Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

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_el
KVRer
15 posts since 15 May, 2020

Post Fri May 15, 2020 3:37 am

Hi there,

(boring intro story - request in next paragraph)
I'm new to the Linnstrument. I first got a seaboard block and although it basically did what I was looking for, I was quite disappointed by the uneven response, some wrong triggers and stuck notes from time to time. It seems like this is mainly a software problem, because the less sensitive regions can change for the next time you connect it. But altogether I can say, that all the black notes (like in a traditional piano keyboard - so I should call them "the keys with the white stripe" here) are less sensitive than the others. In forums I read that the rise-versions are more predictable, response-wise but what I liked about the block as well, was that it is small but I could have connected a second one and have 4 octaves but it would still be very easy to carry around. So I could also use one for travelling and use it with my iphone. But yeah, it didn't work out for me. So then I searched for alternatives and suddenly the Linnstrument 128 looked very attractive to me - four octaves but still very compact. I'm mainly a guitar player so the layout is nice as well. And from what I've read so far, most people seem to be very happy with theirs. So I got one and YES! - it is what I was hoping for. The response out of the box is great. In short, this feels more like an instrument to me - the block more like a nice gadget.
Nice job, Mr. Linn!

(main request)
So there is still one feature in Roli's Dashboard, which I miss sorely. It's called "Pressure Tracking Mode" and if you set it to hardest, it is perfect for legato playing on mono instruments. Here's a very rough example of what I mean. First played with the seaboard, than with the linnstrument.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/w5m0dgdtzh1o1 ... o.wav?dl=0
So it just uses the highest pressure value of all the notes I touch. I can leave my finger on the first note and increase pressure while tapping the other note. In Linnstrument (and seaboards standard setting) it updates pressure all the time between the two notes and so I get pretty abrupt changes in sound, because it's pretty much impossible to hit the second note at the same value, the first has at that moment. For playing brass or strings this is quite essential though, because they also have a quite even air pressure or bow strength between such notes. But I even prefer that setting for synth lead for example, you just get a much more fluid melody that way.
I hope, I could explain this well enough.

(some other things)
A few minor things, if you didn't fall asleep yet.
- I still would love the surface of the Linnstrument to be a tad softer after all. Not like a seaboard but about 25% more in that direction. Apart from playing feel, I would also prefer it, because the physical noise of playing on the Linnstrument is quite high in comparison. So I need to turn up my speakers but it's also more annoying for others, when I practice with headphones. I already read about it somewhere in this forum that this is most likely not going to happen but still - here's another request for it.. And if this finally happens, I would prefer black .. becaue I am batman ;)
- A software editor with freely assignable things, like cc, midi channel and stuff per pad would be great but I can live without it. But it would also be great, if we could make our custom response curves then. Although they work great, I would still like to change them slightly. For example I use the low response setting for velocity, because it's great for controlling the very soft notes but with that I need to hit it too hard in my opinion to reach the highest velocities.
- One other benefit of the seaboard is, that it can easily be played without looking at it. I don't know, how this could be improved on the Linnstrument but you are the innovator.. Maybe you could think about it :)

So, if you read all that text, congratulations! ;)
Hope to hear your thoughts!
Cheers, Lukas

mijiti
KVRer
19 posts since 16 Apr, 2017

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Fri May 15, 2020 12:25 pm

Hi Lukas,

I also noticed this - my workaround is to not use the z-axis of the played note to control expression, but to use the low row in XYZ=16-18mode and my free hand on that row. I map the z-axis to the expression input of the synth (mainly Audio Modeling: saxes, clarinets, strings). I map the y-axis to bow position or growl. I haven't figured out what to do with the x-axis of the low row yet :)

I map the y-axis of the played note to another controller (formant on the sax for example). X is of course pitch. I have tried variosu other controllers on the z-axis of the played note, but I cannot control my fingers well enough (ex-wind-player, so I don't have the dainty finger control of a pianist or guitarist! I have to turn the velocity sensitivity down to control my uncontrolled prodding)

I am also experimenting with having the left split 5 cells wide and using CC FADERS mode. I use my index finger to control the low row and then use my little finger to adjust various faders (mainly for bow pressure and siwtching bowing/pizzicato mode for one piece a the moment).

