Music Player Network
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3
Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
#3039511 04/19/20 01:40 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Hey y'all!

I have had an ASM Hydrasynth in the studio for a while, and I'm happy to tell you guys about it here in the GearLab. This synth is a keyboard player's dream; while I like bleepy bloopy stuff and DJ gear and weird controllers as much as the next mad scientist, and while there is a desktop version of the Hydrasynth with pressure pads etc., the keyboard version I have here is just devastatingly fun.

I will post some videos and hopefully be here to answer questions of all kinds, so hit me up!

In Part 1, I am drawing the inevitable comparison between the Hydrasynth and the Yamaha CS-80, because for the first week of playing it, that was literally ALL I could think about, and I have to get it out of my system early. I realize that I am diving in at the deep end for one particular aspect of the synth, but when you hear it, I think you can forgive me for an initial "OMG" moment caught on video. It's just SO much fun to play...!

For now, here are my first impressions (go easy on me, I am VERY new to this whole video thing)...



Looking forward to seeing where this goes!

Next time: a tour of the front panel and a general introduction to the synth's layout.

mike

Last edited by Dr Mike Metlay; 04/19/20 02:17 AM.

Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
4 members like this: Pim, Markyboard, Magman, Dave Bryce
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039545 04/19/20 04:41 AM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 21,333
Likes: 150
4x KCFFL Champ
20k Club
Offline
4x KCFFL Champ
20k Club
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 21,333
Likes: 150
Damn, that thing sounds good. Really full and warm...this instrument is on my short list, so I'm psyched to watch you dig in.
Show us what she's got, brotha! keys2

BTW - totally digging Thing as a guest host. grin

[Linked Image from 66.media.tumblr.com]

dB

Re: Dr. Mike, with the HydraSynth, in the GearLab
Dave Bryce #3039550 04/19/20 06:10 AM
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 1,520
Likes: 6
Platinum Member
Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Jan 2014
Posts: 1,520
Likes: 6
How's the keybed feel, especially the polyphonic aftertouch? drool


-Tom Williams
<First name><At>AirNetworking<dot>com
PC361, PX-5S, AX-Edge
M-Audio Keystation 88, Axiom 61
Re: Dr. Mike, with the HydraSynth, in the GearLab
Dave Bryce #3039555 04/19/20 07:36 AM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,832
Likes: 4
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,832
Likes: 4
I want a 16-voice version with a 5 octave keyboard, like Novation did with the Summit.

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dave Bryce #3039560 04/19/20 11:27 AM
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 6,875
Likes: 62
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 6,875
Likes: 62
Very nice intro Dr Mike. Looking forward to the next installment.

1 member likes this: Dr Mike Metlay
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039596 04/19/20 04:32 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 799
Likes: 7
Gold Member
Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 799
Likes: 7
Impressive synth and good demonstration. Thanks Mike.

1 member likes this: Dr Mike Metlay
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039603 04/19/20 05:54 PM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Platinum Member
Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Good stuff, Dr. Mike. I like this keyboard. Somebody needs to give me one!!!! :- D

The sound is nice, a pair of decent headphones plugged into my older laptop sounded great. The background noise is minor and nothing to worry about.

As far as improving your video (sorry, I'm a photographer!), there are some minor aspects of the lighting that could be improved. I saw your note regarding camera angle, I think it is a good angle for showing the keyboard. Maybe another camera on the other side? That tasks you with video editing so maybe not. Simple is good. I don't mind the angle at all, it's more about the lighting.

The bright window in the upper left of center is causing lens flare, that "foggy" look.

I see the reflection of another light (overhead?) on the knobs. Covering the window when recording video might be all you need to do to improve the image quality.
If the light coming from the window is also improving exposure then a different camera position could eliminate the flare as well. Those are both easy fixes and probably free. Free is good.

If you want to take it a step farther, bouncing light off of white surfaces that are not in the direct image will provide soft, friendly light. White foam core is good, it's stiff, lightweight and affordable. A local sign shop or print shop may sell you a couple of sheets, take a knife to cut it down if you can't deal with an 8'x4 sheet. One sheet on the ceiling above the keyboard with lights bouncing off of it would work wonders for brightening the scene if that's something you would like to do. Hanging or standing a couple of pieces behind you and bouncing light off of them will fill in the area nicely as well.

You can just hang white sheets if that's easier, it will take more light since some will bleed through the fabric instead of reflecting.
It doesn't take much $$ to improve things, experiementing with reflected light can often be done with stuff you already have.
Hope any of this is helpful, Cheers, Kuru.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
1 member likes this: Dave Bryce
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039656 04/20/20 02:58 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Wow, lots of questions above and lots of answers below! But first:

I'll be doing more writing and less videoing for a little bit, as I break down the basics of the Hydrasynth. Just to whet your appetitues, though, here's a quick tour of the beast!



Now then, questions to be answered...!


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
1 member likes this: Pim
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dave Bryce #3039660 04/20/20 03:06 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
Damn, that thing sounds good. Really full and warm...this instrument is on my short list, so I'm psyched to watch you dig in.
Show us what she's got, brotha! keys2

BTW - totally digging Thing as a guest host. grin

[Linked Image from 66.media.tumblr.com]

dB
I have been getting compliments on Thing, yes. Hey, one camera and a natural tendency toward gesticulation. Sue me. grin

You have a historical connection to this synth, Bro Dave... the head of the design team was one of the guys who worked on the Alesis Andromeda back in the day.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039662 04/20/20 03:09 AM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Platinum Member
Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
New camera angle looks good!

I like the layout, it makes sense to me.
I can tell this thing can get way crazy!


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
1 member likes this: Dr Mike Metlay
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Tom Williams #3039663 04/20/20 03:14 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by Tom Williams
How's the keybed feel, especially the polyphonic aftertouch? drool
Phenomenally good.

Slightly stiff but not semi-weighted keybed, great for fast playing and with good dynamic range from nuanced playing with varied velocity. Bit of a bummer that release velocity is not transmitted, but it IS received as part of the still-developing MPE support for the Hydra. (If I get a chance, I will try to post about its new MPE capabilities later on. I don't have it for much longer, alas...)

The poly aftertouch is SWEET, way better than anything I've played since the Prophet-T8 back at the dawn of time. I was spoiled by the T8, and was not really a fan of other designs... neither the Ensoniq keybed (too clacky and mushy), nor the Kurzweil (always felt like the keys weren't connected to anything), nor the Infinite Response (very little tactile give to speak of). My good friend Dean Swan swears by the ancient Roland A-80's poly aftertouch, but I don't have enough hands-on experience to make a comparison; alas, the same is true for comparing the Hydra to the original CS-80. But it feels grand, just enough give without being spongy. In a way I am glad it didn't come out a year earlier; it would have made me so happy that I would have never gotten into MPE at all!


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Marzzz #3039666 04/20/20 03:28 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by Marzzz
I want a 16-voice version with a 5 octave keyboard, like Novation did with the Summit.
A lot of people have said that, and who knows, it may happen. But I think the 4-octave format is a very good compromise as a starter unit, with the possibility of expansion to larger form factors (or compression to smaller ones) in the future.

As for the polyphony, your mileage will vary but personally I think that more than 8 voices in a monotimbral synth like this one is more than enough -- it hits really hard and could bury a mix pretty easily if not played with discretion. Yes, Sequential built a 10-voice version of the Prophet-5, and Oberheim shoved two Xpanders into one box with the Matrix-12... but as an original P5rev1 player and a 34-year owner of an Xpander, I couldn't see the need. Besides, both those examples were kludges that caused as many problems as they solved, to say nothing of the cost.

Someday, yeah, maybe they'll make a multitimbral version with 128 voices split into eight 16-voice engines or something, but I would be hard pressed to see why. This synth isn't a bed of mixed greens or a basic polenta, it's a sweet pepper harissa sauce with extra garlic and chopped arbol peppers; you don't want to drink it by the gallon, that's not the point.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
KuruPrionz #3039669 04/20/20 03:34 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Good stuff, Dr. Mike. I like this keyboard. Somebody needs to give me one!!!! :- D

The sound is nice, a pair of decent headphones plugged into my older laptop sounded great. The background noise is minor and nothing to worry about.

As far as improving your video (sorry, I'm a photographer!), there are some minor aspects of the lighting that could be improved. I saw your note regarding camera angle, I think it is a good angle for showing the keyboard. Maybe another camera on the other side? That tasks you with video editing so maybe not. Simple is good. I don't mind the angle at all, it's more about the lighting.

The bright window in the upper left of center is causing lens flare, that "foggy" look.

I see the reflection of another light (overhead?) on the knobs. Covering the window when recording video might be all you need to do to improve the image quality.
If the light coming from the window is also improving exposure then a different camera position could eliminate the flare as well. Those are both easy fixes and probably free. Free is good.

If you want to take it a step farther, bouncing light off of white surfaces that are not in the direct image will provide soft, friendly light. White foam core is good, it's stiff, lightweight and affordable. A local sign shop or print shop may sell you a couple of sheets, take a knife to cut it down if you can't deal with an 8'x4 sheet. One sheet on the ceiling above the keyboard with lights bouncing off of it would work wonders for brightening the scene if that's something you would like to do. Hanging or standing a couple of pieces behind you and bouncing light off of them will fill in the area nicely as well.

You can just hang white sheets if that's easier, it will take more light since some will bleed through the fabric instead of reflecting.
It doesn't take much $$ to improve things, experiementing with reflected light can often be done with stuff you already have.
Hope any of this is helpful, Cheers, Kuru.
Thanks, Kuru. I am indeed very new at this (You're gonna hate the bloom on the second video. Sorry in advance.) but your advice is much appreciated. This is literally the first video I've ever shot in this room, which is camera-unfriendly to say the least, and it took a fair bit of arm-twisting from Bryce to even get me to do THIS much. It had to be fast and out the door or I'd second-guess myself and never do ANYTHING.

Over time, I am hoping to improve things, but it will take time and I thank you all for your patience in the meantime. Actually, I am not sure how many actual VIDEOS I will shoot for this keyboard going forward; I may focus instead on audio examples with appropriate writeups in this thread. Or maybe I will shoot video as I do the audio examples... it depends on how much I let your criticisms paralyze me with indecision and self-doubt. grin


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039672 04/20/20 03:44 AM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Platinum Member
Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
[quote=Dr Mike Metlay
Over time, I am hoping to improve things, but it will take time and I thank you all for your patience in the meantime. Actually, I am not sure how many actual VIDEOS I will shoot for this keyboard going forward; I may focus instead on audio examples with appropriate writeups in this thread. Or maybe I will shoot video as I do the audio examples... it depends on how much I let your criticisms paralyze me with indecision and self-doubt. grin[/quote]

Please shoot video too, it makes more sense for a review to show HOW the sound came to be - that's my vote.

I saw the bloom, a minor adjustment of the camera angle should make it go away. No biggie.
Or move the keyboard a little forward or backwards.

Light is very logical - "Angle of Incidence equals Angle of Reflection". Bouncing light creates a huge number of Angles of Incidence and softens bloom into insignificance.
Shifting the angle can make it go away too, probably the easier move at thiis point.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039679 04/20/20 05:10 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 9,672
Likes: 51
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 9,672
Likes: 51
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
I have had an ASM Hydrasynth in the studio for a while, and I'm happy to tell you guys about it here in the GearLab.

