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Messages - mario

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Hi Gilbert,

Thank you for your suggestion - I think it is possible to do it the way you imagine, if the PC has the required drivers and hardware connections, the VST will surely be able to completely control the Gecho, either via serial commands over USB, or custom MIDI messages.

But indeed this is not the path I'd want to take, the reason is simple - once you have the VST or software application, what's the purpose of our custom hardware? The PC already has a sound card, so you could do everything that Gecho does, with a lot more power and memory, completely in the PC. Can't think of any issues apart from that there might be a little bit more latency.

Anyway, building a VST plugin or a stand-alone app (with the need of supporting multiple operation systems) sounds like a lot more than I could possibly do on my own.

Looks like over the years Gecho strayed into the territory which we should better have avoided; adding the hardware (like MIDI or analog I/O) was a lot easier than making a good use of it in the firmware. We are keeping this in mind, and trying to not over-complicate our next products the same way 8) (for example the Wingdrum, it has MIDI-out so it can work as a simple controller, but all it does is that it transmits what is played, plus accelerometer data as cc messages. It has no MIDI-in or SD card - if it was there, the more advanced owners would naturally want to get more from it, e.g. use it as an externally controlled synth, ask about how to load custom samples, etc.).

While the majority of people say it already does a lot more than they expected (plus there are updates, albeit infrequent, that make it better over time), there are also users for whom the lack of certain features (more often assumed than promised) is a showstopper - I guess we simply need to do a better job of clarifying these things in our marketing.


Hardware Questions / Re: MIDI jack standard?
« on: July 14, 2022, 07:11:16 PM »
Hi Michael, can't help you with the OP-Z but noticed that you have Chip Pro, what are you using it for? I've got it too, bought it when it came out, with a vague idea to turn it into a synth (everything that has a CPU can be a synth, right? 8) ) but I never figured what to do with it. The specs looked very promising back then, and the price too, pity that it was discontinued.

Thank you for your great feedback, and apologies for slow reply - we're in the middle of moving home (and the company) so I have been neglecting correspondence and the forum...

I could finally find use my Minilab MKII (no 5-pin midi output) and Ableton plus a legacy midi-usb cable to test Channel 34 - works well, you can add that to the list.

Cool!  8)

1. I have the same issue as jluc in - I would plead for relative by default (suggestion for next release).

It will be there, also some new cool effects that I am working on.

2. While playing around with Channel 34, I noticed that the key were having an effect : the "keyboard leds" on the LoopSynth shows correctly which key is pressed, and mostly the sound/processing that outputs from the channel is very different. For the sake of completion, Line input only, some sort of gate effect (on-sustain-off) can be heard, with a slight pitch change related to the key press, as expected. Could you tell us what exactly is the effect (nothing in the doc).

This is the MI Clouds in the default, "granular" mode. If you attach a MIDI keyboard, the keys will control "pitch" parameters, and the knobs (if present), can control all parameters (in following order: texture, reverb, density, pitch, position, size, feedback, stereo spread, dry/wet, post gain) when configured in the "learning mode" as explained here in the "How to set up MIDI controls" paragraph.

There is also "freeze" parameter that is linked to sensor S3, you can get a nice sound from ne mic or line input, freeze it, then play it with the keyboard. Or you can set up a MIDI sequencer at input, then feed monotonous sound into the line input, and the pitch-shifter will create a melody from it.

3. I tried playing the Minilab on various other channels ; it is somehow recognised by Channel 33, 34, 42, and maybe others.

Yes I think that by now it should be recognized in all channels that use the concept of pitch or chords.

4. Finally, I believe that an up-to-date MIDI section in the manual would help. Not talking about a long term wish: midi for controlling buttons B1-B4.

That can be done, now that we have the learning mode, not only you can assign knobs, but also pads. From my experience, many controllers that have pads simply send out note on-off events from them, like if they were regular keys. It is not ideal, but on the other hand if you have a controller without pads, only with keys, and you want to control Gecho's buttons remotely, you can train it to recognize some keys that you rarely use (the lowest 6 keys) for that purpose.

Many midi controllers have a 4x4 pads ; two rows could be dedicated to the short and long presses of buttons.

Maybe this would be handier than relying on note on/off, which can also be understood as long and short press of a button. But the training mode for pads currently only support 8 pads, that is not enough to cover 12 possible short/long presses of Gecho's 6 buttons. Ideally we would rather have a function per pad, covering also combination shortcuts, like SET+B1, RST+B4 etc... And to make it work for many different controllers, more complex configuration needs to be implemented, maybe in the form of config file on the SD card (much easier than adding another menu to configure it using buttons in Gecho.

