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Phil Sonic Academy
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465 posts since 9 Aug, 2006

Postby Phil Sonic Academy; Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:23 am Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

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Hi Folks,

We are trying to gauge interest in a universal synth remote. We've been working on this in secret for a couple of years and are starting to gear up for the next phase.

It currently works in Abelton (Logic in the works and looking promising) and maps your plugins automatically to the controls on the hardware.. no wrappers or wrapper plugin stuff (just lots of back end magic by really smart guys)... it works natively with your plugins in their current state.

So far we have it working with ANA 1, ANA 2, Diva, Sylenth, Spire, Serum.. it can me mapped to any plugins that show the right automation parameters. We just have to create a special mapping file for each synth.

I have to say its a pretty magical experience controlling Diva then jumping to ANA or Sylenth and everything just maps properly.

We are pretty far along in the project.. we have prototype hardware and back end working in Ableton and Logic is in development and looking promising. We will be launching a kickstarted soonish and just want to gauge interest.

Let me know your thoughts and questions... also click the link of you want to be kept up to date with development and future kickstarter etc. http://eepurl.com/cSM92P
Last edited by Phil Sonic Academy on Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Phil Sonic Academy
KVRist
 
465 posts since 9 Aug, 2006

Postby Phil Sonic Academy; Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:21 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

oh and here is the first prototype... still early days.. will look like the renders when we are done.
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Funkybot's Evil Twin
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5309 posts since 15 Aug, 2006

Postby Funkybot's Evil Twin; Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:48 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

I'd be less interested in automatic mapping, and more interested in just having lots of knobs in a well laid-out manner + a keyboard! I recently bought a Roland System-8 for the same reason you guys (and possibly gals) are building this: I wanted something with a TON of realtime controls that I could map to all my soft synths. I don't mind doing the initial mapping myself but I'd be suspicious of any auto-mapping features because I've never seen it implemented in a way that improves upon what I could do on my own in a half hour.

Also, I would definitely avoid anything that was tied to a DAW. Gear that's too closely tied to any single (or even multiple) DAWs is gear that 1) has a limited market, and 2) is more likely to abandoned over time (turning it into a brick). Just give me good ole fashioned, DAW-agnostic MIDI CC's with plug and play drivers and it'd be the kind of thing I'd consider.

I'd like to see more about how the Osc section will work. The System 8 is great in that there's plenty of controls in the Osc section, up until you get to the Sub Osc/Osc3, which only has a few knobs. If you just took the knobs in the osc section, kept only a few buttons, and then multiplied that to simulate three oscs, I'd be much more interested. I own far more synths with 3 oscs than 2 filter sections after all.

What you're doing definitely looks cool though. If it were out last fall, I would have considered it. It would've been perfect for my needs if it had:

1. A keyboard with pitch and mod wheels, preferably aftertouch (and sustain and expression inputs in the back)
2. A smaller osc section, with a handful of knobs and buttons, then multipled that by 3 to create 3 oscs
3. An LFO waveform knob

Any idea on the price? I spent approximately $1,500 USD for the Roland System-8 because it best met my universal synth controller needs at the time, and also happened to have a built in synth engine. Without a keyboard, no synth engine, etc., I'd think you'd want to target under a grand US.

Also, no wood panels? Some nice tung stained walnut panels would be a nice touch IMO. Anyway, really cool looking product you're cooking up. Having enough knobs to have good, tactile control of VSTi's had made me feel like I'm a musician, making music with instruments, versus some guy putzing around on a computer. The more products we can get that fill that niche, the better!
Funkybot's Evil Twin
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5309 posts since 15 Aug, 2006

Postby Funkybot's Evil Twin; Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:00 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

Also, you said, "we just have to create a special mapping file for each synth." I'd hope that by the time you go live, users will be able to do the mapping themselves via an editor and/or we could always map good old fashioned MIDI CC's. I'd avoid any product that needed the developer to do mapping for me.

Wish you the best of luck with this. Looks cool.
darksynth
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42 posts since 5 Jun, 2017

Postby darksynth; Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:09 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

fantastic idea.
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Michael L
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2184 posts since 25 Jan, 2014, from the End of the World as we Knowit

Postby Michael L; Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:14 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

Better-workflow-controllers are needed! Just to help, in what ways is this an improvement over a Novation SL keyboard with/without Automap software, or a Faderfox UC44 Universal Controller? (It also resembles the discontinued Zero SL and Livid Ohm)
Suggestion: if knobs/buttons/slider groups could be user-labeled it would be distinctive.
ghettosynth
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10855 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:24 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

I think the thread title is a bit over the top.

Beyond that, I've long been over this idea. It's the little differences that matter between synths and controllers like this simply won't map them in a universal way. For programming, I don't find controllers to be as much help, and for performance, I will have to do mapping anyway for some aspects.
Last edited by ghettosynth on Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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layzer
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5247 posts since 11 Jun, 2006

Postby layzer; Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:55 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

controlling vst synths with a mouse is still the best way IMHO,
but this might be good for live performers.
HW SYNTHS [KORG T2EX - AKAI AX80 - YAMAHA SY77 - ENSONIQ VFX]
HW MODULES [OBi M1000 - ROLAND MKS-50 - ROLAND JV880 - KURZ 1000PX]
SW [CHARLATAN - OBXD - OXE - ELEKTRO - MICROTERA - M1 - SURGE - RMiV]
DAW [ENERGY XT2/1U RACK WINXP / MAUDIO 1010LT PCI]
Funkybot's Evil Twin
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5309 posts since 15 Aug, 2006

Postby Funkybot's Evil Twin; Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:30 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

layzer wrote:controlling vst synths with a mouse is still the best way IMHO,
but this might be good for lifve performers.


