randy's Recent Posts

Breaking news! I know that while the Soundplane looks fun, and sensitive, it might take touching one in person to know if you want to make music with it. So I'm going to be doing lots of traveling in the next few weeks, to bring a Soundplane prototype within reach of as many people as I can...

The first stop will be Expo '74, hosted by Cycling 74 in Brooklyn, New York this weekend! I will be showing the Soundplane, connected to Max/MSP through a brand new soundplane~ object, at the Expo '74 science fair on Saturday evening. I know this is incredibly last-minute news, but this only came together thanks to last-minute events and the flexibility of my generous hosts.

Registration for the Expo is closed. But don't fear. I wouldn't come all that way and not do a demo that other people can come to. I'm going to find some time during the weekend to set up camp at a local cafe, hacker space or even a private abode. I'm still looking for a good place. If you will be in NYC and do want to come, or want to suggest a place (I'm staying at a friend's in Brooklyn) please get in touch via the forums here. If it's only a handful of people, maybe we can do it at a private studio or residence.

Remember that my Twitter feed is the best place to get truly late-breaking news. I'll be posting there for certain once I know more.

So, on to the less last-minute stuff: the West Coast tour. As announced on Create Digital Music, here are the upcoming dates I'll be demoing Soundplane in the Golden State:

Robotspeak, San Francisco, Saturday Nov 5, 4pm
CNMAT, U C Berkeley, Monday Nov 7, 2pm
UCSB, Media Arts and Technology Seminar, Tue Nov 8, 5:30 pm
CalArts, Thur Nov 10, 6:30pm

All of these events are free and open to the public. Come play with a Soundplane, and ask questions about anything from capacitive sensing to CNC machining to software! I look forward to meeting you.

Hi Matt,

I wasn't being clear, I meant "between two Aalto patches."

So... this should work. I will have to try it out in Audiomulch to see what's happening. Will do this for the next release. Aalto development is a little slow due to Soundplane work-- I hope you understand.



MIDI use with other synthesizers as Brian describes is possible, but the Soundplane and Aalto for Soundplane connect over OSC. Aalto for Soundplane has a new input section based on OSC that sends signals into the patcher for each note.

The Soundplane itself doesn't use MIDI! You could hook your MIDI interface to the Soundplane client software to output MIDI from your Mac.

I simply didn't want to promise anything before I knew I could do it. I'm going to talk to some other manufacturers and figure this out ASAP though.


Yes, Aalto + Numerology = great!

The demo works fine too.


Thanks for your interest-- I will figure out the customs issues ASAP. Hopefully within the month.

I'm not sure how you would morph between two Aalto plugins, because the patcher is always either on or off for a given cord. And the cords do not automate, which may be part of the problem. I will look into this for 1.3.

AU or VST?


Not sure about the reverb changing-- if so, not on purpose.

I use magic mouse all the time too. The trick is to find a balance between controllers like magic mouse that put out many many mousewheel 'clicks,' and other mice that just put out one per click. Unfortunately (and this hurts me too) I had to decide that the other mice were much more common. I will look at this more in the future.

I understand. That would be a good feature and I will find a way to add it. It's the broken keyboard handling in some hosts that makes it a pain.

If you have a host like Logic that offers a "generic view", you can view the plugin parameters including modulation amounts in that view, and copy/paste values.

I never had the chance to try Audiomulch, hopefully someone else can help.

There's not really a direct comparison. Aalto's OSC sounds to me more like the 259 than the 259e. But, Aalto has limitations that the hardware doesn't have. And Aalto's filter is a model of an SEM, because I love that sound.

The client app will be open-source C++. So you can talk to it over OSC, or just hack your own client if you want.

Here are a few pictures I took today to make a product onesheet. This is one of two playing surfaces we have made prototypes of. It's a walnut veneer on a fiber / elastomer backing. The other surface is a thicker walnut that acts more like articulated keys. We'll have both kinds of surface on hand to compare at the demo, starting tomorrow.


Good insight and question. It's nice to play on top of the edges, especially.