I don't know enough about midi implementation by vendors, but would guess there is some sort of standard for assigning Midi messages to these buttons

There does not seem to be one standard but on the other hand there is not not too many ways how an engineer can approach this problem, so I believe if we have 2-3 cases implemented that would cover 95% of all controllers out there.

big picture: the Loopsynth could be a multi-function effect box that could integrate nicely with a studio

My original idea for Gecho (in 2018) was to make an amusing meditative box, weird and random, main motivation was for me to learn a completely new thing - how to build a DSP capable board, and teach it to process sound. There was no clearly defined roadmap of features... Thanks to all the feedback, it drifted to the more serious side over the years. But many things are implemented in a cumbersome way and it is very hard (and probably pointless) to redo everything at this stage, to have a better thought-out user interface. Also, the lack of display is a major problem, decoding those LED lights certainly is not fun for everyone. The potential to turn it into what you are imagining is there but indeed it all takes so much time (for the programmer) and I am afraid that it would only be used by 10 out of the 1000 people who bought it... Also from the economical perspective, for us to survive as a company we need to invent new things instead. Not saying that this will be left unfinished - but at some point we will need to draw a line for Gecho to not cross, and move all those new ideas to some stronger, faster platform with more memory - such as raspberry pi kind of Linux powered boards. For example Monome Norns is very versatile and in the shield version also quite affordable for all that it can do, plus working with custom scripts is easy enough to attract large community. That never happened with this project, perhaps as the low-level c/c++ is just too impractical to work with in a collaborative way, besides there is not really much headroom in the CPU or enough memory for all the ideas...

Hire someone?

That would indeed be great, not something we can afford now but if we had extra hands helping to build the synths, or even to test, pack and ship them (which has always been unbelievably time consuming) we could focus on the software more. Finding a programmer to help with expanding the functionality would be good too, but even less likely to happen given the costs of such work, and also all the overhead and complications of managing the development effort remotely. Sometimes it is faster and easier to just do something instead of explaining how to do it to someone else. Maybe I'm just too sceptical about it, coming from the IT background. Of course for someone for whom the coding for DSP is a passion and who is used to work independently, and is not afraid to dig into other people's code, could be a good fit - but such people usually have stable jobs or own projects to work on full time (this is a company of 2 and a lot would need to change in the world / amount of sales / cost of material, before we can generate a 3rd salary).

Thank you for all suggestions, and I hope to have the update ready later in the summer.

General Discussion / Re: Help with mellotron (channel 221)
« on: March 07, 2022, 10:28:46 AM »
Now it works, however only with one note at a time ; playing two or three creates some artefacts

The reason is that there is no automatic level normalization, or any control over their mixing volume, data is simply added together. If the samples are loud enough, even mixing two of them will likely overshoot the headroom. This requires better preparing the samples. For example, normalizing by peak to -10dB will make sure that no sample is beyond 33% of the dynamic range, mixing 3 voices will then never cause clipping. Normalizing by RMS / loudness perhaps makes more sense, but I'm not sure how to choose the levels, may require experimenting to find out where will they sound balanced. Or maybe just adjust the volume of each sample by 50-60%, chance is that the clipping will be gone.

Also, contrarily to the doc, I can play more than 3 notes at a time (I believe 10? Have no more fingers).

If you play more than 3, the newer voices will be replacing older, there is a limit to how many files on the SD card can be open and read from at the same time. It is probably hard to notice what happens now that it all sounds distorted.

General Discussion / Re: Help with mellotron (channel 221)
« on: March 06, 2022, 09:49:00 PM »
Hi Gilbert,
Thank you for detailed info, and the rar file.
I see that subdirs are all named with extra "-3" why is that?
They should simply contain a note (and possibly octave) e.g. "a#2".
The wav files are good to be named as they are.
Fingers crossed it will start working! 8)

Forgot to say that the "MIDI to USB IN-OUT Interface Cable" mentioned above can be actually used with Loopsynth, in order to connect it to PC and then control it from a DAW. Not all of these cables can send all MIDI messages very well, I think many struggle with SysEx, but should be OK with basic control - sending notes and CC messages to control parameters.

Hi, thank you for your question and detailed info about what you tried.

Unfortunately this does not work because the USB is there only for power and firmware updating, no other functionality is implemented.
The driver chip is not capable of emulating MIDI over USB (or any other advanced modes like for example mass storage), it is merely a "virtual serial port" (similar to for example Arduino development boards and many other). Normally there is no reason to connect Gecho to any USB port other than for powering.

