hardware and software for electronic music 

randy's Recent Posts

Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 10:33

Thanks a lot! There is so much stuff rewritten for this update, we're bound to run into a few things. Will investigate.

Mon, Feb 27, 2017, 09:07

OK, thanks for the report. Checking audio input incl. meter response would be part of my normal testing checklist. However, it's possible for things to break in ways that manifest only randomly. I'll check this for the impending release.

Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 10:09

A setup with a single instance in a minimal DAW seems like a good solution for you. DAWs do not take too much CPU, generally. They add complexity but you can set this up once and forget about it.

Reaper is a good option and inexpensive.

A newcomer on the scene is called Gig Performer. They are trying to support just the use you envision. I have no experience with it myself yet.

To get a multitimbral use I would make two instances of Kaivo on different tracks and use each on a different MIDI channel.

Thu, Feb 16, 2017, 09:38

Your kind words are appreciated here! Stay tuned for an update very soon.

Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 07:13

Other people have asked for the ability to store Kaivo samples on a different disk. I'll be adding that feature when I can.

I do use Seib's VSTHost sometimes on Windows. For really quick launching I use the "Plugin Host" that comes with JUCE. You have to compile it yourself though.

Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 10:33

Welcome aboard and thanks for the good words.

The "mod cc#" dial controls the number of the cc message that comes out of the "mod", "+1", and "+2" outputs. So if you set the dial to "14", the three outputs send the values of CC messages 14, 15, and 16. This is in the manual on p.32–33. The explanation could probably be better.

The pitchbend control is added to pitch before coming out the pitch output of the KEY module. As you note, it can't be assigned to anything else. I have never seen a synth that's able to to that, so I never really thought of it! MIDI kind of sets us up for this because pitch bend is not a CC#, it's a separate kind of message.

I think Kaivo should let you import samples in demo mode. The readme file that comes with the installer has a quick rundown of how to make your own multichannel files if you want to do that. Otherwise you can just use the "import" feature in the granulator. If you are just adding your own files by hand, you have to move them into the Madrona Labs directory. There is a maximum length of 8 seconds for the sample files so if you just moved them in yourself, it may be choking on that.

Grain length is totally independent from sample files and is set up in the granulator engine by the "pitch" and "rate" and "overlap" dials.

I don't know what you mean by "can I use all samples."

Out of the two synthesizers I recommend getting started with Aalto, it's the main one a lot of people reach for every day, and you don' t need external samples to make great sounds. Kaivo is more specialized.

Sun, Feb 12, 2017, 10:30

Great news! This kernel bug was preventing isoch USB, is that right?

I'm excited to see your setup in action when you have time to document it. I would also like to put together a guide to making the raspberry Pi solution work and get it up on the web site.

This also fires me up to complete v.2 of the touch detector.

Are you using the Linux Soundplane driver that Per Eckerdal came up with? That was created "on the way" to getting a Windows driver working, but we never got all the way there. If you need any kind of assistance or encouragement with the Windows work, let me know!

MEC seems like really interesting work and I can't wait to check it out.

Sat, Feb 11, 2017, 12:22

Thanks for the detailed feedback. I'm getting back to the Soundplane software now.

The first thing I'll be working on is the new touch detector. Hopefully this will improve CPU usage a lot, as well as the edge effects you are noticing.

A lot of these other things were on my list too, and now they all are.

I would like to improve Kyma support, but it's a bit slow for me to get feedback. Maybe I could get a loaner machine from Symbolic? I'll ask them after I can get some of these more major things under way.

Thu, Feb 09, 2017, 07:49

Thanks for the update. I'll try the most recent Reaper.

The fixed size refers to the block size used when processing audio. you should be able to set this to a fixed value in Reaper's audio device preferences. I just checked it out and I don't see the "fixed" language, so sorry for the confusion. That is from FL Studio, I had it mixed up. In Reaper it looks like you want to click "request buffer size" and enter a value like 256 or 512.

Wed, Feb 08, 2017, 10:50

The next Soundplanes will be Model Bs. There hasn't been much movement on it because I've been so focused on software here. Well, I do have the table saw set up. :-) I'll be excited to show pics of prototypes, etc when I can!

Wed, Feb 08, 2017, 07:00

Working on it here. There's no one big thing to fix, so I'm fixing 100 little things. I'll post a new beta soon.

Mon, Feb 06, 2017, 08:47

Thanks for the additional info. These hints may help me find a fix. The different methods may send events at different times—one is sample-accurate, for example.

