Can minimalist controller design make even two knobs into a digital instrument? We’ll soon see. The arc, the new controller from monome designer Brian Crabtree, contains just two high-resolution encoders (known to us in everyday usage as “knobs”). It makes no sound; every minute rotation and a push-button action are telegraphed to a computer. Everything that would make it musically interesting, then, is up to the makers of interactive software on the computer. At their disposal are interactive, brightness-adjustable LED displays that ring those encoders.

At US$500 (or $800 for a four-knob model), the results aren’t cheap, challenging even loyal fans of the grid controller monome. What you get for your dollars, at least according to the creator, is materials and handmade construction. The case is made out of solid, sustainable walnut, the facing from aluminum. In grainy Internet video, it may look like there’s plastic around the rings; it’s not – it’s glass. The slip mat is felt, sourced from small farms. I almost hesitate to point these things out, as it might make it seem as though the arc is expensive for the sake of being expensive, and that wouldn’t be fair; ultimately, it’s the arc’s small-quantity, handmade, local construction that drives up the price, relatively speaking, in the iPhone world in which we live.

Anyway, whether you buy one or not, I think it’ll be the question of how software can rise to the challenge of the arc’s provocatively-minimal design that’s more interesting. Brian has shot a first video experiment with one demo, in which you can see those LEDs providing feedback with the software, showing the position of loop points. Even this video only scratches the surface: Brian hopes that this won’t just be a monome companion, but that some will find ways of using it on its own.

A recent post on the official monome site provides additional details:

  • 256 steps per revolution, with integrated push button
  • 64 leds per ring, each led independently has 16 levels of brightness
  • arc two: 6” x 3.5” x 1.5”
  • arc four: 10.5×3.5” x 1.5”
  • Ordering Feb. 18, ships first week March
  • Initial run: 50 of each. (Yeah, that’ll sell out fast, even in this economy.)

A design like this rightfully raises questions – even doubts – so I’ve spoken with Brian to see how he sees his latest creation.

arc, alongside a monome. The combination is likely to be the most popular, if for no other reason than the arc’s appeal to the monome audience. But creator Brian Crabtree says that isn’t exclusively the intent of the design. All photos courtesy monome.

CDM: Who is this for? Is it primarily a companion to the monome, or might you imagine people using it as a controller on its own?

Brian: fundamentally it’s for people who are interested in exploring new methods of interaction. the arc is simply a high-resolution encoder and a bunch of lights. like the open decoupled grid, it’s a blank canvas which provides the same opportunity to invent, share, and generally think differently about process.

while certainly it makes sense integrated into larger systems or paired with a grid device, i’m hoping the extreme constraints will also prompt ambitious, minimalist performance tactics. and it’s not simply a fancy volume knob. the visual feedback has sufficient depth to facilitate much more exacting use of the input. i do see the possibility of interesting two-knob applications that make good use of visual feedback and various modes.

Price seems to be a debate no matter what things cost, so let’s ask it another way – realizing many people aren’t familiar with what goes into manufacturing and how that impacts price, where does the cost of an arc go? What are the major sources of its cost, specifically?

like the grid devices before it, the arc had several tricky design challenges. it’s often more difficult to achieve a minimalist aesthetic, which is perhaps counter-intuitive.

the materials, sources, and people we chose to work with account for the cost. the enclosure is milled solid black walnut, harvested in central pennsylvania. aluminum work, anodizing, glass cutting (that is not plastic), laser cutting, sheet metal fabrication, circuit assembly, and pcb manufacturing all happen in the eastern US. we’re deeply invested in our local economy.

there’s no one part that makes the device expensive– it’s the total number of custom parts that seem somewhat cheap on their own– and there are a lot of them. i’ll be sharing some photos of the construction process when we get a chance.

of course, there’s the fact that these devices are hand-made in very small batches– we don’t get huge discounts on quantity orders.

but comparing prices is a bit silly– we’re not really competing with yamaha or novation or the like. if you truly appreciate what goes into these devices and what they do (and don’t do), i think you will find the pricing fair and reasonable.

With just two encoders on the main model, there’s a lot of focus, obviously, on just these controls. In practical use, as you get your hands on this thing, how much do you find having the additional resolution makes a difference? Can you really make movements small enough to take advantage of it?

tiny movements can be tracked– 256 steps per revolution– and the large knob allows for greater physical control. high resolution is a major benefit. there’s room for more subtle gesture in controllers, and i’m hoping room for thoughtful, slow, and maybe even quiet musical contours.

the integrated pushbutton allows for press-sweep-release gestures, toggling, or however the application would like to interpret the data. in a way it doubles the input streams per knob– turning while pressed, turning while depressed. with the correct app design this feels remarkably natural.

How are those messages sent via OSC?

there’s a simple format similar to other monome devices. we’re about to release a new serial-osc server (called serialosc) which will make for a much more plug-and-play experience.

encoders send out delta values: +1, -1, -2 for example. they don’t have an absolute position, so it’s up to the software to count and transpose these values. it makes for much more interesting translation of what knob movement means– for example you could map a single “tick” to be 1 normally but 0.1 when holding the button down– coarse/fine movement.

the led ring has a flexible and detailed set of messages. set a single led, set all leds to one value, set a range of leds to a value, or send a whole array of 64 led values in one OSC packet. these optimizations allow for incredibly fast refresh rates, resulting in very smooth animation.

the leds support variable brightness with 16 values per led. i see a lot of potential here– layers, waveform mapping, background vs. foreground, reactive metering…

As I recall from our conversation, USB connections are different than on the monome, yes? Will you use USB class for control as well as serial-over-USB? How will the arc connect to software?

we’re using ftdi again. long boring story! some other time.

Ed.: FTDI refers to a chip manufacturer. Long story short, this involves having a USB device act as a standard, non-USB serial port, which involves drivers. (Fun fact: those drivers are now rolled into recent kernels on Linux, which makes life easier for free software users.) The arrangement works, and in the past people have appreciated the performance they get out of the arrangement. It does (likely) knock out the possibility of using your arc with an iPad.

Don’t try this at home: the arc’s more complex design means it’s not as suited to be a kit, says Crabtree. But you can expect a similarly open community and attitude from its designer.

Why only two (or four) encoders, and not more?

you can already get more encoders elsewhere, but without resolution of input or output. we generally don’t like reinventing things that already exist.

for this project i think having too many elements detracts from the focus. we’d prefer a high degree of detail.

What patches have you seen created so far for this?

that’s a funny question given only one prototype exists at the moment! but the monome forum seems to have already brainstormed several pages of possibilities– one user even created a flash app for realizing detailed diagrams.

the community really surprised me on this one. i figured new apps would come about quickly once the actual devices were out in the wild, but never did i imagine apps were getting first versions before the hardware was ready.

The first run is limited, but if it’s a big success, do you anticipate making larger runs later?

certainly, though we’ll follow our same methods which have proved successful over the years– releasing in editions, and trying to create enough to meet demand but not much more. it’s still just kelli and me building, and it’s not great to have extra parts laying around.

Brightness you noted was addressable; how would you control brightness on the LED rings?

/enc/ring/set n x s
where n = encoder number, x = led number, s = state/brightness (0-15)

Presumably if people wished to add, say, accelerometer and/or tilt, they could do so? (This wound up creating interesting variations to control on the monome.)

i’ve done a huge redesign of the electronics, modularized and standardized. we’re working on a tilt upgrade that should be a matter of plugging in a small ribbon cable.

