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New Thunder: Buchla + Sensel Morph
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge  
Author New Thunder: Buchla + Sensel Morph
rkilman
Interesting...

https://sensel.com/collections/all/products/morph-with-buchla-thunder- overlay



Nice price too.
Minimoog56
Is this an iPad app or hardware? Very confusing website. Feh.
ryangaston
Minimoog56
It’s definitely hardware—but I haven’t surmised yet of there’s a software backend for all of the Thunder’s internal capabilities? Interesting collaboration, either way
Kent
It's an overlay of some sort that goes on a touch surface of some type.
tIB
From the little I know Morph does MPE - they state the following:

Unmatched pressure sensitivity
Per-note pressure, pitch bend, and timbre (MPE)

I don't think it's going to be as fully configurable as the thunder (assuming that is the same as the 222e?) but I'm interested to find out.

Be amazing if someone could write a custom firmware/software back end for it integrating all the thunder did (or they already did!).
tIB
Reading on it apparently has 9 presets selectable by the middle button and their app thingy is fully configurable - I'm very interested!
tIB
Trying to work out whether the sensel app will allow multiple channels of midi (it will but not sure how allocated), user defined CC's for each channel and pitch allocation per pad - I'd be really interested to know how configurable I could make this...
sonicaddiction
Do you think there are any plans to update the 225e to support the Sensel Morph (and similar) kind of multi dimensional input? I'm not sure how well for instance portamento and pitchbend work via the internal bus at the moment.
tIB
I keep meaning to try my Linnstrument through the buckle so I'll try to update once I've done that. I can see how it would work fine monophonically but I'm not sure about polyphony.
sonicaddiction
Is anyone using a similar pressure sensitive touch device with the 225e at the moment. I couldn't really find any good info while searching.

It seems like it would work using the internal bus for pitch and other CC-data through the J-P busses but I'm not sure how the limitations of the 225e, and maybe even the MIDI-protocol in general, would work in reality.
Knarzwaltz
I dont understand.. is it a stand alone controller which can be configured and used without a computer or ?? is this just aesthetics... the edges of C and P is already cut to fit... Im confused.
ArguZ
I just hope the surface is not too high friction.
The other control surfaces look they are moch press that slide oriented.
rkilman
more info with videos here:

https://www.gearnews.com/namm-2019-sensel-morph-buchla-thunder-overlay -midi-and-mpe-controller/
gigasturtz
hmmm, with the MPE i'm curious if this would be fun and useful to use with Deckard's Dream...
Synesthesia
I use a Buchla format MUC-810 for my midi in my system. if i can multiple channel out of this things... it would be great!
Synesthesia
i love the look of it.
ryangaston
i love the look of it too! i've been vying for a new thunder for ages (almost bought a vintage one around a year ago but missed out Dead Banana )

and this has me re-thinking the sensel morph altogether...seems from videos now like there's not a plan to add all of the thunder OS's features to the morph itself, but one could certainly spin up an application for riff recording and all the other thunder oddities. maybe i'll snag one and make a gnarly Max patch of it cool
drewskee
The Sensel is a touch sensitive surface that gets reconfigured based on a magnetic rubberized overlay. One is a keyboard kind of like the Qunexus another is a LIVE controller. It has Bluetooth but not long battery life so it’s usb powered to the computer.

Having had a couple of Thunders it’s hard to imagine they have recreated all the amazing features of the Thunder. It’s more likely (hunch) this is a Buchla thunder inspired keyboard which moves you into a custom app to achieve to defining what note each key plays and various controller outputs: pressure, location, velocity.

The Sensel is very robust metal and quite sensitive, sleek and reconfigurable. I played it last year at NAMM and liked it quite a bit. Would be great if it could be both USB powered and do Bluetooth separately but Bluetooth is only useable when battery powered. Either way this is cool to see!
Kent
I approached this very skeptically. I'm a Thunder owner and thought "nah...."

Honestly, it is cool. It's a good solution for playing soft synths. It doesn't do everything that Thunder does but does the core stuff really well. It's around $249 and is worth looking into. I was pleasantly surprised.

It's not for me, as I've a Thunder, 223e, Linnstrument, etc, but it is valid enough to look into if this this is your kind of thing. The glissando feature is nice.
Knarzwaltz
Kent wrote:
I approached this very skeptically. I'm a Thunder owner and thought "nah...."