Mon, Feb 06, 2017, 08:45

I would like to add this feature. It's on the list.

Thu, Feb 02, 2017, 18:32

No way to import / combine multiple files at once. This would be cool, but would take me a while to accomplish. At the end of the readme : http://madronalabs.com/media/kaivo/_read_me_first.txt
there's a short guide on putting together multi-channel files with Audacity, which is what I used to make them.

Tue, Jan 31, 2017, 11:37

Thanks much for the info! I hope this helps you out, Wells.

Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 09:32

Hi Wells, I've never had the chance to try Push so I'm guessing a bit here.

At one point I moved the location for presets from ~/Library/Plug-Ins/Audio/Presets/Aalto to ~/Music/Madrona Labs/Aalto. It's possible Push / Live are looking for presets in this old location. You could try moving some there to check.

You could also try the VST instead of the AU.

Do you know if Live is trying to load presets in .aupreset format? That's a custom AU thing I moved away from.

I'd like to make it work with Push, it's a cool piece of hardware, so I will look into this.

Thu, Jan 26, 2017, 12:03

Thanks. Please let me know if you can find any more information, such as one patch that this always seems to happen with.

I would not call this a crash, but rather an audio freeze. Not that it's not bad! I think this is likely the same issue as posted here under "Kaivo stops making sound suddenly." I'm working hard to track it down. Thanks for your patience.

Wed, Jan 25, 2017, 09:10

Thanks for the info, I'll see if I can find a difference between patches here in Reaper. It was working for me in Reaper for the last release so I'll be sure to update Reaper and see if that changes anything.

It is possible that you had the "fixed size buffers" setting on previously but the Reaper update changed that?

It's frustrating tracking these things down and at a certain point you can find things that look like patterns where there aren't any. It's possible that a bug only causes a symptom more or less randomly, so the difference in patches or the number of voices could be just the result of randomness (leftover stuff in memory, actually), and different next time.

Tue, Jan 24, 2017, 07:41

I think I know what you are talking about with these issues. I do have plans to do a pass on the sequencer and its UI for consistency / precision.

First I have to fix other problems that are affecting more people more dramatically, which you can read about on the forums here. So if you don't see a fix in the very next update don't lose heart, I'll get to the sequencer as soon as I can.

Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 11:06

Virta 1.0.1 is released.

This update fixes a problem with audio input for all DAWs on Windows. It is available in the "My Downloads" area if you have a license, and the demo has also been updated. The Mac OS version is unchanged from 1.0.0.

Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 08:56

OK, I'm having another look at this. It's one of only three issues I'm working on for the next release, so hopefully it won't be long.

Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 08:54

The Soundplane software will get another release ASAP. First I have an issue with Kyma support to take care of. This should be quick. Then I can work on the touch detector again. The new detector should be significantly less heavy in CPU than the old one. Efficiency was not a big concern at all for the initial Soundplane release, so i'm confident I can do better.

I have to get a bugfix release of the instruments out first. At that point I'll be back to the Soundplane full time.

Sun, Jan 22, 2017, 11:16

Sorry to hear that. I'm looking to the future here and will release a new free option before long.

Thu, Jan 19, 2017, 08:23

Thanks for the additional info. I can't duplicate this here, yet.

What patch are you using? Can you tell me a factory patch that will cause the problem there?

Also, if you are really on Virta 1.3.1b1, please use the 1.3.1 release version instead.

Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 09:44

This is something I can contemplate now that I don't have the watermarking...

Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 09:42

Good to hear! In a way it's a missed opportunity when a problem just mysteriously gets better though. Enjoy and if you have problems again, please get in touch.

Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 09:41

sorry for the delay, I missed this one. Yes, it's easy to patch velocity or aftertouch or anything to volume control using the GATE module.

Thu, Jan 12, 2017, 09:04

I should make more Soundplane-specific examples. Right now the way I approach a mellow Soundplane patch is often to start with one of the "aalto keys" patches and then change the modulation over to Soundplane.

The Factory patches, specifically keys and pads, really represent my best efforts at making things musical and mellow.

Fri, Apr 18, 2014, 11:29

Getting the most out of Kaivo

Kaivo makes a unique range of very realistic, physically tangible sounds. You can reach into its FDTD (finite-difference time-domain) models and touch them at different points, a playing experience that is tactile and physical. I've heard some great unsolicited feedback so far that I'm on the right track, stuff like: “beautiful and natural. Very strong sense of this being generated acoustically. A bit of musical uncanny valley.” And Kaivo is just getting rolling, with new models to come.

