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First impressions, bugs, frustrations...
#1
Hey guys

I've had my NDLR for a couple of weeks now and have explored all the functions so I'm familiar with how it works.

I tried to make a track with it this week but have ended up losing a few days worth of studio time due to the number of problems I'm having with it, so I've given up for now which is quite disappointing.

Here are some of the problems I've had and features that either aren't working or IMO need to be implemented/refined to make this unit practical to use in the studio.

1. Motif1 MIDI out failure: 

I built a track around the NDLR (with a drum machine and my modular synced to it) and then switched to external sync (USB1) to sync the NDLR to my DAW ready for recording. This appears to have completely killed MIDIA Ch1 which Motif1 was using. A couple of times I did get it back by doing various resets and loads, but now nothing I have tried will recover it and I have no MIDI output for Motif1 (even I use a different MIDI channel). (I've checked this with a midi monitor, Motif2 is still working).

2. General repeatability issues. 

I'm finding the NDLR very difficult to set up for repeatable behaviour. I'm sure this is mentioned elsewhere on the forum, but it appears there is no way to reset patterns, rhythms, or even globally reset on MMC start and stop (essential for recording), which means that it's impossible to create synced grooves. I had to use external VCAs in the abandoned track to get any kind of predictable yet interesting rhythm going, perhaps I'm missing something? 

Suggestion: Each motif should have a reset on note-on msg for either the pattern or the rhythm or both.

Suggestion 2: Other MIDI messages could trigger a global pattern/rhythm reset

3. MIDI input/transpose etc not working.

My unit doesn't respond to MIDI input from my arturia keyboard or any of my sequencers in any way that I can perceive - certainly nothing changes on-screen. It does receive MIDI clock from the keyboard/DAW though so there's something else amiss here - perhaps I'm missing something. 

4. It doesn't behave like a normal arpeggiator - feature request.

Seems a bit weird to be requesting this but I would expect to be able to play a series of chords into the machine and these would trigger a series of arpeggios based on the chords notes. It would make sense to have the note-on messages reset either the pattern or rhythm (or both, or neither) of the arpeggio accordingly. This is an essential 'playability' feature of any arpeggiator as far as I can tell.  

5. Unstable settings.

I find it way too easy to accidentally destroy the balance of a patch with a single touch of an encoder that happens to be pointing at the wrong parameter, even though the desired parameter is displayed on the screen (also the yellowness of a parameter is not accurately reflected but that's a minor bug). When this happens there is often no way back because the parameter settings are often graphical and unmemorable (especially if you're not looking at them), and this is very frustrating in practice.

It also means that touching any encoder requires an extra level of thought, which I find tiring and annoying, and this makes the unit feel less like a musical instrument and detracts from the musical process

My suggestion would be to only show the parameters that are currently editable. Have an immutable overview screen to see everything at once if needs be. By only displaying the mutable parameters the displayed parameters could be bigger and clearer, which would be a very big bonus and help the workflow. 

6. There appears to be only 10 patch memories! Can this be increased to 127 and have them accessible via MIDI program change please? 10 isn't enough bearing in mind how easy it is to lose the balance of a patch.

7. Global settings and patch settings appear to have been merged but I'm not sure this is helpful in the studio. For example, it would be good to have a few global settings for different studio modes (e.g. DAW master, NDLR master, modular master etc), and these should be mutually exclusive from the patch (musical) settings. Otherwise, when you transition a studio mode (e.g. from jamming in NDLR master to recording in DAW master) all your presets become useless!

8. Rhythm step mutes. I couldn't find a way to mute steps of a rhythm without creating glides, is this deliberate or am I missing something?!  

Suggestion rhythms should be a series of velocities but steps should also be able to be toggled on off otherwise you lose compatibility with MIDI->CV interfaces.


Please let me know if I've overlooked some features that have caused the problems above! 