I remember you telling me at NAMM, 3 months ago, that this was the synth that grabbed you the most of any of the new offerings shown there. Happy for you and us that this review could be pulled off. 2thu


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
1 member likes this: Dr Mike Metlay
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039684 04/20/20 05:41 AM
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
N
Senior Member
Offline
Senior Member
N
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
Thanks for posting these. I'd encourage you to keep going. A lot of instrument videos are rambling, and repetitive. You are keeping them organized and to the point. I'm looking forward to hearing your take on accessing the expression and how easy/hard it is to get it, and how easy/hard the programming is to take full advantage of it.

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039686 04/20/20 06:26 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Okay, now some details on the architecture of the beast, starting with the oscillators and Mutants.

Here's a snippet of graphics stolen without regard for common decency from the quivering innards of the Hydrasynth's User Manual:

[img]https://www.dropbox.com/s/w9jndxvitnf1rme/module%20path.png?dl=0[/img]

(Click on the link to open the image, I am not sure how to get it to display by itself)

As noted in my video, this is a pretty straightforward analog-style layout, with some nice twists. Three Oscillators plus a ring modulator and noise source into a Mixer, and two of the Oscillators run through chains of two signal processing modules called Mutants. From the Mixer, audio goes through two Filters that can be arranged in a few handy ways, then the Amplitude control module (note that two of the Envelopes and two of the LFOs default to filter and loudness control) and then through the signal processing chain: Pre-FX to Delay to Reverb to Post-FX.

Oscillators

The first two oscillators can be basic waveforms ("Single") or simple wavetables ("WaveScan"); the third one only does Single mode and is mainly used for sub-oscillator voicings and other thickening agents (or for use in FM etc.).

Single waves start with the usual suspects -- sine, triangle, TriSaw (a sort of skewed triangle with a bit more bite), saw, and square. Then things get weird in a tearing hurry. There are over 200 more Single waves available, of all kinds, varying in complexity and timbre, from various pulse widths to familiar waveforms you'd get with basic 2/4/6-op FM, all kinds of sets of waves with slight variations in harmonic content, and even a set of 23 sine waves representing the first 23 harmonics of whatever the played note is. Even if all you want to do is mix three straight-up oscillators and detune them a bit, you'd have way more timbral options than most subtractive-style synths offer.

WaveScan creates a wavetable of up to eight steps, containing any eight Single waves. You can modulate between the stages or set up fixed waveforms that are in between two existing waves. Is it a replacement for a PPG? Not really, but once I got into working with these little tables, I discovered that I could accomplish all sorts of really cool things without feeling like I'd gotten lost or didn't really have a good handle on what was happening.

This process is helped along by some nifty shortcuts like being able to solo a wave in a particular slot, or hold down the Shift key, select Wave 1, and have the seven WaveScan slots after it be filled with the next seven waves in the list. The list of waves is organized so that natural groupings of waves are ordered for quick and sensible setups; often these are given the same name and sequential numbers (e.g. Horizon1, Horizon2, etc.) to speed the process.

This is a common through line on the Hydrasynth; while it's timbrally rich and deep, it's designed to not be hard to work with. I regard this as a good thing, and I know not everyone does, whether they admit it or not. [See footnotes 1 and 2]

Note that there is no direct modulation built in at the oscillator level, it's all done via the Mod Matrix. So, for example, if you want to honor Nick Batt and set up Pulse Width Modulation, you'd do that by creating a WaveScan table of eight different-width pulse waves and assigning an LFO or whatever to sweep through them, letting the interpolation smooth everything out for you. (Actually on the Hydra you wouldn't do PWM like this at all -- you'd use a Mutant -- but it's still a good illustrative example.)

I regard this as a good thing as well; with only a very few premade modulation routings (like bender to pitch and sustain pedal to amplitude envelope control), all the modulations are collected in one place and you don't have to worry about hidden ones in various pages biting you in the arse when you're trying to figure out why your patch is still warbling even when you've turned everything the eff OFF.

Mutants

So what's a Mutant? It's a signal processing module that an Oscillator runs through before hitting the Mixer. Mutants 1 and 2 are assigned to Osc 1, and Mutants 3 and 4 are assigned to Osc 2. All Mutants are identical in capabilities, so anything can be put anywhere desired. [footnote 3] Mutants are responsible for some of the more complex waveform modifications that you could do with the Mod Matrix but would find a pain (e.g. our PWM example, Nick Batt breathing a sigh of relief). In addition, there are things Mutants can do that are unique to the Hydrasynth or nearly so.

Every Mutant except WavStack has adjustable feedback and dry/wet mix between the input Oscillator and the Mutant output, which greatly increases their flexibility. In some cases (FM-Lin) the use of feedback is obvious, while in others (OSC Sync) it leads to cool new effects.

FM-Lin: yep, linear FM, your basic 2-op setup with a carrier (the incoming Oscillator waveform) and a modulator, with ratio and depth settings. The modulator can be any of the Oscillators, Mutants, Ring Modulator, Noise source, either of the two Mod inputs (which can accept audio as well as CVs), or, you know, a sine or triangle wave, if you INSIST. (Feh.) People who wish there were more than two operators could build certain 4-op, 6-op, or theoretically even 8-op algorithms by creating more than one FM-Lin Mutant and feeding them into one another. One of these days, I'll sit down with a notebook and sketch these out for my own edification. Or not.

WavStack: God bless. The JP-8000 rears its ugly slate-blue head yet again! One wave becomes six phase-shifted copies, a wall of detuned glop ravaging all in its path like a tsunami of harmonics. Some people love this. I regard it as a guilty pleasure not to be partaken of too much, like drinking alone or eating an entire box of Oreos (even with skim milk).

OSC Sync: Forces the waveform of the input Oscillator to align with that of any other Oscillator (including itself). This one's especially cool because it adds a Ratio control, which says "the oscillators will sync X amount of times per wave cycle", where for conventional sync, X = 1. Ratio can be set from one rest every four cycles (0.25) all the way up to 64, and the results can be pretty drastic.

PW-Orig: Pulse Width Modulation in its traditional form, but with the Ratio control added so that the cycle of the pulse modulation can be in fractions of, or multiples of, a single wave cycle. Since this can be applied to any waveform, the results can get pretty whacko in a hurry.

PW-Squeez: Another form of PWM, but instead of stretching and compressing the waveform, the waveform's start and end points get shifted back and forth in time. The manual describes this as slowing down and speeding up the waveform in a single cycle; I am not sure I hear that, but the results are bizarre and very interesting. Use with subtlety or watch your patch go sideways in a big hurry.

PW-ASM: Yet another form of PWM, but with an odd "wavetable" sort of twist. You can choose eight Warp points along the length of a single wave cycle and affect the waveform width inside those slices; think of a DAW's ability to speed up and slow down an audio track within particular regions for time alignment, and shrink that down to the stretching and shrinking of a waveform along a single cycle. The manual explains it as FM with a modulator waveform that you can draw yourself between eight points; I am still trying to wrap my head around the concept, and failing miserably so far. Sounds way cool, though.

Harmonic: This one emphasizes or de-emphasizes certain harmonic ranges of a waveform. It's not a filter; it's a digital effect that literally goes into the waveform and picks out ranges of the harmonic structure to emphasize or turn down, leaving the fundamental alone. It can create brighter and more detailed sounds, or smooth them out in interesting ways. The Feedback control causes phase cancellation that helps with the smoothing.

Ring Modulator and Noise Source

The last input to the Mixer is this module, which contains a ring modulator that can use any Oscillator, Mutant, or Mod Input as either of the two source tones, and a noise source with independent volume level. The Hydrasynth originally shipped with three possible noise types: white (all frequencies equal), pink (rolled off at 3 dB/octave), and brown (rolled off at 6 dB/octave). With the latest firmware, the Hydra now offers those noise types plus red, blue, violet, and grey (all different frequency distributions with their own unique timbres).

Mixer

All of these sources get fed into the Mixer module, where their relative levels and pan positions are set. Note that pressing the button by any given channel in the Mixer will solo it, which can be very handy if there's something in your sound that you need to isolate and tweak. This is also where you determine how much of each source gets fed into Filter 1 vs. Filter 2, and whether the two Filters are run in series or parallel configuration.

Phew! All that to just get to the middle of the flowchart. Next time, we'll go further, talking about the Filters, Amp, the various effects modules, and the Voice page settings, to take us to the end of the audio chain. I'm going to see if I can pull together some audio or video examples of the stuff I've talked about here, in a simple format to make them easy to hear. Until then, keep smiling! grin

mike




[1]

Footnotes in a forum thread...WTF, Doctor?

Look, people: I am well aware that I can wander off on tangents when I do these things. When I do, I tend to cover concepts that are often really important in and of themselves, but which aren't directly related to what I am trying to teach in my main thread. By dropping them to the bottom of the post, I get them the hell out of the way so you can get through the meaty stuff, and wander off for dessert later. OK?

[2]

Simplicity is not a sin

Many electronic musicians subscribe to the belief that, as Wendy Carlos used to say, any parameter that can be affected must be affected with intent by the composer, or the composer isn't really doing the composing... or as my dear friend Nick Rothwell once said when confronted by his first Roland rackmount ROMpler with over a thousand presets: "That's not synthesis... that's cable TV." They pride themselves on working with synthesizers that are so fabulously complex that it's nearly impossible to encompass all the nuances and possibilities inherent in the platform. In effect, they're saying, "Look at this incredibly complex thing! I have no idea what it does. Isn't that AWESOME?"

I have outgrown this. I see no reason to be proud of working with tools that are beyond my feeble and rapidly aging grasp when I have music to finish before I die.

Don't get me wrong! I still like sculpting and tweaking my own sounds, but I've had many years to focus and refine my sonic palette and approach to composing, and I tend to get to the sounds I want with a minimum of wandering down interesting side alleys on the way there. I did a lot of that when I was starting out, and had a lot of fun... but right now I can appreciate the landscape and the journey while still keeping an eye on where I'm going.

Brian Eno has an Oblique Strategy card that says, "Not building a wall but making a brick", implying that the creative process can be helped by pausing to focus tightly on the components one's using rather than the final structure. I hate that card and would take it out and burn it if it wouldn't ruin the resale value of my deck. Someday I will repost the Metlay Bricks Rant from an old electronic music mailing list that covers this. In the meantime, I digress.... badly.

[3]

Copying and pasting

Yes, it can be done, and is implemented very sensibly. If you've busted your tail getting a particular Oscillator or Mutant module to work exactly the way you want it to, and you'd like to use it again with only a few minor tweaks (or none at all), it's easy to copy it to other like slots. Oscillators 1 and 2 can be copied to one another, and any Mutant can be copied to any other Mutant; the same is true of the five Envelopes and the five LFOs. Copying and pasting doesn't work for anything else, because no other modules are precise copies of one another... aside from pre-FX and Post-FX, which are identical but not copyable. That's a bit of a bummer, because any guitar pedal freak can tell you that half the fun is figuring out whether the EQ sounds best before or after the reverb.

Last edited by Dr Mike Metlay; 04/20/20 06:35 AM.

Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Nathanael_I #3039687 04/20/20 06:31 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
Thanks for posting these. I'd encourage you to keep going. A lot of instrument videos are rambling, and repetitive. You are keeping them organized and to the point. I'm looking forward to hearing your take on accessing the expression and how easy/hard it is to get it, and how easy/hard the programming is to take full advantage of it.
Oh, I plan to keep going, but with the text of the thread able to hold all the techy details, I can keep videos focused on hands-on stuff.