Honestly, it is cool. It's a good solution for playing soft synths. It doesn't do everything that Thunder does but does the core stuff really well. It's around $249 and is worth looking into. I was pleasantly surprised.

It's not for me, as I've a Thunder, 223e, Linnstrument, etc, but it is valid enough to look into if this this is your kind of thing. The glissando feature is nice.


What is the most important thing you think its missing compare to The real Thunder?
Kent
Nothing all that 'important' really. You can't record your 'gestures' like you can on the Thunder. We played around a bit with trying to get the X/Y joystick pads to act as dials like one can do on the Thunder. I'm not certain that this is possible but it could be.
One can't split the keys to have "Key 11a" and "Key 11b".

It is much smaller.

There is no "Thunder Pot" but I don't think that this is necessary due the manner in which the Sensel can be configured. Just make one.

It does retain the functionality of being able to save and recall preset configurations.
elmerfudd
Gee, Thanks Kent. Pushed me right over the edge there, just pre-ordered one......Really was just waiting for a Thunder user to say 'this doesn't totally suck', did not expect a cool rating!
Knarzwaltz
Thanks for the answer Kent. So its closer to the 222/223e than original Thunder ...limitations is understandable.... but I really want the original. Would be great if BUSA made a updated one.
But a Sensel it will be......can't resist...must try it... Damn!
divisionbyzero
the 222e touch surface was always intended to become a usb controller - the chipset used has an unused usb port, and in later models there was also another spot for a separate uc that did osc conversion (another project that worked but was never finished). also some versions of the board say "thunder 2" or "thunder 3" on them.

i also think the overlay setup is interesting - at one point we talked about doing an ipad thunder. don's two objections were multi-touch (which i guess isn't an issue now in ios?) and feel. we looked into getting static plastic outlines made to sit on the screen so that you'd have tactile feedback about where your fingers are but yet again, another project never finished.
Phil999
I had the exact same iPad project in mind, including the plastic or cardboard outline. Lemur as programmable app. It's not too bad if you have the iPad or phone in front of you. One can use simple sliders, or do a nice surface with html canvas graphics.

I have also a QuNeo controller. Each pad can have a distinct CC number for pressure, the same for each four corners. And faders. So it's actually still my best performance controller for modular, next to the R2M Ribbon.
pantalones
Just wanted to say I've had mine for a few weeks now and am completely underwhelmed.

It doesn't have aftertouch, it has pressure. This means that it can't distinguish between initial keypress and deliberate AT. So if you have pitch bend mapped to AT, for example, every note you hit will have a pitch bend bump on it. There's thresholding, but it's not the same. They say that a future version will have user-defined curves, but that's not now.

Furthermore mine has been buggy as hell. Some keys send AT. some don’t. My preset says A#3 pad 3, but it’s sending C3. This kickstarter-level QA bullshit is why I sold my KMI QuNeo as well.

Between the confusion between AT + velocity, poor QA, crashing editor, and lack of responsiveness from the developer i don’t recommend this device. But moreover who the hell thought it was a good idea to use high friction rubber for pads meant for expressive finger sliding? There are so many things that just miss the mark here.
realitycontrol
damn, such a shame that it misses the mark.
rkilman
That sucks, you should definitely return it. I'm loving mine - there are some things that I might want to change, but no complaints for a sub $300 thunder that is easy to program and tiny Rockin' Banana!
Knarzwaltz
Dead Banana
scottmoon
I've been having fun with it playing the ContinuuMini. It also has a good layout configuration for finger drumming.
neuroportal
I've just ordered one of these for use with, primarily, and Endorphin.es Shuttle system. Looking forward to trying it out.
herrjano
neuroportal wrote:
I've just ordered one of these for use with, primarily, and Endorphin.es Shuttle system. Looking forward to trying it out.


Be warned that it's still not supported natively in the Shuttle Control so you need to proxy the Morph through another device. I've contacted both Sensel and Endorphin.es support but I don't know how soon there will be a fix if any. I'm still on the fence about returning mine.
neuroportal
herrjano wrote:
neuroportal wrote:
I've just ordered one of these for use with, primarily, and Endorphin.es Shuttle system. Looking forward to trying it out.


Be warned that it's still not supported natively in the Shuttle Control so you need to proxy the Morph through another device. I've contacted both Sensel and Endorphin.es support but I don't know how soon there will be a fix if any. I'm still on the fence about returning mine.



Ahhh shit.

