Thursday, 9 April 2020

Completing the 'Smooth' Suite - Max For Live plug-ins for Ableton Live

It started with MIDIrandomA, which provided several different type of 'constrained randomness' triggered by either MIDI events or a built-in LFO, and then allowed it to control parameters in other Ableton Live devices using what they call 'remote control' but most people associate with the 'Map' button. Blog reader hems suggested that it would be good if this could produce more than one mappable output, which is how MIDIrandomABC was conceived. But then, after further reflection,  the smoothing function that happens in MIDIrandomA seemed to be useful in a broader context, and so I produced MIDIsmoothR, where you can input any 'control voltage' rather than solely random noise, and so smooth/process any LFO or MIDI Controller...


However, MIDIrandomA and MIDIsmoothR are big, complex, flexible, versatile Max For Live devices. They can be daunting for a new user because there's a lot to tweak! So although MIDIsmoothRRR with three mappable outputs was an obvious follow-up, it seemed like this was a good time to also release the opposite: simple, minimalistic utility devices that just do the 'smoothing' function, plus offsetting and scaling. And so, the 'Smooth' Suite was born:

- MIDIsmoothR - single mappable output, sophisticated 'control voltage' smoothing and processing.

- MIDIsmoothRRR - three mappable outputs of sophisticated 'control voltage' smoothing and processing.

- MIDIsmoothY - single mappable output, smoothing only.

- MIDIsmoothD - just a scrolling display of the 'control voltage'.

- MIDIsmoothYD - single mappable output, with the scrolling display in the background.

These last four devices complete the Suite. MIDIsmoothD allows any 'remote control' 'control voltage' to be viewed graphically, and MIDIsmoothY is small and easy to use. For those people who like stuff to look cool, then there is MIDIsmoothYD's scrolling background.


In the (imperfect!) screen capture above, the LFO waveform is sent to the three 'Smooth' Suite devices: first MIDIsmoothY, then MIDIsmoothYD, and finally MIDIsmoothD.

MIDIsmoothRRR

MIDIsmoothRRR doesn't just add two extra mappable outputs. The B and C processing channels are augmented as well, so there's quite a bit of divergence from the MIDIrandomA original.



The B channel now has separate 'Thin' power-law controls for the Up and Down segments of the waveform, unlike the 'affects both segments' 'Thin' rotary control in channel A. You should explore the way that the Up and Down smoothing controls and the associated Thin rotary controls affect the output waveshape - note that the two pairs of controls work (mostly) independently.

The C channel now has a 'Thin' power-law rotary control added after the 'Delta' rotary control. The Delta control removes any samples in the waveform that are less than the set value, which isn't immediately obvious if you use a triangle or sawtooth input waveform, so it is very different to the A and B channels - the scrolling doesn't happen at the same rate because of the missing samples, for instance.

The design of the processing in the three channels is deliberately very different. As with the original MIDIrandomA, I wanted to provide three very different outputs with as little overlap as possible. As a bonus, you also get two new variations on random-ness in channels B and C when you replace the 'Input' with 'Random'.

Map

Here's a simple infographic showing all of the members of the 'Smooth Suite':


In use


The screen capture and diagram above shows a LFO controlling the 'CV in' rotary control of MIDIsmoothRRR via 'remote control' mapping. The triangle wave is turned into a rather nice 'shimmery flame' waveshape by the B channel, and this is then sent to the MIDIsmoothD device to display it.

There's an additional 'hidden in plain sight' function in R, RRR, Y and YD: if you don't map the 'CV in' rotary control, then you can use it as a controller to produce processed outputs to control othr devices. Just click on it and move it!

Documentation

There was one previous blog post covering the first device in the 'Smooth Suite' - MIDIsmoothR. But this was a variant of an earlier series of devices: the 'Random' series.

MIDIsmoothR

MIDIrandomABC

MIDIrandomA

Downloads

In the past, I produced a 'dark' and 'light'-themed UI version of a delay effect, just to see which was more popular. The downloads so far (to 10th April 2020) are:

                   Dark       Light
KeyMon              400         348
Field Echo         1293         870
Sine3Generator      941         629
SpecD/PanEcho      1371        1225

For the 'shim' 'Smooth Suite' utility devices, the initial downloads indicate that the 'bare-bones' MIDIsmoothY is the most popular, then the 'background display' MIDIsmoothYD, and the 'display only' MIDIsmoothD has had the fewest downloads. Of course, none of these come close to one of my devices, which has had no downloads at all, ever!

Getting the devices in the 'Smooth' Suite.

You can get MIDIsmoothR_mr02 here:

     https://maxforlive.com/library/device/6116/midismoothr

You can get MIDIsmoothRRR_mr02 here:

    https://maxforlive.com/library/device/6127/midismoothrrr

You can get MIDIsmoothY_mr01 here:

    https://maxforlive.com/library/device/6129/midismoothy

You can get MIDIsmoothYD_mr01 here:

    https://maxforlive.com/library/device/6132/midismoothyd

You can get MIDIsmoothD_mr01 (the display only) here:

    https://maxforlive.com/library/device/6130/midismoothd

Here are the instructions for what to do with the .amxd file that you download from MaxforLive.com:

     https://synthesizerwriter.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/where-do-i-put-downloaded-amxd.html

(In Live 10, you can also just double-click on the .amxd file, but this puts the device in the same folder as all of the factory devices...)

Oh, yes, and sometimes last-minute fixes do get added, which is why sometimes a blog post is behind the version number of MaxForLive.com...

Modular Equivalents

In terms of basic modular equivalents, then implementing MIDIsmoothR_mr02 requires some quite sophisticated processing of a random noise source, so it probably isn't straightforward to do from off-the-shelf analogue modules, and is probably easier to do digitally. Assuming that a maths/data processing module can do the required computation, then there's one noise generator, one processing module, some triggering logic, an LFO for the free-running version, and a sequencer for parameter storage, giving an ME of 4 or 5!

MIDIsmoothRRR is just additional CV scaling and offsetting, plus two more patch cables! So an ME of 7.

MIDIsmoothY, MIDIsmoothD, and MIDIsmoothYD require only three modules: a slew rate limiter, a CV scaler and offset processor module, and an oscilloscope module. So the ME is 3.

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