User avatar
Roger_Linn
KVRAF
1520 posts since 8 Jun, 2010
Roger Linn Design

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Fri May 15, 2020 1:52 pm

Hi Lukas,

Thank you for buying a LinnStrument 128, as well as for your kind compliment. Please see below for my responses.

- Roger Linn
_el wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 3:37 am
Hi there,

(boring intro story - request in next paragraph)
I'm new to the Linnstrument. I first got a seaboard block and although it basically did what I was looking for, I was quite disappointed by the uneven response, some wrong triggers and stuck notes from time to time. It seems like this is mainly a software problem, because the less sensitive regions can change for the next time you connect it. But altogether I can say, that all the black notes (like in a traditional piano keyboard - so I should call them "the keys with the white stripe" here) are less sensitive than the others. In forums I read that the rise-versions are more predictable, response-wise but what I liked about the block as well, was that it is small but I could have connected a second one and have 4 octaves but it would still be very easy to carry around. So I could also use one for travelling and use it with my iphone. But yeah, it didn't work out for me. So then I searched for alternatives and suddenly the Linnstrument 128 looked very attractive to me - four octaves but still very compact. I'm mainly a guitar player so the layout is nice as well. And from what I've read so far, most people seem to be very happy with theirs. So I got one and YES! - it is what I was hoping for. The response out of the box is great. In short, this feels more like an instrument to me - the block more like a nice gadget.
Nice job, Mr. Linn!

(main request)
So there is still one feature in Roli's Dashboard, which I miss sorely. It's called "Pressure Tracking Mode" and if you set it to hardest, it is perfect for legato playing on mono instruments. Here's a very rough example of what I mean. First played with the seaboard, than with the linnstrument.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/w5m0dgdtzh1o1 ... o.wav?dl=0
So it just uses the highest pressure value of all the notes I touch. I can leave my finger on the first note and increase pressure while tapping the other note. In Linnstrument (and seaboards standard setting) it updates pressure all the time between the two notes and so I get pretty abrupt changes in sound, because it's pretty much impossible to hit the second note at the same value, the first has at that moment. For playing brass or strings this is quite essential though, because they also have a quite even air pressure or bow strength between such notes. But I even prefer that setting for synth lead for example, you just get a much more fluid melody that way.
I hope, I could explain this well enough.
Generally, such modes are a function of the sound generator, not the controller. Why? Because all things that affect the sound should be a property of the sound generator. If not, then when you change sounds in the middle of a performance set, you must always change your synth's sound and also your controller's settings at the same time. That's how keyboard synths and controllers generally work in my experience.

The problem is that synths are just catching up to expressive control, and especially to the subtleties of sounds in which pressure controls note loudness. So I have received some requests that I sometimes interpret as "If the synths are taking too long to catch up to expressive control, then the only other choice is to implement sound-property features in the controller." For example, your request is one of a variety of legitimate and useful legato modes, one of which would be to interpret legato note transitions as only a pitch bend change without sending a new Note On, so that the note is not retriggered in the synth, useful for guitar-style hammer-ons and pull-offs. Another is LinnStrument's Legato mode (a Foot/Panel Switch option), which sustains notes or chords until a new note or chord is played. Yet another is LinnStrument's Latch mode (also a Foot/Panel Switch option) that latches notes during Arpeggiator play. And there are many more special-case modes for other playing articulations other than legato. One problem with implementing many sound-property playing modes in LinnStrument is that its Hidden Settings tend to get more hidden and confusing with each update, plus I can't print a new word on each LinnStrument panel, even if there were space for new words.

So I am happy to add your request to our feature-request list and will think about some way to perhaps implement a catch-all legato mode that somehow has variations for many of the legato modes that expressive synths haven't caught up to yet.

