Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
himalaya
KVRAF
5195 posts since 23 Mar, 2006 from pendeLondonmonium

Post Fri Feb 21, 2020 7:49 am

For years musicians have been asking and begging for more expressive electronic instruments. Asking for polyphonic aftertouch....well, here are the instruments at last! We now have access to so many MPE controllers with unique design aspects and performance features with so much expression. The time is to buy the gear now, and start enjoying the new ways of expression.....making sure that all the playing techniques are understood and learned (since people tend to complain about the actual instrument, without looking at their playing technique first and how it needs to be improved to get the best out of the instrument).
http://www.electric-himalaya.com
VSTi and hardware synth sound design

himalaya
KVRAF
5195 posts since 23 Mar, 2006 from pendeLondonmonium

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:01 am

chk071 wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:40 am
You definitely have a lot more hardware elements on a controller like the one Warmonger described though. Which makes me wonder what's so damn expensive about MPE that such a low tier controller already costs that much.
There can be many factors involved in the final price, but one that is often forgotten is the actual Research&Development time. It can take years to get the playing surface right, as an example. Many years. There is a lot of cost involved right here. Cost that needs to be recouped somehow. I've seen it first hand.
http://www.electric-himalaya.com
VSTi and hardware synth sound design

tapper mike
KVRAF
5319 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:46 am

Here are some things to ponder. You don't need midi2.0 to have mpe.

If you have the average 16channel workstation keyboard you can achieve mpe by assigning the same instrument over mutliple midi channels / tracks. Yes it's time consuming to setup but I've been having a lot of fun with my Linnstrument and Korg Krome. If your daw/host doesn't have mpe compatibility you can prolly get a chainer vst and do the same thing I do which is assign a (or several) sounds to various midi channels. I did this all the time with my KLC M1 in various hosts including AB Live and Mixcraft.

Tenacity will always overcome technology. Jordan Rudess didn't sit on his hands waiting for technology to come along and save him. He applied himself to the technology he had to work with. Same with every pre and post midi keyboard player. Having the latest and greatest does not mean you will be great for owning said device.

Yes I do have a linnstrument. Yes I do work out the basics everyday. Scales, progressions, rhythm patterns. Some people can adapt and some can adapt with hard work and some refuse to put effort into something and blame it on technology.

tapper mike
KVRAF
5319 posts since 20 Jan, 2008

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Fri Feb 21, 2020 9:53 am

himalaya wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:01 am
chk071 wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:40 am
You definitely have a lot more hardware elements on a controller like the one Warmonger described though. Which makes me wonder what's so damn expensive about MPE that such a low tier controller already costs that much.
There can be many factors involved in the final price, but one that is often forgotten is the actual Research&Development time. It can take years to get the playing surface right, as an example. Many years. There is a lot of cost involved right here. Cost that needs to be recouped somehow. I've seen it first hand.
Have you seen the RL videos where he talks about the development of the linnstrument and the huge setbacks he had along the way? Great story and yet he pulled it off. I've been involved in a few projects where... I lost chunks of money it ruined my credit and I still carried debt. Sometimes I wonder why a technology pioneer is willing to make the effort second time around Like RL (LinnDrum) or Dave Smith (Sequential Circuits) or countless others who's initial "great ideas" eventually ruined them.

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Jace-BeOS
KVRAF
5863 posts since 7 Jan, 2005 from Corporate States of America

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Sat Feb 22, 2020 6:25 am

anomandaris1 wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:22 am
So, you are ready to drop 150 on generic midi controller, but not around 200 on cheapest Roli (or something similar) when there is a sale?
No. I already have cheap garbage controllers. Learned my lesson (M-Audio’s Oxygen 25). Won’t do that again. $200 for the cheapest Roli... isn’t the device I want either. I don’t want a block.
anomandaris1 wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:22 am
If you are afraid of incompatibility in the future, just never upgrade (many pro. mixing studios have done this)...
Have you ever tried to actually live like that? I do. I’ve been several major OS revisions behind for years, partially due to forced obsolescence and partially due to lack of money for new computers.

It’s f**king hell. There’s constant pressure to upgrade from all angles. If you want support, you better be on the latest version of whatever. If you want ANYTHING new (let’s say a new plugin, or maybe you need to replace dead hardware), you find that you are required to use the current OS versions. Even if all you want are bug-fixes (fixes for shit that shouldn’t have been left broken as long as it already has, tend to be used as “sticks” to prod people to buy upgrades or subscribe to “services”)...

