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Old 11-30-2015, 08:44 AM
sramsay sramsay is offline
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Default Stupid Hardware Question

I know absolutely nothing about synth hardware. I don't own any and have never used any. I'm a 100% in the box.

My question is this: What does a piece of synth hardware have to have (in terms of ports) in order to be driven by Numerology? For example, would simple synthesizers like the Waldorf Rocket, Pulse 2, or Moog's Werkstatt work? I realize I can drive these synths from a MIDI controller (not sure about the Werkstatt), and I also realize that Numerology could be that controller. But can I modulate parameters on these synths from within Numerology?

As you can tell, I'm thinking of dipping my toe into the pool here. I have a Twin 2 Audio interface, if that matters.

Steve
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  #2  
Old 11-30-2015, 11:39 AM
jim jim is offline
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Originally Posted by sramsay View Post
I know absolutely nothing about synth hardware. I don't own any and have never used any. I'm a 100% in the box.
That's OK, certainly we can help with that...

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Originally Posted by sramsay View Post
My question is this: What does a piece of synth hardware have to have (in terms of ports) in order to be driven by Numerology? For example, would simple synthesizers like the Waldorf Rocket, Pulse 2, or Moog's Werkstatt work? I realize I can drive these synths from a MIDI controller (not sure about the Werkstatt), and I also realize that Numerology could be that controller. But can I modulate parameters on these synths from within Numerology?
Other than using the 'audio 2 cv' trick with modular gear, the two options for controlling hardware synths are:

- MIDI over traditional MIDI cables.
- MIDI over USB.

Most hardware synths these days use MIDI over USB. It is very handy (no extra MIDi cables), highly compatible (via class-compliant MIDI drivers) and fast (much faster than MIDI cables). I think everything in your list fits that category. All you have to do is plug it into the computer, and (sometimes) restart Numerology. It will show up in the MIDI out menus, and you're good to go.

For modulation, you would probably be using MIDI CC messages, possibly also NRPN. Check the manual for each synth to see how they are setup, then use the CC Out and NRPN Out modules as needed. Don't go crazy all at once -- though USB is plenty fast, some synths may not respond well to very high rates of CC messages.

For MIDI over cables, you need an interface of some sort -- usually as part of an audio interface, but there are still some standalone interfaces around. MIDI cables are really quite slow, so you are somewhat limited in how rapidly you can modulate things.

Cheers,
Jim
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Old 11-30-2015, 11:44 AM
sramsay sramsay is offline
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Wow, that's a lot easier than I thought. Why is it, though, that people with Euroracks use special software (I think you did a video on that at one point)?
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Old 11-30-2015, 12:13 PM
jim jim is offline
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So modular systems, and older hardware analog gear use "control voltages". The Eurorack standard is 1 volt per octave over -5/+5 volts for pitch, and an 'on or off' voltage for gate. The traditional solution for interfacing such gear with computers is a "MIDI 2 CV" interface, but good ones can be expensive, and they tend to be a bit limited -- i.e. not many CV outs.

As it turns out, some audio interfaces can generate the sort of steady-state voltages needed to drive CV-based gear. Such interfaces are called "DC Capable", and almost all MOTU interfaces qualify. So that can be your hardware connection -- usually with some custom cabling. But you also need some pitch calibration to keep from going insane, that's where the software comes in. Both MOTU's Volta and Expert Sleepers SilentWay can be used to provide calibrated conversion from MIDI to audio-based CVs -- with appropriate hardware. It can be a bit tedious sometimes to get everything calibrated, but once it is setup, it works really well.

Cheers,
Jim
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Old 11-30-2015, 03:24 PM
sramsay sramsay is offline
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Ah, I get it. Sounds like you need to be a serious gear head for some of this stuff.

While I have you on the line, Jim: Numerology is incredible. I've had it for maybe two months and it's the absolute center of my studio.

