DAW-Like Tools

Until we have a built-in preset system, I thought this might be useful:
37%20AM
It’s a simple 4 channel sequencer intended to be used as a bank of presets. You connect each channel’s output to a control you wish to vary and set the knob appropriately for each step. To use a channel as a gate simply set the knob to 0 or 1. The unit can be stepped by using the trigger or by applying a pulse to the stp input. The reset trigger/input resets to step 1. I provided an output for the step and reset so that multiple units could be chained if desired ( see patch). By assigning a MIDI note to the triggers you can step it using an external controller.
preset bank V1.0.audulus (57.2 KB)

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That’s a lot cleaner than a bunch of 4 step sequencers scattered around. Nice.

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I love this thread, and it is like we are all of the same mindset, as I was just thinking what @futureaztec was thinking a few days prior to this thread, and picturing what @stschoen made. Thanks for starting this, and for what you have both brought to the table. It certainly saves myself and others the work, and it is definitely keeping up the great intended use of this community! I will be considering this more and I will also try to create something that could be useful =)

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Hopefully we’ll have a better preset system in version 4. @taylor and I have discussed some possible approaches. You could capture the settings of each knob, toggle, spline etc. that are currently persistent across restarts of a patch, or possibly even capture the entire patch. Each approach has it’s advantages and disadvantages from a programming point of view. At this point I don’t know what form it will ultimately take, but I know that it’s being considered.

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There is a side to this challenge that is not so feature dependent. TBH I am glad 4 is taking a bit because it gave me a year to try to understand so much of what is already here. IMO much of the joy of synthesis is in comprehending what is going on to some degree (and I do get it wrong often). I really appreciate that I could probably just turn to FM/PM synthesis, for example, and remain totally interested experimenting all day, because we have all the tools here. It is nice to continually return to these different elements, just as it is exciting to think that we will bring things like full-fledged wavetable synthesis or sampling into the fold, as we move forward.

Another positive aspect is that the principles of synthesis are universal. So you could desire a certain synth, but then relax, learn that type of sythesis in Audluus, then when the price drops and used units come up, it will be like you were working with that piece of gear for a while. It almost seems to balance excessive consumer desire with technical competence. It appears to slow down the hurry to buy, and encourages a decade-wide view of what is available. I found that once I had a few key pieces, I could admire all of the new gear but have a nice calm pace of interest where the acquisition of tools includes significant gratitude for innovation even if you are not looking to buy what you are admiring.

One could open up Ableton and arrange a bunch of loops and samples, which is fun. But to get Audulus to make dramatic patch changes that sound as though you are producing in a DAW, I believe, makes for a good logical challenge.

Regarding presets, it’s nice to have a bank of settings that display the range of sound possible – presets that follow the module or set of modules (this is probably where semi-modular approaches could be better because then you have one complete object, that includes multiple components, but with an overarching list of settings).

So, in terms of simulation, the idea of producing a logical system using and/or/if/then/etc., that governs the oscillators, envelopes and whatnot is almost a different concern. In this case, the user almost just needs to work with meta-logical approaches, which require more brain power. Although I do like when some of this gets grouped into a module so that there is a layer of interaction on the front end which is fluid and efficient to work with, there is still something unique to modular synthesis in terms of modulation, that can itself get lost with a digital preset feature.

Perhaps one of my favourite related outcomes is I just love brewing up a hot cup of coffee and watching some of the youtubers who are constantly working with new gear, then getting excited and opening up Audulus. I feel like this is actually a goal lots of people kind of desire. For example, I ordered a kit guitar from China. Part for part it is a piece of junk. I think maybe it came from a pile of “b” or “c” grade Q.C. rejects. But the fact that I had to assemble it and solder the pickups to the pots and all that, almost opened up the instrument to me for the first time.

So the $3000 guitar or the $700 euro module can be so exiting and otherworldly to acquire, but that type of excitement is fleeting. One almost has to be disciplined to transfer that positivity into some sort of mastery before it slips through the hands, so to speak.

