hardware and software for electronic music 

thetechnobear's Recent Posts

Tue, Sep 01, 2015, 05:07

There's also a Linux port in the works using libusb

is it possible to get a look at the 'work in progress' of this, I don't care if its working or not, its just I'm more familiar with libusb than the OS X api, so this would help me figure out the STM implementation.
(either send me a copy, or just chuck it in a branch in github and I can take a look from there)

Sun, Aug 30, 2015, 07:32

14 bit CC support added to Axoloti ... will be in next release (but can supply if required)
Ive also added 14 bit MPE support, using the Continuums low data CC number (85,86,87).
it uses the principles as described by Leepold H, to ensure we don't get stepping.

I also added 14 bit MPE support to my version of the soundplane client, only took about 15 minutes :)


MPE implementation

X - CC 85, used to extend PB to 21 bits, useful for large slide ranges (think 96 note continuum)
Y - CC 87, combines with CC 75 to give 14 bit
Z - CC 86, combines with channel pressure to give 14 bit

additional CC 14 bit support in Axoloti

new CC object, defaults to CC + 32 = low data

new CC object, specify CC for use with high and low data (useful where 14 bit 'standard' is not followed

Fri, Aug 28, 2015, 03:18

yeah, I plan to do the usb hosting, partly as once i figure out how to do iso for the SP, I can also then add the eigenharp, which has more complex surrounding code, as it needs to upload firmware etc (though no complexity with tracking etc)... so SP is a good start for me.

as for touch, yeah, my current 'assumption' is i will dedicate one board (F4 or F7) to USB handling/touch, and then initially spit out midi (including mpe) data, but Axoloti will also later have support an inter-board protocol so we can connect other boards in a ring (hardware support is there, just needs firmware support added)

(of course the low level code will be compatible with any STM32F4/7 chipset, not just axoloti)

so initially Axoloti will be a standalone midi bridge... (it has usb midi host and device, and midi din support) ... some people are also working on a CV interface which they have connected to a modular, so once thats finished we will get that 'for free' :)

see http://community.axoloti.com/t/euxoloti-for-axoloti-eurorack-module/100

if you checkout the forum you will see, we are seeing a lot of excitement / involvement.. and thats with I think about 60% of boards delivered, and many still 'finding their feed' with the platform - so looking promising.

(note: Im just an early contributor and a 'fan' of axoloti, no financial connection etc. but do think its got an exciting future :))

I'll keep you posted.

Fri, Aug 28, 2015, 03:03

DAWs tend to support 14 bit CC, which is cool for automation of VSTs (since this is don't using floats) , but this of course is not voice per channel.
u-he synths which support voice per channel, I think only do this for CCs and these are fixed and are 7bit only.

Its a good idea I'll add 14 bit support in Axoloti, for all midi modes, i.e. mono, poly, multi channel and mpe ... quite simple to do.
then I'll add it to my SP client.

useful as Axoloti, doesn't have OSC (as its usb/midi din) only... and also I know a few continuum users with Axoloti so they will appreciate it :)

Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 04:03

Hi @rsdio and @scottwilson
Id also be interested if any progress has been made on this...

Im interested in getting the SP to directly connect to Axoloti, which is based on STMF4 using Chibios + STM host lib (etc), I helped get the USB host midi working on Axoloti, so have some experience on this.

Ive now got a full debugging environment for axoloti, and I also have an F7 discovery board here,
so im setup to go... the only thing i don't have (as outrageously expensive) is a USB analyser

(Im also pretty familiar with the soundplane software)

I see there are two tasks:

a) writing USB level
I've look at the SP driver, doesn't look particular complex, main new thing for me is getting iso working on STM. (Ive done using libusb before, but not the STM lib)

b) touch tracker
Whilst the SP software may be portable, having done a bit of work on the STM32F4 now, Id be concerned that its going to be a bit heavy.
and of course there is potential to use the cortex instructions to significantly increase performance.
(this is no criticism to the SP code, code for a modern computer makes different compromises for when we come to footprint, efficiency, flexibility, readability ... as it has much more leeway)

as Ive already said to Randy, I'm happy doing (a) but to do a reasonable job of (b) is difficult, I could probably getting it tracking single touches ok, but thats useless (to me) , and going beyond that gets complex very quickly.

so I think (b) is where ML could really help out... as I assume you will need this for your eurorack module.. and the STM32F4 (or F7, which is compatible) is the most obvious choice.

perhaps we could collaborate?

Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 03:14

I think you still need to be a member of MMA to have seen the draft HD midi spec.
(unless someone here knows of a draft in the public domain?)

yeah, adding 14 bit CC to soundplane client is easy.
(mpe spec stupidly (imho) didn't cater for this... as at least continuum/eigenharp can already deal with it)

to be honest though, Ive not bothered adding it to my version of the soundplane client yet, simple because my experience with the eigenharp software (eigend) which does support 14bit, is very few synths support it.

Id be amazed if there are any hardware synths out there that can support 14 bit midi and voice per channel.

saying that, I can easily add this to Axoloti (axoloti.com) if there is a demand... i added mpe already, and I could do a 14 bit mpe extension, as well as a multi 14 bit version.

one 'issue' with the current soundplane software, is its really tight on UI space to put extra options, in my version, I've removed the buttons (like mpe/pressure) and replaced with a combo dropdown which allows me to switch between different mode (single w/ channel pressure, single w/ poly pressure, mpe, multi 11/74/76, multi cp/1/3 etc).

Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 04:41

@spunkytoofers, do you mean the arppegiator on the linnstrument?
(as you don't appear to be using the sequencer in this patch, so cant see its aalto)

if you mean there is a difference between using aalto with the linnstrument's arp on and off, Id say its most likely to be an issue with how the linnstruments arp code is working with MPE... i.e. Id talk to Geert.
(also he either has Aalto or can use the demo, so easy enough for him to test it out)

Id suspect (without looking at its code, and not having a linnstrument) its something to do with how the arp on the linnstrument is doing voice allocation, and sending the relevant pressures. (the difference in using an envelope is your using note_on gates, rather than channel pressure on the channel)

its a pity that we cannot blend the gate of the internal sequencer with Z, then you could just have your arp using the aalto sequencer.

(oh, for being able to choose the mixing mode on the inlets, and simple multiple would allow use to to this mixing, but the current add doesnt)

Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 04:19

Ok. Yes, I use a simple max patch that duplicate and route the OSC.

yeah, but we don't really want to be running multiple applications, not only creates overhead but also points for failure (and hassle setting up, e.g. remembering to start multiple things)

Now.. if Soundplane driver and tracker were placed into a Max external, then that would be very interesting, no overhead and the power to do whatever OSC mapping you want... or even just send MPE straight to a VST etc.

I did this with the Eigenharp driver, wasn't difficult, basically write a C to C++ layer, but we have all written these countless times, so not hard :) , and you have to be careful of threading in Max.

(again another reason to structure code, such that the low level stuff should be cross platform, not too heavy, so that it can be pulled out from the UI, and used in different contexts)

Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 11:24

Soundplane + Axoloti - hardware based MPE :)

here a video of some noodling using Axoloti, and my Soundplane (and also Eigenharp later).

Axoloti is a hardware board, a virtual modular programmed in a similar way to Max/Nord Modular, which you can then remove from the computer a play 'standalone', really fun and easy to use, and opens so many possibilities with the Soundplane.

I also implemented MPE (included in shipping) , and here I use Midi Expression (MPE) to control each voice independently, so we can do 'unusual' things like alter LFO rates per voice.... and of course 'normal stuff' like per voice control of vca/filter...

things we are 'used' to in Aalto/Kaivo, but now this is in hardware.