The "proud" surface posed some bigger engineering challenges and will also be more expensive to make. the recessed surface is working great now, and has been refined through lots of testing.

So recessed is the default, and there will probably be an option to get the Soundplane with a thicker surface soon.

I definitely thought about this issue. What I've done is put the USB jack through an aluminum backplate that's much thicker than an ordinary sheet metal case -- 1/8 in. the jack is very tightly fit into the plate so that the wobbling that normally breaks the solder joints over time is minimized.

Good idea but it doesn't fit in the Soundplane case. Already checked.

A loose, breakaway external USB extender seems like a good idea. it pulls out if someone trips on the cord and so the case doesn't get hurt.

I think that in this case a movie will be worth 1000 words.

I had thought of this exactly as you describe. I was sort of waiting for a more out-there way of using this space to come along. But I agree the simple random button could be cool.

Hi all,

I'm excited to announce that we'll be demonstrating the Soundplane at Decibel Festival here in Seattle next week, Wednesday September 28 through Friday September 30. I'm attaching the press release with place and times below. If you've been following our odyssey, and you're in the area, by all means come meet us and get your hands on a Soundplane!

The new Soundplane instrument from Madrona Labs, three years in the making, will be demonstrated live at this year's Decibel Festival in Seattle.  The Soundplane gives performers intimate control over computer-made sounds.  The Soundplane detects a wide range of pressure on its hardwood surface, from a light tickle to very firm pressure, and sends that information over a USB connection. It can be configured as either a 150-note keyboard with x, y and pressure sensing on each key, or as one continuous pressure-sensing surface.

The Soundplane goes beyond the capabilities of any MIDI keyboard.  It transmits x, y and pressure data for every key continuously at 12 bits of resolution and about 1000 samples per second, letting players move beyond the ADSR envelope model of synthesis and articulate each note individually, as on an acoustic instrument.

At Decibel 2011, festival goers will be able to spend quality time with a Soundplane prototype in an ongoing, hands-on demo.  The demonstrations will be in the Fred Wildlife Refuge, at 127 E. Boylston, from noon to 5 pm, Wednesday September 28 through Friday September 30.   Pricing and availability for the Soundplane will be announced during the festival.

It's all done in software, so, yes.

But I am having a problem with the sequencer. On the patch AcAalto 2 for example if I start with host sync it will keep playing after the note ends. There is some residual tone that persists. Ugh!

It's just like a hardware modular-- when you you stop the sequence, the SEQ trigger output might be held HIGH, which makes the GATE open. If you want to get around this, use only the ENVs to trigger sounds.

It also will not bounce to tracks in the DAW correctly. Several other weird things with the sequencer.

I really can't help you with this vague of a complaint. I don't mean to sound snippy but you are not giving me any information to go on here.

Also, is there a way to globally turn off animation instead patch by patch?

Not now. I had this this way originally, like global preferences. I think you are right-- I'll change it back in the next version.

I'm definitely going to be more forthcoming with pictures and videos now that there's something worth looking at. Even got myself a new camera. :-) I'll shoot lots at the festival.

Oh I don't know.

Good morning! Apple has just released the next major revision of OS X, Lion, only through the App Store.

Should you upgrade? Not unless you want to experiment on a spare machine or partition that you don't need for audio work for a while. The two main DAWs on OS X, Live and Logic, each have some issues with Lion. There is a good short article about that here.

As the major DAWs come into sync with the new OS, I'll test those releases with Aalto, and keep you posted.

The "voice" output from the KEY module has no detuning on it. That's what you're using to run the LFOs and make the envelopes, not the pitch. So you're just hearing little numerical errors over time that are practically unavoidable.

If you set this patch up on an analog modular, you wouldn't expect it to stay in sync at all. Any clocks need to be synched up somehow to run in phase over time. I would suggest using the sequencer, host sync and key trig to get what you are after.

Hi all,

I am going to take the Madrona site down for an upgrade in a few hours. The downtime should last less than a day. Sorry for any inconvenience.

There will be an upgrade price to go from v.1 to v.2. I don't know what it is yet. v.2 is still months and months away.

kind of gets you thinking!