Roli Equator released

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
Cinebient
KVRAF
3983 posts since 16 Nov, 2014

Post Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:56 am

Ah_Dziz wrote:Bitwig has the best integration so if I'm planning on using lots of MPE stuff that's what I use. Cubase can use its "note expression" for MPE and it works quite well. The editing is a bit less straightforward.
Disagree, Logic is better here....at least for me :D

Echoes in the Attic
KVRAF
6330 posts since 12 May, 2008

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:03 am

Bitwig is ok but it's a silly implementation of mpe support. It disregards the midi channel that was actually played in and cycles them on playback. So this means for example that if you play a note and lift it before hitting another one but the release phase continues, they will play on the same channel since bitwig plays the lowest midi channel available for any non-overlapping by notes. This can result in expression being applied to more than one note if the release of a previous note is still heard. Also if the midi channel matters like using a linnstrument in channel per row mode (useful for guitars or instruments that trigger legato per row on the same channel for example), bitwig doesn't store the channel so it doesn't playback the same. It's a bummer. Every other daw that supports mpe stores the actual midi channel with the note. With bitwig you can't even use separate tracks per channel because you can't set the midi channel per track like you can in Ableton so there are actually some things you can do in Ableton that you can't do in bitwig.

Tracktion waveform actually comes with the seaboards even the block version and it looks pretty good for mpe actually.
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Ah_Dziz
KVRAF
2458 posts since 2 Jul, 2005

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:48 am

Cinebient wrote:
Ah_Dziz wrote:Bitwig has the best integration so if I'm planning on using lots of MPE stuff that's what I use. Cubase can use its "note expression" for MPE and it works quite well. The editing is a bit less straightforward.
Disagree, Logic is better here....at least for me :D
I'd still be using logic if had stayed cross platform. Since I don't have it I can't speak to its MPE implementation.
Don't F**K with Mr. Zero.

Echoes in the Attic
KVRAF
6330 posts since 12 May, 2008

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:51 am

Ah_Dziz wrote:
Cinebient wrote:
Ah_Dziz wrote:Bitwig has the best integration so if I'm planning on using lots of MPE stuff that's what I use. Cubase can use its "note expression" for MPE and it works quite well. The editing is a bit less straightforward.
Disagree, Logic is better here....at least for me :D
I'd still be using logic if had stayed cross platform. Since I don't have it I can't speak to its MPE implementation.
Logic, Cubase, Tracktion, Reaper - All better MPE implementations than Bitwig (unfortunately as I'm a Bitwig user)

Another issue with bitwig MPE is that some synths in MPE mode can't be played monophonically, like U-He synths. Well technically they are mono but mono per channel, but all channels are available to be played simultaneously. If you play in MPE on a single channel in order to play mono and trigger legato for example, Bitwig forgets the channels and rotates them on playback when they overlap and you lose that and have overlapping polyphonic notes instead. This isn't the case for all synths, it depends how they implement it (some have a mono mode that works across all channels), but there are actually advantages to being able to play mono or poly per channel.
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aMUSEd
KVRAF
30498 posts since 14 Sep, 2002 from In teh net

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:40 am

Cinebient wrote:
Ah_Dziz wrote:Bitwig has the best integration so if I'm planning on using lots of MPE stuff that's what I use. Cubase can use its "note expression" for MPE and it works quite well. The editing is a bit less straightforward.
Disagree, Logic is better here....at least for me :D
I didn't realise Logic supported this now. Why is it better?

lastmessiah
KVRist
65 posts since 23 Aug, 2017

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:13 am

Echoes in the Attic wrote:Bitwig is ok but it's a silly implementation of mpe support. It disregards the midi channel that was actually played in and cycles them on playback. So this means for example that if you play a note and lift it before hitting another one but the release phase continues, they will play on the same channel since bitwig plays the lowest midi channel available for any non-overlapping by notes. This can result in expression being applied to more than one note if the release of a previous note is still heard. Also if the midi channel matters like using a linnstrument in channel per row mode (useful for guitars or instruments that trigger legato per row on the same channel for example), bitwig doesn't store the channel so it doesn't playback the same. It's a bummer. Every other daw that supports mpe stores the actual midi channel with the note. With bitwig you can't even use separate tracks per channel because you can't set the midi channel per track like you can in Ableton so there are actually some things you can do in Ableton that you can't do in bitwig.

