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Why all the knobs on softsynths?
Old 30th January 2013
  #1
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Starspawn's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Why all the knobs on softsynths?

I had a thought, looking at softsynth interfaces and at DAW controllers.

There really isnt enough hands is there?
And there seems to be a lot of potential wasted with all the pressure sensitive pads when it comes to synths.

So I was thinking, sure there can be a lot of automation, and most synths allow for that through daws, but it can get static, not so expressive.
But on regular synths you have the option of routing aftertouch to a lot of paramaters, and it can be far more economical in the sense of movement/energy spent compared to knobs.
And LFO offcourse.

So what I thought was that since there will be automation anyway, why not set up a selection of pseudo-LFOs instead of knobs ... random, sweeping, free-running or not, all the regular usefull types.
Add attack options (velocity for pads) and pressure sensitivity.

That way, instead of turning a knob or programming an automation, you could choose an LFO/Control profile, route to what was a knob, and have expressive control via pressure sensitivity on the pads. Hit the pads, wiggle wiggle and presto all the wubs you like.

That could bring all those controllers to more use with synths rather than just being drumpads.

So anything like that already being done?
Old 30th January 2013
  #2
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nebelfrau's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Unless I am mistaken, it seems what you want to do can already be done. I can route MIDI commands to my pads. I think I am confused
Old 30th January 2013
  #3
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steveswisher's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Velocity sensitive pads give midi values 0-127 same as a knob. You can set this to control whatever you want.
Old 30th January 2013
  #4
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Yes, I figured It could be programmed, and that people did something like it.
I just wondered if it was so common that it should be a regular feature for the user, inside the softsynth, instead of just all the knobby interfaces.
Aftertouch is a natural part of a keyboard synth, you dont have to do elaborate programming to use it, its a feature the synths allow for.
So I was wondering if soft synths really took advantage of the interfaces they are used with.
And suggested an improvement in design.
Good LFOs with velocity and aftertouch for every paramater, triggered by pads.
It would mostly be just adding more LFOs
Simple to do

That may already be implemented, and possible.
Thats often the case, it was mostly an idle thought from a brain thats had little sleep.
Old 30th January 2013
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starspawn ➑️
I had a thought, looking at softsynth interfaces and at DAW controllers.

There really isnt enough hands is there?
And there seems to be a lot of potential wasted with all the pressure sensitive pads when it comes to synths.

So I was thinking, sure there can be a lot of automation, and most synths allow for that through daws, but it can get static, not so expressive.
But on regular synths you have the option of routing aftertouch to a lot of paramaters, and it can be far more economical in the sense of movement/energy spent compared to knobs.
And LFO offcourse.

So what I thought was that since there will be automation anyway, why not set up a selection of pseudo-LFOs instead of knobs ... random, sweeping, free-running or not, all the regular usefull types.
Add attack options (velocity for pads) and pressure sensitivity.

That way, instead of turning a knob or programming an automation, you could choose an LFO/Control profile, route to what was a knob, and have expressive control via pressure sensitivity on the pads. Hit the pads, wiggle wiggle and presto all the wubs you like.

That could bring all those controllers to more use with synths rather than just being drumpads.

So anything like that already being done?
That depends on what softsynth you are using. Depends also on how deep the programming gets on it.
Old 30th January 2013 | Show parent
  #6
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nebelfrau's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Starspawn ➑️
Yes, I figured It could be programmed, and that people did something like it.
I just wondered if it was so common that it should be a regular feature for the user, inside the softsynth, instead of just all the knobby interfaces.
Aftertouch is a natural part of a keyboard synth, you dont have to do elaborate programming to use it, its a feature the synths allow for.
So I was wondering if soft synths really took advantage of the interfaces they are used with.
And suggested an improvement in design.
Good LFOs with velocity and aftertouch for every paramater, triggered by pads.
It would mostly be just adding more LFOs
Simple to do