What do you mean by "accessing the expression"? I am not sure I follow what you'd like me to dive into here. Do you mean modulations as a form of expression, or playing technique, or...?


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
KuruPrionz #3039688 04/20/20 06:32 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Over time, I am hoping to improve things, but it will take time and I thank you all for your patience in the meantime. Actually, I am not sure how many actual VIDEOS I will shoot for this keyboard going forward; I may focus instead on audio examples with appropriate writeups in this thread. Or maybe I will shoot video as I do the audio examples... it depends on how much I let your criticisms paralyze me with indecision and self-doubt. grin

Please shoot video too, it makes more sense for a review to show HOW the sound came to be - that's my vote.

I saw the bloom, a minor adjustment of the camera angle should make it go away. No biggie.
Or move the keyboard a little forward or backwards.

Light is very logical - "Angle of Incidence equals Angle of Reflection". Bouncing light creates a huge number of Angles of Incidence and softens bloom into insignificance.
Shifting the angle can make it go away too, probably the easier move at point.

Kuru, I should send you an unedited and not-for-publication shot of the room in which I am doing these videos. I think you'd understand where I'm coming from, after you stopped laughing, crying, and throwing up. grin

Thanks,

mike


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
1 member likes this: KuruPrionz
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039689 04/20/20 06:59 AM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Platinum Member
Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Over time, I am hoping to improve things, but it will take time and I thank you all for your patience in the meantime. Actually, I am not sure how many actual VIDEOS I will shoot for this keyboard going forward; I may focus instead on audio examples with appropriate writeups in this thread. Or maybe I will shoot video as I do the audio examples... it depends on how much I let your criticisms paralyze me with indecision and self-doubt. grin

Please shoot video too, it makes more sense for a review to show HOW the sound came to be - that's my vote.

I saw the bloom, a minor adjustment of the camera angle should make it go away. No biggie.
Or move the keyboard a little forward or backwards.

Light is very logical - "Angle of Incidence equals Angle of Reflection". Bouncing light creates a huge number of Angles of Incidence and softens bloom into insignificance.
Shifting the angle can make it go away too, probably the easier move at point.

Kuru, I should send you an unedited and not-for-publication shot of the room in which I am doing these videos. I think you'd understand where I'm coming from, after you stopped laughing, crying, and throwing up. grin

Thanks,

mike

No, I get it. I haven't got a good place in my little condo to make a video similar to what you are doing. I don't have video lighting or the stealth mics that make it easier. Space makes it much easier, I don't have much space.
Some places have beutiful light during daylight hours, my back deck has nice light but the freeway is pretty noisy. Don't want bad sound either, video is much harder than photography.

I can shoot quality stills of guitars and smaller here, that's much simpler. Bouncing flash off white surfaces, that's what I do. The kitchen is white - "poof".

The principle does apply, it can take a while to find it. I try to show all defects, selling used stuff. Sometimes it's hard to show a scratch or a ding, Just takes some experimenting.

You'll get it.


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039722 04/20/20 03:43 PM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 21,333
Likes: 150
4x KCFFL Champ
20k Club
Offline
4x KCFFL Champ
20k Club
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 21,333
Likes: 150
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
You have a historical connection to this synth, Bro Dave... the head of the design team was one of the guys who worked on the Alesis Andromeda back in the day.
Who's that? I thought Glen Darcey was the head of the HydraSynth design team... idk

dB

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dave Bryce #3039747 04/20/20 05:56 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
You have a historical connection to this synth, Bro Dave... the head of the design team was one of the guys who worked on the Alesis Andromeda back in the day.
Who's that? I thought Glen Darcey was the head of the HydraSynth design team... idk

dB
I was told by Huston Singletary, in a passing conversation, that Glenn Darcey WAS on the Andromeda team. Was he not? If I got it wrong, I apologize for the miscommunication.

Last edited by Dr Mike Metlay; 04/20/20 06:29 PM.

Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039788 04/20/20 07:44 PM
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 21,333
Likes: 150
4x KCFFL Champ
20k Club
Offline
4x KCFFL Champ
20k Club
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 21,333
Likes: 150
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
I was told by Huston Singletary, in a passing conversation, that Glenn Darcey WAS on the Andromeda team. Was he not?
Not to the best of my recollection.

dB

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dave Bryce #3039796 04/20/20 08:28 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by Dave Bryce
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
I was told by Huston Singletary, in a passing conversation, that Glenn Darcey WAS on the Andromeda team. Was he not?
Not to the best of my recollection.
dB
sigh


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039847 04/21/20 12:57 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Following up on my writeup above, here's Part 3 of my video series, which breaks down the Oscillators via a tutorial patch that walks you through the basics.

As always, I would love your feedback. I am starting to think that these videos are a bit long, and I might need to chop up the material into smaller pieces, even if it means splitting topics over multiple short clips.

What do y'all think?

Anyway, herewith the Oscillator video. Enjoy!



Next up: Mutants!


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
1 member likes this: Pim
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039930 04/21/20 03:05 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Concerning future videos for this thread:

Any videos beyond this next set (about Mutants) will depend on feedback and demand. Most folks know how filters and FX work, ditto LFOs and envelopes, and I can lay out the unique stuff in writing, the way I did for the Ring Modulator and Noise source. I'll probably want to cover the Mod Matrix and Voice pages, though, because their options are pretty cool and a couple of important features can be found here. I'll also demo the performance aspects of the Hydra keyboard: the quick filter controls, the ribbon, and the Arpeggiator.

It was easy to create a tutorial patch for Oscillators, but Mutants on their own aren't very easy to demo effectively or in an appealing way. So instead, I'm going to select certain Hydrasynth presets that demonstrate each Mutant effectively, and deconstruct them onscreen to show how the Mutants create musical effects. My guess is that this will be better served with multiple shorter videos than long ones, so expect two or more quick videos in this part of the set.

As always, comments, requests, and suggestions are welcome.

Next up: a writeup on the rest of the audio chain. Stay tuned!


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3039957 04/21/20 04:39 PM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Platinum Member
Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
The latest video looks great, a clear close up of the specific area in question. If I had a Hydrasynth it would be very easy to follow along.

Since I don't own this lovely beast and am not likely to have one in the foreseeable future, I'm probably out for now.
I agree that shorter clips will be beneficial, I tend to learn better in smaller packets.

Trying to fit too many ideas at once into my tiny brain causes thoughts to spill randomly out into the great void of the Nothingverse.
Good work! Cheers, Kuru


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040039 04/22/20 12:38 AM
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,713
Likes: 11
Platinum Member
Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,713
Likes: 11
Its an impressive new hard-synth in an often me-too design world. I actually *understand* your non-convoluted reviews, up to the point at which my eyes cross, heh. Well-structured!

In using Pigments, I'm coming to understand complex wavetables much better, so while the GUI here is very inviting, I can easily smell a third of the instrument's less conventional bits I'd set aside for a while. How so? It'd be with the same idea I have for a ROLI Block approach: much less pure/detailed programming, more attention to the performance aspects. Its an elastic cello more than a keyboard. I'd tweak this (or Equator) for solo playability above tone per se. The sound proper isn't unique. Its the poly AT & touch strip I'd be buying.

A new ROMpler, I could crack within a few weeks. This one? Call me in 6 months, after I can manage more than dive-bomb FX use of the ribbon.

BTW, 5 octaves does 'feel' better to me, but I agree that 4 seems about right in this case. This thing is less of a "piano" than even the Argon8. One note held in the bass end is often the best friend a treble chord has in a synth. More can easily lead to mud. This is built for one hand on keys, one on the ribbon.


Scotch whiskey is made from barley & the morning dew on angels' nipples. ~ Warren Ellis

https://soundcloud.com/david-emm-1
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040050 04/22/20 01:19 AM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,188
Likes: 17
J
MPN Advisory Board
Platinum Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
Platinum Member
J
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,188
Likes: 17
Dr. Mike:

It's the knowledge of the presenter and the information conveyed that will always resonate with me. So don't be too self-conscious about your production technique. Content is king, and you are doing a wonderful job. Keep going and trust yourself.

Jerry

1 member likes this: Dave Bryce
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
jerrythek #3040100 04/22/20 02:31 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by jerrythek
Dr. Mike:

It's the knowledge of the presenter and the information conveyed that will always resonate with me. So don't be too self-conscious about your production technique. Content is king, and you are doing a wonderful job. Keep going and trust yourself.

Jerry
Thanks, Jerry. That means a lot to me, coming from you!


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040137 04/22/20 07:10 PM
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
N
Senior Member
Offline
Senior Member
N
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
Thanks for posting these. I'd encourage you to keep going. A lot of instrument videos are rambling, and repetitive. You are keeping them organized and to the point. I'm looking forward to hearing your take on accessing the expression and how easy/hard it is to get it, and how easy/hard the programming is to take full advantage of it.
Oh, I plan to keep going, but with the text of the thread able to hold all the techy details, I can keep videos focused on hands-on stuff.

What do you mean by "accessing the expression"? I am not sure I follow what you'd like me to dive into here. Do you mean modulations as a form of expression, or playing technique, or...?


I am trying to get at how much work is it to get the sound engine to respond to playing nuance? Do you have be very careful about how you assign modulation to get musically useful results, or is it like a Dave Smith instrument where you almost can't make it sound bad because the parameter values are so well chosen? Are sounds expressive with just the poly-AT, or are you also finding that you want to modulate lots of other things to improve the expression? What are those things, and what works?

I'm on the Osmose waiting list, but if I wasn't, I suspect this machine would be very interesting. It sounds great.

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040141 04/22/20 08:39 PM
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
N
Senior Member
Offline
Senior Member
N
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
Thanks for the oscillator text and videos. Very helpful. I think that the Hydrasynth is part of a new vanguard of synths that advances the art, specifically advancing the purpose of an oscillator. In vintage analog synthesis, the waveforms are very simple - and very static. Unless you detune them, or use an LFO to create PWM, etc the waves are also very static. In fact, they are "perfect". Too perfect. They lack any complexity that our ear associates with natural sounds. In the real world, things that vibrate do so in complex ways that the simple envelopes only kind of get at. The envelopes do track the general volume profile of a given sound.

But what is missing is that the sound is modulating in many ways that the envelope doesn't suggest. Each harmonic is ringing and falling silent in its own ways, sometimes being amplified by resonance or damped by nodal points in the instrument. Plucked strings may start out vibrating vertically, and then switch to horizontal as they loose energy and other strange and wonderful phenomena.

I have noticed that newer instruments are innovating in the oscillator section. The Bowen Solaris does this. There are many, many other waves, and you can scan through them with envelopes, LFO's, etc. There are "rotors" that do a circular vector synthesis with waves, ring mod and more - all under advanced modulation matrices. The Schmidt 8-voice has a very non-traditional oscillator section, that again is built to create dynamic complexity at the oscillator itself, long before any filtering. The NonLinear Labs C15 has very powerful oscillators and resonators to shape the sound, often without any traditional "filtration". The Korg Wavestate offers a different take. The Hydrasynth has complex oscillators in its own way. There are modular synth oscillators that also perform these feats. It is a trend that is gathering speed and momentum in newer instruments.

