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 Forum index » Instruments and Equipment » General Discussion
Monome Aleph
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GovernorSilver



Joined: Apr 26, 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:28 pm    Post subject: Monome Aleph
Subject description: Finally you can use your Monome WITHOUT a computer
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...just connect it to a box that appears to be a descendant of the Nord Micromodular, Soundart Chameleon, Kyma, etc.

http://monome.org/aleph/

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Antimon



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Whoa brilliant. No idea what it was about, but yeah...
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schmelectro



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

You would think for $1400, it would have a lot more than 64MB of internal RAM worth only a few minutes of audio.
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GovernorSilver



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ezra Buchla responds to various comments here:

http://monome.org/community/discussion/comment/197144#Comment_197144

Yes, he addresses the 64MB RAM thing. The Octatrack(80MB RAM) doesn't have much more RAM either, and it originally sold for the same price of $1400. I heard it's back up to that price now, but I haven't tracked the pricing too closely.

There doesn't seem to be any dedicated hardware device - except maybe the Kyma boxes? - that have more than 80MB RAM. Most dedicated devices rely on streaming from removable media to accommodate audio that takes up more than 80MB RAM. I could be wrong though. Wink

I don't do anything musically that requires more RAM than that. If I ever did, I'd just stream audio from the CF card of my Octatrack.

I don't have a place for an Aleph in my rig at this time. Maybe after I start up a Eurorack modular or something... The Octatrack by itself keeps me busy enough! But I'm following developments with some interest...

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GovernorSilver



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Antimon wrote:
Whoa brilliant. No idea what it was about, but yeah...


It's like a Micromodular/Chameleon/Kyma, except unlike the Micromodular, you can program it more extensively; unlike the Chameleon, there's CV I/O; and it costs a lot less than any Kyma box.

It can be a synth, looper, effects box, some combination of those things, a sequencer for your CV driven modular, etc. - and on top of that you can connect a USB controller like a Monome and have that drive your hardware synths and other hardware without a computer.

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elmegil



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ezra has also joined Muff's, as "zebra" I believe, and is responding to commentary about the Aleph there as well.
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sneakthief



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Why are they using a 10-year old, 16bit DSP? (Blackfin BF533)
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schmelectro



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

GovernorSilver wrote:

There doesn't seem to be any dedicated hardware device - except maybe the Kyma boxes? - that have more than 80MB RAM. Most dedicated devices rely on streaming from removable media to accommodate audio that takes up more than 80MB RAM. I could be wrong though.

Hardware samplers like MPCs and workstation have had 128MB - 512MB of RAM for a while.
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GovernorSilver



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

schmelectro wrote:
GovernorSilver wrote:

There doesn't seem to be any dedicated hardware device - except maybe the Kyma boxes? - that have more than 80MB RAM. Most dedicated devices rely on streaming from removable media to accommodate audio that takes up more than 80MB RAM. I could be wrong though.

Hardware samplers like MPCs and workstation have had 128MB - 512MB of RAM for a while.


My Korg M3 has 320MB with the EXB-256 RAM expansion, but I never use it as a sampler. Why? Because the sampling UI is convoluted compared to the Octatrack.

I will take a device that will let me do lots of fun and interesting things to short audio samples (15 sec. or less) with a reasonably well designed UI over one with 300MB RAM and a hard to use UI.

Anyway, this Aleph doesn't look designed to be a multi-sample playback machine like an MPC, and it doesn't seem like Ezra wants to make another MPC. I guess an MPC or a laptop running Kontakt might be more of your kind of machine. Wink

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schmelectro



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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

GovernorSilver wrote:

Anyway, this Aleph doesn't look designed to be a multi-sample playback machine like an MPC, and it doesn't seem like Ezra wants to make another MPC. I guess an MPC or a laptop running Kontakt might be more of your kind of machine. Wink

Nah. MPCs are too slow and limited and the interface is not very immediate other than the pads. I'm not really into clicking around on desktop software anymore either. I'm finding that I can do everything I want on an iPad.
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GovernorSilver



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Some more comments from Ezra Buchla:

Quote:
wasn't exactly thinking of trying to make a "decent" usb-midi to CV converter. you can already get one of those. i was thinking along the lines of say, doing some analysis and putting out amplitude, pitch, spectral centroid, and spectral whiteness, as CV. after all there is a lot of audio processing available in there. but to each their own, is the whole idea.