Having written the above, Audio Modeling's software instruments--in my opinion--implement legato play perfectly, requiring no change in settings in LinnStrument other than One Channel and Bend Range. They carefully considered what settings and MIDI interpretation were necessary for their sounds to sound right. This serves as a good model for how synths should be written in the age of expressive control.
_el wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 3:37 am
(some other things)
A few minor things, if you didn't fall asleep yet.
- I still would love the surface of the Linnstrument to be a tad softer after all. Not like a seaboard but about 25% more in that direction. Apart from playing feel, I would also prefer it, because the physical noise of playing on the Linnstrument is quite high in comparison. So I need to turn up my speakers but it's also more annoying for others, when I practice with headphones. I already read about it somewhere in this forum that this is most likely not going to happen but still - here's another request for it.. And if this finally happens, I would prefer black .. becaue I am batman ;)
Unfortunately translucent silicone rubber can't be softer without leaking silicone oil. Also, LinnStrument's surface can't be thicker without sacrificing touch sensitivity. The Seaboard uses a different method of sensing touches that interpolates location from the relative pressure of a number of discrete pressure sensors, which requires a thick force-spreading layer on top, and which reduces touch sensitivity. By comparison, LinnStrument senses location directly from the sensor, so no force-spreading layer is necessary at all, so LinnStrument's touch surface has the primary function of providing tactile feedback so you can feel where the notes are, while providing a small amount of softness. The other thing is that if LinnStrument's silicone touch surface were thicker, its 208 (or 136) RGB LEDs would be dimmer, which means I'd have to use brighter LEDs that take more power, so LinnStrument couldn't run off USB power, or iPhone power in Low Power mode. And LinnStrument can't use a thicker roam rubber like Seaboard because it’s opaque and therefore can't transmit the LED light.

In summary, I've tried to come up with the best balance of design considerations that often conflict.
_el wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 3:37 am
- A software editor with freely assignable things, like cc, midi channel and stuff per pad would be great but I can live without it.
I do get some requests for a software editor from those who haven't yet bought a LinnStrument or have just obtained one, but few from those who have used it for a while. Generally, people seem to discover that the settings are intuitive and fast, and that few of them are changed in common performance. So I haven't written an editor. But all the MIDI hooks are there so anyone can write such an editor, yet no one has.
_el wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 3:37 am
But it would also be great, if we could make our custom response curves then. Although they work great, I would still like to change them slightly. For example I use the low response setting for velocity, because it's great for controlling the very soft notes but with that I need to hit it too hard in my opinion to reach the highest velocities.
In my experience, custom response curves are generally a function of the synth, are they are in ROLI's Equator synth. This makes more sense to me because it would be difficult to edit curves in LinnStrument's UI. I think the more relevant question is "What do you find unsatisfactory in LinnStrument's velocity response?" The answer may be that rubber pads don't provide the velocity response that you are used to, for example, in a MIDI keyboard.
_el wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 3:37 am
- One other benefit of the seaboard is, that it can easily be played without looking at it. I don't know, how this could be improved on the Linnstrument but you are the innovator.. Maybe you could think about it :)
That's why there are Braille-size tactile dots on all "C" note pads, from which other notes can be located in relation to. I'm not sure what other tactile feedback you could provide in a grid layout. I think that's an advantage of the piano layout, but the piano layout has significant disadvantages:

https://www.rogerlinndesign.com/support ... ths-layout
_el wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 3:37 am
So, if you read all that text, congratulations! ;)
Hope to hear your thoughts!
Cheers, Lukas

t-IB
KVRist
110 posts since 2 Jul, 2017

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Fri May 15, 2020 11:03 pm

Slightly related: I was thinking the other day it would be nice to use the latch button to trigger a drone note, so you'd hold latch, press a note and it would sustain/continue playing at the held velocity until you tried it off in the same way.

tiantong
KVRist
145 posts since 9 Sep, 2018

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Sat May 16, 2020 1:32 am

Hi _el

A quick answer from an "aficionado": I also requested a softer surface but with time I've come in terms with it as it is. You're right in that it's louder; sometimes you wish there was more response so "you know" how much you're pressing but training is king. I've had good use of software synths that show graphically your expression movements, like Equator, Cypher2 or Spacecraft Granular. I am more confident now.

