Frap Tools USTA

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mdoudoroff
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Frap Tools USTA

Post by mdoudoroff » Fri May 10, 2019 6:59 am

Image

USTA is a 4×4 tracks sequencer for voltages and gates with variable stage duration, designed to quickly see and edit multiple voltage relationships in real time.

“Variable stage duration” means that every single stage duration can be individually set in relation to the clock, instead of being constrained to a one-to-one ratio (i.e. one stage per every clock impulse).

“4×4 tracks” means that every stage can store and generate up to four separate voltages (two CVs and two gates), and that up to four independent stage sequences can be arranged into as many different tracks.

Its architecture is based on an array of 16 ‘Stages’ which form a ‘Pattern’; 16 patterns form a ‘Track’, and four tracks form a ‘Project’. Within each track, each stage can provide two gates and two CVs, and a wide set of options is available to define and modify the value of each output (‘Layers’) and the way it is played (‘Colors’).

Every Stage is related to a dedicated stepped encoder for quick and intuitive editing, and all the 16 encoders are arranged in an oval layout with a circular playhead. Every encoder is surrounded by a ring of 16 LEDs and a RGB led, to provide a visual feedback of the current setting of that step basing on the layer you are working on (like raw CV, quantized CV, length, gate…) and the way it should play depending on the RGB color.

Key Features

- Hands-on layout with physical control per stage and intuitive visual feedback
- Variable stage length
- Independent time ratios on internal or external clock per each track
- Complete track independence
- 4 fully independent tracks with 2 gates and 2 CV each
- Raw / quantized CV with quantization scales and roots
- Pattern mode to edit and play live dynamically, and song mode for a defined sequence of pre edited patterns
- Composition mode to edit a stopped track with CV monitoring
- Normal, skip, or length based slide CV mode per each stage
- Unified gate and ratcheting
- External CV routing to multiple targets
- Store of modulated and/or pseudo randomized patterns in realtime

~$750

More at http://frap.tools/usta/

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/frap-tools-usta

[video][/video]

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mdoudoroff
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Post by mdoudoroff » Fri May 10, 2019 7:03 am

Two essential details about this sequencer:

- each step gets its own duration (somewhat like the ER-101)

- each of the four sequencer tracks can independently have either its own arbitrary tempo (internal clock) or make use the (solitary) clock input

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richc90
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Post by richc90 » Fri May 10, 2019 7:15 am

I spent a while talking to the Frap guys yesterday at SB and it has really impressive feature set. The CV recording is mainly designed for modulation but apparently they are looking at a firmware update to get it to work properly with pitch sequences. Some of the performance features are really cool.

I don't think it'll make me swap out the 101+2 tho, the screen on USTA is small for my tastes.

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loopt
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Post by loopt » Fri May 10, 2019 7:20 am

Can it do nested loops and jumps?

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mdoudoroff
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Post by mdoudoroff » Fri May 10, 2019 7:24 am

richc90, a significant portion of the cost of USTA must be those custom encoders with LED ring surrounds. They look cool, but how effective do they actually seem to be as a visual reference?

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hemeroscopium
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Post by hemeroscopium » Fri May 10, 2019 8:00 am

So many sequencers. Wondering if this will allow for custom scales/voltage tables as er101. I love the independent lenght per step/gates per lenghts. It seems like much more "playable" 101 sans math ops.

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Post by MossGarden » Fri May 10, 2019 8:14 am

[video][/video]

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hemeroscopium
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Post by hemeroscopium » Fri May 10, 2019 8:32 am

Funny, i tought Cat will be the first to use it :D

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diller
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Post by diller » Fri May 10, 2019 9:30 am

There was already a thread started about this module a few days ago.