Heart
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#2
(02-24-2019, 04:57 PM)mobith Wrote: Hey guys

I've had my NDLR for a couple of weeks now and have explored all the functions so I'm familiar with how it works.

I tried to make a track with it this week but have ended up losing a few days worth of studio time due to the number of problems I'm having with it, so I've given up for now which is quite disappointing.

Here are some of the problems I've had and features that either aren't working or IMO need to be implemented/refined to make this unit practical to use in the studio.

1. Motif1 MIDI out failure: 

I built a track around the NDLR (with a drum machine and my modular synced to it) and then switched to external sync (USB1) to sync the NDLR to my DAW ready for recording. This appears to have completely killed MIDIA Ch1 which Motif1 was using. A couple of times I did get it back by doing various resets and loads, but now nothing I have tried will recover it and I have no MIDI output for Motif1 (even I use a different MIDI channel). (I've checked this with a midi monitor, Motif2 is still working).

2. General repeatability issues. 

I'm finding the NDLR very difficult to set up for repeatable behaviour. I'm sure this is mentioned elsewhere on the forum, but it appears there is no way to reset patterns, rhythms, or even globally reset on MMC start and stop (essential for recording), which means that it's impossible to create synced grooves. I had to use external VCAs in the abandoned track to get any kind of predictable yet interesting rhythm going, perhaps I'm missing something? 

Suggestion: Each motif should have a reset on note-on msg for either the pattern or the rhythm or both.

Suggestion 2: Other MIDI messages could trigger a global pattern/rhythm reset

3. MIDI input/transpose etc not working.

My unit doesn't respond to MIDI input from my arturia keyboard or any of my sequencers in any way that I can perceive - certainly nothing changes on-screen. It does receive MIDI clock from the keyboard/DAW though so there's something else amiss here - perhaps I'm missing something. 

4. It doesn't behave like a normal arpeggiator - feature request.

Seems a bit weird to be requesting this but I would expect to be able to play a series of chords into the machine and these would trigger a series of arpeggios based on the chords notes. It would make sense to have the note-on messages reset either the pattern or rhythm (or both, or neither) of the arpeggio accordingly. This is an essential 'playability' feature of any arpeggiator as far as I can tell.  

5. Unstable settings.

I find it way too easy to accidentally destroy the balance of a patch with a single touch of an encoder that happens to be pointing at the wrong parameter, even though the desired parameter is displayed on the screen (also the yellowness of a parameter is not accurately reflected but that's a minor bug). When this happens there is often no way back because the parameter settings are often graphical and unmemorable (especially if you're not looking at them), and this is very frustrating in practice.

It also means that touching any encoder requires an extra level of thought, which I find tiring and annoying, and this makes the unit feel less like a musical instrument and detracts from the musical process

My suggestion would be to only show the parameters that are currently editable. Have an immutable overview screen to see everything at once if needs be. By only displaying the mutable parameters the displayed parameters could be bigger and clearer, which would be a very big bonus and help the workflow. 

6. There appears to be only 10 patch memories! Can this be increased to 127 and have them accessible via MIDI program change please? 10 isn't enough bearing in mind how easy it is to lose the balance of a patch.

7. Global settings and patch settings appear to have been merged but I'm not sure this is helpful in the studio. For example, it would be good to have a few global settings for different studio modes (e.g. DAW master, NDLR master, modular master etc), and these should be mutually exclusive from the patch (musical) settings. Otherwise, when you transition a studio mode (e.g. from jamming in NDLR master to recording in DAW master) all your presets become useless!

8. Rhythm step mutes. I couldn't find a way to mute steps of a rhythm without creating glides, is this deliberate or am I missing something?!  

Suggestion rhythms should be a series of velocities but steps should also be able to be toggled on off otherwise you lose compatibility with MIDI->CV interfaces.


Please let me know if I've overlooked some features that have caused the problems above! 