Will any component of this, beyond bundled software, be released under an open source license, or is it already? (I think perhaps the USB chip you’re using already is?)

i’m looking at licenses (some which you referred me to) and expect to post firmware and schematics and everything. it’s not realistic for people to make a DIY version (complicated boards, insanely tiny parts), and we won’t be making a kit version (though we will have an encoder module that will plug into the new mk).

most importantly, the protocol will be open source. both the serial and OSC protocol. so smartphone emulators and arduino clones will be possible and encouraged.

Because the hardware is not available under an open source license and cannot be freely redistributed, I wouldn’t call monome or arc “open source hardware.” At the same time, it’s different in significant ways from conventional proprietary hardware, and it does have genuinely open source protocols and software. Perhaps “modifiable” is another word. Without getting stuck on labels, how would you describe what the monome is? And you’ve talked about some other priorities you have that exist outside the open source discussion that seem they also merit conversation; can you comment on that?

i agree, it may need another name.

i’m slightly ambivalent about the label “open source hardware.” it’s come to mean more than simply having the sources available, which was my original goal. people should absolutely know how their equipment works and be able to modify it if desired. it’s turned into a different conversation, about freedom– the most anonymous free-market sort of freedom. and this is a good conversation to have, but it somehow left the realm of sharing and went somewhere else. i wish more people were interested in discussing resource use, materials, and local economics– these are very real issues concerning physical goods. the open source hardware debate seems to have inherited too much from the open source software ideology.

overall i’m a proponent of communicating with people. if you’d like to use someone’s work, contact them and chat about it. licenses are only a starting point.

Side note – OSC messages + Arc

TheAlphaNerd posts via comments this excerpt of Brian on the forums. This should be considered a draft of the OSC implementation, but I think is interesting nonetheless.

To simplify this… there are 64 leds per encoder. There are 16 stages of brightness. Leds can be changed as a group or individually

“most of this is still tentative, could endure minor refinements before the end of the month.

in short:

from device:
/enc/delta n d
where n is encoder number, d is change (ie 1, -1, +2)
/enc/key n s
where n is encoder number, s is state (0,1)

the refresh is incredibly fine and fast, so unless you’re really throwing the knob, you rarely get beyond 1 or -1 on delta.

that said, it’s “up to you” to keep a counter when writing your own apps. i’ll be making a bunch of “helper” apps and templates to provide high-level functionality to app writers.

one thing to consider– being able to set rotation limits (setting ranges), “chunking” the display into 16 sections, having the rotation speed (fine vs course) be set by the button press.

what about a rotating led cycle that’s an LFO (or sample playback)? turning the know pulls at the velocity like a turntable. push down the knob and it applies a friction brake. hold it down and spin one way to give it a serious push, let go and it runs free.

etc.

protocol to device:
/enc/ring/set n x s
set led x (0-63) of encoder n to state s (0-15)
/enc/ring/all n s
set all leds of encoder n to state s (0-15) like /clear on monome grids
/enc/ring/map n d[64]
map array d (64 values) to encoder n, like /frame on grids”

It’s still early days for the arc, as it awaits production and more patches and creativity. I hope to offer more on it as that happens.

  • http://www.inoutfest.org Flplsx

    Correction: $500 is for the two knob model, $800 is for the four knob.

    Now to read the rest of the article…..

  • salamanderanagram

    i hate to say it, but the pricing on these is absurd. i know it's a high quality build and all, but seriously, $250 *per* encoder?? no way. i don't care how cool the apps are – that's just too much.

  • http://lowbroweye.com Anthony Bowyer-Lowe

    It's a gorgeous piece of kit, to be sure, and I certainly wish I could justify the price.

    And you're right, there's something about the Arc's purist simplicity that captures the imagination. My brain is already freewheeling out a myriad cool things to do with it. Having the LEDs as well as the knob is essential, I believe, as it closes the input/output feedback loop and offers so much potential for meaningful interaction.

    These are great times for boutique, indie tech!

  • http://lowbroweye.com Anthony Bowyer-Lowe

    You're right to question the price, salamanderanagram – particularly given that the resultant value of the Arc is highly dependant upon its supporting software which is supplied by the community.

    However, with any hardware product the street price is never a direct reflection of the bill of materials. The cost has to cover R&D, manufacturing, the wood, component acquisition & storage, failed prototypes and malfunctioning units, construction machinery and tools, marketing, support, office and workshop space, business insurance, employee salaries and health insurance, and so on. The overheads are almost endless such that the component costs are just the tiniest fraction of the ultimate price.

    Sure, an off-the-shelf encoder can be bought quite cheaply and I'm sure if you wanted to build your own knob controller Brian and the rest of us would fully support and encourage your choice to do so if you wish.

    Saying all that, though, I can't afford one myself so I'd gladly join you in rejoicing in there was a price drop. :)

  • synthetic

    >>it’s the arc’s small-quantity, handmade, local construction that drives up the price, relatively speaking, in the iPhone world in which we live.<<

    Correction, you could buy an iPad for that price.

    I hope they find the people in the Venn diagram between alternate controllers users and audiophile turntable budgets. Seems to me that those two are pretty far apart…

    Very pretty knobs, though. 

  • Watson

    @synthetic

    we're here. visit post.monome.org

    :-)

  • digid

    Amazing what one can get away with prize-wise if you just subscribe to the open source philosophy.

    Had it been Apple charging $500 for two (beautifully designed) knobs … well, we know what that would look like.

  • Peter Kirn

    Sorry, I corrected that. The only place where the larger is cheaper is at the movie theater.

  • kramer

    oh the price debate. somebody once said (and i agree) - "The monome isn't expensive. It is our notion of value that is out of calibration."

    even though they do a great job at photo and video documenting the devices, it's so much more clear after holding and using their work that each device is a piece of art. it's like if you have a plastic hammer, sure it might help you nail that first treehouse together ok, and maybe help you fix the mailbox too. but at some point those corners that were cut in manufacturing are gonna catch up with you. something's gonna go wrong and you'll be all "oh well, it was cheap tool" throw it out and buy another. let me put it another way, when you get done with the treehouse you'll throw your plastic hammer in a bag, and forget about about till the next job. but if you had a hickory handle hammer, you're gonna take care of it, you're gonna love using it for it's quality and pass it down through your family. at some point in a hundred years or so some grandkid of yours is gonna be showing their college roommate their grandpa's monome. the same will never be said for launchpad or whatever else novation and yamaha puke up…

    if you don't have the money, that's one thing. (i don't right now either) but undermining the value because you can't understand the quality is something else…

  • Peter Kirn

    Also, I do want to separate the question of "open source" from the cost here, as it doesn't seem appropriate.

    As I said, the hardware itself is not technically open source (though the makers do share an unusual amount of information about it, nicely enough). And that would have nothing to do with cost, anyway. Cost comes from the price of materials and manufacturing. That's always the case.

    In order to drive costs down, you invariably have to make sacrifices. So philosophy only really enters the equation as you make those decisions in regards to quality, quantity, local sourcing, etc.

    Readers who say "that isn't worth $500 to me" are absolutely in their rights. Whether you deem something too expensive or well worth your investment will be a matter of how valuable something is to you musically. Nor do I think it's a linear scale. I mean, on some level, spending $60 on a controller and then discovering it won't do what you need or winds up in the closet is a big loss in cash and time.

