randy's Recent Posts

This year it seems desirable and possible for Madrona Labs to make a Soundplane to CV device. This would be primarily a Eurorack module, but the circuit could also be built into its own enclosure for use with vintage synths etc.

Normally I do most of my design work in private, and only announce a product when it's pretty much done. But we (Brian and I) are going to change it up this time. Because neither of us is that deeply into the Eurorack world, it makes sense to solicit input early on in the process this time. This is going to be a utility device (though hopefully an elegant one) — so before we get too far along, let's make sure it will be useful to you!

The basic idea

USB jack for powering the Soundplane. Module puts out CV / gates / mod outputs for individual touches. Like the Soundplane app, a zone map decides how the Soundplane surface is divided up into notes and what those notes are. You can switch between zone maps, and the name of the current one should be displayed somehow. Aside from this, visual feedback will be at least an LED per Z value. To keep costs low, probably nothing too graphical or fancy.

We're looking for input on things like:

How many voices?

Each voice of touch output will probably have 4 outputs for pitch, x, y and z. Setting up many voices on a modular is not the way most people use them, so I'm guessing that two voices of output will take care of 90% of what people want. We would probably add an expander module for more voices.

Any interesting modes?

A switch that changes z (pressure) into a strict on/off gate might be useful. Any other things like this?

Layout?

individual voice groups vertical or horizontal? voice outputs at bottom or top? I'm thinking top, because a USB jack on the bottom will go to the Soundplane.

Power?

The module will need roughly 250mA at 5v to power the Soundplane. Brian will correct me if I'm wrong. Then there's whatever computing and display the module needs to do, and the outputs. Do we need our own power supply, or a list of compatible Euro power supplies that we can point people to? Any choices in connectivity to make here?

Finally, we're still looking for a great name…

Sure, I'd love to make one some rainy day soon.

You can send a MIDI program change message to Aalto, and then it will pick a preset from in the "MIDI Programs" directory inside the Presets directory. The MIDI message just has a number and picks from those presets in alphabetical order. I don't remember the Max/MSP side of things—either there's a special message to the vstplugin host object or you can just send the right sequence of MIDI bytes raw.

Please keep me posted. If it happens again, you can note if the output oscilloscope is still working. it shows the signal coming out of the plugin, so if there's any signal visible the problem is likely to be with the host somehow.

Re: Virta, some of the presets only work with audio input and some also work just with MIDI. You may know this, but it's the first thing I would check.

Sorry you're having trouble. I can't say I've heard of this problem before. I still test in Live 9 and I have not run into anything similar.

Does it happen every time?

How are you changing the patch, with the menu / arrows on the plugin or something else?

Very happy to hear, thanks for posting.

Hi there, thanks for the kind comments and for your patience. I appreciate the reminder and will give this request a bump.

Meanwhile you could put some scales you use a lot into the "Scales" folder directly if you like. Then they won't be in a second menu and if you star the names w/ a digit or "+" or something they will be at the top of the main menu (after 12-equal). This will save you at least a little menu diving.

I remember it well. I'd call it a learning experience for me. :-) It wasn't a lot of effort, but a few people sort of freaked out about the idea of their synths having some intentional randomness that was out of their control and wanted to know things like, can I turn it off? does someone else have a better sounding one?

The differences were all very subtle, and probably not audible unless you knew what you were listening for.

There's a deeper lesson somewhere about the contradiction between peoples' desire for control with digital instruments and their embrace of analog flaws and restrictions.

Thank you for posting again with the fix! I hope this helps someone in the future. I'll make a note and see if there's anything I can do about this in the installers.

Sounds like you are on Windows—Scales will be in C:/AppData/Roaming/Madrona Labs/Scales. But this shouldn't be empty, the installer should put the scales there. This is how the popup menu gets filed.

We're heading into fall here in the Pacific Northwest, and in the Labs. I'm looking out the window in front of my stand-up desk and I know in a few weeks I'm going to have to think about replacing the insulating film I took down in the summer. It surely was one for the ages and though this turn of the seasons is always a little hard here in rainy Cascadia, I'm looking forward to more focused programming time or what my friend Bob calls code cougaring.

This seems like a good time to mention that Madrona Labs is happy to offer educational discounts of 50% off to any currently registered teacher or student. To get the discount, please email to support@madronalabs.com with some kind of documentation of your academic status, such as a picture of your current university ID, or a link to a dated directory webpage. Then I’ll send you a coupon code for the discount.