Finally, I would say that really the sense of community, sharing, and good natured technical collaboration (engineering), seems to be a refreshing way for people to work together. It reminds me of carpentry books from the 70’s. :slight_smile:

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In the context of Audulus I view presets primarily as an aid to performance. The ability to change settings and possibly re-wire on the fly could certainly lead to a more fluid session. In some sense a patch file is a preset itself but the current mechanism for loading patch files is a bit cumbersome to use dynamically.
While it might be nice to include a few simple preset patches to use as an introduction to Audulus, I don’t expect a library of presets to be part of the product.

I’ve found that, at least for me, the large number of presets included with my UltraNova (almost 400) is actually a barrier to using the instrument to it’s fullest. It’s very easy to get lost in the presets rather than sculpting sounds from scratch. The UltraNova is a very capable polyphonic 3 oscillator synth with a wide set of waveforms, very flexible VCF’s and envelopes, a good selection of effects and an extensive modulation matrix but it does require a bit of work to set up. There’s a software editor which makes the process easier but whether you use the built-in menus or the editor, you need to have at least a general idea of where you’re going. It’s much easier to spin the preset dial until you find an interesting sound. A couple of times I’ve been tempted to delete all the presets to force myself to be a little more creative rather than rely on sounds created by others.

Ableton Live was a big change for me as far as workflow. I was used to a traditional DAW which mirrors a hardware studio. I still don’t take full advantage of all its capabilities. I’m hoping that when the new Audulus AU is released it will be lightweight enough that multiple instances will be feasible. You could have a drum patch, a pad and a lead voice all as separate AU instances on their own tracks rather than all in one patch. I hope to use Live and Audulus much more synergistically in future. I think it’s certainly fair to view Live as an instrument in its own right.

While it’s easy to get excited by the latest piece of gear, I think it’s important to realize that one more gadget won’t magically make one a better musician. There is much virtue in simplicity. Better to fully master one instrument than toy with many. I admit that I’m certainly guilty of “gear acquisition syndrome” myself from time to time, but I try to keep it in check. Glad I’m not into guitar pedals anymore. :cowboy_hat_face: Audulus is a great way to experiment with a wide variety of synthesis techniques and effects without breaking the bank or filling up the studio. BTW my current iPad Air 2 has developed a malfunctioning home button, so I was forced to buy a new iPad Air. A pro was really overkill for me since I primarily use the iMac, but it’ll be nice to have a bit more horsepower. My old one still works more or less so I can potentially run 2 iPads and an iPhone with Audulus. There might be something interesting one could do with multiple devices. Hope Ableton link is included in the next release.

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I really like this kind of dialogue and it seems like @stevo3985 has been making an extra effort to publicly support open thought on these topics.
With @taylor being a graphics man, and given the direction Steve Duda went with Serum, I think things are going to get extremely good. Visualization appears to be very useful, once all of the main tools have been refined.

Yes this does go both ways. I deleted all the presets on my Analog Four. But then I went and purchased a really nice package of presets that had a certain theme. That’s one of the super cool things about having a physical unit. It’s yours and you can build yourself tons of voices to work with over the years. I don’t think people have engineered this process to its fullest yet.

On the Reaktor forum – Reaktor is such a good benchmark for Audulus because of its longevity – often someone would build something, then other builders (some leagues ahead in their abilities) would spend time making presets for someone else’s modules or synths. It seemed like a really nice way to compliment each other. I guess I brought some of that over to Audulus by naming things “fan patches.”

One thing that was nice was when I completed a house music album, one of the builders bought the album I think because he appreciated that someone had made an album using tools he built. Really nice circle.

I think in some ways Audulus has been better without presets because it forces you to know how to synthesize things. You are less apt to save a happy accident and utilize it often. But, then, I almost think that starts to develop one’s ear better. It means you are always moving the parameters into relative harmonies (getting drums to sit right).

But then coming back to the 400 presets. One thing I love about Korg Gadget is that sometimes musically you just need a good pad – and you need that pad within about 30 seconds or you will loose too much momentum. So sometimes I just grab a preset so I can flesh the tracks out better. Remaining interested is such a part of the end product. But I also decided not to make things I think are super good, because I just want to develop certain skills a bit at a time. I could spend weeks mastering, or I could make 3 tracks.