    So, I guess I mean to provide two cautions:

    One, there may be a reason the Arc costs what it does.

    Two, I don't think it's fair to begrudge either the person who readily spends the cash, *or* the person who says "that's too rich for my blood." That's your essential role as a music consumer.

  • Peter Kirn

    @kramer: Oh, and I do tend to disagree with that "notion of value" argument in regards to the monome. Yes, we have tons of cheap, plastic crap that's unsustainably produced. But I think the whole point is how you use something. If you don't want a fancy controller with two knobs, if that's not useful to you, this really *is* something that is a waste of $500-800. ;)

    That's what's wonderful about music making, though, that you really can't calibrate value. These are expressive objects, not practical objects. That's why they can inspire irrational feelings like love.

    That's not to take away from questions of sustainability, local markets, and environmental impact. But you have to first get to whether you want the thing musically, and it's okay that not everyone agrees about that. Otherwise, we'd all play exactly the same instrument, and orchestral concerts would be … terrifying.

  • Watson

    right – o, peter. as brian states, "believe me, the arc *is not worth it* for most people. leave it at that, carry on. i am a spectacular salesman, by the way."

    i hope this goes beyond the price debate.

  • Watson

    @peter

    actually that gives me an idea. image a room of 100 orchestrated cello players…. yum.

  • Fed

    256 is hardly what I would call high resolution when any plain jane midi encoder has 128 steps.

  • Armando

    The idea to have two knobs trigger and control multiple parameters is going to be interesting. I just can't wrap my head around trying to know what mode each button is in. Beautiful design, still need to build my monome kit, its just sitting in my parts box :(

  • http://www.inoutfest.org active

    even in the middle of this economic slump, places like whole foods, trader joes, and other organic markets are doing well. and i think it is safe to say it is not because they sell their goods for less then competitors. instead they implement a moral/social philosophy on what they sell, and in turn, so do the people who shop there. i know countless people who refuse to purchase nike shoes for the basic reason of not supporting a huge corporation who exploits people (and children) in protected factories over seas. 

    for the same reason, i refuse to give a company like behringer my money, and now mackie. instead i would rather support people who have ethics when constructing a piece of gear. people like madrona labs (randy jones), monome (brian and kelli), even livid instruments (jay smith and co.). 

  • lmfao

    WOW.

    Anyone who's been to 'art' school can tell you that 95% of it is learning how to bullshit, learning how to attach a spiel to the art itself.

    In that regard watching peter kirn cover this development is very entertaining!

    $500 for two encoders ? LMFAO.

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, look, this isn't a review. I haven't seen the thing yet. I'm intrigued by Brian's ideas and his design. So, I'll give those ideas free reign, since it's a preview and I know folks are interested.

    I don't think a design like this has to cost $500, even with sustainable ingredients, but in a run of fifty units, costs can quickly spiral upward, especially if you're uncompromising in certain areas.

    Quantity matters in addition to quality, too.

    I don't want to give the impression that I'm already convinced; I'm not. But I do see potential, if for no other reason than the rabid and inventive monome community.

    I don't think anyone else has to be convinced, either. I know I have to use some serious discretion in spending money on gear, and I fully expect readers will do the same. For someone – indeed, perhaps for fifty someones – this first run will be a good fit. For many others, it won't.

  • http://braduro.com James Levine

    Are the encoders grooved or smooth? That is, will each control number slot/notch in place (what word would you use?) This is an absolute encoder, right? How would you take advantage of absolute values if it was smooth? What if you wanted to move from scene to scene, and then fire them in ableton, for example?

    And yes, it seems strange that OSC would be limited to what seems like a multiple of an 8-bit message.

    I will say this: I've been following this story closely, and I find it triumphant when a controller design can break through, and find (for lack of a better word) an innocuous design. You had a recent article on virtuosity on drum machines. For me, the training must begin with a faith that a motor-sensory experience can add up to something. Trumpets, violins, pianos, mixing boards, to be true have all begun with early prototypes, but for the most part, learning how to play them does not illicit the insecurity as one might experience if, say, you told your violin student "listen just play around with this thing for a year-heck I've tuned it such that, magically, there is no such thing as a wrong note or a limit to how fast even a beginner can play. But look out next year, the violin is being replaced with our hottest and latest idea: the viothingi 2000. 2 frets will cross in the middle, and instead of strings, they will be so thick that the physics and harmonics will be more like metal bars. Instead of holding it under your chin, you'll hold it in front of you with two sticks. So pretty much everything you're studying here is not really going to help you feel more natural if you want the next best thing." 

    Okay, I'm strung out on coffee, but you get the idea. If you have a controller design, even if it is just the purity of a couple elements, then I can better trust that I can make musical decisions with it. 

  • DDDD

    @FED

    A normal midi controller is 7bit (128 steps) but controllers like the Modwheel operate 14bit so they have a resolution of 16,384 steps…. that is definitely more in the realm of what I call high resolution.

  • Peter Kirn

    Actually, I'd love to see some suggestions for alternatives, precisely because I don't think this is for everyone. (Much as I admire the design, and I really do, I'm not sure it's for me! Some of us would likely give up the LED wheels for something more basic.)

    @DDDD, I haven't seen the Modwheel. Link?

    Other high-res wheels? I know some of the DJ controllers have done 14-bit resolution, but that doesn't mean the actual pots are capable of yielding anything useful.

  • DDDD

    @Peter Kirn

    The "Modwheel" is not a specific product. It's part of pretty much every keyboard ever made (i.e. the mod wheel and pitch bender)

    I think the pitch wheel is 14bit resolution as well. Just look at the standard midi spec.

  • Peter Kirn

    Ah, okay. Now I see what you mean. :)

    No, typically modulation is a 7-bit controller. Yes, pitch bend is 14-bit by design. Controllers can send two separate bytes for combined 14-bit resolution, but a) not all control changes are specified this way, and b) a lot of times manufacturers don't do that because the result would be simply to transmit noisy messages. ;) That additional resolution is very often undesirable because you can't get enough accuracy out of the control itself.

  • DDDD

    Also I can say as a fellow engineer and producer of many many modules I can tell you that making 50 of anything is a stupid idea.

    There is pretty much an exponential decrease in costs as you increase the production numbers linearly. 50 is simply too small and there is nothing too special about what is being built (i.e. cnc wood and panels + pcbs)

    If he even increased to 150 or 200 he could dramatically reduce price but sell more units. I bet that if you do the math you can find a much better profit margin (i.e. lower price but sell more units and have less people turn away in disgust)

    I also agree that they are far too dependent on a generous community to give them the free software!!! Every contributor should get a major discount and past significant developers of Monome software should get them at cost or free. That would definitely stimulate things.

    I have had several Monomes (and built clones too) but got rid of all of them except the Novation Launch pad (not as nice but for the price worth keeping). It was far too annyoing to always have to load a driver and then software every time I wanted to use it.

    If they had built this so there was some kind of standalone capabilities I would be much more interested.

  • http://www.inoutfest.org Flplsx

    @Fed

    Each step of the knob is about 0.018", if that puts it into perspective.

  • KNS

    Moog Slim Phatty or an Arc. Very tough decision. :)

  • Veridical Driver

    I hate the use of the term "sustainable"… "sustainable" is a bullshit marketing term that has no real meaning unless you specifically define the term and have real data to back it up.