Couldn't disagree more. Having a good controller setup has been a huge boon to my synth programming, recording and composition.
Richard deHove
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258 posts since 22 Mar, 2016

Postby Richard deHove; Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:48 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

A set synth layout of knobs and sliders with painted-on lines for 'sections' isn't very useful imo. No 'typical layout' of knobs and sliders is actually going to fit many synths at all. Almost every synth has something extra in one of the basic sections which means those knobs will have to be assigned somewhere odd.

I think it'd be much better to have a simple grid and to make the (lighted) dividing lines and boxes able to be a user-defined area. That way you could put things into your own logical groups of controls with a border. Even better if were possible to have a lit label on top, eg Osc 1, Amp EG, filter 1 EG etc
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bmanic
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7941 posts since 3 Feb, 2003, from Finland, Espoo

Postby bmanic; Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:08 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

The most annoying thing about most controllers is that it is difficult to do fine tuning of parameters. Most controllers simply jump through too large values and have too little resolution.

I've been waiting for decades for somebody to realize this and actually program an intelligent controller that works like the virtual knobs of FabFilter plugins. If you turn the knobs slowly you get super fine tuned small values and the more you ramp up the "speed" of your tweaking, the larger the value jumps are. This is tricky to finetune properly and I know for a fact that FabFilter worked very hard on this aspect alone.

If somebody did this intelligent scaling knobs for real in hardware and was able to translate this to plugins then I'd be all over it. Novation are sort of doing it but even at very low speeds the values are still too coarse in many critical applications (like finetuning FM modulation depth or any other parameter that has huge sonic changes with tiny value changes).

Mapping isn't a big deal in my opinion any more.. most DAW's and VSTi plugins have easy built in mapping that saves with the preset. If you want to automate something that isn't mapped it usually takes about 5 to 10 seconds to remap it.
"I'm not trying to be anyone's savior. I'm just trying to think about the future and not be sad." - Elon Musk, TED talk April 2017
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pdxindy
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13192 posts since 2 Feb, 2005, from in the wilds

Postby pdxindy; Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:38 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

bmanic wrote:The most annoying thing about most controllers is that it is difficult to do fine tuning of parameters. Most controllers simply jump through too large values and have too little resolution.

I've been waiting for decades for somebody to realize this and actually program an intelligent controller that works like the virtual knobs of FabFilter plugins. If you turn the knobs slowly you get super fine tuned small values and the more you ramp up the "speed" of your tweaking, the larger the value jumps are. This is tricky to finetune properly and I know for a fact that FabFilter worked very hard on this aspect alone.

If somebody did this intelligent scaling knobs for real in hardware and was able to translate this to plugins then I'd be all over it. Novation are sort of doing it but even at very low speeds the values are still too coarse in many critical applications (like finetuning FM modulation depth or any other parameter that has huge sonic changes with tiny value changes).

Mapping isn't a big deal in my opinion any more.. most DAW's and VSTi plugins have easy built in mapping that saves with the preset. If you want to automate something that isn't mapped it usually takes about 5 to 10 seconds to remap it.


I've never used any knobs that scaled by speed. I do have a couple Elektron boxes and with those, the knobs are fine by default, and then you push them down/in and get coarse. That works pretty well.
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pdxindy
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13192 posts since 2 Feb, 2005, from in the wilds

Postby pdxindy; Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:47 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

Funkybot's Evil Twin wrote:
layzer wrote:controlling vst synths with a mouse is still the best way IMHO,
but this might be good for lifve performers.


Couldn't disagree more. Having a good controller setup has been a huge boon to my synth programming, recording and composition.


I have yet to see any controller setup that comes close to the mouse for speed and fluid use.

Even a relatively simple synth like RePro-1, how would you program the sequencer? And something complex like Bazille, forget it. The mouse is easily 10x faster. Then for synths like Serum or Zebra where you can draw waveforms, it is just not even a practical possibility.
Cinebient
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3372 posts since 16 Nov, 2014

Postby Cinebient; Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:35 pm Re: OMG Finally!!! Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

layzer wrote:controlling vst synths with a mouse is still the best way IMHO,
but this might be good for live performers.


Sometimes. I find touch screens the best for live changing of parameters. I also can change several parameters at the same.
But fine editing is way better with a mouse (or pencil/stylus), otherwise it's damn boring and annoying.
machinesworking
KVRian
 
1249 posts since 15 Aug, 2003, from seattle

Postby machinesworking; Thu Jun 15, 2017 11:44 pm Re: Universal Synth Remote - VSTi midi Control

Phil Sonic Academy wrote:So far we have it working with ANA 1, ANA 2, Diva, Sylenth, Spire, Serum.. it can me mapped to any plugins that show the right automation parameters. We just have to create a special mapping file for each synth.

Throw out something like Zebra 2, Reaktor, Falcon etc. then you have me interested.
The problem with universal controllers was obvious to me with Novation and Automap. Regardless of the LED screen, the sheer menu diving and pecking with these hundreds of parameter synths made mousing seem like a dream come true. Solve that and you're halfway there.

Looks great for the 127 parameter or so analog emulator synths though.
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