Heart

Hello, sorry you are experiencing that frustration. We made The NDLR for jamming, and not really focussed on composing for musicians. When trying to force The NDLR into very specific repeatable scenarios I can see where it could get tedious. Let me try to address your issues one by one, where I can.

1. Motif1 MIDI out failure: 
There was a bug in the FW that would cause corruption to the motif parameters after doing a 'Factory Reset' from the boot menu. This is fixed in the latest beta (1.1.019). You will need to install that FW and do another factory reset. A workaround is to load Preset "0", edit it if desired, and save it into the other preset slots.

2. General repeatability issues
Please note, we fixed a problem with syncing motifs on "Start All" in an earlier FW release. The latest is posted on the Open Beta forum.
We have been looking at feedback on how people would like the parts to behave with Start/Stop/Continue messages. We currently do nothing with Start, as we wouldn't know which parts to start. The other thing we are looking as it Stop/reset vs Pause. Currently, the motifs pause when you press the play/pause button, so they start where you paused them, but rhythm always resets. If you press the "Play All" button to stop, the motifs will reset to the beginning of their patterns along with the rhythms.
Can you expand on this idea? "Suggestion: Each motif should have a reset on note-on msg for either the pattern or the rhythm or both." Are you trying to slave The NDLR to another sequencer, so you want it to re-set, re-trigger with incoming notes?

3. MIDI input/transpose etc not working.
Some users have noted that our idea of "transpose" is different than what you might expect having used typical sequencers. The NDLR transpose feature takes notes on a MIDI input, transposes them to the current key/mode then passes them though to your sound module. It does not change The NDLR key. The idea being, you can jam on a keyboard with The NDLR and not press any wrong notes.
If you want to change key, you can modulate the Key parameter which is the same behavior as a common sequencer taking note input to change key. Pressing the Shift key while changing the Tempo/Key/Mode knob will prevent  it from changing until the Shift key is released.

4. It doesn't behave like a normal arpeggiator - feature request.
Yes, its definitely not a typical arpeggiator. An early design goal was to make something that you can't already get in many other devices. Having The NDLR act as a common arpeggiator was never on the feature list. However, we have considered some way to get an analogous feature while still maintaining the note constraints that keeps everything in key. The motifs play notes from a note pool based on The NDLR key, mode, chord, chord type and pattern type. One thought was to enable using a keyboard to enter patterns in real time. Currently, you can set patterns to use The NDLR's current "chord notes", "scale notes", or "chromatic". By mapping MIDI notes to pattern step values we could get real time arps based on your keyboard input. For those who play the keys, using "chromatic" mode will let you get out of the note pool box. We don't play the keyboard, which is why we created The NDLR  Big Grin and we don't use chromatic mode because it would sound like hell  Smile

5. Unstable settings

Agree some of the knobs are too sensitive. We have scaled them and put a "dead space" in to prevent accidental changes, but we plan to do more tweaking on the sensitivity. 
We did pack a lot of info into the subscreens which changes from function to function. Originally we had a great big number in there, which is common on many devices, but we also found it to be meaningless.
Good suggestions.


6. Yes, limited patch memories is unfortunate. We planned to use leftover flash memory as parameter storage, but the platform we developed The NDLR on did not enable us to access that memory. We thought we could overcome it, but so far we have not. We might have a workaround in the future, but can't promise it. 

7. Agree the combined global and patch setting could be cumbersome in the studio, but it is great for jamming or live performance where you want to real time change configuration and part parameters. For instance, you can switch synth modules (or timbers) at the same time as parts, modulations, etc. With more storage we would probably have a "global", "patch" and "performance" or song mode to tie them together.