    For example, what is the CO2 output *PER UNIT* of some factory in China making cheap MIDI controllers, and this thing? Just because you produce things on a smaller scale and thus produce less CO2 in an absolute sense, doesn't mean that the CO2 per unit isn't much much higher! How much fuel is wasted by transporting materials via car from local suppliers as opposed to materials being shipped on a large scale by truck and train and means with greater CO2 economies of scale? What value is there to building something out of materials that will last a lifetime, when USB is likely not going to be a viable technology for the rest of my lifetime? And do people who purchase this device forgo purchasing other cheap controllers from China, or is this simply additional consumption?

    There is no way in any honesty to say this this is any more "sustainable" than any other product. It is pure greenwashing. Just because you manufacture a device to some eco-chic aesthetic, doesn't make it "sustainable". I highly doubt the people manufacturing this have done any sort of science fact-based analysis to determine the ecological impact of these product vs. other products.

  • Ted

    I'd love a tool like this to use in conjunction with an editor – coarse/fine selection on the left, tool selection and execution on the right.  it'd be even better with four knobs.  

    i do think that i, too, would be intrigued to see the price difference if you remove the LED, or offer a less expensive model that isn't dimmable.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Veridical Driver: Well, I used "sustainable" in relation to the wood (aside from my glib mention of it in comments). Wood sustainability means something specific. You're right on CO2; that requires a more involved analysis.

  • Derek D

    I'll stick with my Kore controller, as with the added MIDI mode, you get 8 endless encoders that have red backlight that goes from off up to bright red depending on what level you're at, so you do get visual feedback.

    I love the design of Arc, same with Monome. But the price is too much for me, so I'll stick with my Launchpad and other controllers.

    Thanks Peter for the interview, interesting to get Brian's perspective.

  • Dan Pat

    I didn't get the Arc when you first posted about it Peter, but that performance in the video was beautiful. I watched it twice and could have watched it for a very long time after that, especially if he would have sampled more instruments. As a novice programmer, I am very inspired to work with the minimal equipment I already have after watching this. I certainly will not be buying one of these at this cost, but I sure hope the 50 that are out go to people that will use them to their full potential and share the results with the rest of the world.

  • WHIV

    How is this better than two Griffin Powermates (which can be had for a fifth of the price)?

  • WHIV

    Oh, and a quick point of contention:

    "even in the middle of this economic slump, places like whole foods, trader joes, and other organic markets are doing well. and i think it is safe to say it is not because they sell their goods for less then competitors."

    Actually, in the case of Trader Joe's (which is kicking ass as compared to the other places you mentioned) they ARE doing well because they sell their goods for less. They're known for their combination of low prices and awesome organic goodies. Check it out: http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/20/news/companies/in

  • http://Www.bagger288.com/goldenmaster Golden master

    Well, this is pretty interesting. Credit is due to the monome creators for their original product inspiring many musicians a d other manufacturers (novation launchpad, apc40, livid controllers etc). But this seems a little strange. I agree, 256 steps seems like pitifully low resolution especially considering the simplicity of the device. I think 128 is way too low for knobs less than 1/4 the size of those big encoders!  Anyway, I think monome is big because of how influential their first product was, but in the end all this is for the creators and a small community of enthusiasts anyway.  I had a monome myself, and sold it, because it was too much of a pain in the ass to use. That makes me -not- an enthusiast. Now I use my novation launchpad… It was 150 bux, bigger buttons, and different colors!  Made in china by child slaves though ;)

  • tasmania dave

    I hope they do publish schematics and firmware, and even a BOM.  DIY is pretty sophisticated these days. It would be really cool to make a DJ controller with this aesthetic. Two of these with a cross fader and some volume faders, etc.

    I also have a project I'm working on that is essentially a board of pots, used to control an image editing program. I'd much rather have a bank of these instead of the pots.

  • GTZ

    @WHIV,

    Did you watch the video?

    Can you point to one where somebody's getting comparable response from a Griffin Powermate?

    @tasmania dave,

    You might consider the Livid Code for your image editing application.  That's probably a reasonable compromise between cost and functionality for your needs.

  • http://davesmithinstruments.com Pym

    I don't think there's enough being said about the resolution of these knobs. The typical encoder you see on any MIDI controller or synth lately is 16 or 24 steps per resolution which, along with some acceleration code, is plenty to step through the 127 values of any typical MIDI parameter. The trouble is to dial in specific behavior and make it feel more 'human' you need higher resolution or some extremely well thought out acceleration code (which is not easy to fine tune).

    The encoders on the Arc have 256 steps PER REVOLUTION. That's huge! It means you can customize the response of the knobs down to your heart's content if you really want to program them. With the addition of the button… that's some serious control.

    Think of it this way… encoders of this resolution would allow you to program in gesture control on the knob itself.

  • BoxieBrown

    I agree with Pym. I also think it's worth noting that this is not a MIDI controller. Absolute position knobs with 7 bits of resolution work great for a MIDI controller. I think Monome has made another product that is simple in appearance, but provides an extremely large amount of possibilities. Just like the Button, they've freed the Knob from its typical role (adjusting volume, filter cuttoff, etc.) and made it more capable of interfacing with new musical ideas.

    Monome has never been for everyone, and I'm glad they're not. I look forward to see what the Monome community creates for Arc. 

  • Edward

    This will be great for controlling the volume and selecting tracks in itunes when I have it minimized!

  • http://dust.unrecnow.com marcusfischer

    @WHIV since when did the powermate have a decoupled 64 segment LED ring?  i'll have to get me a pair of those.

  • PR1392

    To those complaining about price:  there'll be a cheap, mass-produced alternative in not time.

  • PR1392

    no*

  • deajebus

    Hipster crap.

    Its a fucking knob. 

  • Peter Kirn

    I think we've found the perfect sales slogan / monome community t-shirt:

    IT'S A MOTHERF***IN KNOB, MOTHERF*****!

  • http://twitter.com/dirtRAID Brand B

    Pym gets it, many people seem to be confused about relative and absolute encoders. An absolute encoder like a pitch bend or mod wheel does offer an incredible amount of values but those values are fixed to their min and max. With a relative encoder like that on the Arc the 256 means that the knob can send a value change 256 times per rotation. The encoders on my Axiom and MPD32 offer maybe 1/16th of that per rotation. I hope this kick starts someone to drop a class compliant MIDI device (USB/DIN) that offers a comparable pulse per rotation specification. For anyone looking to see how useful this is, just map your relative encoder if you have one to the 1/100 ths value for tempo control in Ableton.  More steps per rotation means a smoother more precise pitch shift that can be done very quickly vs a steppy dork mofo sounding pitch shift thats slow.

  • hanerlend

    Cost of quality. Simple as that. Why do people complain?

    I won't be getting this soon myself, but that's mainly because I don't have $1000 to shell out for a monome 64 and a two-knob arc. And I don't have the time to learn to use it. I'm still intrigued by that setup, though, and could se myself using a monome, arc and xylophone for many kinds of music.

  • http://www.soundcloud/donfuan donfuan

    looks awesome, and definitely will find it's customers. this isn't a mass product people. i'm sad that i can't afford it atm, but you get NI Komplete for the same money, it really IS expensive..

  • http://noisepages.com/members/hanerlend/ Erlend Dietrich Hand

    Btw. when do you think we'll see an iPad OSC app with 64 buttons and two huge rotary encoders? The iPad screen is almost 6" x 9,5", no?