It is a different way of thinking about subtractive synthesis. It says that interesting timbres can be created just by dynamically varying the synthesized wave and having the harmonic content rise and fall over time without (or at least before) filtration. In my experience, this is quite welcome and does a lot to improve the musical quality of the sound. A searing triangle lead is what it is, but it is not nuanced, and velocity/keyboard tracking only does so much.

I think it is very clever that they have grouped similar waves so that one can get "related" variation. Under the right envelope, I'm sure interesting things are possible. I know I've certainly worked on the Solaris with scanning backwards and forwards through wavetables at different rates. If arbitrary multi-point envelopes are available (8pt on the Solaris) even more possibilities occur that can add a lot of interest to sounds.

It is also my experience that subtle changes can do a lot. It isn't necessary to mix a bell wave with a trombone wave to find interest. Small shifts in timbral balance under the right modulation work a treat. It seems to me that the Hydrasynth is built to do this. You don't want all the things on "full volume"... you want to bring them in and out in a musical way.

Powerful stuff.

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040236 04/23/20 05:29 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 7,587
Likes: 10
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 7,587
Likes: 10
Dr. Mike, what a great review and deep perspective of synth history you are sharing with us all! I for one appreciate the way you began with comparisons to the CS80l!

Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Concerning future videos for this thread: Any videos beyond this next set (about Mutants) will depend on feedback and demand.

It would very interesting to understand the "gestural value" of Mutants: that is ... can you change the Mutants in real time in a musical way? I see that very cool Mutants like FM-Line and Ring Modulator are able to significantly alter the timbre and am wondering if they respond musically to changes in pitch and amplitude coming into them. Back in my AN1X days, I loved sweeping the oscillator pitch going into the Ring Modulator, to quickly add some inharmonic partials as Vangelis does here at about 21 seconds....



Would it be possible to dive into the inharmonic stuff and come back out easily with this synth? Can Mutant parameters be modulated easily and ergonomically?

(Apologies for the excessive Vangelis content ...)

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Nathanael_I #3040303 04/24/20 02:22 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
I am trying to get at how much work is it to get the sound engine to respond to playing nuance? Do you have be very careful about how you assign modulation to get musically useful results, or is it like a Dave Smith instrument where you almost can't make it sound bad because the parameter values are so well chosen? Are sounds expressive with just the poly-AT, or are you also finding that you want to modulate lots of other things to improve the expression? What are those things, and what works?

I'm on the Osmose waiting list, but if I wasn't, I suspect this machine would be very interesting. It sounds great.
I am on the Osmose waiting list as well, but I may get off it if I continue falling in love with the Hydrasynth this way.

I would put it more in the Dave Smith category; I will talk about the Mod Matrix soon, but it's very easy to work with and follow, and setting up expression control is not a problem at all. You can take apart one or two patches that have expression that you like, and you'll instantly get how to do it.

Also, re: your other post: I would agree. For many years, oscillators were just kinda THERE, and the real action happened later in the audio chain, but new digital technology is letting us get at a lot more interesting sounds before we even get to the filter. I must emphasize the total ease with which one can work with the WaveScans as "mini wavetables"... the old PPGs would need to have large wavetables with actual waves placed in them at odd positions to adjust fade times, whereas here we get a bit more control and it's a lot less likely to break your widdle head.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040312 04/24/20 03:50 AM
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
N
Senior Member
Offline
Senior Member
N
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
Very cool! This is good Dr. MIke. Your review is clearly pulling out enough for me to put the pieces together on what the instrument is about. Looking forward to whatever else you have time to share on this one.

Thanks for the hard work - I know it is time consuming. (But a great way to learn the instrument by going through it all....)

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Nathanael_I #3040341 04/24/20 01:26 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by Nathanael_I
Very cool! This is good Dr. MIke. Your review is clearly pulling out enough for me to put the pieces together on what the instrument is about. Looking forward to whatever else you have time to share on this one.

Thanks for the hard work - I know it is time consuming. (But a great way to learn the instrument by going through it all....)
Thanks in return, Nathanael. It's useful for me, too, and I am glad it's helping out. I will be posting at least one more video today; I really want a musical approach to the Mutants, and I will start by FM and try to illustrate the transient/envelope based modulations that are possible in the Hydrasynth. Believe me, they're in there, but a good sounding example is taking some work.

I will also squeeze in WaveStack on this one; it's literally a one-screen deal and trivial to explain.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040708 04/26/20 05:44 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Here's Part 4 of my video series about the Hydrasynth. Thanks for your patience!

This one covers the basics of two Mutants: the FM and WaveStack modules, one of which is nicely tweaky and the other of which is knuckle-dragging simple. Enjoy!



Next time, I will try to get through the OSCSync and the various PWM Mutants, and then move on to the rest of the synth. Keep those questions coming, and please subscribe and like my channel if you possibly can.

mike


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
1 member likes this: Pim
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040768 04/27/20 12:30 AM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Thanks for that. One complaint…were you wearing a lapel mic that was rubbing on your shirt or something?

Anyway, the one thing I'm (knowingly) unclear on is the relationship of the mutants to the oscillators. It seems like mutants aren't properly input/output devices, but rather modifications to the oscillator itself. But as you show, both the osc and mutant can be mixed (ie wet/dry). So that's not exactly right either. (Although from a software POV I can imagine what is really going on.)

Anyway, what is the relationship of mutant 1 and mutant 2? Is the "input" of mutant 2 osc 1 or the wet/dry mix of mutant 1 or … ?

Put another way, if I have 2 different mutant settings, does it ever matter which one is mutant 1 and which one is mutant 2?

thanks!

p.s. Are all of the mutant "knobs" (eg parameters like ratio, depth) modulate-able?

Last edited by galanter; 04/27/20 12:32 AM.
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
galanter #3040796 04/27/20 05:39 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Phil! Welcome to MPN, it's really good to have you here. (Yet another place for you to bust my chops like you've been doing for the last 30 years, hooray...)
Originally Posted by galanter
Thanks for that. One complaint…were you wearing a lapel mic that was rubbing on your shirt or something?
No, that wasn't it. These videos are produced with a sometimes-difficult miking system; I am going to try to improve things for the next set, but right now speed is of the essence as I could be asked to return the Hydrasynth to ASM any day now.

Quote
Anyway, the one thing I'm (knowingly) unclear on is the relationship of the mutants to the oscillators. It seems like mutants aren't properly input/output devices, but rather modifications to the oscillator itself. But as you show, both the osc and mutant can be mixed (ie wet/dry). So that's not exactly right either. (Although from a software POV I can imagine what is really going on.)

Anyway, what is the relationship of mutant 1 and mutant 2? Is the "input" of mutant 2 osc 1 or the wet/dry mix of mutant 1 or … ?

Put another way, if I have 2 different mutant settings, does it ever matter which one is mutant 1 and which one is mutant 2?

thanks!

OK, some clarification (I hope): Mutants (or Mutators, as they're called on some modulation pages) can act as signal modifiers of an "external" sort, like FM, or they can modify and pass through an input, like WaveStack and PWM. The reason why they're a little awkward to describe is that many of them allow for input assignments from all over the architecture of the synth. An FM carrier wave from an Oscillator can be modulated by anything from itself to another Oscillator to the Ring Modulator or Noise Source to the external signal inputs.

I haven't gotten to the Mod Matrix yet, but you have 32 mod routings (not including the Macros) and they can be "stacked" to affect one another in various ways; controlling Mutants can allow for a lot of intricate (brain-hurting) patterns of influence. I am pretty sure that I could get the Hydrasynth to do any 4-op or 6-op algorithm common to conventional FM synths with the right routings, but my brain's ready to burst from all this stuff already, so I don't really have the strength to sit down with a pencil and paper and work out how to do it.

As for ordering, it absolutely does matter, because the source signal is passed from one module to the next, and there's the possibility of a dry (un-Mutated) signal being mixed with the Mutation on the way through. Parallel processing means that ordering is vital; running FM on the output of a PWM Mutant is not the same as doing FM and sending that signal to be pulse width modulated. Does that make sense?

Quote
p.s. Are all of the mutant "knobs" (eg parameters like ratio, depth) modulate-able?
Yes, every fucking one of them, and those modulations can be modulated and sidechained and grouped into Macros if you want. There are 32 global modulations assignable throughout the synth architecture, and every Macro you design can link one button and one knob to a stack of up to nine differently scaled modulations that are entirely separate from what's going on in the Mod Matrix. That's getting a little bit ahead of myself, but as soon as I release the last two Mutant videos (Part 5 tomorrow for sure, it's already uploaded and queued for automatic release tomorrow afternoon, Part 6 hopefully the day after tomorrow), I will get more into this stuff.

It's funny, I've been trying to shorten these videos so I don't lose people, but by the time I finish my explanations it's always right around 10 minutes. When we get out of Mutants, I think I'll be able to speed up, because the rest of the architecture has some nice tweaks but is much more conventional and will be much easier for folks to follow.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040893 04/27/20 09:38 PM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Thanks, that helps, but I still think we've got a metaphysical/ontological problem here. As in "what are mutators/mutants really?" Even that naming scheme shows there's a problem. After all, what would a mutator create? A mutant! What? So they create themselves?

As best as I can figure it out, and perhaps once I get my hands on one I'll know better, sometimes it's more like a post-oscillator input/output device (a mutator, e.g. harmonic), but usually it's an alteration to the oscillator itself (a mutant, e.g. FM).

For someone actually writing the code there is no particular reason to have a crisp ontology. You can just go in there and hack the code at will. But it certainly confounds rigorous naming!

Last edited by galanter; 04/27/20 09:43 PM.
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
galanter #3040937 04/28/20 02:31 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by galanter
Thanks, that helps, but I still think we've got a metaphysical/ontological problem here. As in "what are mutators/mutants really?" Even that naming scheme shows there's a problem. After all, what would a mutator create? A mutant! What? So they create themselves?

As best as I can figure it out, and perhaps once I get my hands on one I'll know better, sometimes it's more like a post-oscillator input/output device (a mutator, e.g. harmonic), but usually it's an alteration to the oscillator itself (a mutant, e.g. FM).

For someone actually writing the code there is no particular reason to have a crisp ontology. You can just go in there and hack the code at will. But it certainly confounds rigorous naming!
Rigorous naming was probably not on anyone's mind when they did this, brah... they probably chose names that sounded good to them. grin


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040954 04/28/20 04:45 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Hey guys, here's my next video: this one's about the PWM Mutants.

I did the best I could to describe how these worked, but I plan to go back and reread my initial descriptions and see where I can clarify things. In the meantime, enjoy!



Next time: the OSCSync and Harmonic Mutants, and then on to the rest of the architecture. That set of videos should be pretty short, because once we get past these modules, the rest of the architecture is pretty conventional. I'll cover the basics of Macros and the Mod Matrix, the Arpeggiator and a few other bits and pieces, before putting the series to bed. And I do plan to do another writeup or two as well, so folks can get a feel for the details.

If there's anything in particular that people would like to learn more about, please ask. It's unclear how much longer I will be able to keep the Hydrasynth, but I plan to make the most of the time!

Thanks for watching.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3040999 04/28/20 03:42 PM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Platinum Member
Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
This last one is fascinating!!! You are doing a great job of keeping it simple and making it clear. It is the vast variables available by a bazillion simple, effective options that makes this thing formidble.