Unless your controller also has the classic, opto-isolated MIDI (DIN5 or 3.5mm TRS Jack) output, you'll need a USB host. The host is meant for connecting a MIDI controller, it translates data from a USB MIDI device into the 2-wire MIDI signal.

By "USB host" I mean something like this:
NOT this, as this cable has the opposite purpose:

These are just examples, I haven't tested any particular one - soldered mine from these modules:

W10 does not seem to 'recognize' the Loopsynth (no sign under devices that it is plugged in) -  I read somewhere that a driver would be needed? If yes, where, which?

There are drivers but they are only needed for firmware updating / development. In theory a driver could be written that acts as a "virtual USB host" and creates virtual MIDI instrument in Windows, to integrate with various software or even to make the PC a host for external hardware controller, but writing such driver is beyond my knowledge.

Hi and welcome!

Thank you for sharing your work, Nyarlathotep is surely pleased too :D

In the recent update there are another two variations of Clouds (#342, #343) but I think the first one is a bit broken, it stretches the sound too much (some of its controls don't react, I guess). Still creates interesting textures after a while so I decided to leave it there.

You may also like the new polyphonic reverb, #322, which creates effect closer to a vocoder (as opposed to the monophonic Clouds). There is no true vocoder in Gecho - maybe there will be some day, however its requirements on the CPU are presumably higher, so we'll see. The basic soundscapes are playable by midi too, and if you turn down the background sample (i.e. water or forest) then only the incoming signal will be filtered by resonant filters, which creates something remotely similar to vocoder too. I see you tried granular already, perhaps it's harder to use that way, will probably not work well with speech but with monotonous singing, it should be possible to turin the voice into chords as well.

About the noise - can we rule out a ground loop? not sure if you meant "different powering" as trying various sources, or that every machine has separate and isolated power. From my experience, Volcas may have faint inherent buzzing, it depends on the power too. Maybe the auto-gain function in Gecho is amplifying it too much when nothing else plays (sounds like the buzzing is buried under the signal later?) Try to disable it, here is a searchable guide for all those options: (check the "input levels" paragraph that explains how to switch it off).

Hope this helps! :)

Feature Requests and Feedback / Re: midi control with relative message
« on: January 27, 2022, 09:53:49 PM »
Ah sorry you're completely right, I haven't noticed that the encoder is not working properly in the 3-byte message mode because the controller which I used has 14 potentiometers and only one encoder so maybe I just never assigned a function to it where it was obvious that it only goes between min and max values.

So the logic needs to be expanded as currently Gecho cannot tell a difference between 3-byte message from potentiometer, which can also returns the same max and min value, and 3-byte message from encoder. But it is easy to make this work, we simply need to look at whether any other values are transmitted in between; if yes, it's a potentiometer and we will parse the values as absolute, and if not, it's an encoder and we will parse the messages as increments by 1.

For now you'd need to send 6-byte messages to make this work, but looks like your controller does not support it?

I'll make sure that this is fixed in the next fw update, thank you for reporting the problem!

Feature Requests and Feedback / Re: midi control with relative message
« on: January 27, 2022, 03:46:39 PM »
Hi Jean-Luc,

For the infinite encoders the recognized format can be 3 or 6 bytes, if your controller sends 3 byte messages then you can use this for increment/decrement:

b0-xx-01 / b0-xx-7f

and in the case of 6-byte messages, it is:

b0-xx-40-b0-xx-3f / b0-xx-40-b0-xx-41

(xx = knob number).

I have two controllers with infinite encoders - Traktorino and Worlde Mini (which looks like a clone of Arturia Minilab, not sure if it sends the same messages). So Gecho was only tested with these two. I hope you can configure it to work well with your controller! 8)


Feature Requests and Feedback / Re: firmware 1.0.118
« on: January 21, 2022, 10:04:44 AM »
Hi Jean-Luc,
Thank you for your kind words!  8)
Glad to hear you figured it out, and that you like the new functions, enjoy!

Hardware Questions / Re: MIDI jack standard?
« on: November 02, 2021, 01:25:31 PM »
Thank you for your kind words, glad you like the loopsynth!

And that's an interesting question, we do not have such temperatures here so I do not have any experience with this. Most commercial components are rated at 0 to 70 degrees (as opposed to industrial or military components that can work at wider range), this does not mean that everything stops below zero but I think you may see the functionality slowly falling apart as the temperature goes down. Since it can survive water, it should be fine even if some condensation accumulates inside when temperatures change quickly (although it may stop working until completely dried up).