  • http://birdsusestars.com BirdsUseStars

    @ErlandDietrichHandeland I don't see why you couldn't just make that setup TouchOSC. 

  • http://noisepages.com/members/hanerlend/ Erlend Dietrich Hand

    Can you make endless rotary encoders, with a button inside + those 64 LEDS?

    I have TouchOSC, but I haven't gotten around to using it much yet.

  • midihendrix

    im sorry but i would rather make music than sit around and stroke solid sustainable walnut. this item belongs at design within reach.

    in an age where the monetary value of music is approaching the limit of zero, is it really innovative to make a $500 schicki-micki 2 knob box? i would rather the innovative minds of these dudes be put to making real, usable stuff for all musicians.

    you write that it is a "challenge" for software designers to make use of this device. i think this is a very polite way of saying that the device is not very usable.

  • midihendrix

    i have a feeling the next "brilliant" design they come out to succeed this will be "THE SWITCH"…..a single DPDT switch housed in a free trade organic sustainable recyclable stained wooden box……at the boutique price of $1000

  • midihendrix

    this is the polar opposite of the meeblip ;-)

  • Peter Kirn

    I should clarify: I think a high-resolution endless encoder, using optical sensors and providing 256 steps is of musical value. (And yes, the confusion there was that people assume that because you're sending a MIDI message with 128 steps, you're getting that degree of resolution *out of the pot*, which is not the case. You could make a MIDI device of this nature with 128 steps; no reason not to. You could even send high-res MIDI messages; others are correct in that. But you would need the optical encoder first, and one that can reliably give you this many steps.)

    Now, whether you *need* an arc – whether you need that encoder in this particular box and as part of this particular package – is another matter. I don't have any real problem with people reaching either conclusion. I think it's okay to look at this and say, you know, this isn't for me. And it's okay to decide that something isn't a good value for you. I think you might also accept that it is a good value for someone else.

    As for price points, price is a function of margin and quantity, not only "quality." Nor is there ever a direct, linear relationship between quality and cost; there's a correlation, but they aren't the same thing. So I think it's utterly reasonable to look at something and decide if the equation makes sense for you.

    Anyway, bottom line: we're looking at something that has a run of fifty.

  • http://appunderground.net justin

    this is so dumb.  i almost feel like im watching exit through the gift shop, and this dude is just selling this for an extreme price because he knows youre stupid enough to buy it.

    its obviously not priced cost+margin, its priced at what the market will bear and its very very high.

    hype. nothing more, nothing less.

    you can buy a behringer midi knob thing for like $49 AND it has twice as many knobs…

  • strunkdts

    Knobs!!!!

  • jsph

    @justin

    If it was about bringing in money why would there only be a run of 50? Hype? What's this companies name, where are all the ads? Show me where exactly all the hype is from (insert here) company? Also, not everyone is looking to buy a behringer controller. Some find it cheap, limiting, ugly and some find it enough because it gets the job done. 

  • Aaron

    What MIDIHendrix said.

  • Kaden

    So these are better than ones that go to 11, right?

  • bliss

    What's amusing is how people freak out about the price of, well, anything. Some don't purchase because it's too cheaply priced. Others don't purchase because it's too expensively priced. Still, others buy whatever they want because, why not?

    I do two things. I assess whether I need and desire something. The last thing I do is contemplate the price. Therefore, the things I buy tend to be fairly expensive, and this means that I don't upgrade often. Certainly for some things I have, it doesn't seem like I upgrade at all, but I do. I'll use a computer until it just can't give me any more. And then I'll use it some more. And still more. Why, because I'm saving up for the next top-of-the-line model that will take its place.

    The last thing I am is rich, but as far as my tools are concerned, I'm quite wealthy. Now, the actual resale value on the things in my inventory might be pennies on the dollar, or a bit more, but these things are absolutely priceless, to me. In fact, I can't really assess the true value, because if I don't value something enough, I sell it – and this happens rarely – but the things I keep, no one would want to pay what I would ask, which would be the original purchase price. That's right, the items that I keep are worth to me at least what I paid for them. Forget market price, that's not what matters. It's my stuff.

    Anyway, if something is not worth my dollar, I don't buy it – but that's not how I choose. Again, I choose based on whether I both need and desire something. If it's one or the other, I don't buy. If it's both, I start saving. Simple.

    If I were rich, I probably wouldn't have written anything. It's Sunday – and more than likely I would be out buying things just because I could. ;-)

  • bliss

    By the way, today is the 23rd. Not sure what's up with the date stamp on the posts.

  • http://regend.com Regend
  • bliss

    As for investing the local economy and manufacturing in the U.S., who does that anymore? Surely there's a premium on that. Surely supporting that should be a priority. But I think for many, perhaps not. And oftentimes it's impossible, depending on what one wants. We simply don't have the same choices that we once had, even a decade ago.

  • Peter Kirn

    @bliss: I'm not sure on what you're basing that opinion. The United States manufacturing output is the largest in the world. So the answer to your question "who invests…" in US manufacturing is, roughly 19% of everyone on Earth. China is expected to catch up to the US, but note that that's *catch up.* Contrary to popular belief, US manufacturing is an essential part of the economy. 

    Of course, no, the world economy doesn't really care what the impact of the monome is. On the other hand, if you're the person milling the wood for the case, you do care. 

    This isn't just an American issue. If you're in China, you're going to work to build relationships locally in China – and I know many Chinese designers are trying to unburden themselves of the reputation that all Chinese manufacture is cheap and labor-abusing. (Hey, it took Americans a while to get to the point where everyone thought our cars weren't total crap. This is the nature of business.)

  • http://noisepages.com/members/hanerlend/ Erlend Dietrich Hand

    Regend, 80 count per revolution vs. 256. That is, the arc is more than 3 times more sensitive.

  • lmfao

    midihendrix & justin get it.

    @jsph.

    "If it was about bringing in money why would there only be a run of 50? Hype? What’s this companies name, where are all the ads? Show me where exactly all the hype is from (insert here) company? Also, not everyone is looking to buy a behringer controller. Some find it cheap, limiting, ugly and some find it enough because it gets the job done. "

    1: rarity increases perceived value

    2: this is the hype. peter's fawning on this blog is the hype. for these types of products, for this type of customer, for this type of music – these types of blogs are the hype. For all intents & purposes we might as well be having this exchange on the pages of Time magazine.

    3: monome is the name

    4: we are the ads

    5: see 2

  • gunboatD

    wow. Very visceral responses here.  I give brian and kelli lots of credit for bringing this to market.  It's a beautiful piece of handiwork and its minimalism is a choice.  Go to yanko design or look art lebdev's stuff.  Most of that highly lusted-after gear is eternally vaporware or is unbelievably expensive.   This is an actual product that can be purchased today(-ish) and while I won't be purchasing one, I don't have a problem with the price.  I'm fairly certain that most of the commenters here are not manufacturers and thus have no experience building something *and* bringing it to market.

    I think that pairing this with another monome product would allow for very expressive performance. I look to artists like stretta to really put the Arc's capabilities through it's paces. It certainly isn't for everyone and if you're comparing it to a behringer, then you're obviously missing the opportunity to think of your own compositions in a new light.

  • lmfao

    Too much emphasis is being put on the resolution.

    The knob's diameter is made large in a vein effort to make use of or justify the extra resolution.

