst practicing/designing. I guess much of this can be built by the user but with these kind of features I think the Soundplane would be top notch.

I was saying to my friend as I played him the Continuum wouldn't it be great if this had more resolution and communicated via OSC, well thanks for making a wish come true. I just hope this does not go the way of the Surface One (midiman) .

Now to start saving, do you know anyone who wants to buy a MTC Express?

Best wishes and good luck


There are a lot of questions jammed into the last reply!

As for foot pedals, are you requesting on/off switches or continuous controllers? They are each wired differently.

As for tracking errors in The Continuum, the technology is completely independent. I would not expect the Soundplane A to operate in the same fashion.

Sorry yes my head is still buzzing.

I guess my question fall into two parts one is the form and engineering of the Soundplane hardware / software the other is it implications and community response:


Generally speaking one switch one continuous ( for example sustain / volume).

I guess questions would be how accurately can the SoundPlane accurately track adjacent objects?

In what form will the data form the SoundPlane be presented? I am thinking I would like centroid data with X,Y,Z and size/surface area. This would allow the basis for gesture recognition. It would be good to have a simple Max object or raw OSC would also be great. Would that sound reasonable?


As for GUIs, visual interfaces can be mapped from that data presumably. I think something like this with for example a Processing designed front end could be really amazing for new ways to interact with the Soundplane.

Will the objects be open source and/or similar to the Monome project? I am assuming that they will.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.



Hi Smuff,

A jack for continuous control seems like a good addition. But this may be a user mod.

One of my goals for tracking objects is to support a grid size comparable to a piano keyboard.

Parts of the software are still up in the air, but you're taking about many of the same ideas we are. It seems important to make the fundamentals open-source. in my view this is the best way to ensure our customers that their hardware will be supported for a long time.

Dear Randy,

You mention elsewhere that the SoundPlane is approximately 64x8 channels (strips of copper tape) am I right in thinking that each vertical strip (64) could correspond to a pitch with interpolation for pitches between notes? When you mention tracking Piano size I get the impression that the adjacent resolution would not be very fine? Is the adjacent resolution effected by the pressure of the two points?



Well, it's not quite as simple as one sensor strip per touch. A given touch will spread both mechanically and electrically, and appear on more than two sensors. Telling two close touches apart while keeping the precision of each is a complex problem in both hardware and software design. So we have a requirement (piano-like resolution) but we don't know how far past it our available time and resources may take us.

Another vote against adding knobs/sliders. For me, keeping the price low is more important. Also: scope creep is a killer! Though: I like the idea of input jacks for continuous controllers (if the steps to create such a mod are documented somewhere that'd be fine).

Great project by the way. I was very impressed when i first saw the vid.

Thank you for the reply I am sure it is a complex problem and certainly beyond my skills. I look forward to seeing a working prototype of the software and hardware in the fullness of time. Good luck. I have mentioned the project on the Kyma forum so I hope it yields some positive input for you.



output jacks to control cv compatible gear would be awesome

Outputs to control CV gear is a tall order. The data generated by the Soundplane is somewhat amorphous, because you can have any number of fingers controlling various parameters. It might be rather tricky to map the gestures to a particular CV output. Configuration should be very open, and would mostly occur on the host computer, depending upon resources. So, the scenario that would make most sense is for you to have a generic CV interface for your computer, and then tie that to the Soundplane via software. The options are so wide open that squeezing them all into the Soundplane firmware might prove too limiting. Then again, it's a good idea, so it will certainly be considered.

I guess my point is that you should probably think of the Soundplane A as more of a raw sensor that is tightly integrated with a host computer, and then your host computer acts as the central hub for controlling an endless variety of software and hardware.

keeping minimalism and the price down is of course important, but when i look at the prototype both in aesthetical and functional terms, i would consider having 2 assignable modulation wheels a la moog voyager (with funky lights), or a wooden pitch stick a la nord lead, or a joystick a la kenton killamix, or a patch matrix a la EMS VC3. but these are just some improvisations, i haven't seriously considered the functionality or need of such additions or how they could be integrated into the concept. there may be some special editions with some additional options though, why not? and would you consider to offer two versions, a smaller and a bigger one in order to have different price options? great and inspiring project by the way, thanks a lot!

I'm late to the discussion, but let it be known I'm VERY excited about this device, which I just discovered yesterday.

For my part, I think the simplicity is key in this design. There are plenty of controllers out there with knobs, buttons and sliders, and the fact is that most of your prospective buyers probably already have a bunch of those things. I know I do.

I would prefer to have this device be as minimalist in appearance and function as possible. An expression pedal jack would be fine, as it wouldn't interfere with the wood theme too much, but knobs, especially with blinky lights, are not necessary in my opinion. If I want to complement it with knobs, I will use another controller with it.

That said, it appears that your design philosophy is quite sound and respectable, and I will likely purchase one no matter what you decide.

@walker: thanks for sharing your excitement-- we are thinking very much the same, and will have some new hardware parts to show off soon, please stay tuned.

There is much to be considered here though in realty as we all know, Knobs and Sliders are always great to have, there are already plenty of them out there. From the CM Labs Motor Mix which you can find used for a small fee, to the portable Korg and Akai controllers . . . so to add knobs when knobs already exist is an interesting thing, that may be fabulous though it can rob the sole purpose of the Soundplane. I was even thinking that Livid Union's Block would be a great companion with the Soundplane. If anything . . . I would highly recommend having a version that is purely USB powered and will be interfaced with tools inside of your computer but also having CV and Midi for another and that would be an option to the buyer. CV and Midi would be magnificent and even without the Soundplane would be magnificent but knobs are not necessary. There are enough knobs out there in the Universe. I love the clean look of this controller without anything else to distract the whole point and that's the immediate, delicate, and hyper expressive control of such an instrument because that's exactly what it is. The possibilities, the ideas, and the unpredictable is what Computer and Electronic Music is all about. Just imagine the possibilities with Logic's Sculpture, Eric's Synful, Audeon's UFO, Applied Acoustics Tassman, and now Aalto . . . there's some serious things underway. I'm looking forward.

Clifton Cameron (Ars. Nova. Strata . . .)
Pendulum Distinction

I am in agreement with he majority here, no knobs/sliders please. A footswitch socket and an expression pedal socket would be very useful though.

Very interesting project, and timed well too i think; musicians are looking for more expressive controllers and are now getting used to touch interfaces. I also think the open source approach is a winner.



two things if i may, for sure no pots or sliders and secondly, when will this be available as i am very eager for a device like this.


really coo project ! love it

I've read the CDM article recently and today see that linndrum add a new picture for their project

i understand that the external controller jacks will be a user mod...
for my interests i would love to see an expression pedal and something like the pots linked below.

i can imagine a couple of these (or this ) would be pretty slick for the main oscillators in aalto