Tracktion waveform actually comes with the seaboards even the block version and it looks pretty good for mpe actually.
I didn't realize this was the case. I was planning on upgrading to Bitwig Studio...

I'm not sure I follow you entirely though...I guess I would have to see it in action to get a clear understanding.

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pdxindy
KVRAF
14775 posts since 3 Feb, 2005 from in the wilds

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:30 am

Cinebient wrote:
Ah_Dziz wrote:Bitwig has the best integration so if I'm planning on using lots of MPE stuff that's what I use. Cubase can use its "note expression" for MPE and it works quite well. The editing is a bit less straightforward.
Disagree, Logic is better here....at least for me :D
I stopped using Bitwig once I purchased a Linnstrument. Since it does not store midi channel per note, you cannot reliably play back what you recorded. You also cannot export the midi performance as you played it. It is also not as flexible for setup.

Logic is a complete implementation for MPE and Linnstrument while Bitwig is only partially implemented. Since u-he synths do not support CC#74 for timbre, I can just change timbre (Y axis) to a different CC# (breath for example) on the Linnstrument and Logic handles that just fine. Bitwig doesn't. So u-he synths are fully MPE capable on Logic, but not Bitwig.

Logic just works as I expect and has the flexibility to deal with a spec still in its infancy and the various modes possible on the Linnstrument.

Echoes in the Attic
KVRAF
6330 posts since 12 May, 2008

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:02 pm

lastmessiah wrote:
Echoes in the Attic wrote:Bitwig is ok but it's a silly implementation of mpe support. It disregards the midi channel that was actually played in and cycles them on playback. So this means for example that if you play a note and lift it before hitting another one but the release phase continues, they will play on the same channel since bitwig plays the lowest midi channel available for any non-overlapping by notes. This can result in expression being applied to more than one note if the release of a previous note is still heard. Also if the midi channel matters like using a linnstrument in channel per row mode (useful for guitars or instruments that trigger legato per row on the same channel for example), bitwig doesn't store the channel so it doesn't playback the same. It's a bummer. Every other daw that supports mpe stores the actual midi channel with the note. With bitwig you can't even use separate tracks per channel because you can't set the midi channel per track like you can in Ableton so there are actually some things you can do in Ableton that you can't do in bitwig.

Tracktion waveform actually comes with the seaboards even the block version and it looks pretty good for mpe actually.
I didn't realize this was the case. I was planning on upgrading to Bitwig Studio...

I'm not sure I follow you entirely though...I guess I would have to see it in action to get a clear understanding.
Their implementation might not bother you, but like pdxindy said above, Bitwig does not store the midi channel with the midi note. When you record into bitwig with something like a seaboard or linnstrument, each note is sent on a specific channel, depending on how it's set up. It might rotate each note continuously, or you could tell it to play on just one channel. But unlike all other hosts, Bitwig does not store the channel the note was received, meaning it won't necessarily play back the same. For most MPE sounds it won't matter much but there are many instances where it does matter. I indicated a couple examples like the linnstrument having a mode where each row can be on it's own channel instead of rotating all notes. This lets you use things like legato for synth for notes played overlapping on the same row, while being able to play polyphonically with different rows. Not just for synths, this could be great for guitar sounds with kontakt, where you have several copies in kontakt, one per channel, and then you can still trigger hammer-on and hammer-offs for instruments that have it on the same row, but play chords with notes on different rows. So bitwig does not store the channel and all this behavior is lost on playback. It just rotates the channels and screws it up. The other example was for synths that don't have an overall mono mode when in used with mpe like u-he synths or falcon. If you want to play a monophonic sound but still use your mpe expressions, you need to send over a single channel. But bitwig again won't remember the data being sent over one channel and will rotate them again, and those instruments will play polyphonically instead of in mono. The other thing I've noticed is when I've had a polyphonic synth sound with a long tail. If you release a note before playing another one and then quickly do some expression on that second note, those expressions will apply to both notes, because the midi doesn't overlap in bitwig so they get sent on the same channel. This can be super annoying and obvious if you play a note and lift off and play another one which you pitch bend right away. On playback the tail of the previous note gets bent along with the second note.

