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Supercollider vs. Csound vs. ChucK vs. Kyma
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Software Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next [all]
Author Supercollider vs. Csound vs. ChucK vs. Kyma
fisherking111
I've been teaching myself the basics of supercollider and csound lately. I've found supercollider a lot more fun and immediate, because of the focus on "live coding", I'm about to start taking a free online course in ChucK (just cuz it's available on coursera, starts the 21st if anyone else is interested) and I'm currently selling off half my modular stuff (or looking to trade) to hopefully acquire a used pacarana.

I was wondering if there are any digital modular/codehead peeps on here, who could offer some insight (that hasn't already been said on similar threads elsewhere) as to the advantages/disadvantages of these tools?

Kyma's f***ing expensive, but like 10-20times more powerful than any other DSP based synth of any kind (Virus and G2 seem to come closest, but nowhere near in power).

Csound seems a bit archaic, and the inability to modulate parameters of the instrument in realtime is a bummer, but as a huge fan of generative/systems music, the idea of setting up a patch of code and letting it spit out a bunch of music to edit from, is appealing, especially if you think it's opcodes are quite unique, non-duplicatable in other software.

All I've heard about Chuck is "it's easy to learn" and "the best at sample accurate timing"

I have Max, and love it, but I much prefer the non-messiness of a complicated Supercollider patch to the "wires everywhere" or "sub patch city" approach Max's visual environment necessitates for complexity.

I'm super stoked about all the unique features of Kyma X which no other software has seemed to truly come close to catching up to (yet), and the idea of all the processing happening outside of the computer does sound appealing (especially if can then do things to that signal once it reaches my computer...).


I'm not a sound designer, though I am interested in learning more about synthesis. I'm just interested in making innovative music from my heart, and love to explore new instruments, environments and sonic possibilities as modes of expression!


Any advice or insights would be very helpful. Thanks!!
cebec
Kyma is terrific and different from all of those but it comes with its own warts. On the other hand, of all the digital 'modular' systems I've used its the one I prefer. I tried to 'settle down' with each of those you mentioned, and despite, or perhaps because of the fact I am a programmer by day, I have yet to feel comfortable coding to make music.
Kyma will definitely let you scratch that itch, though, with CapyTalk, for instance which can be used for anything from simple modulation to algorithmic music composition.

I would strongly suggest trying a Kyma system for a little while to see how you like it. You may find some of the drawbacks such as the somewhat dated appearance, awkward-at-times UI, and workflow outweigh everything else. If, like me, you realize you could spend your whole life exploring just what Kyma has to offer, and you appreciate the high quality of the majority of its algorithms, then you might never look back.

If you have specific questions, feel free to ask and I will try to answer. I have been using Kyma since 2007.
fisherking111
What do you think about the decision between purchasing a Paca vs. a Pacarana?

I know the Pacarana is double in processing and memory power, and I do like the idea of being able to explore sonic possibilities as far as possible...

From your experience though, do you think it is worth selling more things, saving up more, to get a pacarana instead of a paca?

Also, do you use the ipad app for kyma with it? I don't have an iPad. Do you consider this feature essential, or not really?


Thanks
cebec
I have an expanded Capybara but when I upgrade I plan to go with the Pacarana. I'd rather not have any practical limits.

I think they (SSC) might be ok with returning or trading in a Paca (purchased from them) for a Pacarana if you decide it's not enough power, though. I've heard of some people doing that within 30 days, for example.

So, no, I have not used the iPad app with it because it only works with the Paca/rana. I have a MotorMix and Wacom tablet, though, which have the advantage of being more tactile than an iPad (and the iPad app provides similar functionality plus a Tonnetz keyboard.)

You can even use a Behringer BCF2000 with Kyma since it is supported natively, now. I can't recommend a Wacom tablet enough, though. The best part is that there is no configuration needed to use the MotorMix, BCF or Wacom with Kyma. They just work and they work really well.

I used to recommend that people interested in Kyma hunt down a used Capybara since the secondhand prices had reached an all-time-low but they are getting nearly impossible to find. Additionally, the Kyma code for the new platforms was completely rewritten -- the sound quality and some capabilities have been improved in various areas. Also, things like compile time, sample loading speed, memory limitations, etc., are more or less non-issues now with the new hardware, too.