I keep wanting one of these and can see it will rob you of your sleep.
I'm not even a legitimate keyboardist. Just a button pushing, knob turning imbecile mostly.
Not in the budgeta anyway, will have to wait for the Casio version to appear at Value Village...

Oh look, a UFO!!!! *points*

(grabs Hydrasynth and runs away!!) :- D


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
KuruPrionz #3041079 04/28/20 10:10 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
This last one is fascinating!!! You are doing a great job of keeping it simple and making it clear. It is the vast variables available by a bazillion simple, effective options that makes this thing formidble.

I keep wanting one of these and can see it will rob you of your sleep.
I'm not even a legitimate keyboardist. Just a button pushing, knob turning imbecile mostly.
Not in the budgeta anyway, will have to wait for the Casio version to appear at Value Village...

Oh look, a UFO!!!! *points*

(grabs Hydrasynth and runs away!!) :- D
You are beginning to see why I am frantic to hold onto it or get one of my own... I have been informed by the ASM people in no uncertain terms that eventually they WILL need it back, but so far the outpouring of content seems to be keeping them at bay...


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3041121 04/29/20 12:59 AM
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Platinum Member
Offline
Platinum Member
Joined: Sep 2019
Posts: 1,552
Likes: 53
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
You are beginning to see why I am frantic to hold onto it or get one of my own... I have been informed by the ASM people in no uncertain terms that eventually they WILL need it back, but so far the outpouring of content seems to be keeping them at bay...

I bet if you write an infinite stream of articles that they will eventually lose track and forget all about it.
It's only one keyboard, your videos should sell millions of these thingies. They should be paying you!!! :- D


There is never enough time to be in a hurry...
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3041330 04/30/20 05:06 AM
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
N
Senior Member
Offline
Senior Member
N
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 457
Likes: 11
Nice work. I can see why you replied that it is kind of "Dave Smith" like in the sense that the control values all yield fairly useful results. Clearly a very capable machine, and it would take a bit to really internalize it all.

1 member likes this: Dr Mike Metlay
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3041504 05/01/20 02:22 AM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,832
Likes: 4
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,832
Likes: 4
I did play it at NAMM, and kept coming back to it. It is known for its digital tones, but I was able to get some really warm sounds out of it. The desktop module is tempting at that price (already have a PolyAT keyboard). But then again, I also liked the Jupiter X(m)...

1 member likes this: Dr Mike Metlay
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
KuruPrionz #3041572 05/01/20 04:16 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by KuruPrionz
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
You are beginning to see why I am frantic to hold onto it or get one of my own... I have been informed by the ASM people in no uncertain terms that eventually they WILL need it back, but so far the outpouring of content seems to be keeping them at bay...

I bet if you write an infinite stream of articles that they will eventually lose track and forget all about it.
It's only one keyboard, your videos should sell millions of these thingies. They should be paying you!!! :- D
If I got to keep every piece of gear when someone said that about a review I wrote, there would be no room in my studio for me! grin

One of these days I should post a commentary on the life of an immersive reviewer. TL;DR -- imagine having a new piece of gear, learning to use it and get good enough with it to be able to teach novices to the point where they can make intelligent decisions about whether it's right for them, getting comfortable with it, and then having it taken away and replaced with something else. Imagine having that happen for every single item in your studio, several times a year, for decades. I weep.

Often, when a piece of hardware has been used as a review unit, the manufacturer will sell it at a discount to avoid having to bring it back into inventory and resell it as B stock. I've been able to take advantage of that a few times, but not this time, alas.... they're in such short supply! I will suffer until I can get one of my own, however long that takes.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3041682 05/02/20 06:59 AM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
You must have missed the message I sent you. Too late now alas…

Mine, a keyboard, arrives tomorrow.

Neener Neener Neener!

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
galanter #3041778 05/03/20 01:36 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by galanter
You must have missed the message I sent you. Too late now alas…

Mine, a keyboard, arrives tomorrow.

Neener Neener Neener!
Pfui. Some people's friends...


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3041779 05/03/20 01:40 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Hey everyone! Part 6 of the video series is up on YouTube as of now.

This one uses a very basic patch with simple waveforms so we can focus tightly on how these Mutants do their job. We cover OSCSync, which has some neat variations on the usual sync sound and capabilities; Harmonic, which focuses on particular harmonic content (partials) in a waveform and lets you accentuate or tame them; and the brand-new PhazDiff Mutant, added in version 1.4 and not yet in the manuals, which provides a sort of through-zero jet phasing sound on any oscillator. All very neat stuff!

Here's the link to the video:



Next time, we breeze through the rest of the audio architecture, and I do mean "breeze".... once we get past the Mutants, things become a lot easier for us old-phart synth types to wrap our senile heads around. I will also post a bit more about the synth itself here, as background material for the forthcoming videos.

Enjoy!


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3041937 05/04/20 06:28 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Okay, so what comes after the Mixer? The rest of the audio architecture!

I'm going to encourage folks to read this part carefully; once we're out of the Oscillators and Mutants/Mutators (nomenclature varies depending on where you look), the overall layout becomes a lot more familiar. I plan to run through most of the details here in the thread, and use my remaining videos to focus on the stuff that's unusual or unique to the Hydrasynth. Otherwise I'll be talking and shooting for two more hours, and I don't want these videos to overstay their welcome! grin

So, quick recap: Two Oscillators each run through a chain of two Mutants. A third Mutantless Oscillator, a Ring Modulator, and a Noise Source are blended together in the Mixer. From there...

Filters

Filters are the heart of most subtractive-style synths. Even without all the unique sounds pouring into them, the Hydrasynth's filters would make any digital synth proud! Both have the usual hardwired parameters: cutoff, resonance, modulation amounts from Envelope 1 and LFO 1 (these are exceptions to the "everything is done in the Mod Matrix" rule, with very good reason as we'll discuss in a moment), velocity control over the envelope, and a fairly wide range of positive and negative keytracking -- useful for tuning resonant sounds and for taking the edge off high notes.

One thing I really like about them is that they're quite different in character from one another, and you can make flexible use of them very easily. There's a control in the Mixer (or in Filter 1, a useful redundancy) that chooses between Serial or Parallel routings. In the Mixer, you can set a ratio of how much each sound source goes to one vs. the other -- 100:0 is all Filter 1, 0:100 is all Filter 2, and 50:50 sends equal amounts to both. Very straightforward.

Filter 1 is a fairly badass multimode beast. It offers models inspired by the Moog ladder filter, the Korg MS20, a "boutique modular synth" (implied to be the Moog III), and a few surprises as well.

The ladder LP filters are available in 12 dB/octave and 24 dB/octave, in their standard forms and in "Fat" versions. These are interesting; in the "Fat" models, the Hydrasynth compensates for the fact that filters lose power in the lower frequencies when the filter resonance is cranked up. The result is a boost in the lows below the cutoff frequency compared to what you might be used to. Interestingly, this difference is usually pretty subtle, and because of the way our ears work, is first perceived as "less treble" rather than "more bass."

Next up is a LP Gate filter. I really like the sound of this one; the resonance is very sweet and it sounds good when swept over large frequency ranges. That's followed by the MS20 LP and HP filters and the LP, BP, and HP "3-Ler" filters; they evoke the character of their respective parent synths very nicely, with distinctive resonant peak behavior. The last type is the Vowel filter, a sweepable formant filter that's not without its peculiarities... [footnote 1]

Another thing that's unique to Filter 1 is a Drive control, which lets you overdrive the signal either before or after the filter itself (there's a Pre/Post choice). The Drive sounds really good to my ears, although it might not hit hard enough for some folks. [footnote 2]

Filter 2 is much simpler: it's a morphing filter that can be dialed smoothly from LP to BP to HP with a specific control called, for some odd reason, Morph. (!)

The top right of the front panel has a set of five large and inviting dials that are active at all times, mimicking their counterpart parameters inside the edit pages for the two Filter modules. There's Cutoff, Resonance, Drive/Morph (affecting one or the other depending on which Filter you select), Envelope 1 Amount, and LFO 1 Amount. The latter two are bidirectional detented dials, and Filter 1/2 selection buttons are in easy reach.

Amp and FX

After the Filters, there's the Amp module, which is kept very simple with only three parameters: LFO 2 Amount, Velocity response, and overall level. Envelope 2 is pretty much dedicated to overall loudness control, although you can use it for other stuff too.

Then come the effects processors: Pre-FX, Delay, Reverb, and Post-FX. These are really good-sounding additions to the overall signal path that don't overwhelm the basic sound of the synth; you never get the impression that they're carrying most of the weight of the timbre, and in fact a lot of the better patches don't use them at all.

Pre-FX and Post-FX have identical feature sets. (As I mentioned, it's kind of a bummer that you can't swap their order with one click.) The available choices are: Bypass, Chorus, Flanger, Rotary, Phaser, Lo-Fi, Tremolo, EQ, Compressor. Each choice comes with a small number of preset templates to get you started. I think I can skip breaking each one down in grueling detail, as there aren't that many surprises -- so let me mention the ones that are there.

- The Chorus and Flanger sound good, with all the usual parameters and a pretty wide control range.
- The Rotary simulator gives you a lot of control (blend and speed of the two rotors and so on) but has an overall much tamer sound than I think most folks would like. And there's no way to switch between two speeds without programming up a Macro to do it, which is flexible but fiddly.
- On the other hand, the Phaser is to die for: all kinds of positive and negative feedback, depth and phase offset control, and it just sounds phenomenal.
- Lo-Fi combines resonant filtering with downsampling to create aliasing and the like; it's surprisingly polite but has some good possibilities.
- Is the Tremolo a real tremolo or a vibrato? Answer: both! It's mainly devoted to volume control but does have a separate pitch-variation option, and it runs in stereo with controllable phase difference between the channels.
- The three-band EQ is workmanlike rather than special-effecty, and has seven templates ("Smile", "Warm", etc) to get you started.
- The Compressor goes above and beyond by offering sidechaining options, and useful ones at that. In addition to either of the Mod input signals, it can be set to pump along with the master BPM, or you can hit the Tap Tempo button to trigger compression manually. Very cool!

The Delay has five algorithms -- Basic Mono, Basic Stereo, Pan Delay (i.e. ping-pong), LCR Delay (left-center-right-center-left panning), and Reverse. You can control the feedback frequency response, and while it won't go into runaway feedback, it sounds very tasty.

The Reverb offers Hall, Room, Plate, and Cloud algorithms, with up to 90 seconds (!) of decay time and a few high/low frequency tailoring options. Interestingly, the Reverb does offer a Freeze function, letting you grab and hold the reverb's contents forever; this can easily be set to be activated with a Macro button and is a nice extra.

Voice

The last audio module to mention is Voice, which collects a bunch of "they have to go somewhere" audio parameters where they're easy to find. The result is a really messy gumbo of options, but at least you know they'll be in the pot somewhere or another.

The first Voice page is where you set (deep breath) poly vs. mono vs. unison modes, high/low/last note triggering, number (Density) and spread (Detune) of voices in each Unison note, Analog Feel (parameter drift), Random Phase (so each note's oscillators don't always start from 0), and voice cycling modes for stereo play. On the second Voice page, you set up the pitch and mod wheels and the Glide functions.

Pitch bend range can be set from 0 to 24 semitones. You don't get the option of different ranges for up and down bends, which I really miss, and if ever a synth needed a -48 semitone dive bomb mode, the Hydrasynth is... uh... wait, you can do that with the ribbon controller. Okay, fine! Thpphhhhbbbt!