I'm sure there are other examples where it can mess things up, but those are what I've come across.
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senobrd
KVRer
1 posts since 1 Sep, 2017

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:59 pm

Echoes in the Attic wrote:
lastmessiah wrote:
Echoes in the Attic wrote:Bitwig is ok but it's a silly implementation of mpe support. It disregards the midi channel that was actually played in and cycles them on playback. So this means for example that if you play a note and lift it before hitting another one but the release phase continues, they will play on the same channel since bitwig plays the lowest midi channel available for any non-overlapping by notes. This can result in expression being applied to more than one note if the release of a previous note is still heard. Also if the midi channel matters like using a linnstrument in channel per row mode (useful for guitars or instruments that trigger legato per row on the same channel for example), bitwig doesn't store the channel so it doesn't playback the same. It's a bummer. Every other daw that supports mpe stores the actual midi channel with the note. With bitwig you can't even use separate tracks per channel because you can't set the midi channel per track like you can in Ableton so there are actually some things you can do in Ableton that you can't do in bitwig.

Tracktion waveform actually comes with the seaboards even the block version and it looks pretty good for mpe actually.
I didn't realize this was the case. I was planning on upgrading to Bitwig Studio...

I'm not sure I follow you entirely though...I guess I would have to see it in action to get a clear understanding.
Their implementation might not bother you, but like pdxindy said above, Bitwig does not store the midi channel with the midi note. When you record into bitwig with something like a seaboard or linnstrument, each note is sent on a specific channel, depending on how it's set up. It might rotate each note continuously, or you could tell it to play on just one channel. But unlike all other hosts, Bitwig does not store the channel the note was received, meaning it won't necessarily play back the same. For most MPE sounds it won't matter much but there are many instances where it does matter. I indicated a couple examples like the linnstrument having a mode where each row can be on it's own channel instead of rotating all notes. This lets you use things like legato for synth for notes played overlapping on the same row, while being able to play polyphonically with different rows. Not just for synths, this could be great for guitar sounds with kontakt, where you have several copies in kontakt, one per channel, and then you can still trigger hammer-on and hammer-offs for instruments that have it on the same row, but play chords with notes on different rows. So bitwig does not store the channel and all this behavior is lost on playback. It just rotates the channels and screws it up. The other example was for synths that don't have an overall mono mode when in used with mpe like u-he synths or falcon. If you want to play a monophonic sound but still use your mpe expressions, you need to send over a single channel. But bitwig again won't remember the data being sent over one channel and will rotate them again, and those instruments will play polyphonically instead of in mono. The other thing I've noticed is when I've had a polyphonic synth sound with a long tail. If you release a note before playing another one and then quickly do some expression on that second note, those expressions will apply to both notes, because the midi doesn't overlap in bitwig so they get sent on the same channel. This can be super annoying and obvious if you play a note and lift off and play another one which you pitch bend right away. On playback the tail of the previous note gets bent along with the second note.

I'm sure there are other examples where it can mess things up, but those are what I've come across.
Echos in the Attic and others are mostly correct, I just wanted to clarify a few things and also add a few more pros and cons of MPE in Bitwig (in its current version). Info on MPE is hard to come by.

1. Bitwig does, indeed, re-map MIDI channels for MPE and will not store the original channel that was sent. It does not, however, "rotate" the channels as was said above. Bitwig uses a specific implementation of MPE in which:
regardless of which channels are coming in they will always be sent as:
first note-on -> ch. 2
if ch. 2 does not receive a note-off message: second note-on message -> ch. 3
if ch. 2 does receive a note-off message: second note-on message -> ch. 2
So holding a chord with 4 notes will always be channels 2, 3, 4, and 5. Playing one note at a time will always be on channel 2. etc. Channel 1 is reserved for global messages.