8. Rhythm step mutes
When the step is red, it is a Rest, green is a Tie. The rest causes a note off to be sent. Unless the synth patch has a long decay the note will turn off. Is this what you wanted? The NDLR breaks down an arpeggiator into its core components. This makes for interesting variations not found on normal arpeggiators. However, it is a bit weird to disassociate the rhythm from the pattern. Its a choice we made to get more flexibility. Its not as easy to get reproducibility, but it can be fun which was the goal.
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#3
(02-25-2019, 02:30 PM)Darryl Wrote: Hello, sorry you are experiencing that frustration. We made The NDLR for jamming, and not really focussed on composing for musicians. When trying to force The NDLR into very specific repeatable scenarios I can see where it could get tedious. Let me try to address your issues one by one, where I can.

1. Motif1 MIDI out failure: 
There was a bug in the FW that would cause corruption to the motif parameters after doing a 'Factory Reset' from the boot menu. This is fixed in the latest beta (1.1.019). You will need to install that FW and do another factory reset. A workaround is to load Preset "0", edit it if desired, and save it into the other preset slots.

2. General repeatability issues
Please note, we fixed a problem with syncing motifs on "Start All" in an earlier FW release. The latest is posted on the Open Beta forum.
We have been looking at feedback on how people would like the parts to behave with Start/Stop/Continue messages. We currently do nothing with Start, as we wouldn't know which parts to start. The other thing we are looking as it Stop/reset vs Pause. Currently, the motifs pause when you press the play/pause button, so they start where you paused them, but rhythm always resets. If you press the "Play All" button to stop, the motifs will reset to the beginning of their patterns along with the rhythms.
Can you expand on this idea? "Suggestion: Each motif should have a reset on note-on msg for either the pattern or the rhythm or both." Are you trying to slave The NDLR to another sequencer, so you want it to re-set, re-trigger with incoming notes?

3. MIDI input/transpose etc not working.
Some users have noted that our idea of "transpose" is different than what you might expect having used typical sequencers. The NDLR transpose feature takes notes on a MIDI input, transposes them to the current key/mode then passes them though to your sound module. It does not change The NDLR key. The idea being, you can jam on a keyboard with The NDLR and not press any wrong notes.
If you want to change key, you can modulate the Key parameter which is the same behavior as a common sequencer taking note input to change key. Pressing the Shift key while changing the Tempo/Key/Mode knob will prevent  it from changing until the Shift key is released.

4. It doesn't behave like a normal arpeggiator - feature request.
Yes, its definitely not a typical arpeggiator. An early design goal was to make something that you can't already get in many other devices. Having The NDLR act as a common arpeggiator was never on the feature list. However, we have considered some way to get an analogous feature while still maintaining the note constraints that keeps everything in key. The motifs play notes from a note pool based on The NDLR key, mode, chord, chord type and pattern type. One thought was to enable using a keyboard to enter patterns in real time. Currently, you can set patterns to use The NDLR's current "chord notes", "scale notes", or "chromatic". By mapping MIDI notes to pattern step values we could get real time arps based on your keyboard input. For those who play the keys, using "chromatic" mode will let you get out of the note pool box. We don't play the keyboard, which is why we created The NDLR  Big Grin and we don't use chromatic mode because it would sound like hell  Smile

5. Unstable settings

Agree some of the knobs are too sensitive. We have scaled them and put a "dead space" in to prevent accidental changes, but we plan to do more tweaking on the sensitivity. 
We did pack a lot of info into the subscreens which changes from function to function. Originally we had a great big number in there, which is common on many devices, but we also found it to be meaningless.
Good suggestions.


6. Yes, limited patch memories is unfortunate. We planned to use leftover flash memory as parameter storage, but the platform we developed The NDLR on did not enable us to access that memory. We thought we could overcome it, but so far we have not. We might have a workaround in the future, but can't promise it. 

7. Agree the combined global and patch setting could be cumbersome in the studio, but it is great for jamming or live performance where you want to real time change configuration and part parameters. For instance, you can switch synth modules (or timbers) at the same time as parts, modulations, etc. With more storage we would probably have a "global", "patch" and "performance" or song mode to tie them together.