Try as we might, we are stuck in the perpetual upgrade cycle in order to serve corporatism. I’ve read all the pro-developer, tech-geek justifications. I’m not buying it anymore. The number one reason ain’t to make tech better; it’s to maximize profits.

No, the better solution is to reject buying MORE products that have built-in obsolescence via dependency on computers for their basic functionality. I am forced to put up with that shit with computers. I see no reason to just shrug and let corporatism continue making EVERYTHING disposable even when it hasn’t physically broken.

In fact, if computers doing most of the work is the only way forward for MPE, that itself might kill it. Musicians aren’t all tech geeks who are willing to keep playing the game of throwing perpetually more money at their studio just because of forced computer obsolescence.

Dog damn it, I hate this industry.
- dysamoria.com
my music @ SoundCloud

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Jace-BeOS
KVRAF
5863 posts since 7 Jan, 2005 from Corporate States of America

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Sat Feb 22, 2020 6:33 am

chk071 wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:54 am
As long as you don't chew on your guitar and controller, you'll be alright, I guess. ;)
Maybe. Maybe not. No one knows which (or how many) of the literally hundreds of thousands of chemicals we release into our environment is causing thyroid disorders, for example. The mere act of constantly making contact with certain materials might be doing it. It’s probably next to impossible to tell, since there’s probably no way to limit exposure to individual things in order to even do a controlled study.

Hell, there’s no way to find out why my companion has cancer, let alone the thousands of less lethal disorders and health issues cropping up decade over decade...
- dysamoria.com
my music @ SoundCloud

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Jace-BeOS
KVRAF
5863 posts since 7 Jan, 2005 from Corporate States of America

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Sat Feb 22, 2020 6:36 am

lastmessiah wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 7:24 am
himalaya wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:15 am
What would be the final seal of approval is if we were to see the big guns like Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Native Instruments, make MPE controllers of some kind.
Not really. MPE has already been "approved", whatever that means.

Companies like Korg and Roland are not "big guns" when it comes to forward-thinking electronic music creation. They mostly cater to gigging musicians who are stubborn and resistant to change. I mean, they are still pumping out workstation keyboards like it is 1999.
That’s *exactly why* it would be the “seal of approval” if Roland, Korg, and Yamaha were offering MPE as standard on their controllers.
- dysamoria.com
my music @ SoundCloud

BBFG#
KVRAF
5927 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Sat Feb 22, 2020 10:36 am

What I'm hoping for in the next phases of developments is that the current offerings of MPE products will force those "big companies" to fully realize what has been the promise of them for decades now. Those things they just feel aren't wanted by keyboardists that so many of us have told them we do.
i.e. Velocity (initial & release) and poly aftertouch. A full range ribbon and a four way joystick with additional modulation wheel. That would show an adequate (and minimum) response to their market. And that's just to keep them relevant to the coming changes. Which seem to be obvious to me.

I understand their current pricing as a result of much research and development and therefore believe their pricing should stay at the current pricing as other controllers become more comparable to them. But I have no way of believing they won't continue to raise their prices arbitrarily to meet expected profit margins. Which I can't fault them for either, since it's really become the new marketing model across the board. (What the market will bear rather than supply & demand.)
In an evolutionary sense, these different interface styles should drive each other rather than kill any one of them.

And because I do play keyboards and guitars/cello, for me, this MPE format instrument would most likely be those with the keyboard type of interface. (Roli & Continuum.)
Right now though, I find both of them cost prohibitive for their specified use. And also not quite fitting for my aesthetic of how I would use them. While I believe they're researching their customer base with outdated demographic studies, they do seem to me to be rather tone deaf to many musicians.

I like Roli Block boards for their miniature size, but the two octave limit and the idea of having to buy two to link them is a deal killer for me.
Give me a three octave (minimum) Block for the price of that two octave stupidity (JMO), and I would probably jump on it.

Otherwise, it's never going to reach my "Goldilocks" needs of fitting into my setup.

lfm
KVRAF
5239 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Sat Feb 22, 2020 10:51 pm

My first synth Casio CZ1000 1985 had no velocity sensitive keybed. So it was on or off on notes like on organs. It did though support velocity on midi in as I recall.

So not that expressive as an instrument, but very nice sounding.

Synths since then been having velocity - adjusting volume as such as how you play. More expressive.

Then it became more common with velocity modulation on VCF. To alter how filter attack and decay work as you play.

Then it became more common with other types of cross modulation, often with limited like 4 or 8 channels for that. So becoming yet more expressive.