That may already be implemented, and possible.
Thats often the case, it was mostly an idle thought from a brain thats had little sleep.
That can be done, too. And it doesn't get much easier than routing a LFO to a pressure pad. Unless you mean for that to be included in the synth interface?
Old 30th January 2013
  #7
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steveswisher's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I think there's a lot missing from softsynths being married to controllers. Arturia has some pretty cool stuff out and the new MS-20 will be interesting but overall there are some major gaps in that market. The most impressive softsynths I've messed with are ones on my iPad. Having the touchscreen gives more dimensions of control than we are seeing in current hardware controllers.
Old 30th January 2013
  #8
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Yes, thats what I mean.
If that is how the softsynth is used anyway, what is the point of 1 or two LFOs and 30 knobs?
Why not 12 LFOs for expressive pad control?
Old 30th January 2013 | Show parent
  #9
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nebelfrau's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Starspawn ➑️
Yes, thats what I mean.
If that is how the softsynth is used anyway, what is the point of 1 or two LFOs and 30 knobs?
Why not 12 LFOs for expressive pad control?
Ok, I finally see what you're getting at. While I couldn't give you a definitive reason for the logic behind softsynth design and controller design, I can tell you that not everybody wants all their knobs assigned to just LFOs. For example, out of the 8 knobs on my controller, up to 5 are used for effects and the other 3 may be used for (synth) filter cutoff, oscillator frequency, & maybe an LFO or resonance control. While I understand you're ideology, I don't think in practice it would be best.
Old 30th January 2013
  #10
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Starspawn's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
No thats the traditional way of doing it, tweaking all those things with knobs.
I meant using the pads as knobs, with LFOs (or similar movement templates if thats an easier way of describing the purpose) supplying the movement and velocity and aftertouch the expression/change in that movement.
Thus getting more movement, with less effort, and using more of the controllers abilities.
I think pressing pads would make for a more expressive playing style than trying to tweak a knob with each finger, and that designers should think of such things, not just make a keyboard synth as vst.
Old 30th January 2013
  #11
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Bobby Vosene's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Surely you still need knobs to dial in the patch in the first place though?
Old 30th January 2013
  #12
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Starspawn's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Yes, I am simply suggesting that in addition to using the knobs we know and love, you can also utilize the pads that DAW controllers are riddled with.
So you could do your knob filtersweep with one hand, and have four other movements going with pads with your other hand.
Or when youre used to it, do 8 realtime adjustments at once.

Theres so much thats often automated anyway, so adjusting this kind of preset automation (Which LFOs in a sense are) easily would be welcome Id think?

I bet people are doing it already, but making it easier is all Im suggesting.

Its a bit like polyphonic aftertouch, so usefull for expressive playing, but still rare to see supported.
Old 30th January 2013 | Show parent
  #13
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nebelfrau's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Starspawn ➑️
No thats the traditional way of doing it, tweaking all those things with knobs.
I meant using the pads as knobs, with LFOs (or similar movement templates if thats an easier way of describing the purpose) supplying the movement and velocity and aftertouch the expression/change in that movement.
Thus getting more movement, with less effort, and using more of the controllers abilities.
I think pressing pads would make for a more expressive playing style than trying to tweak a knob with each finger, and that designers should think of such things, not just make a keyboard synth as vst.
Maybe you want a Continuum.... ?

HakenAudio | Overview | Features

But what you're describing can be done with pads. Do you mean multiple controller messages per pad? As in, one pressure pad controls both (keeping with your example) LFO rate AND depth? Or multiple LFOs? I am perfectly capable of assigning a pad to any synth function, including power on/off. But I don't think multiple functions are possible. As in 4 LFOs to one pad. Also, pads don't seem the most expressive thing to me. Unless you're feather fingered. For this purpose anyway... I'd rather control it with keys
Old 30th January 2013 | Show parent
  #14
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Starspawn's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nebelfrau ➑️
Maybe you want a Continuum.... ?

HakenAudio | Overview | Features

But what you're describing can be done with pads. Do you mean multiple controller messages per pad? As in, one pressure pad controls both (keeping with your example) LFO rate AND depth? For this purpose anyway... I'd rather control it with keys
I would like a continuum
And I prefer keys as well.
Its was mostly a thought based on the context of
1: Controllers for DAWs have lots of pressure sensitive pads.
2: Theyre not utilized much for expressive playing other than drums/hits, knobs seem to fill all tweaking functions and theres a limit to how many you can tweak when everythings going.
3: Wouldnt it be neat for those using mainly those controllers to have more real time expression of their tracks using what theyve got, and not automating everything to boredom.
4: How could the synth engines allow for that if they wanted to as well as catering for those using keyboards.

As I said, just idle speculation.

As for setup, more like:
LFO/Envelope/Other moving part in engine set as target, velocity and aftertouch affecting target when pressing.

If that turned into common poly aftertouch and the ability to make key zones of what they affect when using keyboards that would be sweet as well
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