Axoloti Noodling video

Mon, Aug 03, 2015, 08:25

1.3 seems to be spamming my computer :)
it is broadcasting 16 touches continuously (with zero data) even when no touches are active ... whereas it used to only be sending data for active touches (and of course 'off')
not only creates more traffic, but more processing requirements on the client (as osc packet has to be parsed)

a bug I assume? ( as seems unnecessary)

Sat, Aug 01, 2015, 17:48

id like to be able to change midi port with a midi pedal :)

but osc port/midi channel and zone setup would all be useful

Ideally, what Id like is the midi output/osc output/zones (and transpose/quantise would be nice ) to be bundled as a 'setup', and then I could flip between these setups with program change messages :)

Wed, Jul 29, 2015, 17:05

good to see MPE support :)

small issue : pitch bend range is not changing when the soundplane tells it too via the NRPN

Wed, Jul 29, 2015, 15:28

1.3 ... like the splits, fun with Aalto! ... look forward to kaivo 1.2
btw: the note names are wrong, on at least split example 1, not checked others...
doesn't matter I will change the layout anyway, but perhaps might be worth correcting in a future release?

Thu, Jul 23, 2015, 03:20

email sent... thanks.
yeah, I suspect better TT/Calibration will help, but it may be spacing also plays a role.

touch tracker 'bug' -yeah I fully recognise why its doing it, the 'sucking in' is a really noticeable phenomena, but I think even that should be 'curtailed' to some distance (perhaps closer than the normal 'new touch'?) because this sucking in, if done too close will start generating ghosts notes as well.

I think the rule is 'reasonably' firm, you cannot have 2 notes that are closer than N, because once you get this, chaos follows pretty quickly, regardless of the original cause.
(e.g even if I slide two notes close together the TT will soon start having issues).

perhaps its possible, that perhaps N may be slightly different for different scenarios, e.g. sliding together (touch age?) or very new touches, or perhaps even touch thresholds.

but I look at it this way, I can get the SP into a position, where with one sustained touch, can be playing two (sustained) notes on adjacent cells... for me this is breaking a precondition... id be firing code asserts :)

you can see it in my video - https://www.dropbox.com/s/kkh009ykcd80u0d/SpCalib2.mov?dl=0 @ 0:50
ok, this is edge of the board, but I get this in the centre of the board too.

anyway, I only said an 'easy fix' as I thought it might be doing an additional inhibit check, but I do recognise the TT code is complex, and there are lots of 'use cases' so improving one thing, may make something else worst/stop working... so just an idea, one that you are in a much better position to judge, it could well be time much better spent on the new TT.

Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 11:13

Sorry, been busy trying to get Axoloti ready for its release :)

my soundplane, is #54 I guess from second batch? (yes from a guy in Norway)

Heat, agreed two SP is not much of a sample set, could be a wide variety of other things.
I guess my hypothesis is not so much about stretching, more that the rubber is warmer, and so is taking longer to return to rest state, which I think would lead to false touches, as the other touches are not properly released yet.
its hard to say if it is, but it does feel a bit more 'sluggish'... but perhaps Im imagining it :)

I tried recalibrating with a CD case to get an even pressure... and its different, but not really better.

I guess I'm still a bit vague on what I should use for extra spacing material, don't really have any spacer that I can think of, and not sure where to get some, but will have a look around... (perhaps I can order something online?)

one thing has struck me, that may be an 'easy temporary fix' for the touch tracker.
Its pretty obvious that the ghosts notes are usually just one cell from the actual touch, but this should be impossible as a new touch should not start within 1 cell range... its suppose to inhibit close touches... so this seems like it might actually be a small bug.

ok, it wont solve the issue of the tracking being out, but it might help reduce ghost notes, and also (in my experience) sometimes fixing such bugs can reveal other issues.

Sat, Jul 18, 2015, 04:45

If you want to intervene mechanically, adding a bit of material to the rightmost spacer bar will hold the sensor more tightly together, and should reduce the spreading

Im a little confused about this, Ive watched your disassembly video (a few times), but don't see any spacers... are you saying that you thing the two sensors boards could be separating slightly?