    When/if you want to make comparisons with mere mortal (midi) encoders you should also consider the fact the knobs are much smaller, and you get just as much control albeit with more turning involved. But the size of the knobs reflect that, nice and small and perfect for pincing between your thumb & index finger.

    Nah, the only thing worth a mention in this horrendously pretentious consumer-gullibility interactive and lucrative experiment is the led ring. Simply the visual feedback. Like a BCR2000 provides.

    Anyway, that is really the only thing of any use here. The LED. But still not enough to justify all the fawning or the insane pricing.

    Precluding anything that makes use of the led-ring: I will eat my own shit if even a single app is created that can't be used just as well on any old encoder.

    I might even consider chowing down on my own turd nuggets if even the led-ring apps can't be used effectively just as well on a bcr2000, but that's a grey area – don't hold me to that.

  • DDDD

    I think it would have been cool if there were concentric rings of leds!

    I can imagine some very cool sequencers based on this concept.

  • Peter Kirn

    I didn't really see what I was doing as fawning, but of course, it's not really my place to say. ;)

    I have some questions and even doubts about this. Experience tells me that the user passion Brian's designs inspire will prompt users to do more with it than you'd normally expect of a small-run controller. So it's worth asking about.

    I'd love to have more stuff *like* this to cover, honestly. Unfortunately, there are more people out there to comment than there are to actually make stuff.

  • nisios

    Well i belive this is just another worthless visual toy. For me, the point of diy and electronic music is access to the masses. Apple really changed our world, i just think for worst, now even the more alternative rings are completelly shallow and just care about visuals. I think this whole pseudo fashion diy comunnity is just maturing into something completely pointless, in the lines of what happened to the audiophie comunity in the 80's. Very sad. I wont be a part of it for sure.

  • goofy priest

    "Hey, it took Americans a while to get to the point where everyone thought our cars weren’t total crap."

    i thought it took a while to get to the point where everyone thought our cars WERE crap.

    i am all for these boutique guys doing whatever they want. it keeps design and innovation in the fore front. detroit should have kept more monome's in the mix.

    if this is a fumble on monome's part so what? why do people get so bent out of shape? no one is forcing you to buy one.

  • bitbit

    seriously, what good is it to make a sustainable, locally sourced, high-quality, environmentally-friendly device if no one can afford it? doesn't that defeat the whole purpose? with an extremely limited run like this, along with that insane price point… any pro-local economy / pro environment impact you intend to have will be negligible at best, limited by the small run & the extreme cost of manufacturing.

    i'm still processing the $500 for 2 knobs, tho… to even ask that amount… that either takes some enormous balls, enormous contempt for your customers, or an enormous amount of self-delusion. i'm really not sure which it is.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/polite/ Polite

    I do love how those controllers were responding in the video. I have the feeling that those knobs probably have a bit of weight to them and respond more akin to a couple of turntables in a smaller form factor. I've seen some very intuitive effects controls using large rotatry style encoders which were much more usable than a simple knob. I think that's where the value of this comes through. I may be wrong though.

  • http://noisepages.com/members/polite/ Polite

    bitbit: what do you mean 'no one can afford it'? Of course people can afford it. They'll pay for it. What you mean is that not everyone can afford it. Not everyone can afford anything, what is the point of anything in that case? :P

  • http://www.robpointer.com rob pointer

    Hey LMFAO – Good thing you don't have to buy it, nor is anyone else forced to.

    Choice is good. 

    What some of the criticisms miss above about this unit is that the value add is in the way applications are built for it. It is the ecosystem of usage – and the potential creative application for it that can't be envisioned yet that give it its value.

    Finally, i think it is a very smart thing to do small runs where you can test anything you have set out for it before you commit to even larger runs.

    There is nothing wrong with that. Monome could charge $10k for it, that's their prerogative and no one is forced to buy it – and more importantly, there is nothing wrong that either.

    Don't like it, don't buy it. But that doesn't make your analysis of the unit any more valid than for someone who comes to a reason why it is worth it for them.

    There seems to be a lot of unnecessary criticism above for their new product that doesn't make sense to me.

  • *sniff

    CDM cry fest…

  • http://soundcloud.com/automaticthoughts AutomaticThoughts

    Wow. This is epic. Almost like when the monome first came out.

    Well, I wont be buying one of these either, but I'm all for the monome folks. I built two 64s and I'm working on a 128. All built with boards sourced from places outside of the US, sadly.

    But that's what I can afford and I probably would not be performing my craft live if it weren't for the monome folks and their generosity in making the plans open source, as well as the community for writing Sooooo many beautiful patches and apps, so I am forever indebted.

    I must reiterate that they have seen NONE of my money and I am a fan.

  • gunboatD

    @lmfao

    "I might even consider chowing down on my own turd nuggets if even the led-ring apps can’t be used effectively just as well on a bcr2000, but that’s a grey area – don’t hold me to that."

    enough with the behringer! it's OK to say you dont understand the purpose of the Arc and it's your right to dismiss it out of hand. But you keep comparing it to BCR2000 and they are completely different products with different markets and functions (and the LEDs are decoupled from the knobs on the Arc, unlike the BCR). you get what you put into the arc; it's a simple as that. if you dont have the chops to program for one, then you obviously dont need one. hopefully people can see that you should not be using this to control the level and pan of your master fader in your Live project.

    like the monome, the Arc is a blank slate that gives you an opportunity to look anew at your own compositions and workflow. some people want to experiment in a way that you or i cannot conceive and this product is for them. for those of us who are still using knobs to twiddle the ADSR of our FM8 while we make our mad beatz, we have the BCR2000.

  • lmfao

    gunboatd

    I don't 'keep' comparing it to the BCR2K.

    I did that only once. And it wasn't really a comparison, more a glib reduction of the Arcs LED-ring for the sake of affect.

    Back to my original point though, to which no one has yet offered a significant contradiction : The extra resolution is moot, as far as applications go – regular ole push-button encoders will do just as well – or I will eat my own shit. Though the knob has been made 'large' to make use of/justify the extra resolution. The only thing of worth is the LED ring.

    Which isn't unique nor is it a pioneering implentation or re-invention, and this is no irony, mass produced controllers like the BCR2K have already implemented such leds for years and more recently – and more importantly – LIVID CODE offers a open source, locally produced, hand crafted, programmable offering in this regard. 32 Encoders that serve as buttons, addressable LED rings, and 13 led-buttons. For $51 less than the OBSCENE arc.

    For the sake of argument, even hyperbole, I wouldn't be surprised if someone hacked their bcr2k to effectively work with any upcoming arc apps. But it's pretty much a forgone conclusion that the Livid Code certainly will do the job just as well – better even – than the arc itself.

    Ultimately what annoys me about this development is the phoney, grandiose praise for design or it's intentionally reduced simplicity. And in doing so the tacit justification of the price point. Sorry, but if you want to live in the woods with your cats and vintage keyboards get a JOB like everyone else or EARN your crust through HONEST labour, not crass endeavours in the artist's domain.

    For the record I've built & bought monomes (and still own them, never re-sold for profit).

    but all the worst aspects of the original monome's inception (both the device, the excessive credit, and the worst characteristics of the community) have increased a thousand fold with this ARC development.

    Fool + money = parted

  • http://www.inoutfest.org active

    i think this may give extra functionality from computer to modular synth. maybe i'm wrong, but the higher then midi resolution at least gives a small step forward in that direction. but again, modulars are just expensive toys that you can get for free when you hack ableton/reason. 