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richc90
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Post by richc90 » Fri May 10, 2019 9:47 am

It's hard to remember all the info from yesterday so take this with a pinch of salt cos I might be misremembering...
mdoudoroff wrote:richc90, a significant portion of the cost of USTA must be those custom encoders with LED ring surrounds. They look cool, but how effective do they actually seem to be as a visual reference?
It's hard to get a sense of that in the context of SB --- I imagine once the workflow fits in, you can just read off information from them. It felt less immediate in terms of visual feedback than a 101 though, and squinting at the little screen might annoy some.
loopt wrote:Can it do nested loops and jumps?
I think so, yes.
erenod wrote: Wondering if this will allow for custom scales/voltage tables as er101.
Not presently. But maybe with a firmware update.
erenod wrote:It seems like much more "playable" 101 sans math ops.
That's very close to my take. It's like a 101 designed with real-time performance in mind. I imagine Caterina was heavily consulted during the design process and she's a 101 enthusiast.

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loopt
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Post by loopt » Fri May 10, 2019 10:45 am

richc90 wrote:
loopt wrote:Can it do nested loops and jumps?
I think so, yes.
That would be interesting.
On their website it sounds like the looping feature works on the pattern level with one loop per pattern, though. Still can't quite wrap my mind around their terminology (Stages, Patterns, Tracks, Songs).
Guess we'll have to wait until a manual appears or someone is doing a thorough walk-through.

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Post by j259 » Fri May 10, 2019 10:48 am

If they add cv record from external keyboard and if the pattern chains are simple enough to practically handle more than 16 note loops at a time then that would be great.

I can't deal with dialing in notes with knobs if you're trying to do a more deliberate composition with voice leading and musical development, not to end up back where you started after 16 tediously programmed notes, and hoping to do better than another 16 note loop. For this reason, I find a traditional sequencer combined with sample and holds is still the most powerful solution, but with this and the five12, the tools are perhaps there.

I particularly liked at the beginning and the end of the Barbieri video you could hear some of the random loose rythmic and then chopped up ostinato possibilities (at the end, presumably the mutes or ratchets could be made to be more note division-dynamic too). Those examples sounds a little less programmed than similar things she does with ER-101.

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Post by hemeroscopium » Mon May 13, 2019 5:09 am

Asked some questions, got response from Fraps :

External scales / table won't be implemented due to USTA architecture but:

- you can set per each stage of each pattern of each track a detuning offset in cents of semitone. This value can't be variated as the main one that you set as reference in terms of semitone. So it is designed to go "out of scale" when you need it, exactly how you need it...

- it is possible that we'll implement other tuning as options directly in the firmware in future updates (updates are managed via SD card on the back of the module, right for that purpose)... It is something we'll look into when everything else is finished.

er 101 still the only sequencer on market with custom voltage tables ;/

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Post by mdoudoroff » Mon May 13, 2019 8:05 am

erenod wrote:er 101 still the only sequencer on market with custom voltage tables ;/
That may be true in an absolute sense, at least if you discount Teletype. For all its power, though, the ER-101’s windowed editing experience doesn’t suit everyone’s process (I struggled with it for a couple years before giving up).

The new Erica Black Sequencer is promising microtonal support, and I suspect that’ll be something you edit in a manner similar to their Pico Quant.

An argument can also be made that quantizing at the sequencer can be “too early” in the chain… the Sinfonion is basically making that challenge. It provides a direct/interactive way of configuring your voltage tables in musical terms (but only in conventional/jazz terms… no microtonal stuff or arbitrary voltages are possible).

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon May 13, 2019 8:26 am

mdoudoroff wrote:richc90, a significant portion of the cost of USTA must be those custom encoders with LED ring surrounds. They look cool, but how effective do they actually seem to be as a visual reference?
I'm not sure they're so "custom" .....

Image


The LED rings are deeply useful in the device I've posted above. But I've no idea how they're configured in that sequencer.

8-)
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Post by simonefabbri » Mon May 13, 2019 8:54 am

Hey all,
we're back from Superbooth and in the next days we'll try to upload the current manual if someone wants to get a deeper idea of its functionality...

About LED rings, i don't know what the custom thing means, in the sense that there is a visual feedback of the value in use by the encoder. The only parameter that it is approximated there is the voltages in Raw mode, where we have only from 0 to 16 LED lit to display 10V of range. The pitch uses a semitone + octave display so each of the 120 semitones available have a unique combination... there 'll be a picture in the manual about that...