Im sure i will see if I open up, but kind of want to check what I need before I dive in :)

try normalizing again being sure to press very evenly. You can use an phone or a CD case for this!

this also confuses me a bit, really the difference between the first step (with palm) and second.. are they calibrating different things? It would I think be useful to know a little more about this.

as Ive mentioned before, I do wonder if an 'editor' for the calibrated data would be useful,
perhaps were we could select regions, and increase/decrease/smooth out the difference, and retry... I know it could be fiddly and perhaps would need good 'explanations' to stop fumbling around in the dark.

but one of the problems Ive had in the past is, I have an issue, so recalibrate, it fixes one area of the board, but another gets worst. (so sometimes I have lived with a bad area of the board, getting a worst compromise)

You could just wait and accept the ghost notes into your life until the next software update. I am sure that they will be improved by the next touch tracker. Meanwhile the thing with ghost notes is that they are tiny, so when using direct envelope control via z they may not even be heard.

ghosts notes, true to some extent,it is more the tracking thats my main issue. and in some ways I have lived with it till now (its always existed to some extent), but its just got to a point where its pretty hard to play... it not very gratifying playing an instrument that doesn't have consistent/repeatable behaviour, which is pretty fundamental for any instrument (imho)

I'm eager to work on the new touch tracker, but meanwhile I also need to release another plugin.

Yeah, I recognise this, bills to be paid and all that :) same for all of us, and of course there is only so much one man can do at a time. so fully appreciate priorities etc.

I only hope this can receive some future priority, against all the calls for new versions of Aalto/ Kaivo/ new plugin/ Modular interface... which perhaps generate more revenue, than software that is given away free and has less than 100 users (albeit its part of an expensive hardware product)

Id dive into the touch tracking software myself, but frankly, when I checked it out, its obvious the amount of knowledge/experience you have built up in this area, my efforts are pretty futile by comparison... a few hours of your time, are worth hundreds on mine.

So I hope some of these tips give you something to chew on, and I'll thank you in advance for your patience.

Of course, I will try... as Ive said (repeatedly) , I love playing the soundplane, its a wonderful experience and its noticeable how much its teaching me too, so I really don't want to put it away until it cooler (3+ months here) or a newer software version is out.

anything I can do in the meantime I will definitely try, and of course try to be patience :)
(let me know about the spacer / calibration and I will look into this.)

thanks for your help

Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 07:52

oops realised that was the dev version... anyway same on production version,
this is with 1.2.5, just some general movements, showing edge issues, and also how its also not predicable with intervals.

(I play intervals like this, as not enough room to do horizontal, and this formation prevents having to play adjacent cells ... and I don't like playing in row 1/5 which I find has less Y range, and can be more unpredictable.)

Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 07:36

ok, uploaded a video as you requested... here : https://www.dropbox.com/s/ocr32uct37mk5iy/SpCalibIssue.mov?dl=0

(fyi, here is a picture of the calibration

I ran my finger over row 1 , then 5, 2,3,4 (and then over the end columns) as evenly as possible.

you can see some unevenness, and in particular around column 26 (in all rows), which is noticeably,when playing, more sensitive that any where else on the board.

the I switch to touch mode.and first play a M7 interval (carefully centred on both cells!) (so 1 up, and across), you can see the root is okay(ish) but the G is half a cell away, and this typically will randomly choose between the D and G... so its unpredictable... also of course even if it is the right note... its now got Y = 0, what I played was Y=0.5

after this i just play D and G, and you can clearly see the ghosts notes firing...
(Ive tried with higher thresh, but it doesn't make any difference unless its at about 0.022, which means you have to almost hammer notes, no subtlety.

Ive tried manually altering template, usually it calcuales around 0.3, but I've tried much lower and much higher, again which no perceptible difference in getting reliable touches.

Ive watched the videos of you opening.. but looks easy enough, but not tried myself as wouldn't really know what to adjust or how to make it better :)

Thu, Jul 16, 2015, 04:00

FYI, after a request for the T3D macro, Ive added a newer version to the Reaktor User Library T3D OSC macro

Wed, Jun 03, 2015, 11:32

Adding per note expression to Reaktor using T3d

In this video I show how to add per note expression to Geetar (Chet Singer) and NI Sparks, but the techniques are applicable to most polyphonic Reaktor ensembles.
and there are lots of those, so this opens up a rich selection of expressive synths for us to use with the Soundplane

Expressive Reaktor video

Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 10:41

"some way to offset / scale the data more easily after it comes from the source"

+1 ... and also to mix multiple inputs too.