The Mod Wheel has its own global LFO called Vibrato, and this is where you can set the depth and speed (or BPM sync) for each patch. The Vibrato Depth range is a rare example of a seriously biffed parameter in this synthesizer -- even a 1 can be too much, and anything beyond a 2 is into Forbidden Planet territory.

Glide is fairly flexible, with rate, legato settings, and a finely adjustable curve from exponential through linear to logarithmic, although you need really long glide times for the differences to be really obvious. Legato glide is fun to use in Poly mode, because different voices glide to different places depending on when they're triggered, which can be delightfully messy.

Onward!

Phew! And that's all the audio stuff finally taken care of. As you can see, the Hydrasynth has everything you'd expect of a modeled digital synthesizer plus a lot more. The farther I dig into this synth, the more impressed I become. I'll be summing up the unique and interesting bits of what I've discussed above in one or two videos that will get done and posted over the next couple of days.

After that: envelopes, LFOs, the Mod Matrix, Macros, the ribbon controller, and the Arpeggiator... and then a tall one and a nice warm bath for Yours Truly. wink

Until next time... stay safe, stay sane, and stay connected!

mike




[1]

The Vowel filter's quirks

The Vowel filter is a pretty odd beast, and I think it will reward a fair bit of experimentation, but it is not the most straightforward thing to use. For those of you unfamiliar with the Bell Labs Voder invented by Homer Dudley and demonstrated at the World's Fair of 1939, it used combinations of fixed-formant filters to make vowel sounds, and a skilled operator could combine them to make diphthongs (sets of vowels that form new vowel sounds, like "ou" and "eea"). There were a few noise generators in there to create consonants, and the result was sort of like speech, but the presenters at the World's Fair were trained to ask leading questions so the audience would more easily "get" what the Voder was "saying".

That's the basis of the Hydrasynth's Vowel filter. By manipulating the cutoff, resonance, and a third parameter called Control, you can get all the usual vowel and diphthong sounds. You can choose the order in which the filter cycles through the formants -- AEIOU, UOIAE, etc. -- but from there, it takes some pretty fancy modulation with timed envelopes or hands-on controls to be able to consistently hit a specific diphthong. If you were planning to do actual speech on the Hydrasynth, be prepared for a real learning curve, if it can be done at all.

One final note: when you control the Vowel filter inside its editing page, the main display becomes a pair of lips that opens and closes and makes shapes analogous to the formants being created. It's creepy AF, but not as creepy as what the display does when you first select the Vowel filter... a pair of lips appears and blows you a kiss, complete with a tiny floating heart. I'm sorry, but ewwwwwww.

[2]

A time and a place for Gnarl

Everyone has their own tastes in how synths should sound, and I am no exception. What I have discovered over the years, though, is that I appear to be in a tiny and embattled minority when it comes to one thing: overdrive, no matter where it happens in the audio chain. Simply put, I recognize that drive has its uses in creating certain specific sounds, but aside from those few sounds, I don't want it in my audio chain. Anywhere.

Hard-driven audio sounds wrong to me, not like it's hard-edged and tough but like it was badly programmed, without regard to proper gain staging. It's noisy and grimy and I usually can't stand it, and it's sometimes painfully obvious to me that everyone else in the world thinks I'm a milquetoast for feeling that way... at least, if trends in synth design over the years are any indication.
I loved the multimode filters in the Oberheim Xpander, while most folks dismissed them as wimpy; when the first virtual analog synths came out in the late 1990s, I gravitated toward the Novation Supernova's smooth and dignified filters rather than what the Nord Lead or the Virus did.
And nowadays? God help me. The one thing I hate about the Arturia MatrixBrute are its Brute Factor controls and its overdrive-centric filters. It's a totally amazing synth in so many ways, but the grey area between "too wimpy to hear" and "overdriven to shit" where I like to work is very thin indeed. And if I hear one more synth demo that features a gleeful "And listen to how gnarrrrrrrly it can get!" followed by red hot needles driven into my eardrums and a belt sander taking off the top layer of skin from my forehead...

So, the Drive on the Hydrasynth sounds awesome to me because it's smooth, powerful, and controlled... and while various parameters in the architecture can be pushed hard if you want to, they default to behaving nicely. And I am fine with that. If you want gnarl for days, I can name another synth that hit the market in 2020 that is making fans everywhere for its gnarly sound, but which I could never own because it gives the sonic impression of a badly trained and slightly vicious 150-pound Malemute that soils the carpet anywhere it damn well wants to. (Feh.)


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
1 member likes this: Markyboard
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3042064 05/04/20 11:53 PM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Good job Mike! Useful stuff.

Oddly enough today I discovered my first Hydrasynth thing where I went "No. This isn't a question of taste. This is just plain wrong." Yep. The vibrato range. I like to use just a little vibrato, and with the current setting of 1 I can't go further than 1/3 of the throw, and it's way too easy to go to far.

The problem with this kind of thing is always making a change that is backward compatible with existing patches. I think they could do it by adding a .5 and .25 option. That's different than the ratio settings elsewhere, but I think it would be cognitively comfortable to see those same fractions.

(Of course the internal representation in the Sys Ex protocol probably doesn't have room for it. It's one thing to change the interface, and another to change the internal representation. This could get gnarly with the sys ex having to have version numbers and code parsing different versions different ways. Yuck. But these guys are pretty bright, and I'd be surprised if they haven't already allowed for this.)

I also mostly agree with you about the joys (or not) of "drive" AKA distortion. For the most part i don't like it in synths. But in the realm of electric guitars it's really irreplaceable. However, the fetishism around specific amps and speaker cabinets is really over the top IMHO. However^2 the guitar and amp modeling realm has gotten *really* good, I'm using Helix native on my Mac with Logic Pro X and it's amazing. I'd love to do a good double blinded study with some of these guitar snobs and see if they can really tell the difference.

Back to synths, it's said that a big part of the Moog sound attributed to the filter was really the little CP3 mixer modules being overdriven. I have this module from Manhattan Audio that has a mixer that is basically the CP3 circuit. My ears say it's true. If you've had a chance to hear one, or ever get a chance, I'd be interested in what you think. Overall it's a great filter if folks are looking for a classic 60's synth sound.

https://manhattananalog.com/products/svvcf

Edit: Actually on the above web page there is a good demo.

Last edited by galanter; 05/04/20 11:57 PM.
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3042068 05/05/20 12:01 AM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
New pre-/post- effect and/or filter I'd love to see them add? Something akin to the Moog 914 fixed filter bank.

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
galanter #3042072 05/05/20 01:07 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by galanter
Good job Mike! Useful stuff.

Oddly enough today I discovered my first Hydrasynth thing where I went "No. This isn't a question of taste. This is just plain wrong." Yep. The vibrato range. I like to use just a little vibrato, and with the current setting of 1 I can't go further than 1/3 of the throw, and it's way too easy to go to far.

The problem with this kind of thing is always making a change that is backward compatible with existing patches. I think they could do it by adding a .5 and .25 option. That's different than the ratio settings elsewhere, but I think it would be cognitively comfortable to see those same fractions.

(Of course the internal representation in the Sys Ex protocol probably doesn't have room for it. It's one thing to change the interface, and another to change the internal representation. This could get gnarly with the sys ex having to have version numbers and code parsing different versions different ways. Yuck. But these guys are pretty bright, and I'd be surprised if they haven't already allowed for this.)

I also mostly agree with you about the joys (or not) of "drive" AKA distortion. For the most part i don't like it in synths. But in the realm of electric guitars it's really irreplaceable. However, the fetishism around specific amps and speaker cabinets is really over the top IMHO. However^2 the guitar and amp modeling realm has gotten *really* good, I'm using Helix native on my Mac with Logic Pro X and it's amazing. I'd love to do a good double blinded study with some of these guitar snobs and see if they can really tell the difference.

Back to synths, it's said that a big part of the Moog sound attributed to the filter was really the little CP3 mixer modules being overdriven. I have this module from Manhattan Audio that has a mixer that is basically the CP3 circuit. My ears say it's true. If you've had a chance to hear one, or ever get a chance, I'd be interested in what you think. Overall it's a great filter if folks are looking for a classic 60's synth sound.

https://manhattananalog.com/products/svvcf

Edit: Actually on the above web page there is a good demo.
Thanks for all this, Phil. I actually wonder if there is a whole lot of worry about whether existing patches will be screwed up by a readjusted Vibrato range. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a way to batch-process the patches to tweak the values; if so, they could be released as the "Version 1.5 (or whatever) updated factory sounds."

I agree that the overdrive on the Moog is one of the better ones, more thick than gnarly... but I'm not going out searching for a way to add it, certainly not if it means getting into modular. doh


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
galanter #3042073 05/05/20 01:08 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by galanter
New pre-/post- effect and/or filter I'd love to see them add? Something akin to the Moog 914 fixed filter bank.
I could get behind this. It would be easier than trying to mock up the same effect using the Vowel filter, which would be overkill for a lot less filtering.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3042075 05/05/20 01:13 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Every once in a while, you realize that you just have to get 'er done...

Here's the link to Part 7 of my video series. This one is over twice as long as any of the others, and I go all the way through the audio chain I describe above. Probably not enough audio examples, but maybe I can add some to later videos if people have specific things they'd like to hear.

One thing I am looking forward to is the YouTube comments on these; there are folks who haven't come to MPN yet that are asking some pretty salient questions and offering info I don't have. One contributor gave a pretty good description of the Window parameter I showed in Part 6, but she hasn't yet cited her source for the information. I hope she does, and I hope she'll respond to a direct invite to get into MPN!

Anyway, here's Part 7. Enjoy:



Next time: Envelopes, LFOs, the Mod Matrix, and Macros... which is a small enough chunk that I will be able to keep the length more palatable.

Stay well until then!

mike

Last edited by Dr Mike Metlay; 05/05/20 01:14 AM.

Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
1 member likes this: Pim
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3042415 05/06/20 08:59 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 894
Likes: 13
Pim Offline
MPN Advisory Board
Gold Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
Gold Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 894
Likes: 13
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
Every once in a while, you realize that you just have to get 'er done...

I applaud for Doctor Mike! Thank you Mike!
2thu


keys My Musicthx I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
1 member likes this: Dr Mike Metlay
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3042460 05/07/20 01:07 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Just heard from ASM, they are going to need the Hydrasynth back quite soon. Will do my darndest to get the last few videos done, but paying work has to take priority and I have a deadline.... thanks in advance for your understanding, everyone.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3042887 05/09/20 09:10 PM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
[quote=galanter]
Thanks for all this, Phil. I actually wonder if there is a whole lot of worry about whether existing patches will be screwed up by a readjusted Vibrato range. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a way to batch-process the patches to tweak the values; if so, they could be released as the "Version 1.5 (or whatever) updated factory sounds."

Well, as you know a long time ago I did some patch editor and sysex app coding. But it's been years and years and things may have changed. If, for example, patch info is now stored as floating point numbers, extending the range on the synth user interface might not really impact the internal representation in a way that breaks the data format. But in the old days the internal representation and sysex was integer representation, and they typically used every single bit. So widening the range would mean either (1) adding more bits, breaking the internal data maps or (2) changing what the bits meant (i.e. 00000001 would mean a lower amount of amplitude than it did before) losing resolution and breaking people's patches.