By the way each encoder uses 16 discrete LED, if this was the question ;)... in case some other info is needed i'll try to reply as soon as possible...
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Post by simonefabbri » Mon May 13, 2019 8:56 am

j259 wrote:If they add cv record from external keyboard and if the pattern chains are simple enough to practically handle more than 16 note loops at a time then that would be great.

I can't deal with dialing in notes with knobs if you're trying to do a more deliberate composition with voice leading and musical development, not to end up back where you started after 16 tediously programmed notes, and hoping to do better than another 16 note loop. For this reason, I find a traditional sequencer combined with sample and holds is still the most powerful solution, but with this and the five12, the tools are perhaps there.

I particularly liked at the beginning and the end of the Barbieri video you could hear some of the random loose rythmic and then chopped up ostinato possibilities (at the end, presumably the mutes or ratchets could be made to be more note division-dynamic too). Those examples sounds a little less programmed than similar things she does with ER-101.
CV recording via external CV/Gate keyboard (or similar) is what we'll work on! Thanks!
Frap Tools - http://frap.tools

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Post by mdoudoroff » Mon May 13, 2019 9:01 am

Rex Coil 7 wrote:I'm not sure they're so "custom" .....
Fair enough—they probably aren’t bespoke for Frap exclusively. But it’s either a part that combines an encoder and LED ring, or it’s a combination of two parts, and sixteen of those sets could easily be over $100 in parts alone.

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Mon May 13, 2019 9:15 am

mdoudoroff wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:I'm not sure they're so "custom" .....
Fair enough—they probably aren’t bespoke for Frap exclusively. But it’s either a part that combines an encoder and LED ring, or it’s a combination of two parts, and sixteen of those sets could easily be over $100 in parts alone.
... "could be" ... yea, but I'm thinking no.

The device I posted the picture of uses encoders/LED rings that are also push buttons. The LED rings/encoders may be programed to work as a 270 degree sweep control (like a buck standard "pot") or as attenuverters with a center-zero. It's a very (very!) high quality device, and those encoders feel like the best "pots" I've ever used on any analog device. For sure not at all sloppy and wobbly. The LED rings also have fully programmable color coding, and there are four "pages" of 16 controls (total of 64 rotaries, and 64 push button functions). And yet that device sells brand new for $219.00. During sales, they are sold new for $200.00 with free shipping. And they're hand assembled at that.

So I'm thinking that $100 bucks for 16 of those LED ringed encoders (less capable ones at that) is a very high estimate (which comes to $6.25 each ... without knobs!).

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Post by webhead311 » Mon May 13, 2019 10:37 pm

Glad to see someone working on this module here in the thread. quick question that i'm not sure have been cleared up

1)can steps(or stages?) be shifted to play a couple milliseconds slower/faster so they sound a bit more organic?

2) Can you make a step play for example one quarter note and then have complete silence for lets say 8 bars and then the rest of the steps play?

3) when ratcheting, can each hit of the ratchet have a different v-oct value?(i guess in the same vain as an arp but allowing the user to program the v-oct value for each ratchet hit)



I hope these questions make sense as i'm having a hard time figuring out the technical ways to ask these questions. Either way i cannot wait to see more of this module in action.

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Post by cackland » Mon May 13, 2019 11:07 pm

The led encoder ring configuration is not proprioritary or anything new, I’ve seen these around for several years now.

This is one type that used to be available to purchase as a configuration encoder.

http://mayhewlabs.com/products/rotary-encoder-led-ring

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Post by Lokua » Tue May 14, 2019 1:12 am

Rex Coil 7 wrote:
mdoudoroff wrote:richc90, a significant portion of the cost of USTA must be those custom encoders with LED ring surrounds. They look cool, but how effective do they actually seem to be as a visual reference?
I'm not sure they're so "custom" .....

Image


The LED rings are deeply useful in the device I've posted above. But I've no idea how they're configured in that sequencer.