I should mention that support from SSC is top-notch. The software is updated fairly regularly, new features are added from user requests, and they will provide personal assistance in the forum or via email. Someone mentioned a fairly major update to the software is coming soon so I'm looking forward to that. They've hinted that they are working on something that may remove the necessity of an external audio interface solely dedicate to the Paca/rana (a protocol that would allow audio transfer over Firewire or Ethernet, maybe?). This, in particular, would be a major improvement.
talfred
I really like chuck, but compared to csound it's sonic capabilities is less interesting. Development of chuck is also sadly slow, but the syntax is great. You can get more out of supercollider, but i never got into that because of the syntax. But i guess it's just a matter of how much time you can afford to use on learning it.
sitarman
If you own an Ipad, it is a fantastic wireless controller for kyma, makes a great performance interface. I love my kyma, with a little work it can sound , dare I say it (no flames please) quite analog. Sound quality is the best of the best.....
peripatitis
Max and kyma are very different.
Kyma algorithms sound a lot better out of the box and in many cases are also unique.
Having said that, i get sometimes frustrated with kyma.
I started out with max, i've been using it for many years before kyma and i catch myself often, trying to use a different 'logic' upon it.
There are things that cannot be done in the 'max' way .
So you could say that really learning the 'kyma' way also requires a lot of time !

There are times i think about selling the pacarana, i would really like to focus more on learning supercollider better (btw i will be also following the course on chuck nanners although i haven't even installed it yet).
But then i create something on kyma and change my mind.
silikon
fisherking111 wrote:
What do you think about the decision between purchasing a Paca vs. a Pacarana?

I know the Pacarana is double in processing and memory power, and I do like the idea of being able to explore sonic possibilities as far as possible...

From your experience though, do you think it is worth selling more things, saving up more, to get a pacarana instead of a paca?

Also, do you use the ipad app for kyma with it? I don't have an iPad. Do you consider this feature essential, or not really?


Thanks


The Kyma environment is quite dense in terms of sheer sonic potential. Even with the 'out of the box' algorithms, you'd be hard pressed to run into limitations.

People do and still say that learning Kyma is difficult, however I disagree. In my humble opinion, it merely takes one a few dedicated evenings with one of the books on Kyma to achieve a firm grasp on the essentials. Of course, it's quite deep; so there is always opportunity to learn something new, and potentially gain some unexpected inspiration.

And yes, if you wanted to learn everything the environment has to offer as well as learn the CapyTalk language, you'll spend countless hours. But to get up and running to a point where you should feel productive, should not be something that is utterly insurmountable; as stated before, a few solid days or evenings with the book will have you on your merry way making sound.

Symbolic Sound are wonderfully responsive, they do everything they can to keep you a contented customer, and the build quality of the Paca/Pacarana are top notch.

As for your question about getting a Paca, and concerns about 'power' -- I'm of the firm belief that one could easily start out with a Paca, and have plenty of headroom for quite a wide variety of tasks. You're also quite able to daisy chain multiple hardware units, so adding more later isn't too terrible a task.

As you may know, the hardware audio devices it requires is a relatively select list of products, so ensure you have something on that list.

I am not certain of the Trade-In query, but I am certain if you emailed them, they'd sort that for you post-haste.

Lastly, the question about the iPad and the various interfaces... The Wacom Tablet would get a hearty nod as a recommended addition, as does the iPad app.

Hope any of that helps.
mckenic
Ive been mainly using Max4Live to integrate controllers/footswitches in my Ableton workflow but before that was using Max/MSP since v4. Did CSound for a semester in uni and really loved the FM synthesis possibilities - more than Max tbh. Im no expert on any of the languages I used at all but I like to mess with em!

Im tryin to teach myself Metasynth at the moment and thinking of Supercollider as opportunities might present themselves to do tutorials, possibly...

All this is to say - Ive not found MY environment yet - I like Max 6, loved CSound but ALWAYS in the back of my mind has been Kyma... what is it, would it suit me, could it really be THE thing Im looking for? etc. The price, import duty and no chance to demo it have been whats been stopping me. Ive always had in the back of my head - why dont they just release the software - do I really need a special, costly computer and I even need to add my own audio interface etc.

A big number is coming next year and Ive been thinking of treating myself to an Easel (Id have to start saving/selling now) but if there is an integrated system on the horizon from Symbolic... that might throw the plans all over the place!