8. Rhythm step mutes
When the step is red, it is a Rest, green is a Tie. The rest causes a note off to be sent. Unless the synth patch has a long decay the note will turn off. Is this what you wanted? The NDLR breaks down an arpeggiator into its core components. This makes for interesting variations not found on normal arpeggiators. However, it is a bit weird to disassociate the rhythm from the pattern. Its a choice we made to get more flexibility. Its not as easy to get reproducibility, but it can be fun which was the goal.

Hey Daryl thanks for the responses!

1. Cool - will do a factory reset.

2. So this is the big one from my point of view, bear with me whilst I try to explain:

The "normal" way to play an arpeggiator would be to hit notes or chords on a keyboard and the arp plays up or down (etc) the scale you hold at a predetermined rhythm (say every sixteenth note, but it could be a euclidean rhythm for example) until you release all the notes, the scale changing if any extra notes are added or removed in the mean time. (See 4).

Releasing the keys at any time and then repressing them typically restarts both the note pattern and the note rhythm from the beginning - it's repeatable in both dimensions and this allows for predictable phrases or grooves when set along side a regular rhythm pattern (disco, techno etc).

Some more advanced arps (well, I know of only one in hardware, Flame Arp) allow you to turn off the note reset - this means each time you press a chord your arp pattern starts on a different note - great! But in this case it retains the rhythm sequence so you don't break your groove - perfect!

So what I think the NDLR needs per Motif is three extra boolean parameters:

i) Rhythm reset on/off - when set to on, the rhythm resets each time a new note/chord comes in (following zero notes being pressed).
ii) Pattern reset on/off - when set to on, the pattern "" "" "" "" "
iii) Motif only plays while note-on (with your current keyboard mode I guess just any note-on/off would switch on/off the motif(s), in the absence of chord inputs, see 4)

Currently the NDLR appears to have all these params set to off, unless I'm missing something.

3. I think a user switch here to change from traditional to fixed-key (current mode) would be great here - switching between in-key and out of key and achieving lovely dissonance is where the music starts! Being always in key gets boring quickly. I understand I could sequence key changes via MIDI CC? I will try that but it looks like a pain to set up compared to just using a normal midi keyboard and note-on msgs.

4. This is the other big one: I hear you on trying to be different - that's good, but it would be good to also cover the normal expected modes of an arpeggiator so the user has all options available to them. See 2.

So any option that allows you to play and hold a sequence of notes on a keyboard to control the notes in the current scale would be great. Un-pressing notes should thus remove them from the scale. e.g. just pressing C would result in only C's being played. Pressing C and D# would result in all arps and chords only containing those notes, etc, etc.

There are probably three states desirable:

i) Current mode, notes playable defined in NDLR and keyboard does your style of transpose

ii) Normal one key transpose mode from a MIDI keyboard (note pattern defined in NDLR)

ii) Note pattern defined solely by keyboard input chord and the order defined by the order of input or the standard order modes (up/down/root/random/etc - see Flame Arp for some cool modes).

5. Better UI context sensitivity is my main issue here. I might try to elaborate in another thread.

6. Cool - maybe a sysex load/save and a simple Juce librarian app would save the day here! (https://juce.com/) I use it extensively at work - can offer some advice on this if you're interested.

7. In the absence of separate global and patch settings, perhaps we could just remove things like clock source from the patch settings altogether as this seems very independent from the actual patches, and it's painful to have to edit all your patches each time you change clock source.

8. What I meant was it would be good to be able to mute and unmute rhythm steps with a single select-push type operation. This would let you play with the rhythm pattern in a non-destructive way so you can fiddle with your groove quickly (helpful with the retriggering options in 2 when defining a groove.)

Cheers!

M
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#4
Hello, I was really excited about getting the NDLR to help generate new ideas for tracks (techno/IDM) until I read this from Darryl in another thread:
 
"We made The NDLR for jamming, and not really focussed on composing for musicians."
 
That statement has really put me off.... what makes it not a useful tool for composing? Can't the midi for all 4 parts be recorded into a DAW simultaneously?
 