So far, so good. But as most people who have tried it know, Kaivo can be an absolute CPU hog. The FDTD models that sound so great are really demanding on the CPU. So I'm writing down some info about just why and how Kaivo crunches numbers that I hope will be interesting in its own right, and help you get more sounds out of your computer.

Always on

Like Aalto, and unlike most plugins, when you make an instance of Kaivo in a VST or AU host it is always running: all the algorithms are computing along at full tilt even though no sounds may be coming out. This feature lets you bring up the gate level manually or use Kaivo’s sequencer live without running the host, to play with sounds right in the plugin like you would on an analog modular system. This feature can be confusing if you’re not aware of it. I've had some feedback like “Kaivo had my CPU at 50% before I even played a note!” --- which sounds pretty scary, unless you realize that this is also the maximum it can use with the number of voices you have chosen.

The voices dial in the KEY section selects how many copies of Kaivo’s voice “circuitry” are running. So if you are stuck at 50% with 8 voices running, you can turn the voices dial down to 4 to get around half that CPU use. It won't be quite as low as half, because the BODY module is shared by all of the voices.

In short, reducing the number of voices is the surefire way to get sounds out of Kaivo on any recent computer. This may be obvious to some, but from feedback I've gotten I think it bears mentioning. A voice of Kaivo can be a very complex pad sound, or a rich solo sound like a frame drum with a moving contact point --- something you may only want one of in your mix anyway. Recall the first physical modeling synthesizers from Yamaha that were monophonic; history repeats itself.

Hard on the CPU, easy on RAM

Some people have asked if adding more RAM will help get more sounds out of Kaivo. One nice thing about physical modelling is that is hardly uses any RAM, compared to lots of other synthesis techniques. So while adding RAM may improve other aspects of your system such as the DAW and any sampler software, it will have little or no effect on Kaivo itself. With the exception of the granulator sources, all the sounds are calculated “in silico” --- lots and lots of computation on a very small amount of data.

One exception could be if you have added many sounds to the granulator’s source directory, in which case all of the source sounds will be loaded into RAM. Kaivo limits each source sound to eight seconds in length, making it unlikely that this will be a problem.

Slow graphics

The graphics in the plugin window may update slowly, which may seem wrong. But this is by design: when limited CPU resources are available, the graphics slow down on purpose to prevent audio glitches.

Like Aalto, Kaivo can make far more graphical demands on the system than a typical plugin with all its animated dials. Even though I use OpenGL do to the blitting (copying pixels to the screen), the dials are drawn in software using the CPU. This takes time away from other tasks like audio processing, and if the host is getting busy, it sensibly prioritizes audio over graphics. This will be especially noticeable if you've moved to a Mac with Retina Display, where Kaivo needs to push around four times the pixels as compared to an older machine.

I have a minor fix for the next Kaivo update that speeds up the output oscilloscope to match Aalto’s. In the future, I plan to move to drawing the graphics entirely in OpenGL, which should give a much smoother experience all around.

Turn off unused models

When either the resonators or the body is turned off, it does not use any CPU. Some of the factory patches don’t use any physical modeling at all! So if you want to play with just the granulator, select “none” for the resonators and body. There is a whole world of exploration to do with the granulator alone.

One way to get the most out of the granulator is by using the gate in “lopass” mode. In this mode the gate has a low pass filter (inspired by the mighty Buchla 292) engaged, which can give a lot of life and plonk and individuality to each voice.

The sounds come first

At Madrona Labs I’m taking on projects that are sonically exciting and technically demanding, with a very limited amount of resources. So it’s been my strategy to focus on sounds first, and release new projects as soon as they are both stable and showing off something new and exciting to the ears.

As I did with Aalto, I’ll optimize Kaivo more over time. One major change I plan to make in the future is to spread out the voices among the available computer cores. This should give Kaivo around twice as many voices (or half the CPU use) on any modern computer. 

I'm releasing a 1.1 update of Kaivo within a week. This won’t have multi-core processing, because that will take a lot of coding and testing. But it will have some minor CPU improvements and usability enhancements people requested, among them a much softer demo reminder sound.

So if you like Kaivo’s sounds but found the CPU use too high, please try some of these tips, and stay tuned for future versions.

Tue, Jan 10, 2017, 15:18

I hear you.