Then case Nordlead and made every knob cross modulated from velocity - if it 23-24 knobs or something. Meaning every preset you make can be like a full instrument. But it takes practise to master of course, like classical pianist do by hours of practise daily for years.

Now later years seems Moog One and Korg Wavestate make virtually unlimited cross modulations possible.

So unless a synth has at least like Nordlead, Moog One or Wavestate of modulation options I see very little use of introducing more keybed options to modulate anything.

I saw a YT on CS80 and the different models CS50 and CS60 - that had channel AT on smaller models, and the top model poly AT. This was pre midi days even.

The guy demoing said something about having had poly AT you never want to go back. So he played a chord in right hand and one finger altered like VCF or something changing frequency content. Most common is to do a bit of vibrato on AT.

Big deal - how much better music I will perform now, or?

Yet for 40 years very few synths were made with that keybed.

I think it's because there is very little use in real life to make music matter more because of that ability.

I saw a demo yesterday on Jupiter X and this guy had to fiddle in menues to activate poly AT and he did a lfo thingy - and could do a vibrato on one key without affecting the others. It was not even on by default for presets he showed.
https://youtu.be/pfWRiVb070Y

This again tells a story - not on by default in factory presets????

So is it anything but a tech feature - and very little musical use in real life?
- I cannot really express the music I have in me unless this feature exist?

Is it more like
- I have this Porsche and it does 0-100 mph in x seconds
- I have this amp with xxx watts
- I have this cool guitar pedal that do.....

I looked at string library from Spitfire Audio that had dozens of various playing techniques for orchestral violins. Something that a classical composer use maybe a few times in a 40 minute symphony or something - some of them.

Then we move on to MPE in even more ways, yes, development in progress that some will use.

Playing on the bridge, near the bridge, and various fretboard techniques and bow and such. So I guess this can be implemented with a MPE having it right there - to use at some point.

I guess headroom is always nice, you need not use it all the time - but nice it's there if it were to happen.

But on a violin it's just a technique to use - it's right there on every violin to use without making the violin more expensive.

Some comments here is like manufacturers are idiots not understand the huge demand there is for this and that.

It will probably just make the hardware more expensive for 99.999% of userbase.

And more about AT - how good implementation they do. So far I only had Arturia keyboard to AnalogLab that really had enough movement for AT to really alter expression in a refined way. The DeepMind is just not that good, I would say.

So how precise can you express anything unless you just do vibrato, or a little VCF or LFO thing - with just pressing your finger like on a table????

That cannot be expressed anyway in how you hit a key - that concert pianist master?

To play anything with speed like a virtuoso and still be precise in how you use AT or this MPE stuff - to give a nuance of something that matter musically - will take practise to master in the same range as classical concert pianist.

And most cases it's more useful with pedal to express intensity in a series of notes - not having to apply to every note you do. That is probably why very few bothered with poly AT

And these breath controllers etc and also never made it to the wider public. A very expressive feature in my view. Yamaha had it for many years and dropped manufacturing like 10 years ago or so, maybe 15. The Arturia i mentioned had input for it - but could not find the Yamaha on market anymore. I signed up in a thread here on KVR to make a group buy on some other folks that were to make this breath controller - but don't think it ever happened.

The most developed synths today with cross modulation will suffice with two feet and two hands.

So summing it up - manufacturer has tried every thing out there - and market responded as dead - it did not sell.

Other things that some has asked for was microtuning - which Prologue has.

I wonder why Wavestate did not have it - at least as standard when it arrives soon?

I think it's cool with microtuning, since you can do also just fine adjustments like I do for piano stretching octaves as bit. If you get hiddeous harmonic beating in a keyboard range you can alterthat just a few cents here and there.

So manufacturers do listen - but also take consequence if market does not respond.

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3997 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:49 pm

chk071 wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:56 am
Yes, they are a fad. IMO. YMMV. Don't kill me. Please.
I think keyboards with switches will be a fad in the future except for real physical pianos. But that might need a century.
For me its obvious, as soon I had my hands on an expressive controller, keyboards are of almost zero interest...
You can’t know what it means if you did not experience it. And yes you need to practice (I am bad at that...). But on something like a LinnStrument is easier to learn musical basics than on most of any other instrument including keyboards and controllers who are aimed at keyboard players. To master the details though takes time...
Until the new virtuosos arise to make the young growing musicians want to learn it as well takes a bit longer, that is the nature of the beast.
When the first synthesizers came up, the only reason why they had been a commercial success is, that the virtuosos already existed if you’d give them a known interface...
But even synthesizers had not been pushed by the big names (Yamaha, Roland etc...), those just jumped on the wagon innovators like Moog and Smith had started. Yamaha being the only one who had an innovative phase in the past...