I've just released an update for all three instrument plugins: Aalto, Kaivo and Virta. This update brings fixes for stability and compatibility, and brings the version to 1.9.0. To update, just download the all-purpose installers as usual.

version 1.9.0 changes:

  • fixed a crash in the patcher UI after resizing the UI then dragging a patch cable
  • fixed an erratic issue where no drawing would happen in some hosts

Aaltoverb has come out of the gate going strong and to those of you who have supported this work with your purchase, thanks very much. By and large it's working very well for people and I have some cool enhancements in store that I couldn't quite get into the 1.0.0 version. One thing that's not working well is the detection of Metal support on Mac OS by the installer. If your graphics card is not compatible it's supposed to give you a notice, but instead it will install and then the plugin itself just produces a blank window. For those of you with these older Macs, I'm sorry about the confusion and will work to either support them or improve the installer.

Now that Aaltoverb is out I'm working on both software and hardware. In software land it's the long-awaited Sumu, and with the new framework in place demonstrated by Aaltoverb I'm more excited than ever to unveil some exotic new sounds. Hardware-wise, I'm now devoting quality time to finishing the Soundplane-cv module. Soundplane-cv is for directly connecting your Soundplane to the world of Eurorack, or anything else you can control with a voltage.

This particular development stretch has been a long one, and I'm looking forward to more variety ahead. One thing that's kept my enthusiasm up when I need a boost is the occasional clips you nice people send in with some novel or touching or funny sounds you are making with the tools I'm making. Many thanks!

I hope whatever you're cougaring on is fulfilling. If not, remember weird sounds are always there for you. More soon.

I have some new voice allocation code in the works that should fix this issue. Thanks for the feedback.

I don't have a fix yet. I haven't forgotten about it.

Yup, that makes sense. I'll see if I can make unison / MPE do something reasonable!

Sorry, the manual is not up to date on MPE outputs.

in MPE mode x is mapped to cc#73, as I answered in more detail here: https://madronalabs.com/topics/7440-aalto-s-key-module-outputs-in-mpe-mode-and-linnstrument

I'll investigate unison mode in MPE and at least make it try to do something reasonable. I don't think this was ever tested, because why would you use unison mode with MPE?

I'll check out Kaivo and see about changing it. Thanks for the feedback.

Thanks for the feedback.

Here is 1.8.5: https://madronalabs.com/media/aalto/Aalto1.8.5.pkg

I'm on the trail of this bug and should have an update available soon.

Some people contributed a few sounds that just went into the "Kaivo percussion" folders etc. It could have been some of those. I can't remember for sure.

Thanks for the report, I'll try to reproduce here.

Sorry to hear about this. Please go back to 1.8.5 for now. You can find the 1.8.5 installer here: https://madronalabs.com/media/aalto/AaltoInstaller1.8.5.exe

You may have to remove the 1.9.0 DLLs manually first.

Hi, I don't do a summer sale every year, this year I did an Aaltoverb release and announced the Simple bundle. I'm always trying new things. That said you can count on a year-end sale this year. Thanks for the good words.

I'm just one programmer with big ideas and limited resources, and I'm often overly optimistic. I'm sorry this results in bad time estimates sometimes, I'm working on it.

I'm going to make this thread sticky. It should be a good place to find and share Aalto patches. I'll try to post one every day or two for a while.

It would be cool if we could embed Soundcloud links here, but setting that up will take some time.

OK, thanks for the clear video—I'm having a look at this.

Sorry for the confusion with the installer. I had hoped to restrict it to require Metal but that's not working.

Don't worry, there's grief and suffering in developing the software too! :-)

I think this issue can come up seemingly randomly, which is one reason it has been hard for me to track down. I think I've fixed it but in reality I've just moved the code around so that it happens in a different set of circumstances.

Now that Aaltoverb is shipped I'm going to take another look. Thanks for your patience.

After installing Aalto 1.8.5 and then running it for the first time, sometimes Aalto's UI will come up "blank"—with no cables, preset text or dial indicators. This looks bad, but fortunately the fix is easy: just relaunch the application. The next time Aalto is launched it should have all of its UI.

Thanks for the report. I'll look into it. Meanwhile do you have any other DAWs on your machine you can try? I'm not saying you should switch what you are using but just to diagnose this problem. FL is kind of notoriously weird with VST plugin handling.

@plexus I'm definitely going to sympathize with you. I wish Apple had just decided to make a fast implementation of OpenGL on their new hardware instead of killing it.

On the other hand I'm liking the performance boost from Metal.

I'm going to take a look at adding a runtime switch that would let me bring up an OpenGL interface to support older computers

I'm using JUCE but not for drawing. Mainly just for low-level plugin support.

Drawing in Aaltoverb is all done on the GPU and not really optimized at all yet. So I'm not surprised to see a lot of GPU activity. I don't know what the CPU activity would be about. I'll be doing some profiling in the future, meanwhile I hope it still works OK for you.