h a l f b a k e r y
add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random
news, help, about, links, report a problem
or get an account
Ive been using synthesisers since I was a teenager, and
learned modular synthesis on a Roland System 700 and System
100 and Arp 2600 (in music shops in Melbourne that I used to
spend all my spare time in).
Nowadays, theres a resurged interest in modular synthesis,
but Im not going that
way, thanks. It looks too expensively
addictive, cocaine or gambling is probably cheaper and more
productive. Plus, how would you keep a fully expanded multi-
river Eurorack system tidy? Itd be a nightmare to do the
dusting. Plus, I dont think anyones noticed yet, but really,
its a fucking stupid idea to have so many patch cords
obscuring the knobs thatll never work.
Theres also a lot of music being made using laptops and
desktop computers, in a capable DAW with plugins. Theres
also a lot of music being made on iPads using a very
impressive range of insanely affordable iOS music apps.
However, doing it on the Mac or iPad suffers in one significant
area wheres the knobs? The software emulation of knobs is
almost always and without exception a lacking and deficient
experience, and the feel of a real knob in your hand is what
drives people to pay lots of money for vintage gear or the
Well, as with everything else, itll be VR to the rescue. I
predict the next significant generation of music apps will be
entirely VR UI based. Imagine a full modular synthesiser
environment in VR. This will no doubt be the next wave.
What this idea is, is to make the knobs big. Really big. Huge.
Theres no need to emulate piddling little knobs that are
about the same size as a real synth knob. In VR there
shouldnt be spatial limitations because things can be moved
or folded out of the way or perspectivised in extreme or
reverse, so that they present a dramatic curve that either
wraps around you or wraps away from you and can be scrolled
easily into place. This means that a full modular synth could
go on forever but can be seen almost all at once because the
part in front of you is full size and the parts either side of
that scale away increasingly. This also implies that the UI
controls can be nice and large, easy to get a hold of.
Each knob could be the size of an orange, and rotating it can
be made satisfyingly precise. Similarly, plugging in patch
cables and jacks would be oversized too. (although theres no
need to be too exaggerated you should be able to fully
utilise a knob with one hand).
What The Fuck Do Those Knobs Do? Nave iOS Spectrum
By the way, I did this today (revised new version). [Ian Tindale, Jun 06 2016]
Moog Sample & Hold explanation
This would seem to have some overlap with the "noisy" button from Ian's WTF link above. [zen_tom, Jun 07 2016]
What The Fuck Do Those Knobs Do in iVCS3?
Another WTFknobs video, this time for the iVCS3 synthesiser. [Ian Tindale, Jun 25 2016]
||When you said //Really big. Huge.//, I was imagining
something you might use to open the sluice-gates of a
||// The software emulation of knobs is almost always and without exception a lacking and deficient experience, //
// and the feel of a real knob in your hand is what drives people to pay lots of money //
||That could, with hindsight, be more judiciously phrased ...
// you should be able to fully utilise a knob with one hand //
||There speaks the voice of experience...
||In the past, only the knobs on the left-hand side of
synthesizers actually did anything; the ones on the
right were just for show. When people used these fake
knobs, expecting them to do something, it was seen as
sign of gaucheness and naivety. People who used these
knobs were seen
as foolish newbies who had not being paying attention
and lacked the knowledge and experience of their
betters. Usage of these knobs became a
shorthand for ignorance and stupidity more generally,
the saying: "I felt a right knob".
||Would a new, innovative knob be best described as a
||The problem with VR knobs is you miss out on the main reason for having them: the tactile feedback. Even a physical knob can be infuriating if it has the wrong amount of damping. The feel is everything.
||I recently had a go on an HTC Vive, which has hand-held controllers. For shooting games these can turn into guns, and because you can feel a physical trigger in your hand it's fairly convincing that you're really holding it. For picking things up they turn into a sort of magic wand that levitates objects. By far the best bit was opening and closing desk drawers, which caused just the right amount of vibration in the controllers as it moved.
||Perhaps VR drawbars, a virtual hammond organ, would be best.
||Forget the size of an orange. You want something the size
of a waterwheel. Make a VR adventure game out of setting
the right distortion, preamp gain, velocity, and suchforth,
where the VR user is comparatively the size of an ant. And
why stop there? Make the instruments huge too.
||Modulars should have spoked-wheel knobs. Also, sliders should be pull/push, like the choke on an old car. Just sayin'; carry on.
||It might be interesting to traverse the waveforms, too.
Perhaps the world of the VR could be the actual waveforms,
which you have to modulate in order to progress through
the 'game' to the next worlds.
||If you use a haptic apparatus directly on the hand,
you can make your knob feel as though it has a very
fine grained stepping action. And perhaps even
knurled to the feel.
||// liders should be pull/push, like the choke on a car. //
||Like the throttle levers on an aircraft would be better...
||In the 80s I used to have three very old console
faders, of the type one would associate with the
BBC/EMI gear, and I have now found out that they
were Painton quadrant faders. They were pretty
much a bullet proof unit comprising a stepped
resistor ladder, with many fine make-before-break
contacts, and an immensely satisfying feel to push
them up to attenuate, and down to let the audio
through. Theyre now quite rare and fetch a lot on
eBay, but mine went lost decades ago.
||Betcha Blue Man Group would be into it.