Quote:
i mentioned this above, but what i'm working on is: amplitude envelope, fundamental frequency, spectral centroid, and spectral flatness, out to CV with options for scaling/offsets. the decoupling of these last three i have always found sort of magically useful for controlling synth parameters from acoustic instruments.


My comment: He plays viola. I play viola. He's obviously into electronic music. So am I. Thus, this is where the Aleph got my attention.

Some more comments from Buchla in response to comments/concerns about things I care less about (or not at all), like the Blackfin, but am sharing for the convenience of this community. Wink

Quote:
@djthopa :
delay/ fx? yes of course... as in the video for example. lots of delay with filtering in feedback paths. i'll do a reverb-centric module as well, fond memories of the Lexicon Vortex!

scaling audio outputs to modular format:
integrating with modular synths is a bonus for us but not a core application. so the audio is standard line-level (so is buchla 200 etc.) the CV is 0-10v.

i don't get the question about using CV outs for gate/trig. if thats what you want to do, why is it "waste" ? or maybe the question is, can it do MIDI sync; certainly it can.

old-school MIDI jacks? so funny, thats been said a couple times and i just don't get it. most midi controllers these days are USB and that is our primary use-case for midi. for older gear, a single-cable, 1x1 usb-midi interface costs $20, or get a bigger one if you want more ports? i mean the aleph box is 7" x 4.5" by 1.75" , and it is totally packed with stuff. all the stuff needs to be as versatile as possible and a bunch of opto-isolated MIDI jacks would be the opposite of that.

i think this is the last time i will even consider questions along the lines of "why doesn't it have more stuff and cost less." sorry but stuff costs money, end of story.

been in a massive push since we got prototypes getting all functions working. so we focused on two apps for starters: the monome sequencer + perc synthesis, and footswitch-controlled delay/looper with filters; these are in the video. other apps in the pipeline: a pretty rad FM/PM/sub synth with lots of internal feedback. chaotic oscillator bank. analysis->CV. sample manipulation. granular echo/synth module. gamepad/HID -> CV arpeggiator/LFO thing. these are all in various states of done-ness; we'll see where we get by ship time and take it from there with the help of the community.

bees is basically done (i've been working on it for years now, jeez), i need to go back to it and incorporate the large numbers of changes/improvements to the control kernel we've made in the last few weeks since finishing the hardware prototypes. yes it can switch control-routing presets instantly without interrupting sound. switching DSPs takes about 1 second and does interrupt sound. we'll have some bees demos very shortly and long before shipping time.

yes, OP-1 uses a blackfin. same chip i think, but theirs handles all the video and peripherals as well; we added another processor to do that stuff so the DSP is just focused on audio. i can't speak to their choice of converter or internal audio format; our converter is AD1989, 24-bit, 48k-192k, incredibly clean, and internal processing is 32-bit fixed-point, which is about as clean as it gets, and oversampled as needed by filters/shaping/etc. certainly the OP-1 is totally inspiring, especially in its UI design, industrial design, flexibility and how it is just very fun to use. but it was not a direct inspiration; the aleph has been taking shape for a long time.

someone was curious: communication between the 2 processors is over SPI at up to 50MHz. blackfin booted in SPI slave mode. we have a simple protocol for exchanging param change requests / analysis results and loading samples.

build tools: DSP and control code are independent. both use gcc-based cross-compilers (avr32-gcc , bfin-elf-gcc). DSP programs (.ldr) can be loaded on-the-fly from SD card. control firmware (.hex) can flashed to the unit from sdcard using the internal bootloader. so you can travel around with an aleph and an sdcard full of programs, no need for a computer to switch functionality.


more demos very soon!

thanks for the interest everyone

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clementshawes



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PostPosted: Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I missed a trick as I think I posted this in the Chameleon section an hour before you posted here; I shouldn't have been so niche Wink

At $1400 plus obligatory 20% import duties to UK, I can safely say any interest on my part is minimal. Shame, it could be awesome due to the Monome/Buchla name and associated community!

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