Bazille/Ace have quite a nice MOD module that can do this kind of thing.

uhe's are quite big because of the dials, but with your dials on the inlets, you could actually have quite a small module.
( though the issue is, the patch bay is where the big space restriction is I guess at he moment, so more input is going to be hard to find space for)

perhaps some kind of pop up control on the inlet, that allows mix/scale/offset, for the few occasions its really useful. (I know not clean UI, but takes no additional space)

Thu, May 28, 2015, 13:30

Oscillot for the Soundplane

Oscillot (Max4Live/Ableton) is alot of fun, and is developing quite nicely...

its a virtual modular that runs within Ableton usually driven by midi,
but I wanted to have some voice per channel goodness, something often lacking in Ableton, so... Ive created my own Oscillot Soundplane object which you can use instead to get up to 6 independent voices... works really nicely :)

Oscillot for the Soundplane

Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 07:00

Interesting read, I think haptic feedback could be a really interesting extension for expressive music controllers.

Mon, Jun 15, 2015, 16:24

Thats a really nice idea, using the soundplane surface to 'open a portal' into the sound that is underneath... not something I would have thought of, and gets your mind racing with ideas :)

look forward to hearing/seeing more :)

Mon, Jun 15, 2015, 05:10

Thanks Randy... really loving the Soundplane (and Aalto!) its so enjoyable to sit down and noodle and experiment with, and just see what it brings to you :)

Sun, Dec 07, 2014, 14:14

soundplane + aalto, a first go...

So, had my soundplane for a few days, so decided to put something simple together using Aalto (which makes anything sound great) to show my lowly starting point.

you tube video - Soundplane#1

my plan is to produce regular videos (as I've done with the eigenharp), so I can show my progress over time.

Mon, Jun 15, 2015, 05:06

very interesting performances... Id be really interested to know how in Juglans you are getting the different sounds, sometimes seems to be percussive and other times orchestral, but I cant see how you move between them :)
"Chantepleure pour une planche à sons" is very dynamic, and I love the way your interacting with the sounds through the soundplanes surface.

Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 11:55

ok, been too long in between, but put together something else this afternoon

If only, YouTube

Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 08:02

I own a Soundplane (and an Eigenharp Alpha) but not a Continuum, however I was recently lucky enough have an opportunity to play with a Continuum for a few hours , and explore it... (so some of this may not be 100% accurate, and consider as an 'initial' impression)

First Id say... they are completely different instruments, each has its own merits, both are fantastically made by people who are passionate about what they do.

because of this its 'dangerous' to compare, by 'specs' alone, the feel and the way you play with each is quite each is different, and because both are so expressive, this will come across in the music.

the most obvious difference is the feel, the Soundplane has a wooden easy gliding surface, which gives a little bit... the Continuum a very soft surface which you can really dig into. (the newest models are very sensitive on the surface too).
Neither is better or worst, just different...
Id say I preferred the Soundplane BUT I believe that was due to familiarity - Ive really no idea, if after a month it would still be the case... I think, probably Id end up thinking both have there merits. (my friend who owns the continuum, really liked the soundplane too)

one thing, that is very surprising, is the surface area of the Soundplane is close to the size of the (half size) continuum ... yes the continuum has 44 notes, and the Soundplane 30 cells, BUT the cells on the Soundplane are quite a bit wider. In fact, I was quite surprised how narrow the stripes were on the continuum.
(again no issues either way, but was a surprise to all, when we put them side by side)

and yes, I do love the grid nature of the Soundplane, to give you a bigger note range... or you can use it as 30 'long' keys like a continuum, best of both worlds :)

Next big difference - the continuum is completely standalone, no computer required (assuming you are talking a newer one, which includes the DSP), as well as MIDI output (unfortunately only MIDI DIN, oh it also has CV output)
the Soundplane requires a computer (currently Mac), initially might seem a disadvantage, but it does have the advantage of 'flexibility' which I like (its also open source software)

both Soundplane and Continuum have good midi options, so called 'voice per channel' midi, done in the same way... and yes you can connect to any synth.
additionally the Soundplane has OSC which has many advantages (resolution/speed) , but is not frequently supported.