To top all that off - there is a Capybara gathering dust in one of the room of our studio in Uni - might forgo Metasynth and spend some time with her!!!
sitarman
Realize that the DSP in a modern pacarana is equivalent to 42 of the old style DSP chips, of which there are 4 in a basic capybara box. That should give you some idea of the power of the unit after you try the capy.
_seph
sitarman wrote:
Realize that the DSP in a modern pacarana is equivalent to 42 of the old style DSP chips, of which there are 4 in a basic capybara box. That should give you some idea of the power of the unit after you try the capy.


although that is true, I find it very hard to justify their present cost. at least the Capybara320 had it's own I/O and the great audio converters added much value to it, plus at the time one's computer just couldn't handle that sort of thing, which isn't quite the case today.

in 2000/2001 I decided to go hardcore digital and buy Kyma instead of a modular system. I went about it in a completely disastrous way and sold my mostly vintage analog studio for a PowerMac and PowerBook and while I am one that picks things up fairly quickly, getting Kyma, MAX/MSP, MetaSynth, a Nord Modular and MOTU-based ITB system was a lot to take on, plus it was still somewhat early to go all computer.

anyway, Kyma and I just didn't gell at all and it wasn't for lack of effort or time. I've thought about giving it another go now that we've had a decade between us and they've brought out new hardware, but I just don't see the value. Kyma hasn't changed much and the hardware itself hasn't been updated since its debut, plus now it needs a dedicated interface to even work. It just seems that computers have come a long way during these last 10+ years and Kyma hasn't. I have much respect for Symbolic Sound but I'm somewhat bewildered that they're still in business.

that aside, I never got too deep into MAX/MSP initially and mostly just used Pluggo, but its inclusion in Live has been an outstanding development that I'm really enjoying.
I still love MetaSynth but don't use it as often. the current version is great though and U&ISoftware is an outstanding company, I do hope that Eric is able to keep it going as MetaSynth was the main reason I bought my first Mac (Windows issues aside.) rather unfortunately, whenever I think of MetaSynth I am now reminded that I should probably buy iZotope's Iris one of these days.

anyway, back to Kyma. it is still a unique toolset and approach, but the current hardware is now at least 4 years old and being processor based, it is a bit perplexing as to how it can still cost the same with dated technology. granted it isn't a computer and the same could be said of something like Bowen's Solaris synth a couple years from now as it is also DSP-based. I just feel that by now, without any recent additional development costs and the necessity of additional hardware that the pricing makes little sense. perhaps they're simply going for exclusivity, but that doesn't win any points with me and I'd be hesitant to sell any gear to fund its purchase.
emergencyofstate
I'm using the new monome dsp instrument as a motivator to learn how to code in C. (Currently experimenting with portaudio in Linux) Not making sounds yet though smile
mckenic
sitarman wrote:
Realize that the DSP in a modern pacarana is equivalent to 42 of the old style DSP chips, of which there are 4 in a basic capybara box. That should give you some idea of the power of the unit after you try the capy.


Thank you for that! It is about time I got my feet wet!

Also a lot of what _seph posted has me thinking about the 'old niggles' I have when thinking about Kyma... I plan to treat myself for my 40th so I have some time to decide yet hihi but it would be nice to have a solid idea locked down and decided on

thumbs up
_seph
mckenic wrote:
sitarman wrote:
Realize that the DSP in a modern pacarana is equivalent to 42 of the old style DSP chips, of which there are 4 in a basic capybara box. That should give you some idea of the power of the unit after you try the capy.


Thank you for that! It is about time I got my feet wet!

Also a lot of what _seph posted has me thinking about the 'old niggles' I have when thinking about Kyma... I plan to treat myself for my 40th so I have some time to decide yet hihi but it would be nice to have a solid idea locked down and decided on

thumbs up


it really is something that you need to experience for yourself. the one thing that Kyma definitely has going for it is its uniqueness, after a very exciting decade or two of technological advancement there is still nothing quite like it. however I suppose it could be debated whether that statement has a positive or negative connotation.

I just wonder about when I turn 40, six years from now, if there will be another upgraded version of the Kyma system this time running on a Beaver (that is the third largest rodent, yes?) or will external DSP be redundant at that point? if so, will Kyma finally make the transition to running on the computer as a plug-in or perhaps as a standalone environment such as MetaSynth? or is this maybe it?

now I don't know what the current hardware is costing Symbolic Sound, but at this point it just seems that it should be selling for about a 1/3 of what they're asking (especially since they're seemingly not actively developing it and brining out timely upgrades) one would think that a lower price tag would generate a large sales increase and if more units were moving then manufacturing costs theoretically should come down and they'd have more capital to continue its development so that it stays viable... but that's just my thought.

anyway, all that said I do really think that it would be worth the experience. Kyma is a very deep and well thought out platform that can be very rewarding. if nothing else it will help keep your aging old man brain active and engaged while you're learning it beer!
mckenic
_seph wrote:
if nothing else it will help keep your aging old man brain active and engaged while you're learning it beer!


lol

Well thats it then! Found my perfect tool!!!

lol thumbs up
secretkillerofnames
_seph wrote:
at this point it just seems that it should be selling for about a 1/3 of what they're asking


And if they did sell it for 1/3 of the current asking price I would absolutely be interested in getting one. Same goes for the Scope stuff. Loving my G1 Rack and a more complex hardware solution just sounds even better. I know it's probably impractical but... woah
mckenic
Also, is it just me or is anyone else casting an interested sideways glance at the monome/buchla hardware...?
peripatitis
There are issues with kyma and pacarana as i've said in my earlier post, but being expensive is definitely not one of them !