I keep having this experience over and over where I say, "Hmm, I guess I have to switch over to my DAW to do this part. Well, wait . . . I could hook this up to this . . ." My DAW is rapidly becoming a fancy tape recorder.

I don't know if you're frustrated by this, but I can't figure out why MusicRadar, Sound on Sound, and the others aren't writing passionate reviews of your software. I found it almost by accident searching for sequencers, and I only just barely found it. These guys do have a certain obscurity threshold, and I can understand that, but surely there are enough users of Numerology to warrant a review! I have seen one tepid one (for an old version), and one better one, but only one of those is for version 4. Seems ridiculous to me.

Then again, I don't want anyone else to know about. It's my secret weapon.
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Old 12-01-2015, 04:12 PM
jim jim is offline
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Originally Posted by sramsay View Post
Ah, I get it. Sounds like you need to be a serious gear head for some of this stuff.
Sometimes, yes — but there are a lot of resources out there to learn the tricky stuff. Used to be it took lots of money
and work to get a modular system to do anything, now it is much easier…

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While I have you on the line, Jim: Numerology is incredible. I've had it for maybe two months and it's the absolute center of my studio.
Awesome!

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Originally Posted by sramsay View Post
I keep having this experience over and over where I say, "Hmm, I guess I have to switch over to my DAW to do this part. Well, wait . . . I could hook this up to this . . ." My DAW is rapidly becoming a fancy tape recorder.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sramsay View Post
I don't know if you're frustrated by this, but I can't figure out why MusicRadar, Sound on Sound, and the others aren't writing passionate reviews of your software. I found it almost by accident searching for sequencers, and I only just barely found it. .
So my question then is: where did you find it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sramsay View Post
These guys do have a certain obscurity threshold, and I can understand that, but surely there are enough users of Numerology to warrant a review! I have seen one tepid one (for an old version), and one better one, but only one of those is for version 4. Seems ridiculous to me.
I do get them now and again — Keys magazine, Computer Music, etc — not as much as I’d like, but the publishing world is a tricky one to work with…

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Originally Posted by sramsay View Post
Then again, I don't want anyone else to know about. It's my secret weapon.


Cheers,
Jim
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  #7  
Old 12-02-2015, 07:07 AM
sramsay sramsay is offline
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So my question then is: where did you find it?
Music Radar devoted an issue to modulars a while back (I absolutely love modular softsynths), and they had a brief section in there where they talked about how back in the day people used to build up tracks using step sequencers and how this workflow could unleash some creative energies. They were using an Kirnu Cream to demonstrate this technique. I played around with that, but it became clear that doing it with Cream was a bit of a hack. So I started searching around for step sequencers. I found Thesys and B-Step fairly quickly, as well as some Reaktor ensembles.

I think I stumbled on Numerology (finally) in the Muff Wiggler forum, which I don't regularly read. Someone called it the mother of all step sequencers or something like that.

But that seems awfully roundabout for a program that leaves every other step sequencer completely in the dust.

I'm also a developer, so I know how much work this entails, but have you thought of trying to submit a radically cutdown version of Numerology as a freebie for Computer Music or Music Tech? The fact that it's Mac only might be a problem, but I have several times bought the full rig after playing with one of the baby versions.

Honestly, I just want you to get exceedingly rich off this thing so you never stop working on it and making it yet more awesome.
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2015, 08:08 AM
Groovetronic Groovetronic is offline
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Positive stuff
I know exactly what you mean.

I'm amazed Apple hasn't snapped this up, bundled it in with Logic and made Jim a bazillionaire at the the same time

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Old 12-03-2015, 06:59 AM
sramsay sramsay is offline
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I know exactly what you mean.

I'm amazed Apple hasn't snapped this up, bundled it in with Logic and made Jim a bazillionaire at the the same time

OTOH, we'd lose what might be the best customer service ever. Ask a question, and by the end of the day, chances are the guy who wrote it gets back to you with a detailed answer. Not only that, by I challenge you to find one snarky RTFM from him anywhere in this forum.
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