assuming its a newer continuum, then it has a built in sound generator, which produces some 'native' sounds, and also the Eagan Matrix.
You almost certainly have been hearing the EaganMatrix, which frankly, is fantastic!
The reason for this, is Edmund Eagan has produced (100+ ?) presets which are built explicitly for the continuum, and make use of its x/y/z very intricately, its his skill in building these presets which is amazing, they aren't built as normal synths sounds and then added expression... the expression is the starting point!
( It does seem though, that the Eagan Matrix seems pretty complex to program yourself, and even seasoned Continuum players are over the moon when Edmund releases new presets)

Is this possible with the Soundplane?
the short answer is yes, but you will have to build the presets yourself.

there is no lack of synths to do this with, and you can connect anything...
the obvious choice are Madrona Labs Aaalto and Kaivo (Aalto you get with a Soundplane),
also I can recommend most of U-HE synths (Bazille/Ace are really fun), also Reaktor is great fun too and something I'm using more recently.

the only 'drawback' is we don't seem to have many people sharing Soundplane specific presets, and it takes a bit of learning, to come up with ones that are good... let alone to the level of detail that Edmund Eagan has put into his.

Im actually seeing this as a challenge, and have started working hard on building some more complex patches, trying to use Edmunds approach of using expression as the corner stone... lots to learn, but its a fun journey into sound design!

So fundamentally the Soundplane can 'sound' as good as the Continuum, but the Continuum has an built-in sound engine which shows it off really well.

(BTW, you can actually plug a Soundplane into a Continuum and play the EagenMatrix synth... we didn't get around to trying this, but my friend has plugged his Eigenharp into it, and it worked well)

a parting thought...
the soundplane is connected by a single USB cable to my computer, and is compact (and slim), this means it permanently lives in front of me on my desk. which means I use it all the time... I think sometimes just its look makes me want to touch and play it.
Ive been very surprised how often I just start noodling with it unconsciously... my Eigenharp has been getting jealous :)

I doubt that would be the case with the continuum (due to its depth/connections etc), which Id probably put on a stand like my other synth...

anyway back to the beginning... seriously they are really different, each with its merits, each having a different approach... if you can try both that would be ideal

I would be happy with either/both... in the same way as my Soundplane and Eigenharp complement each other rather then compete.

(sorry for long essay :))

(p.s. of course I've not mentioned the price difference which is quite large... but you know that already :))

Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 07:10

ok, with quantisation ON,
when you slide it will slide automatically to a quantised note.
the portamento dial helps control the rate of the slide, so that you get a smooth slide (so no bumps unless you you set it to 0). the vibrato control allows you to adjust the amount of 'movement' within a cell.

(there is also a note-lock and glissando feature)
it actually works well, and when using quantised, I leave on defaults and its great.

I believe (and it feels like) if you turn quantising off, then vibrato/portamento have no effect, as you can obviously control this directly (as quantisation is not 'interfering'

yes, both X and Y (and Z) are completely continuous.

One thing to be aware, y is not note quantised.
i.e. if you have the SP in 'rows in fourth mode', i.e. tuned like a guitar,
you don't slide UP/DOWN for notes, only across ...
this makes sense... as you are using y for timbre control, so it wouldn't make sense to slide to the cell above/below.

so like the continuum, Y is never quantised.

the continuum has a slightly different note quantisation 'modes', its probably best to read the manual to understand them. (explains better than I can), but in practice they are similar.

Im planning on making a small addition to the Soundplane software (its awesome that its open source, so we can make our own mods), which will allow for a 'percentage' of quantisation, rather than just on/off. This the continuum allows, and I think could be useful, particularly when you start to learn to play un-quantised. (as i am at the moment)

so summary, soundplane and continuum, have slightly different models, but to the musicians /end result - I think they are pretty similar, and both even with quantisation on, you cant really hear it... except that you are always in tune :)