In some ways this can actually be very advantageous:
- It allows for seamless MPE overdubbing! This can be a headache in most DAWs because MIDI channels can be repeated on a second passthrough and expression information can get crossed. Because of Bitwig's remapping system you can continuously overdub MPE information until you reach 15 simultaneous notes without encountering the expression problems found in most other DAWs.
- It can be slightly more predictable, and could use less CPU in some circumstances. With this implementation you will always know that the first note played will be on channel 2, the second note played will be on channel 3, etc.
- It can occasionally alleviate issues with MIDI channel range incompatibility - in the case where a soft synth has a different MPE midi channel range than the hardware controller. For example: If the soft synth has a channel range of 2-5 but your hardware controller is sending 2-15 you will still be able to properly play up to 4 note MPE chords.
- It can also be useful when using a NON mpe synth like Kontakt in which you need to create multiple instances of an instrument to mimic MPE. If you know that you only will need to play at most 3 notes, you can make just 3 instances of the instrument and be sure that it will work reliably instead of having to create an instance for every MIDI channel in your range.

But, as pointed out before, this can potentially cause problems:
- In the case of a long release, an MPE software synth might get confused and apply modulation to the releasing note based on the next note. U-he Diva in particular has trouble with this (in addition to the issues outlined above regarding not being able to play in MONO mode because of channel confusion). Though ROLI's EQUATOR, FXpansion's Strobe2, Bitwig's internal instruments like Polysynth, and perhaps others, do not suffer from this problem. So far I have only had this issue occur with Uhe-Diva, but I have not done thorough testing with many instruments.

2. Bitwig has a system of "Force MPE Mode" vs. background MPE announcement
Anyone who uses MPE in Bitwig is likely familiar with the right-click option "force MPE mode." The strange thing about this option is that it is not always needed. For example, when using ROLI's EQUATOR software synth, you do not have to choose "force MPE mode" because it is somehow announced in the background. However, when using U-he Diva, or FXpansion Strobe2, you will have to select "force MPE mode." which forces the MIDI channels to behave in the aforementioned manner. This system is not clear for the user and can occasionally cause issues.

3. As mentioned before, Bitwig does not allow you to assign specific MIDI channel input for a track.
Though it does allow you to assign specific MIDI channel output. It is quite frustrating that this option is not allowed upon input. I assume it must have something to do with the underlying framework.

Beside some of the advantages listed above, there are some other good MPE things you can do in Bitwig which you can't do in other DAWs:

4. Bitwig has one of the best MPE editing interfaces. Adjusting per-note expression data is seamless in Bitwig and can be a bit frustrating in other DAWs.

5. Bitwig's "expression's" modulator allows you to easily make any instrument into an expressive instrument to use with a Seaboard, Linnstrument, Roli Blocks, etc.

Sorry for the essay... Point is, Some of these problems do not occur in other MPE compatible DAWs like Tracktion Waveform, Logic, Reaper, etc. but there are also some advantages to MPE in Bitwig that you don't get with these other DAWs. I can't say which is best but hopefully these personal observations can answer some questions. Again, this is based on using the current version of Bitwig Studio 2, which updates quite often, so these findings may become outdated. Also, I do not work for Bitwig and do not have access to internal information so it's definitely possible that some of this stuff is wrong.
Last edited by senobrd on Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:00 am, edited 2 times in total.

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dangayle
KVRian
806 posts since 30 Mar, 2014

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:48 pm

senobrd wrote:
Echos in the Attic and others are mostly correct, I just wanted to clarify a few things and also add a few more pros and cons of MPE in Bitwig (in its current version). Info on MPE is hard to come by.




Sorry for the essay... Point is, Some of these problems do not occur in other MPE compatible DAWs like Tracktion Waveform, Logic, Reaper, etc. but there are also some advantages to MPE in Bitwig that you don't get with these other DAWs. I can't say which is best but hopefully these personal observations can answer some questions. Again, this is based on using the current version of Bitwig Studio 2, which updates quite often, so these findings may become outdated. Also, I do not work for Bitwig and do not have access to internal information so it's definitely possible that some of this stuff is wrong.
No apologies necessary, that was exactly the kind of info needed. Thanks for the update. Anyone care to cover the same points in Logic?