8-)
LOVE the MFT. I have two of them. Now if only they could do MIDI without a computer :cry:

Been wondering when that encoder style would show up in eurorack. Although, this one looks like they've broken the "ring" down into four quadrants, so it is unique AFAIK

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Post by nulla_spes » Tue May 14, 2019 1:14 am

Hi guys! Giovanni here – part of the Frap staff. I am going to answer a few questions as well!
webhead311 wrote:1)can steps(or stages?) be shifted to play a couple milliseconds slower/faster so they sound a bit more organic?
Kinda: there is a Swing parameter which serves this purpose. It sets how much of a note's length is "borrowed" by the previous one: for a "classic" swing pattern like dotted quarter + octave you set it to 50, but it welcomes any value from 1% to 75%. The lowest values add a very "human" feeling to the sequence, and you will have a note which is, say, 3% shorter than another.
webhead311 wrote:2) Can you make a step play for example one quarter note and then have complete silence for lets say 8 bars and then the rest of the steps play?
It depends on the time ratio settings, but it should be feasible: if you have your track clock set to the "quarter" beat, the minimum note length will be exactly one quarter. You can set one stage to play a quarter note, then add as many "silent" stages you need. In case you need 8 bars, assuming you're playing in 4/4, you'll need 4x8 quarters notes, i.e. 32. Given that each stage can last up to 16 quarters with this setting, you only need to set the length of two stages to 16 and set their gate to 0: this will give you a pause which lasts exactly 8 bars, by "sacrificing" only two stages.
webhead311 wrote:3) when ratcheting, can each hit of the ratchet have a different v-oct value?(i guess in the same vain as an arp but allowing the user to program the v-oct value for each ratchet hit)
No, because the "ratcheting" divides a stage into a given number of equally-spaced gates, but the CV value is only one. There are however two workarounds for obtaining something similar to what you need:

1) you can set the internal "time ratio" (i.e. a clock divider / multiplier) to a shorter note division, and manually program these faster notes;
2) you can set the stage CV to "slide" mode, which basically is a linear portamento from the previous value to the one you defined, and also its gate to ratchet: this will play a series of shorter gates at different points of your glide: it will not be "in tune", but still...

We will get back with some more details concerning the "custom scales" once we have some more detailed infos!

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Post by nulla_spes » Tue May 14, 2019 1:27 am

loopt wrote:
richc90 wrote:
loopt wrote:Can it do nested loops and jumps?
I think so, yes.
That would be interesting.
On their website it sounds like the looping feature works on the pattern level with one loop per pattern, though. Still can't quite wrap my mind around their terminology (Stages, Patterns, Tracks, Songs).
Guess we'll have to wait until a manual appears or someone is doing a thorough walk-through.
That's an interesting question, thanks for asking. First of all, let's clarify that no, loop is absolutely not limited to one loop per pattern :tu:

So far, there are basically three kinds of loop:

1) Pattern loop: this sets the first and last pattern of your sequence, and USTA will loop within them. You can set your loop say from pattern 3 to pattern 10, and you'll still be able to manually recall pattern 2 or 11 for one shot and then get back to your "main loop".

2) Song mode: you can rearrange your pattern in a given structure and loop them individually nearly as many times as you want.

3) There is a parallel "stage loop" feature which can be turned on / off while performing which works on a stage level: you set the stage (i.e. step) on which the stage loop begins, the number of stages it should last, and the number of repetitions. Everytime the playhead hits the start point, the Stage Loop is engaged. This works across different patterns.

Each of these setting is completely independent per each of the four tracks.

Hope this answered your question!

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Post by Keltie » Thu May 16, 2019 3:11 pm

IMHO led rings like this have been inexplicably missing from euro. It’s potentially a game changing interface development for euro sequencers, and I don’t use that hyperbole lightly.

I’m not sure from what I’ve seen that this is a module for me, but congrats to frap tools on this. I wish them every success with it, and that other designers take note. Led rings are the way forward for digital sequencer UI, I think. ( Even taking account of resolution issues)

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