I mean come on, we are in a forum where a complex oscillator can cost 700eu, and without wanting to be offensive, compare the rd needed to make one of these and inventing a new processing algo that does't exist.
There are va's out there that can cost almost the same money and for what ? for adding a fourth oscillator ? 256 x oversampling ? a new phaser ?

If one just thinks about pacarana as a bunch of dsp's then perhaps yes it should be cheaper. However this is not the case.
A better way to see it is that the hardware is your gate to their software.

Remember here that the software updates are free and kyma gets updated regularly. Not always in the direction i would want, but they are very honest about it (i don't think they will ever change their interface for example..)
Which other company does that ? For sure not sonic core or universal audio. Even software companies charge for updates.

I do agree that the capybara was a better hardware (not portable though) but its cost with all the dsp's was at least 3 times more than the pacarana !
igormpc
i have a nord modular, and for a long time wanted a kyma --
kyma could do what my nord couldn't, lots of processing power etc

but i started studying supercollider, bought the book, learning with some tutorials also... and i am very satisfied --
i can run supercollider on all my computers (mac/pc/linux), has a lot of info/courses/tutorials on the net, didn't need to buy anything...

tried csound & chuck before, but supercollider seems to have a larger numbers of users and info, the code is cleaner to me, tried max/msp also (i really like jitter), and puredata, but i discover also that for messing with patch cables i prefer my nord modular or my real modular...

just my 0.02 cents

thumbs up
ImustnotfeaR
I think with any of these systems the real limits are a combination of your knowledge of DSP/sound theory, your imagination and the time you put in.

Im pretty hardcore into supercollider and I find the walls I hit are always my knowledge of sound eg the math behind a filter, or alising theory.

A personal opinion about SC: i think it is amazing to use but the whole lang vs server environment means it takes a while to find your own way of using it. For live coding ive found it way easier to just use JIT lib on the server and patch things like a modular - whereas for a fixed track the lang side to program patterns might be better - but that can be very non-musically intuitive and tedious.
As I said the place i have to 'pause' is always 'i want this to sound better - how do i make my own DSP algo to do that'. usually adding some unique touches to filters or adding random elements to oscillators
secretkillerofnames
My imagination far exceeds my ability to tolerate coding. Which is why I've avoided Supercollider despite being tempted. I gave CSound a go and got lost / bored very quickly. CDP is slow going but i'm having more fun so long term I can see that working well for me. I've been advised that, while powerful, Supercollider is more difficult to get into than either of these.

Metasynth is inspiring but I find my work in it tends to be channeled towards a sound i'm trying to avoid - that high end spectral processed gliss - ugh! Filters work to fix it to a degree.

Lately i've been having a great time using my Nord G1 Rack with Numerology and a Launchpad. Finding just focusing on that I can get some great stuff happening. Complexity and flexibility isn't always rewarding.
mckenic
I have to hold my hand up here and say, Hertz Donut MK.I aside, the most fun Ive had in the last long while trying to get the sounds I want to make has been from TC-11 & Turnado on the iPad...

I imagine Kyma as just a box of TC-11, Metasynth and Aalto all in one big blob.
secretkillerofnames
mckenic wrote:
the most fun Ive had in the last long while trying to get the sounds I want to make has been from TC-11 & Turnado on the iPad...


They are both the shizzle thumbs up

I'm using Turnado and Samplr as "backup" for live Nord Modular noodling this weekend.
_seph
mckenic wrote:
I imagine Kyma as just a box of TC-11, Metasynth and Aalto all in one big blob.

if this blob is fairly dense and now presents a suffocation hazard, I could see that.

but TC-11 looks great! it isn't new yet somehow this is the first I've seen of it.
mckenic
Sorry for going so OT to the original posters question -

I think Im covered by the university site license as the studio manager just got back to me and sent me a copy of Kyma X Revealed to view before i get near the hardware.

Is this all one would need? Is there a quick start/idiots guide or is this it?
Anything else I should do before diving in?

Thanks chaps! thumbs up
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