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pdxindy
KVRAF
14775 posts since 3 Feb, 2005 from in the wilds

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:35 pm

senobrd wrote: In some ways this can actually be advantageous:
- It can be slightly more predictable, and could use less CPU in some circumstances. With this implementation you will always know that the first note played will be on channel 2, the second note played will be on channel 3, etc.
- It can occasionally alleviate issues with MIDI channel range incompatibility - in the case where a soft synth has a different MPE midi channel range than the hardware controller. For example: If the soft synth has a channel range of 2-5 but your hardware controller is sending 2-15 you will still be able to properly play up to 4 note MPE chords.
- It can also be useful when using a NON mpe synth like Kontakt in which you need to create multiple instances of an instrument to mimic MPE. If you know that you only will need to play at most 3 notes, you can make just 3 instances of the instrument and be sure that it will work reliably instead of having to create an instance for every MIDI channel in your range.
It is fast and easy to set the range of midi channels on my Linnstrument. So Bitwig behaving this way is no advantage in this case.

But even if that small advantage were there, it is far outweighed by the disadvantages. Bitwig only has a partial implementation until they add midi channel support.

None of the u-he synths work fully with the Linnstrument in Bitwig. They work fully and reliably with Logic. I have a number of other VpC synths and the Logic/Linnstrument combo handles all of them without issue.

Using the Linnstrument, I found a couple small issues even with Bitwig's polysynth. (I reported them to Bitwig). Bitwig has a variety of issues depending on the synth used. Logic has been solid and always just works.

Also, Linnstrument has the channel per row option for emulating a guitar. Bitwig cannot handle that at all.

I agree that Bitwig has good editing and I like it better than Logic, but for the playing/recording Logic is clearly better/more reliable at this point.

Echoes in the Attic
KVRAF
6330 posts since 12 May, 2008

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:21 pm

I agree with pdxindy that the advantage that was pointed out isn't really an advantage since you can tell your controller what channels to use. In fact you have to anyways so you'll already have things matching correctly with the instrument when you play. All bitwig should do is play back the data as was received. So yeah there are different issues with different synths because of this.

And it isn't true that u-he is unique in having the issue of applying unwanted modulation to a releasing note based on a next note. Every VST I have tried has this issue except for falcon (but falcon has its own issue of not being able to use any kind of mono mode in bitwig with mpe), including synthmaster and strobe2. But maybe they changed that in an update? I'll check out the demo again. I'd be happy if that were the case as I'm planning on getting equator. EDIT: Hey you're right! They changed the behavior of strobe since I last tried (when mpe was already applied) so that pitch bend and modulation doesn't get affected by a new note on the same channel. This is interesting because it seems to indicate that the correct way to implement MPE is to still modulate notes separately even when receiving the same channel for multiple notes. This is good news though it means that finally there are synths that will work as well with bitwig's MPE as bitwig's own synths (Equator and the DCAM synths). I never loved the sound of strobe but I'd be interested when Cypher 2 finally gets released.

And what you saying about the way it assigns midi channels is exactly what I meant by rotating channels - they rotate them for overlapping notes and reset to first available channel when notes are released. That's what I was trying to say anyways so thanks for clarifying.
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simmo75
KVRian
1160 posts since 25 Mar, 2016 from Seattle

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Thu Sep 07, 2017 10:05 am

Is this worth buying without an MPE controller yet?
I just got an offer from FXpansion to get it for $99.
I can't afford a Roli keyboard yet but am intrigued by Equator, also, there doesn't seem to be a demo...

lastmessiah
KVRist
65 posts since 23 Aug, 2017

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:41 pm

simmo75 wrote:Is this worth buying without an MPE controller yet?
I just got an offer from FXpansion to get it for $99.
I can't afford a Roli keyboard yet but am intrigued by Equator, also, there doesn't seem to be a demo...
I mean, it is a great product but I don't see the point of using it without an MPE controller. Unless you don't have any software that covers the synth bases (subtractive, FM, sampling, etc).

simmo75
KVRian
1160 posts since 25 Mar, 2016 from Seattle

Re: Roli Equator released

Post Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:57 pm

lastmessiah wrote:
simmo75 wrote:Is this worth buying without an MPE controller yet?
I just got an offer from FXpansion to get it for $99.
I can't afford a Roli keyboard yet but am intrigued by Equator, also, there doesn't seem to be a demo...
I mean, it is a great product but I don't see the point of using it without an MPE controller. Unless you don't have any software that covers the synth bases (subtractive, FM, sampling, etc).
I just ordered the Seaboard block, couldn't resist it.

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