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Tj Shredder
KVRAF
3997 posts since 6 Jan, 2017 from Outer Space

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:00 am

himalaya wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:55 am
@aMused,
To be honest, I haven't used Bitwig for ages, so my conclusion may not be accurate and it could include Bitwig as well, as I know they have worked on MPE a lot.
Unbelievable! One of the best sound designers on this planet, even specialized for MPE sounds, does not play around with the greatest DAW for sound design?
You have to! Not only because its DNA is bound to expressive control from the ground up. It is a sound designers dream on almost every level with its modulation system. And as Bitwig is still a small company, they would certainly listen to requests from an authority like you...
I needed about one hour to create a perfect but expressive subharchord for example. In Max/MSP, my usual tool for such things (I know it since 25 years), it would have taken me probably a day...

BBFG#
KVRAF
5927 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Sun Feb 23, 2020 2:18 am

I'm speaking of controllers rather than keyboard synths. And most don't even have release velocity. Most don't even think it makes that much of a difference unless their technique is at a certain level. Once you reach that level, you expect the keyboard to respond to it. You can't go backwards. Most don't realize it but release does nice things like choking the harpsichord strings like the real thing. You could also program release for things like Clavinet and guitar palm mutes. It even helps on certain organ sounds.
Aftertouch can be set to be on in one zone but not the other. Poly AT would mean being able to set those zones to more than just off and on (with on having more than one thing applied to it in each zone.) e.g. vibrato/tremolo/slide/bend/envelope/layer.
The strict piano player needs both initial and release velocity if they have good technique. Perfecting additional techniques in modeled/sampled/synth sounds requires aftertouch and good guitar emulations require aftertouch and a joystick. (Whammy bar effects such as chirps, slide to, etc.)
The need for an extra mod wheel has come about because of computer programming where certain presets are set simultaneously with volume and timbre (envelope).
The ribbon is to basically emulate certain things from the past such as an Ondes, Theremin, or CS while also helping to keep up closer to the MPE controllers.
This is basic stuff for longtime solo and side keyboard players.

These interim MPE controllers give me new techniques to explore but also make other playing techniques unavailable.

Give us the full spec. keyboard and I can make full use of it in ways I can't with a Roli.

deastman
KVRAF
7369 posts since 7 Aug, 2003 from San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Mon Feb 24, 2020 1:24 am

The guy demoing said something about having had poly AT you never want to go back. So he played a chord in right hand and one finger altered like VCF or something changing frequency content. Most common is to do a bit of vibrato on AT.

Big deal - how much better music I will perform now, or?

Yet for 40 years very few synths were made with that keybed.

I think it's because there is very little use in real life to make music matter more because of that ability.
The reason so few keyboards have used Poly AT over the years was because Yamaha held the patent on that technology and no one else was allowed to use it.
Incomplete list of my gear: 1/8" audio input jack.

dellboy
KVRian
1200 posts since 28 Mar, 2007

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Mon Feb 24, 2020 1:55 am

deastman wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 1:24 am

The reason so few keyboards have used Poly AT over the years was because Yamaha held the patent on that technology and no one else was allowed to use it.
Behringer announced on facebook a few months back that they have developed a new poly aftertouch keyboard.

Behringer are known for aggresive pricing so lets hope they use the technology for standard midi controllers and not just for the upcoming CS80 clone.

lfm
KVRAF
5239 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Re: Are MPE Controllers a fad ?

Post Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:04 am

deastman wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 1:24 am

The reason so few keyboards have used Poly AT over the years was because Yamaha held the patent on that technology and no one else was allowed to use it.
Is that really true - I wonder.
Poly AT is in original midi specs 1984 or so - what is there to patent?
Specific technology maybe, but cannot see how it would stop anybody, loads of ways to do that. And it's not like Yamaha flooded market with poly AT, or did I miss something?

I think more it's to do with if useful or not with expression on a single note - if to emphasize something. You usually want to keep an expression for a series of notes if doing some kind of lead or something. I truly see very little use for it.

You can have a midi floorboard like for guitar gear - and send switch keys to a sampler and switch articulations and stuff - just tip of your shoe away.

Behringer FCB1010 is $120 to do that.

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