As an artist, as a writer/surfer/whatever, I have often felt annoyed with mentors. They always seem way to hyper-focused on the rules. Like you hand in this labour of love and they start getting on you about paragraph structures and never discuss the meat of the thing that makes the whole effort somewhat genuine and vulnerable. I have never known how to get away from that non-sense. I am not drawn to safe, edited, problem-free art. I prefer the messy, cutting edge with just a few glimmering bits. I don’t think people get that.

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Okay, the “preset bank.” It would be nice to turn those indicator lights into gates as well. If you feed the preset bank a gate every few bars, then you get a nice knob change for a modulation shift in the patch. I think it would also be nice to fire a gate off so that you could trigger an event - maybe an envelope or something in the patch.

I understand all this can be done with dividers and this and that. I just think that organization is really important for fluid creativity.

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Working Project.audulus (1.5 MB)

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Here’s one with gates for each step:
preset bank V1.1.audulus (61.6 KB)

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Moved the gates to the bottom:
preset bank V1.2.audulus (30.8 KB)

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I am working on a fully adjustable bass synth module that (I hope) you will find to be as intuitive to use and easy to adjust to your tastes as you would with something like Dublin in KG. I just need a few more days to work out the kinks, and I will post it here when it is done.

I hope you guys are having a great weekend, and I just wanna say, regarding his contributions to this thread in the short span it has been up, I think @stschoen is a genius of DSP programming and design! Is there anything you aren’t able to make for us? Thanks man! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks for the compliment! Im looking forward to seeing your bass module. The low end has always been the area most difficult to get right for me.

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Trying to put the finishing touches on my bass synth module, and I am having a bit of an issue with the sync function of the 4 oscillator bank. In an ideal setup, what feeds the ‘sync’ input of the slave oscillators? I have the gate output connected, but it sounds really no different when switching the gate triggers on and off, IMO. Should the output of the master osc be connected to it instead? What does the real world application look like on hardware to keep them in sync with one another?

The sync input resets the phase of the output waveform to the start whenever it receives a trigger (positive-going leading edge).
It depends on what you are trying to achieve. If the oscillators are all set to the same frequency and you just want to keep them all in phase, a single pulse will do the job. Because the oscillators in Audulus are digital, they will stay in sync. It doesn’t hurt to feed the output of the “master” to the sync input of the others if you like, but it isn’t really necessary.
In the hardware modular world this input is often used to generate a “hard sync” effect by feeding the output of one oscillator to the sync input of another which is tuned to a lower frequency than the first. Because the second oscillator is reset by each cycle of the first, its output frequency will match the frequency of the first, but because of the abrupt rese each cyclet, the second waveform will have additional harmonics introduced resulting in the “hard sync” sound.

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Ok, that is what I was looking for. How do I achieve this using the digital oscillators? I have noticed that when they are set to the exact same frequency, there is no noticeable change between sync and not sync’d. Maybe a detune function for the oscillators that will send them all off of center by a few cents, if not more?

You need to lower the frequency of the oscillators that you are trying to sync and connect their sync input to the output of the primary. I would lower the frequency by more than a few cents, maybe a couple of semitones or more. Remember that because of the sync from the primary you won’t actually be detuning them.

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Ok, thanks @stschoen! Quick question about mixing audio and CV signals: does this photo mean that if I put CV signals into my audio interface, I can use the CV signals in A3? Or would I still need a DC coupled interface for the ADC?

Edit: To be clear, I have this unit connected to my computer through my AudioBox iTwo with regular 1/4” TS mono cable, and the AudioBox is just an AC coupled interface, afaik.

The mixers are DC coupled which allows them to pass either CV or audio. Assuming your iTwo is AC coupled, it wouldn’t pass CV which is usually at sub-audio frequencies. Most audio interfaces block signals below about 20 Hz to prevent unintended DC offsets.

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Darn…thanks for the clarification though!

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