Making a converter program isn't a big deal technically, but the user support problems are bad. They really don't want people posting to boards that "ASM screwed up the vibrato, and then my old patches didn't work any more, and then they had to release a fixer-upper conversion program, and it was a real hassle to download and use…blah blah blah." And after the 50th email complaining "I installed the new Hydrasynth upgrade, and now the vibrato is broken on all my old patches" it gets really old.

So yeah, they could release a converter program and ask every one to dump, convert, and reload. But in the real world, and especially for a new company, that could be a dangerous thing in terms of user perception.

But all of the above is sysex as it was many years ago. They seem to be really bright engineers, and they could well have anticipated this kind of need and built-in something that is more adaptive than the old fashioned rigid methods allowed.

So unless someone on the inside has something to say, I'd chalk the above up to geezer speculation.

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3043437 05/12/20 11:56 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
You make very valid points, Phil. It's not easy to deal with these things, and every manufacturer has a different approach. I am looking at it from the marketing side rather than the techie side - and by "techie" I mean both the code and the fans.

For example, Arturia just releases new patch sets with every firmware upgrade (which happens a lot, even for their "analog" gear) and says, "If you want to play with the cool new features, put in the new firmware and deal with the fact that you might have to adjust your old sounds."

This actually isn't as salty as it might seem to an old sysex hound; so many kids just use the presets in their boxes, even if they claim they love to program, that releasing all-new presets wouldn't bother many folks, and the ones that would be most affected are also the ones who are not going to ask that a slate of new and improved features be avoided just so they can keep their old sounds. If a new upgrade means your vibrato is off, but there are bunches of new features and fixes that you get to play with, I think most folks would be happy doing the tweaks. But that's just me.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3043438 05/13/20 12:03 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Well, I feel like I've been shoved through a clothes mangle sideways, but by God, I made it... I have all the remaining video content for the Hydrasynth series in the can, and I am uploading it to YouTube and scheduling it for release in digestible chunks every couple of days until it's all done.

Sorry there was so much of a gap, but when I finally covered everything I wanted to cover, I found I had one huge video, and I mean huge, that had to be hacked up and partly reshot to make it manageable. The folks at ASM have been very gracious about this, and now I can let them know that they can have their synth back any time, while not denying folks the material I'd wanted to cover.

Here's Part 8, which covers the Envelopes and LFOs:



Part 9 will cover the Modulation Matrix, Macros, and the Ribbon controller. Stay tuned, and thanks for your attention!

mike


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3043453 05/13/20 02:45 AM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
(Apologies to those not interested in these nerdy asides…just skip ahead to Mike's next post!

Just for laughs I took a quick look at the MIDI spec for this critter.

http://www.mecldata.com/download/asm/Hydrasynth_MIDI_Implementation_Spec%20v1.4.pdf

They are still using bit mapped integers like the old days, and I don't think there is an easy way to change the firmware to allow for greater mod wheel resolution without messing up existing patches. However, since sys-ex can be variable length, they could extend the current sys-ex with additional info, and make the new firmware length tolerant, and perhaps kludge a transparent change. A bit messy and inelegant, and future versions might just get worse in terms of coding, but the users would never know.

p.s. I'm guessing Arturia could have done something similar…but they're being lazy...)

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3043655 05/14/20 03:37 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Okay, time to cover the bits I haven't mentioned yet...

Envelopes and LFOs

There's nothing super-odd about either of these, but there are a lot of neat touches that are rare if not entirely unheard of.

The Envelopes are DAHDSR; the added Delay and Hold segments can be quite handy. More to the point, every stage of the envelope (except Sustain level, of course) can be time-synchronized individually, with each segment adjustable from a 64th-note triplet to a full 64 bars. In addition, the AHD part of the envelope can be looped from 1 to 50 times or set to loop forever, turning the envelope into a sort of user-shapable unipolar LFO.

The LFOs have the usual variety of waveforms, including three different forms of randomness - from Sample & Hold to a faster Random to full-on Noise. You can shift the phase of the waveform, and add a delay in onset after note-on and a fade time to full LFO amplitude. Once again, all of these can be beat-synchronized as desired. A Smooth algorithm lets you roll off transients for lag effects, and there's a One-Shot mode that fires the LFO for one cycle at note-on, turning the LFO into a sort of user-shapable Envelope.

Zen, baby.

The Mod Matrix and Macros

For most folks who are into creating synth modulations, the layout of the Hydrasynth's modulation architecture will be pretty obvious and easy to work with. For folks who have never done it before, the Hydrasynth's modulation architecture will STILL be pretty obvious and easy to work with, or at least get started. It's exceptionally neat and easy to use, better than that of many plug-ins that have a lot more screen real estate to work with!

Each row of four displays has three different modulation routings plus an index so you always know where you are. You page down, three by three, adding modulations for a total of up to 32 routings, not including the few hardwired ones (pitch bend to all Oscillators, the separate Vibrato LFO for the mod wheel, Envelope and LFO 1 to Filter cutoff, Envelope and LFO 2 to amplitude). Each modulation has a source, a destination, and an amount from -128 to +128.

The wheels and Ribbon and CV inputs can all be routed to any destination parameter; more significantly, they can be routed to control the amount of other modulation routings. It's easy to set Mod Matrix Depth for any of the 32 routings to be controlled by something else.

Macros exist on the home screen for every preset. There are eight of them, each of which is a miniature Mod Matrix of up to eight routings. Each routing can affect any destination, including existing Mod Matrix routings, and is controlled by either a knob or a button.

The knob's function is obvious: when the patch is being played, turning a Macro knob applies a scaled amount, positive or negative, to each of the eight routings in the Macro. The button has its own value setting that takes effect when it's pushed. One small drag is that you can set whether button behavior is momentary, push on / push off, whether it turns off other Macro buttons (like a drum machine choke group), or whether it acts as a reset-knob-to-zero control... but this setting is not only global to all eight Macro buttons at once, but it's global for all eight Macros in every patch at once! It's a single setting that's made in the System Setup page, rather than something for each preset. Another thing I'd like to see updated in future software updates.

(Speaking of the System Setup page, that is something you'll want to dive into using the manual... there's a whole metric shit-ton (that's 1000 shit-kilos, not 2000 shit-pounds) of stuff you can set up in there, everything from LED contrast to oscilloscope behavior to CV scaling to aftertouch tweaks to MPE behavior and on and on. It's a fascinating overview of just how much this damn keyboard can do.)

The Ribbon and Arpeggiator

The Ribbon and the poly aftertouch keyboard are such an integral part of the Hydrasynth's playing experience to me that I basically consider the Desktop version to be near-useless. But that's just me.

The Ribbon operates in three different Modes: as a pitch bender (mimicking the bend range set for the wheel), as a Theremin-style monophonic note trigger, or as a modulation source (Mod Only). You can set it to hold its last value when released, or to snap back to its default.

Mod Only has three further choices: Absolute, Absolute+, and Relative. Absolute is a bender-style operation, bipolar from the center; Absolute+ is like a mod ribbon, 0 at left to max at right; Relative starts from 0 wherever you touch it, and scales response by the distance you travel from your starting point. For example, in Part 9 of my video series, I show how hitting the ribbon near the maximum and moving to the right adds only a tiny bit of phaser depth, but hitting it near the minimum and moving all the way to the right brings in a much bigger amount. A lot of the presets make really interesting use of the Ribbon, with crossfaded effects, simultaneous triggerings in different modes, and more.

Theremin mode is fun to mess around with, but I am not convinced it will take the world by storm. You can set the pitch sweep to be quantized to any of a large number of scales, including a custom one you can set, based on a chosen root note; range can be 2, 4, or 6 octaves; and the mod wheel can work as a volume control, mimicking the two-handed operation of a real Theremin (if you squint and look real hard).

The Arpeggiator is a Berlin School wanker's dream. Eight of the many features under the hood have dedicated knobs on the front panel for fast tweaking: Tempo, Ratchet, Chance, Gate, Mode, Octave, Division, and Swing. The last four are click-knobs that access obvious choices in a hurry. Note that for nearly all of those, diving into the Arpeggiator Edit pages offers more choices than the click-knobs offer... finer Swing control, more different time divisions, etc. There are buttons for On, Latch, Triplet [footnote 1], and Tap Tempo, which can also be used to trigger individual steps in an arpeggio or Phrase.

The Modes include the usual up, down, up/down and up&down (do high and low notes repeat or not?), play order, random, chord trigger... and Phrase, which plays back a mini-sequence of notes and rests of up to 32 steps when you hold down a single key. There are 64 of them stored in the synth, but you can't customize your own. That's another drag, as having the ability to compose and store your own mini-sequences would be much more useful than choosing from a list of presets.

And so

One final note: during my videos, I was caught out once or twice by features I couldn't find documented anywhere. It turns out that when ASM does new updates, they don't include the features added in previous updates in the update notes, and the manual lags way behind on these, even the PDF version which should be easy to keep updated. You need to remember to find and read ALL of the documentation - the manual and the update notes for versions 1.3.0, 1.3.1, and 1.4! The more you know...

Anyway, you get the idea. This thing is more fun than I've had in years and years, and I will use the free computer patch editor to store all of my sounds for installation in my very own Hydrasynth when it gets here, and then, alas, off it goes.

Over the next week or so, my remaining videos will upload every two days until we're completely done. I will post notifications here when that happens. In the meantime, please do continue to ask questions and discuss this beautiful keyboard; it was a real pleasure to have, a real shame to have to return, and a source of eager anticipation for when I finally get to own one. I will miss it, but hopefully not for long.

Thanks for letting me blather. Over to you!

mike



[1]

Where are the dotted notes?

One thing I am still trying to wrap my head around is that while the entire time-based architecture of the Hydrasynth, including the Envelope segments, LFO times, Delay times, etc., allows sync via note divisions in straight, triplet, and dotted note values.... with one absolutely bizarre exception. The Arpeggiator will run straight and triplet choices, there is even a Triplet button... but no dotted values.

Am I missing something here? Not having dotted eighth notes available makes me wonder if the designers renewed their membership in the Berlin Brotherhood lately...


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3043771 05/14/20 08:36 PM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Part 9 is live, in which I begin to cover the last bits of the Hydrasynth. This one is a lot of fun because I cover the Mod Matrix, the basics of Macros, and that wonderful Ribbon controller!

Check it out:



As always, comments and questions are welcome, and as always, thank you kindly for your attention.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3043958 05/15/20 10:18 PM
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 6,875
Likes: 62
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 6,875
Likes: 62
Finally got caught up on this wonderful review - WOW! So...with all those parameters and the extensive control it has to offer my impression is this thing is overwhelming. Not that it's difficult to understand but much like the Wavestate it seems tedious to roll your own patches from scratch. I think a lot of it has to do with the interface. While I understand the need for a matrixed approach it just seems you're forced to constantly focus in on one aspect at a time. Having the dedicated filter controls certainly helps some (except on the table top) but still.

So I'm interested in your impression Mike. People complain about the Andromeda being too complex. It's not imo but I do often struggle to find what's causing a particular modulation on older patches that I created. I can imagine this is that much worse in that you only see one "module" at a time. But of more concern - despite the claimed immediacy an all in one hardware synth is supposed to bring it seems programming is more of a chore and less fun than some complex VSTs.