Thanks for the heads up.
ryangaston
Just wanted to add to this post to say that I absolutely love the Morph + Thunder overlay combo. I'm using it primarily with Max/MSP so far—building a patch that takes inspiration from the Buchla 400 voice architecture, with some other elements inspired by the original Thunder's OS. Also controlling a 200 clone system with the combination of the Morph and this Max patch.

I can't speak to the issues others have noted about MIDI related oddities—but for my purposes, it's easy to make use of all of the various types of data the Morph sends. It's very straightforward to make it do what you want to if you're working in Max (and presumably in PD, Supercollider, or any other "roll your own" sort of context).

I will note that I personally think the touch response is spectacular. The velocity and pressure sensitivity are perfect for me, and I don't personally feel any issues with sliding my fingers across the surface—perfectly comfortable there. I've tried a million controllers and thought I was going to have to stick it out with the QuNeo (which slightly missed the mark for me), but the Morph and Thunder overlay are very quickly finding a way into what I do.

Cheers! Guinness ftw!
Phil999
I agree, it's a very good controller - the best I ever had actually. I also agree on what you said about the QuNeo. However, using both is quite nice (QuNeo as percussion pad and for non-dynamic parameters, Sensel Morph for keyboard performance, MPE instruments, etc.). Minimum desktop space, maximum expression and control. I was also tempted by the small duophonic Haken, but for my purposes the Sensel Morph does it already.

Until now I used the normal keyboard layout more. It's very good with Madrona Labs synths, and brilliant to play non-standard tonality/scales, without the need for microtonal .scl or .tun files. It's a dream come true. But I see a lot of potential in the Thunder layout, which I will explore more in the coming years. Takes some time to find out a perfect Morph preset and synth/modular patch.
ryangaston
Phil999 wrote:
Takes some time to find out a perfect Morph preset and synth/modular patch.


Agreed. As with any good controller, it takes time to figure out how to make it make sense for your purposes—honestly, after a long time using analog CV touchplates as a primary playing method (Pressure Points, TKB, 216, yadda yadda), though, it's really amazing what a difference something like the Morph provides. Much more setup involved (I'm tweaking things every day still), but in the end it's quite rewarding.

Still would love to use a vintage Thunder, but for now the Morph will do just fine for me Rockin' Banana!
pantalones
ryangaston wrote:
Phil999 wrote:
Takes some time to find out a perfect Morph preset and synth/modular patch.


Agreed. As with any good controller, it takes time to figure out how to make it make sense for your purposes—honestly, after a long time using analog CV touchplates as a primary playing method (Pressure Points, TKB, 216, yadda yadda), though, it's really amazing what a difference something like the Morph provides. Much more setup involved (I'm tweaking things every day still), but in the end it's quite rewarding.


Would you mind sharing what you've done and how you have yours set up?

Despite my mild disappointment with it i did keep it and have been using it as kind of a multitouch multidimensional kaoss pad controller for dub fx sends, using C-G as

y - level
x - parameter 1
z - parameter 2

on things like permut8, valhalla delay, etc.
ryangaston
pantalones wrote:
Would you mind sharing what you've done and how you have yours set up?


Yo! Sorry for missing this before. Definitely glad to share details. I'm expecting a lot of TL;DR from this, but here it is anyway. Short summary: I'm using it moooostly as a keyboard where each key is also an XYZ controller, and then processing the MIDI data in Max and using that to drive a weird synthesis engine and to convert to CV to control a 10U clone system.

Aaaaaaaand here's some audio of the Morph+Max+clone setup. Be warned, you will only find goofy skronky squeaky cartoon sounds here.

[s]http://soundcloud.com/ryangastonmusic/b400v200r[/s]
_____________

Longer answer:

My strategy has so far been to build a polyphonic "instrument" in Max that is designed around some of the Morph's strengths, with lots of inspiration from other Buchla devices: some MIDI-related processes inspired by the original Thunder, and a voice architecture & general interactive inspiration from the Touché and Buchla 400 (fwiw, I've never actually played an original Thunder, Touché, or 400...I've just read the manuals way too many times!). Here's what it looks like (a lot of UI stuff is still finding its final position, so forgive the visual clutter):



I haven't even really dug into using MPE yet at all—so far I have all of the long keys and central hexagonal/pentagonal keys set up as XYZ pads with note values set to a chromatic scale. The X and Y CCs are the same for each key—so the key most recently pressed winds up acting as an "expressive" control source (the routing can be arbitrarily defined preset-by-preset in the Max patch).