  • GreaterThanZero

    @LMAO,

    It all ties together.  The large encoder creates the requirement for its resolution, and vice versa.  I think the LED ring is an appropriate size, and that decisions about the encoder were informed by that.

    Certainly a smaller knob between thumb and forefinger could send similar signals, but that doesn't facilitate a whole lot of subtlety expression, as the physical action required of you is sort of clumsy.

    Some of the apps we've been brainstorming do rely on that, and would be better served by even larger encoders.  Would they still function without that?  Sure.  If you've got compatible hardware, I'm certain you could use the apps.  Whether you'll see their value is another matter.

    …but how we plan to interact with the object is what inspires those apps, and like I said, there are a few that wouldn't come to fruition had those corners been cut.  They'd be usable on something else, but only if the app developers saw reason to build them in the first place, y'know?

    It's all very circular.

  • GreaterThanZero

    aargh!  "subtlety of expression" or "subtle expression" – not "sublety expression"!

    it's a shame I can't edit my typos, and/or type.

  • http://www,alphanerdproductions.com TheAlphaNerd

    I think the main thing that hasn't been discussed in here at length is the beauty of the protocol.  The beauty of said protocol lays in its simplicity.

    Please name one controller on the market that allows you to communicate with it at a near serial level?  The way in which the arc has been developed allows us developers to work with the controller at a nearly direct level… unlike midi which creates an unneeded buffer between you and the controller by forcing you to follow midi compliance.  That is unless you want to go through the serial communication of the device, hack it, and write your own serial -> osc drivers.

    Perhaps you will be able to emulate anything that the arc could do with another encoder in software… but you are completely missing the big picture.  LATENCY!!!  This is the same reason why the launchpad / livid is still not as good as a monome even if emulation exists…

    You -> Serial -> Midi -> OSC -> Softare -> OSC -> Midi -> Serial -> You

    Those extra two steps take a toll both on the response to your touch, and the response in visual feedback.  

    When you are dealing with application that are time sensitive… such as "music", the additional latency could potentially render the entire system useless… or at the very least not nearly as responsive.

    Cost is a moot point… if Brian and Kelly really needed the money for their crystal power boat they would be trying to find a way to mass produce proprietary technology…

    The first run of the ARC is going to be 100 units.  Lets say that the mark up (profit) of the unit is 50% (which is most definitely a ludicrous and untrue figure)… monomes entire profit for the run of 100 units is $32,500… not really that impressive of a sum.  I would go as far as to say that this would not even be enough money to physically pay Brian and Kelly for the time and energy they have put into the device.

    They have designed it from the ground up, including a full protocol and back end software THAT WORKS!!!!

    At the end of the day though people are short sited… I can't wait to see some of you eating shit when you see all the awesome stuff we make :D :D ;D

    Fwiw I will 100% be an early adopter!

  • goofy priest

    imfao

    it seems very strange indeed to assume the people who do buy this are fools being duped. couldn't it be they see something in it that you don't?

    why does it bother you so much that people have a different opinion than you?

    curious stuff.

  • bliss

    @Peter Kirn

    It was more of an observation than an opinion. Remember when you could go to RadioShack to buy parts if you wanted to build a radio? You could build a satellite dish. You could also shop there for parts to make patch cords. Can't do that anymore, it's basically a carbon copy of Wal-Mart's consumer electronics section.

    As far as I can tell, the majority of stuff that middle-class American people buy today is manufactured elsewhere in the world. Clothing, shoes, dishes, utensils, tools, electronics, you name it. China, Taiwan, Japan, India, Singapore, Pakistan, Mexico… you name it, but how often do you see "Made In USA" anymore? Rarely. I bought my Mackie monitors in 1998, and they bear the "Made In USA" badge, but the most recent upgraded versions of the same model bear "Manufactured In China". It doesn't mean that they're inferior quality, but it does highlight the mindset of many US companies today. Profit first, quality second, local economy dead last.

    On a slightly different note, you don't see Made-In-USA Matchbox cars anymore. China. 99% of the toys the kids in my family received this year were made in China. The other 1% was represented by Japan.

    So, while we Americans still tend to buy American brands, when we do we also are simultaneously supporting foreign manufacturing, in most cases. I know someone who recently bought a Chevrolet Cruze. This person has bought Chevrolet for the past 30 years — and I didn't have the heart to say that the car is Korean under the hood. Yeah, we are spending money – borrowed money – but local economies are nowhere near as robust as they used to be when local economies were supported by U.S. manufacturing jobs. Now – most people find work in service industries. "Hello, how may I help you?" And a lot of those jobs are being taken over by software robots. Have you called the phone or gas company lately? Also, those jobs are not anywhere near as secure or well-paying as the manufacturing jobs once were.

    Anyway, I could write a book, but I suppose you get the point now.

  • lmfao

    @thealphanerd

    LIVID CODE is a class compliant usb device.

    there is no drivers or software 'go between'

    Your latency argument = invalid

    Not to mention the firmware is open source too…

    Regarding the faecal dinners – that will be IF said apps aren't workable on any old push-button encoder (providing the led isn't employed), or the LIVID CODE if the led is employed.

    That's a promise!

    goofypriest

    I know I said a fool & their money are easily parted but that's hardly singling anyone out for their opinion…besides offering rebuttals to arguments here and there, I've not been bothered by other people's opinions. In fact all I'm doing here is offering my own opinion on this obscenely priced device.

    Maybe it's you who's bothered by my opinion ? Curiouser & curiouser.

    The only upside to this whole thing is the LIVID CODE now seems positively brilliant value for money in comparison.

  • goofy priest

    "I know I said a fool & their money are easily parted but that’s hardly singling anyone out for their opinion"

    that's true, you pretty much cover anyone stupid enough to buy one, not any individual.

  • Peter Kirn

    @bliss: No, that's correct, at least in part. However, you're still looking at a huge portion of a many-trillion-dollar GDP. So what you're really seeing is that part of the economy has moved overseas. A bit part remains, and it's a mistake to ignore that part.

    What we really don't have in the US is electronics fab – and that's an epidemic problem in other places, too. We're desperately dependent on China for that. The monome is certainly not entirely made in the USA; nowhere close. That said, there's no excuse not to do assembly, housing, etc. locally, and because of the nature of that stage of the process, it can have an impact on quality and environmental impact – if you want it to, anyway.

  • GreaterThanZero

    I believe Livid Code is still class-compliant MIDI over USB, which is every bit as slow as MIDI without USB.  The problem is with MIDI itself; not the five-pin cables, adapters, etc.  It's not a hardware issue.  The MIDI protocol has a bandwidth throttle built into it, and class compliance means you don't exceed that.

  • lmfao

    @goofy

    you said I was bothered by other people's opinions. That's simply not the case. All I'm doing here is offering my own. Suck it up big boy.

    @Greaterthanzen

    the class compliant remark was directed at alphanerd, maybe read his post to see the relevance.

    As far as latency is considered – lmfao – looking forward to seeing these apps that make use of the theoretical milliseconds speed advantage.

    It's gonna be wild seeing these apps make use of the pointless extra resolution AND pointlessly better latency.

    Like I said – it's all about the LED.

    And for $500 I'd rather the LIVID CODE with enough change left over for a hooker.

  • http://www.inoutfest.org active

    lmafo – i think you could be a little less offensive, especially on that last comment. 