I tend to remember how "hard" the string on a bass are, much harder than the Linnstrument surface.

Regarding the software, once you get used to the built in editing panel you will forget about it.

I would give it two or three months from now on and revisit what you think on the linnstrument when your memory of the Roli hardware has dimmed a little.

_el
KVRer
15 posts since 15 May, 2020

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Sun May 17, 2020 11:14 am

Hey, thank you all for your responses! :)

@mijiti
Thanks for your suggestion, that sounds rather complicated though. :D Apart from that, I like to play even some mono stuff with two hands. So my best solution for now is using an expression pedal to control the dynamics of my brass and strings and ignore pressure.
I'd really like to see you playing like that - sounds as if you're the one with the dainty finger control! I couldn't imagine operating all of those things at the same time.

@t-IB
Thanks! I can imagine this would work for some stuff, unfortunately not for my specific request.

@tiantong
All of this are only minor things for me and I am already really happy with the predictability of the response. It's more of a feel thing and I would prefer if it wasn't so loud when I try triggering the highest velocities on the low velocity setting.
About the software editor, again not super important for me. I really love the onboard control and completely prefer it over being dependent on a software to change all those settings. What I would dream of in a software editor however, would be to build some really advanced stuff, where some pads send program change or cc and others are separated in very user defined splits, like a few pads for drums, others for chords, others for lead or something like that. I once tested a Keith McMillen Softstep2 and the editor allowed exactly that - you could even assign multiple functions to one pad. But yeah, if it's not going to happen, that's not a problem for me.


@Roger Linn
Thanks for your quick and detailed response! I hope my comment didn't sound too criticizing. Like I said, I really love my Linnstrument and I do have a lot of respect for all the great thought you put into this!
About the surface: That's really just a very minor thing for me. If this never happens - no problem at all but if it does - I'm one of those, who would get it.
Pretty much the same goes for the editor. I really love that you have access to so many settings directly from the device and I totally prefer this, compared to being dependent on an editor. It's just that one could build very complex settings in an editor. Like building a complete performance tool out of just the linnstrument, with splits and effects switches just like you need it.
About the response curves: I think it works great already! In the low velocity setting it's pretty much as predictable as I had hoped but I have to hit it very hard to get very high velocities. The other two are better in that regard but it's not so much possible to play the very lowest velocities. So for some instruments I would use something like the low setting and make it more exponential, if that makes sense - keeping the low velocities exactly like they are, while making it more sensitive towards the highest. Again, that's not super important and I can see, how I will get better used to how it is with more practice and I can also switch the velocity setting on the Linnstrument for different song parts. Apart from that, some software already allows to use custom curves.
The only thing that I really miss is that "seaboard pressure tracking set to hardest" setting, because there is really no workaround for that. That playing style in my audio example is just pretty much impossible to perform with the standard setting.
I already demoed audio modellings brass, maybe I overlooked some setting? I didn't like the portamento setting they had (as well as the one in samplemodeling brass and infinitebrass), because I don't like that extremely slow portamento on low velocities. I can imagine their setting works great with a standard keyboard in combination with a wind or leap motion controller, because then you can play a high velocity note with a low dynamics value from the controller. But on the Seaboard or Linnstrument you already have a pretty high dynamics/pressure value at the moment you hit a high velocity.
Or maybe I got something wrong there - can you explain how you can play a fast portamento gradually getting louder, like in my audio example?

Thank you all!
Cheers, Lukas

mijiti
KVRer
19 posts since 16 Apr, 2017

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Mon May 18, 2020 6:37 am

@mijiti
Thanks for your suggestion, that sounds rather complicated though. :D
It probably sounds more complicated than it is :) Now I have it all set up it's very natural...
Apart from that, I like to play even some mono stuff with two hands. So my best solution for now is using an expression pedal to control the dynamics of my brass and strings and ignore pressure.
I'm also part way through building a wind controller to use in a similar fashion.
I'd really like to see you playing like that - sounds as if you're the one with the dainty finger control! I couldn't imagine operating all of those things at the same time.
Note I didn't claim any great musical quality yet :) I'll record a video at some point...