The large hex pads are sending X and Y CCs to some of the more important synthesis parameters. The top row of smaller keys are toggles, momentary buttons, etc. for navigating menus in the Max patch, turning different behaviors on and off, etc. Some of the buttons on the very very top row act as latching and momentary octave transposition controls, and a means of navigating the preset system I have built into the patch.

Aside from all the normal synthesis "expressive" controls, there's also an arpeggiator and "MIDI effect" generator that can be conditionally controlled via XYZ CCs and velocity: for example, a weird pseudo-arpeggiator could be activated only when velocity exceeds a particular value, or when pressure exceeds a particular value, etc. The speed of that arpeggiator thing could be controlled via pressure, velocity, key Y or X position, etc. That's the part that's more inspired by the original Thunder. There's a similar thing that applied arpeggio-like behaviors to the velocity values as well, creating strings of notes with a lot of dynamic range. That "velocity effect" can also be used as a CC source for other parameters, so it could be routed to control basically anything in the patch aside from volume as well.

I use this patch with an Expert Sleepers ES-8 to control a small clone system. The ES-8 has eight CV outputs, so I have eight channels of CV output in the patch: each one can produce values derived directly from the Morph (pitch, pulse, pressure, velocity, X, Y, etc.) or values derived from the weird MIDI processes described above (arpeggiated pitch, velocity effects, etc.) or random values (random CV values or random pulses triggered with each keypress or from each new note in the various arpeggio/MIDI effect processes).

I then use the inputs on the ES-8 to route the clone system back into Max. The external inputs can either be mixed with the final output or mixed in with each voice's oscillator prior to the filter and gate, so you can get some really nice interactions and bring the computer and synth together in a way that feels pretty consolidated. As a person who has been playing touch plate keyboards for years (Pressure Points, TKB, 216, 217, 218, blah blah blah), having a controller that actually produces pressure values and not "surface area" values—all while producing actual reliable velocity and finger position values—has been pretty insane. Oh, and it does that all polyphonically. Wtf.

____________

My takeaway:

A lot of the heavy lifting in my case is done by Max, and could in theory be done to some extent with any MIDI controller—but being able to use each key as both a "note" source AND and XYZ CC source has been pretty mind-blowing, and is helping me to develop a playing style that just wouldn't be possible with a typical keyboard controller. You might be able to get to some of the same stuff with another MPE controller (Linnstrument, Seaboard, etc.), but being able to freely assign the behavior of the individual UI elements is a big thing for me—it's easy to make some keys produce notes, other to act as CC toggles, others as only XYZ sources, etc. None of those other controllers are this freely re-configurable.
ddp
It's an okay MIDI controller, a 223e or a real Thunder is in another world, don't let the shape of the keys confuse you. I have one, but I also have a Skylab, so it's mostly in my, things I would consider throwing in the backpack after the LinnStrument. ;-)
Phil999
well, in the end, it's always the question how you patch it. The Skylab, the 223, or the Sensel Morph with Eurorack or softsynths ...

The Morph is just a very affordable controller that enables people to do things that were reserved for only few chosen ones.

Personally I'm still thrilled by this controller, and will be for a long time, because it makes my dream come true, to play exactly those pitches my ear wants to hear. I see the Sensel Morph primarily as a microtonal controller, which is something I wanted for a long time.

The Haken Continuum was too expensive for me, and I always disliked that red surface, and the offerings from Roli or Linn didn't appeal to me enough. The Morph made me very happy, and everytime I connect it to a device or software it is real pleasure.

As said before, it takes some thinking and patching until you get there. Which applies to a Skylab and a 223 as well, I guess ... never had the chance to touch, or even view such a system in person. Of course I would gladly switch with such a system, but it probably won't happen in my lifetime.
ddp
That was my strange way of saying I like mine, I bought the the Sensel just to get the Thunder overlay, I like it a lot.
js213
I just got mine yesterday. Is there some way to get the overlay to stay in place better? I was really expecting there to be a magnet or sticky surface to keep it from sliding around so much. It doesn't move to much when I'm actually using it, but if I move the unit, or bump it, the overlay get knocked around.
Phil999
I'm storing and transporting the Morph and all the overlays, including a micro USB cable, in the original box. Keeps everything together and protected.

I may even think about painting the box with a laquer like Urushi.
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