Again, really super job Mike - one of the best reviews I've come across - anywhere.

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Markyboard #3043998 05/16/20 12:57 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 9,672
Likes: 51
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 9,672
Likes: 51
Originally Posted by Markyboard
one of the best reviews I've come across - anywhere.

for real, and by one of the best reviewers any of us will come across anywhere. 2thu


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3044049 05/16/20 07:32 AM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
FWIW, I think they've done an excellent job of balancing the complexity of this synth.

If you initialize a patch you basically have something like a minimoog. Pick your waveforms, adjust their levels in the mixer, and you've got an ADSR pre-assigned to the VCF and the VCA, and pitch-bend and vibrato mod-wheel is ready to go. You can just ignore the second filter, and pick the response curve you want in the first. Easy-peasy.

But if you want to do more, then you start exploring the mod-matrix. You can start off slowly. "I want a minimoog, but I want to add an extra wobble in the filter cutoff." No problem. Just assign one of the LFOs to the Filter Freq and bang, you're done.

The trick is to not get sucked into feeling like "I've got 32 mod-matrix slots. I better use all of them!" Ditto on the mutators and wave morphing stuff. Start with the init patch, and then add just one or two things from the big bag of tricks. After a while they will become as comfortable as the minimoog-like init patch.

In short, start with the basic patch. It's easy. Then slowly add more tricks. It will be a long while before you exhaust those!

Last edited by galanter; 05/16/20 07:33 AM.
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3044363 05/17/20 11:03 PM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 115
G
gd1 Offline
Senior Member
Offline
Senior Member
G
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 115
Mike, I haven’t watched all the videos yet but just wanted to say a sincere thank-you for all of the work and insights that you have put into this synth’s review(s).

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Markyboard #3044608 05/19/20 01:05 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Thank you all so much for the kind words and support! I wanted to address one comment beyond Phil (Galanter)'s excellent response:
Originally Posted by Markyboard
Finally got caught up on this wonderful review - WOW! So...with all those parameters and the extensive control it has to offer my impression is this thing is overwhelming. Not that it's difficult to understand but much like the Wavestate it seems tedious to roll your own patches from scratch. I think a lot of it has to do with the interface. While I understand the need for a matrixed approach it just seems you're forced to constantly focus in on one aspect at a time. Having the dedicated filter controls certainly helps some (except on the table top) but still.

So I'm interested in your impression Mike. People complain about the Andromeda being too complex. It's not imo but I do often struggle to find what's causing a particular modulation on older patches that I created. I can imagine this is that much worse in that you only see one "module" at a time. But of more concern - despite the claimed immediacy an all in one hardware synth is supposed to bring it seems programming is more of a chore and less fun than some complex VSTs.
In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. It's a lot to take in... for about the first half hour. Then suddenly you know where everything is and you're just FLYING.

Yeah, there are 32 routings and who knows, you might need them all for something, but the vast majority of patches have 9 or fewer (three screens) and most of those have 6 or fewer (two screens).

Macros can get a little more involved, but they're limited to 8 modulations so they can't get TOO far out of hand. Besides, there's no law that says you have to use any, and the ones on the presets are great to learn from.

With all the power in the oscillators, you'd be amazed at how great a sound you can get with everything else just switched off; you don't have to use both filters, but it's easy to if you want; some very basic routings that you'll nearly always use are hardwired, but they all make sense... honestly, I haven't had this much fun programming a synth in as long as I can remember, and that includes my Xpander, which I adored for over 30 years but found programming to have a definite ship-in-a-bottle aspect to it.

I have never found any plug-in made by anybody that is as quick to program as the Hydrasynth, unless it's far simpler; one example would be the GSampler platform from GForce (M-Tron Pro and Virtual String Machine), which are very intuitive but have no modulation routings to speak of. If someone knows of a highly complex plug-in that is this easy to work with, please tell me about it!


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3044609 05/19/20 01:08 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Oh, and before I forget:



We're done.

...or are we...? abduct


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3044672 05/19/20 10:54 AM
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 6,875
Likes: 62
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 6,875
Likes: 62
Originally Posted by Markyboard
So...with all those parameters and the extensive control it has to offer my impression is this thing is overwhelming. Not that it's difficult to understand but much like the Wavestate it seems tedious to roll your own patches from scratch. I think a lot of it has to do with the interface. While I understand the need for a matrixed approach it just seems you're forced to constantly focus in on one aspect at a time. Having the dedicated filter controls certainly helps some (except on the table top) but still.

So I'm interested in your impression Mike. People complain about the Andromeda being too complex. It's not imo but I do often struggle to find what's causing a particular modulation on older patches that I created. I can imagine this is that much worse in that you only see one "module" at a time. But of more concern - despite the claimed immediacy an all in one hardware synth is supposed to bring it seems programming is more of a chore and less fun than some complex VSTs.

Originally Posted by galanter
FWIW, I think they've done an excellent job of balancing the complexity of this synth.


Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
I wanted to address one comment beyond Phil (Galanter)'s excellent response:
In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. It's a lot to take in... for about the first half hour. Then suddenly you know where everything is and you're just FLYING.
...

I have never found any plug-in made by anybody that is as quick to program as the Hydrasynth, unless it's far simpler; one example would be the GSampler platform from GForce (M-Tron Pro and Virtual String Machine), which are very intuitive but have no modulation routings to speak of. If someone knows of a highly complex plug-in that is this easy to work with, please tell me about it!

I think I would have to look at Pigments or Massive X. They're obviously way different from the HS but just as highly complex? Let's assume close enough to make some comparisons in this regard. The generous 32 modulation slots of the HS doesn't factor into the equation for me. It's cool that you have this flexibility but for my explorations I tend to max out at half dozen or so. My point/concern was can I easily see what's being modulated on any given patch? Or do I have to chase these things down one module at a time? Sticking with the Andromeda for comparison I can push the lit up mod buttons on the front panel until I find the one that's (often) causing me grief. But there are also those very powerful but hidden Croute modulations, i.e. the modulator modulators.

Now that's just modulations. But also viewing the modular like routings in Massive X (for example) requires switching to another page, or at least half of the main one. So not ideal and maybe Galanter's quote is applicable here as well. Whether hardware or software you can make anything complex enough requiring multiple pages/views etc. So for me it comes down to how transparent or distracting switching from one scene to another is, and how often I have to do it. And yes, I agree it's a trade off and one I'm willing to accept any day over less features. Still the HS is hardware and the interface is the defacto advantage over VSTs. Isn't that why everyone loves hardware and hates VSTs? So for someone spending 95% of their time programming on any given synth the hardware better not be constantly reminding me of trade offs and compromises.

Your experience and comments are honest and encouraging Mike (as are Galanter’s) and again for me this is the true value your reviews bring. Enough so that I look forward to spending some real time on a HS - whenever that's possible.

1 member likes this: Dr Mike Metlay
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Markyboard #3044827 05/20/20 12:27 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by Markyboard
Originally Posted by Dr Mike Metlay
In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. It's a lot to take in... for about the first half hour. Then suddenly you know where everything is and you're just FLYING.
...

I have never found any plug-in made by anybody that is as quick to program as the Hydrasynth, unless it's far simpler; one example would be the GSampler platform from GForce (M-Tron Pro and Virtual String Machine), which are very intuitive but have no modulation routings to speak of. If someone knows of a highly complex plug-in that is this easy to work with, please tell me about it!

I think I would have to look at Pigments or Massive X. They're obviously way different from the HS but just as highly complex? Let's assume close enough to make some comparisons in this regard. The generous 32 modulation slots of the HS doesn't factor into the equation for me. It's cool that you have this flexibility but for my explorations I tend to max out at half dozen or so. My point/concern was can I easily see what's being modulated on any given patch? Or do I have to chase these things down one module at a time? Sticking with the Andromeda for comparison I can push the lit up mod buttons on the front panel until I find the one that's (often) causing me grief. But there are also those very powerful but hidden Croute modulations, i.e. the modulator modulators.

On the Hydrasynth, it's one click: MOD MATRIX and you're there. Plus up and down arrow clicks to go through routings three by three until you find the offender. Pigments isn't nearly as user-friendly or fast. This was the one thing the Matrix-12 had that the Xpander lacked: a Mod Routings page where everything was collected in one spot. Man, I missed that.


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3044838 05/20/20 01:07 AM
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 6,875
Likes: 62
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 6,875
Likes: 62
I’m intrigued and can’t wait to give it a spin. Still I wish someone would come out with a system where every function and every modulation routing is always in front of you. No pages, no scrolling, no button pushing:

[Linked Image from res.cloudinary.com]

Never mind hider

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3044877 05/20/20 05:33 AM
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2020
Posts: 9
Here's an interface idea that would help make patch forensics a bit easier.

Add to the mod matrix display…

option to display and edit "hardwired" connections (e.g. env1 -> Filter1)

option to sort display by source or destination

Last edited by galanter; 05/20/20 05:34 AM.
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
galanter #3045418 05/23/20 03:15 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Originally Posted by galanter
Here's an interface idea that would help make patch forensics a bit easier.

Add to the mod matrix display…

option to display and edit "hardwired" connections (e.g. env1 -> Filter1)

option to sort display by source or destination
Yeah, there's something to that. Maybe by rev 2.0...?


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3045419 05/23/20 03:17 AM
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
Gold Member
OP Offline
Gold Member
Joined: Jun 2019
Posts: 606
Likes: 29
It's gone. Shipped out the door and on its way back to ASM in California...

sigh

But I had a little time before I had to pack it, so... one last drive around the park....!



Thank you all for your attention. I will hopefully be getting mine soon and will be able to keep answering questions, but in the meantime, it's off to my next GearLab series I go!

mike


Dr. Mike Metlay (PhD in nuclear physics, golly gosh) grin
Janitor and Hall Monitor, Dr. Mike's Studio Workshop

clicky!: more about me ~ my schwag ~ my radio station (and my fam) ~ my local tribe ~ my day job
2 members like this: Nathanael_I, Pim
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3045463 05/23/20 02:01 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 894
Likes: 13
Pim Offline
MPN Advisory Board
Gold Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
Gold Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 894
Likes: 13
wave Thank you Mike!! Bravo. 2thu


keys My Musicthx I always wondered what happened after the fade out?
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3045483 05/23/20 04:10 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 9,672
Likes: 51
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 9,672
Likes: 51
just watched part 11. Fitting sendoff. Thanks for all you do around here. cheers


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3045486 05/23/20 04:44 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 7,587
Likes: 10
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 7,587
Likes: 10
What a wonderful introduction to the Hydrasynth, Mike. Simply stellar!




"... there's going to be a lot more coming from me in the near future."





rawk cheers 2thu

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3045507 05/23/20 06:55 PM
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,823
Likes: 13
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MPN Advisory Board
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 5,823
Likes: 13
I bought one for my birthday! smile I absolutely love it. They just released a new version of the OS, which adds another mutator style. I've only had it for two days but I did a livestream ambient soundscape set last night with the Hydrasynth and the Kurzweil Forte7. Lots of fun.

https://youtu.be/_DTPgXnkt64

Re: Meet the ASM Hydrasynth!
Dr Mike Metlay #3045538 05/23/20 11:11 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,832
Likes: 4
MP Hall of Fame Member
Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,832
Likes: 4
16-voice 5 octave version. I know they will....

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3

Link Copied to Clipboard
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.4