User avatar
Roger_Linn
KVRAF
1520 posts since 8 Jun, 2010
Roger Linn Design

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Mon May 18, 2020 6:54 am

Hi Lucas,

No worries--I didn't take your comments as criticism, and I appreciate that you like LinnStrument enough to own one.

Regarding velocity curves, it may be that your difficulties are with a specific synth, given that different synths have difference velocity responses. We tuned our curves using PianoTeq.
Or you might try adjusting the Touch Sensor Prescale setting, explained on the Panel Settings page, Global Settings tab, search for "prescale".
Or it might be that rubber pads don't provide the same velocity accuracy and consistency as a moving key, as mentioned on the FAQ page, "Pre-sales" tab, first FAQ:
"Velocity sensing, while very good on LinnStrument, is inherently less accurate than a MIDI piano keyboard for two reasons. First, pads lack the physical momentum of a moving key. Second, pads sense velocity by tracking the pad's pressure envelope until it starts to fall from its peak, which is inherently less accurate than measuring the time for a piano key to move between two electrical contacts."

When I mentioned Audio Modeling, I wasn't referring to their portamento feature but rather to legato transitions and trills, which I have have been mistaken but thought you were referring to in your post and audio examples. If you don't like Audio Modeling's portamento feature, you can turn it off.

Regarding your desired feature, it's difficult to add each customer's single desired feature because it would be a lot of features to add to an instrument without an LCD screen. So I try to add features that have the most requests, and try to add them in an intuitive way so as to not make LinnStrument into something that scares away non-techy musicians. Interestingly, Ableton's way of answering all individual requests was to build Max/MSP into Live. One option is to implement this or other desired features in external applications like Max or PD. The flexible nature of LinnStrument can be difficult for me because it inspires people to seek lots of different features for specific applications. So sometimes such an external application can be a good way to go to optimize LinnStrument for your specific playing needs.

FYI, if you're interested in reading my policy for adding new features to LinnStrument, you can find it on the LinnStrument FAQ page, "General" tab, FAQ "Can you add this feature: _______?"

_el
KVRer
15 posts since 15 May, 2020

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Mon May 18, 2020 8:18 am

Thanks!

@mijiti Maybe I'll try it, till I can decide between a volume pedal or maybe even a breath controller for dynamics.
Looking forward to your video :)

@Roger Sure I understand that it's not possible to add every desired feature! As you mentioned in your previous post you're thinking about a catch-all legato feature, so that's my silver lining for now! :) In the meantime I'll try and find a way to do this in a daw. I already found out that it would actually be quite easy to do in Max but unfortunately Ableton doesn't even send poly pressure to max, so it won't work that easily. So currently I'm trying to find out if it's possilbe in Bitwig.

Cheers, Lukas

_el
KVRer
15 posts since 15 May, 2020

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Tue May 19, 2020 1:05 am

So if anyone's interested. I found a hacky workaround in Bitwig:
viewtopic.php?f=259&t=545826&p=7771559#p7771559
I'll try and find something more practical but at least it's working! :)

User avatar
Roger_Linn
KVRAF
1520 posts since 8 Jun, 2010
Roger Linn Design

Re: Love my Linnstrument but one feature missing from seaboard

Post Tue May 19, 2020 10:22 am

Hi Lukas,

I thought of something that might help with your specific use case, which if I understood your audio example correctly, is about performance of trills.

If you set LinnStrument's MIDI Mode to One Channel and Loudness/Z to Channel Pressure (not Poly Pressure), the pressure data LinnStrument sends will always be that of the last-played note pad. If you additionally set your synth to a Legato Mono mode, you'll get nearly the same effect as you are seeking. I tried it here with Logic's ES2 synth and it sounds like the first example in your audio recording.

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