Cheers,
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#5
"We made The NDLR for jamming, and not really focussed on composing for musicians."

This device is really cool and different, but its not a competitor to traditional sequencers. As a "sequenced arpeggiator" you can make patterns for the arps. If you want to compose a tune, that plays specific notes like a sequencer does, its not great for that. Use a sequencer for sequencing, not an arpeggiator kind of thing. We made it because we wanted to come home and jam without having to compose. As Ziv of Loopop said, unlike a traditional sequencer where you express an idea and put in the notes, with The NDLR, you create an idea and The NDLR takes care of the notes. (something like that).

However, as you mentioned you can certainly record the output to your DAW. Or maybe the "accompaniment" doesn't have to play specific notes as longs as its in-key. There are lots of ways to play music, in many different settings, and not every instrument is tuned to every kind of performance, but creative people tend to figure out how to make it work.

Since we started shipping The NDLR, we've been listening to feedback from musicians using it in all kinds of interesting scenarios. And we've made changes and added features that make The NDLR even more friendly outside of our original "jamming" scope. For instance, we just released a beta FW that prevents arp patterns made in Chromatic or Scale mode from being transposed with chord changes. With a "static" arp pattern, we are getting close to a more traditional sequencer, but you still don't pick the notes directly. Instead, you create the "note pool" we play from when you select Key and Mode.
The last big feature on our to-do list is the Chord Sequencer. Once this is in place (probably a couple of months from now) The NDLR will be much more of a composing device than it currently is.
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#6
(04-04-2019, 02:11 PM)Darryl Wrote: "We made The NDLR for jamming, and not really focussed on composing for musicians."

This device is really cool and different, but its not a competitor to traditional sequencers. As a "sequenced arpeggiator" you can make patterns for the arps. If you want to compose a tune, that plays specific notes like a sequencer does, its not great for that. Use a sequencer for sequencing, not an arpeggiator kind of thing. We made it because we wanted to come home and jam without having to compose. As Ziv of Loopop said, unlike a traditional sequencer where you express an idea and put in the notes, with The NDLR, you create an idea and The NDLR takes care of the notes. (something like that).

However, as you mentioned you can certainly record the output to your DAW. Or maybe the "accompaniment" doesn't have to play specific notes as longs as its in-key. There are lots of ways to play music, in many different settings, and not every instrument is tuned to every kind of performance, but creative people tend to figure out how to make it work.

Since we started shipping The NDLR, we've been listening to feedback from musicians using it in all kinds of interesting scenarios. And we've made changes and added features that make The NDLR even more friendly outside of our original "jamming" scope. For instance, we just released a beta FW that prevents arp patterns made in Chromatic or Scale mode from being transposed with chord changes. With a "static" arp pattern, we are getting close to a more traditional sequencer, but you still don't pick the notes directly. Instead, you create the "note pool" we play from when you select Key and Mode.
The last big feature on our to-do list is the Chord Sequencer. Once this is in place (probably a couple of months from now) The NDLR will be much more of a composing device than it currently is.


Awesome... thanks for the reply Darryl. I'm not looking for a traditional sequencer.. but something I could jam with to create ideas I'd never be able to come-up with myself. But I am a song creator...so my concern was having the ability to recall or repeat when the magic happens. But you've confirmed what I had hoped, just output the 4 parts to my DAW and continually record the midi. Thanks!
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#7
Amazing fun unit CL! One quick question: there is a blue horizontal line in the mod. matrix display menu( where the waveforms appear)...
I suppose that's nothing to worry about,right? I saw it also on the user manual too...thx
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#8
The horizontal blue line indicates the level of Probability set for that modulation source. Only LFO-1 and LFO-2 have an adjustable probability setting. Preset Mod sources have some level of Portability which will be indicated by the blue bar. You can check the specifics of the Preset Mod sources in the Modulation Matrix section of the User Manual.
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