Components like regulators, CPU and sound chip produce a little heat but it is probably not much to keep them warm enough for long, maybe to make a difference of a degree or two (just guessing). Basically as in any device, nearly all input power is dissipated as heat (with exception of a tiny fraction that is transformed to the light or mechanical energy), the whole device takes less than 100mA, so at 5V that's below 0.5W which is almost nothing (good for batteries, not so good for low temperatures)... Please keep me informed if it froze or not :)

Hardware Questions / Re: MIDI jack standard?
« on: October 14, 2021, 12:16:37 PM »
Hi Paul,

Sorry about the slow reply, the notifications were not set up correctly so I missed your post.

Just wondering if the Gecholoop's 3.5mm MIDI jack is wired to the "A" or "B" standard. I'm assuming it's Type-A, but don't want to damage anything...

Yes you're right it is "A" standard, like used by Korg, IKMultimedia, Make Noise and others (I followed the specification here and decided for that group of devices, so for example the Uno synth can be connected directly with a 2.5mm to 3.5mm Jack cable).

Of course better safe than sorry but the risk of damage should be very low, Gecho definitely won't get damaged even if the other device short-circuited its output. The other way around, if the incoming signal was reversed, it will just do nothing, next to the octocoupler there is a protective diode and a current-limiting resistor. Quite often I mistakenly connected one device's output to another, forgetting changing the I/O selector switch, but nothing happened - the voltages and currents involved are very low.

Also, any update on the CV input capability? I've just got my hands on a Teenage Engineering OP-Z, and hope to start exploring the pair.

It is on the TODO list, I definitely don't want to leave this bit unfinished therefore it's still printed on the front panel, next to that switch. But for the next update I want to finish everything around the MIDI first, and that is almost done. I don't have the OP-Z, but if it has a MIDI output then there is plenty of things you could already do with this combination.

Happy to hear you enjoy the loopsynth, if you record something to share with us, please do not hesitate to do so!  :)


General Discussion / Re: New user, maybe dumb question about line-in...
« on: September 23, 2021, 12:01:41 PM »
Hi Guys, sorry for delay - we were moving home...

I recently bought A loopsynth, and I really love playing with it, it's a great, meditational tool that I can get lost in for hours, the creator is super friendly and was very nice to me even though I bought a second-hand device.

Thank you for your kind words! Of course, the support & warranty applies to 2nd hand too!  8)

I do have a question though, is it possible to set line in as a default setting over the mics for when setting a channel to add effects to other synths and stuff? I guess that this is somewhat going against the ethos?

Not at all, only it's a bit confusing - at some earlier version it used to permanently remember this setting once changed, but I was receiving too many emails about "my microphones stopped working" when someone accidentally pressed B4 and haven't realized what happened. Perhaps it should be a configurable thing, whether this is persistent setting or not... I guess it at least keeps the setting until powered off or reset, if I remember correctly.

Also channel 31 and 34 are great fun with line in.

Happy to hear that! :) By the way, patch manipulation controls in 34 are cumbersome, that's going to be improved in the next update.

Feature Requests and Feedback / Re: updating ?
« on: September 21, 2021, 11:11:49 AM »
Hi Jean-Luc,

Yes the update should come out soon but not sure yet how much of the sync functionality will be there - I'll try to add the analog tempo detection (useful with Pocket Operators) and MIDI clock parsing (e.g. from Keystep), which almost worked last time, but in its current implementation it is not a true "sync" yet, meaning that it only sets up the tempo while the unit is idle, but once you start playing, it does not update the tempo dynamically. So the timing might drift off after a while. In some channels it will be easy to add continuous syncing, but in some others there might not be enough CPU time left for this task. Anyway, in some channels - e.g. the basic soundscapes - it is perhaps not as useful anyway but I will try to add it to reverb, granular, and other more universal "effect" channels.

The next update will also bring some cool new upgrades to existing channels, for example the reverb now has polyphonic variant, controllable via MIDI, and it sounds very cool with external sound from some other device (for example mmxx t-ape).

I know it takes ages, but I'm still the only developer working here :) And have to switch between prototyping of new things, arranging production and building the units too. And because of elements shortages, time consuming redesigns are often needed when some chip disappears from stock globally... it happens often that we have something ready to manufacture but suddenly it is not possible anymore.

Also recently I've been distracted by moving home and company, which meant that for over a month not much was done except for bare minimum required to ship orders - but we're getting there.

Thank you for your patience and support!


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