  • http://www.alphanerdproductions.com thealphanerd

    Seems like this thread is living under a bridge infested with trolls… I'm done

  • lmfao

    Wow. One hooker quip and the vegan feminists revolt.

    No wonder you're so smitten with this thing.

  • GreaterThanZero

    I read his post and got the relevancy.  Perhaps you did not?

    MIDI based devices are problematically laggy running monome apps.  The display falls behind under the load of so many state changes, and that's typically just 64 LEDs, with only two possible states (on and off).

    Arc apps will update 2x or 4x as many LEDs as that, and I'm expecting state changes to happen at much higher density.  ie, there will be constant movement, where monome apps typically don't change their display for entire 16th notes at a time.

    Livid Code could conceivably match this, with a complete firmware rewrite.  Much as the Novation Launchpad could be as responsive as the monome, plus color.  But, I don't see anyone working on that.

    Without giving the Livid Code a direct OSC retrofit, you're going to lose the challenge you issued here quickly and decisively.  And while nobody wants to see you violate every health regulation ever conceived, I do hope that you're ready to make good on your word.

  • lmfao

    like I said greaterthan, let's wait to see these apps. My challenge is based purely on what's going to be delivered not what's hypothetically possible – and ultimately pointless when it comes to making music.

    with the osc advantages I can see nice light shows with the arc led, but as far as useful applications are concerned I don't think the LED tricks will be all that complicated, or all that super-fast. Certainly not by necessity.

    I'm guessing moving start & end points will be mostly what's employed, the leds between those points don't need specific instructions to turn on or off.

    Time gentlemen please.

  • GreaterThanZero

    If you're asking for the benefit of the doubt that nothing will come of this, I think that logic is recursively twisted.  Have a little faith in the community; we're pretty good at this.

    And let me turn this around as well:

    What *isn't* pointless when it comes to making music?

  • http://soundcloud.com/automaticthoughts Automatic

    Now I'm really interested in what kind of music LMFAO makes ;-)

    I mean it's a totally subjective thing like any art form, but hey man can we get a link to some tunes?

    …and I'm NOT buying one of these things, it's like a whole months rent for me out here in Indiana, but I would say the monome community is QUITE proven in its ability to turn something seemingly pointless into something omni-useful. In a relatively short amount of time.

  • clarity

    yeah I second that! after reading all this and knowing the music of a handful in the thread, I'd love to hear some lmfao tracks…..

  • lmfao

    @greaterthanzen

    is english your native language ?

    you have intentionally misunderstood and skipped context a few times by now.

    I have not said ''nothing will come of this'' , I have said that what WILL come of this WILL be just as functional with any old push-button encoder (precluding led-emphasised apps), and when the led is employed they will be just as functional on the likes of the LIVID CODE….and regarding the led I said i *wouldn't be surprised* if someone managed to get their bvcr2k to be compatible.

    I dont want to repeat myself again, so at least have the common courtesy to read my posts properly before offering your reply.

    regarding your ''what *isn't* pointless when it comes to music'' response.

    Come on. stop saying words for the sake of it.

    You were going on about the bandwith involved in illuminating the leds individually. Ya, I concede you'll get some nice light shows that way – but I have serious doubts they will have ANY musical purpose.

    either respond to that point directly, or don't bother responding at all.

  • lmfao

    and before you offer some rebuttal on the wording of that, please realise I've already made my point clear – that the bandwith available to a class complliant usb/midi device will be more than enough for *musical* uses of the led ring.

  • lmfao

    @automatic

    I'll concede that my opinion on this device/development isn't what you'd call 'positive' , but for the love of god you were taught english at school so try employing it here.

    You seem to just be focusing on the fact my opinion isn't positive – not the WHYs

    when the monome came out, despite the fact a matrix of buttons wasn't conceptually brand brand new, no one else had anything similar or functionally compatible on the market. no one…

    this arc is nowhere in the same league as that development. the arc is a push-button encoder.

    a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very expensive push-button encoder. two of them, granted, but valued at $250 each.

    there's the distinction. chew on it for a while, maybe read my posts again. then decide if you've got a response worthy of posting. and by all means post it.

  • jul

    less is more.

  • jul
  • lmfao

    Fascinating stuff jul.

    Although maybe you should try and use the fleshy thing between your ears. No one is arguing over the merits of the design. It's the design/price ratio that's inspiring discussion here.

    See what you can google in that regard and get back to us, you little genius you.

  • colors

    "inspiring discussion" … You know damn well there's no discussion happening here, you sound like a child.  Insulting people over something like this.  Makes any point moot…

  • lmfao

    I sound like a child ?

    You sound like you've got nothing to say.

  • http://www.robpointer.com Rob Pointer

    "It’s the design/price ratio that’s inspiring discussion here."

    The problem with your opinion is that you don't – or can't – know the ratio yet.

    The applications haven't been written and the use hasn't been defined.

    So, while you harp on the apparent minutiae of the construction and materials, you willfully ignore the bigger picture of possible value that has yet to be determined.

    This is surprising from someone who has invested time into a monome – you know, that box that is just full of stupid useless unlabeled buttons that light up. You know, worthless at any price because what the hell is useful about that? (/snark)

    For that matter, why even buy ANYTHING if you must pay for the parts and and the construction effort alone? Or are we starting to border on the idea that things are worth only what is put into them to construct? You know, there is a name for that kind of philosophy: It is called Marxism.

    but anyway… lol

  • goofy priest

    "No one is arguing over the merits of the design.'

    well if it's price alone at issue then there is one argument alone which will definitively settle it.

    the market place.

    if it sells it's worth it. maybe not for you. but for those who choose it. a design's value is not measured by the cost of material + labor. get over it. niche markets don't have to please everyone. even you. thank god for that.

  • http://appunderground.net justin

    i love everyone standing up for this silly thing!  if you guys could just step back for a second and think about it you would realize how dumb this thing is.

    if you needed a led ringed knob so badly i would assume you would have bought one already.

    like lmfao said:

    fool+money=parted

    this is the finest comsumerism ive seen in a while.  great job being good little americans! buy buy buy buy buy.  

    I NEED A SUPER AWESOME KNOB TO MAKE GOOD MUSIC!!!

    fools…

  • goofy priest

    i'm curious if the those criticizing the price have ever tried to develop something for the market place?

    i'll assume you haven't because you sound too ridiculous to have had any experience.

    your either too young or too used to being spectators. my hat goes off to all those out there pushing ideas and making stuff happen. this may or may not turn out to be a home run for them. i have no idea. that's beyond my ability to understand. but i'm glad they are trying.

  • http://www.robpointer.com Rob Pointer

    And of course, I think Justin missed the point entirely.

    But I'm also not surprised by the blatant misfired critique about consumerism (as though it is a bad thing we have a marketplace of products and choices and money to spend on those things should we wish).

    the arguments being paraded here border on parody. The idea that you can determine the "worth" of something without knowing what value it will bring yet is amazingly obtuse.

    They've priced it the way it fits their model. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they've factored in demand for the unit and it doesn't include folks like LMFAO and Justin because you dismiss the thing as not of value to you under any circumstance.

    But there are others that will find that use – even better, create the use via their own custom solution.

    I also think it is acutely funny that you are arguing for the lowest common denominator here that borders on entitlement. You don't like it, you don't have to buy it.

    Simple as that. But to call others fools for considering it only reveals more about yourself and your limited view on this particular effort than it does about the product itself.

    Carry on. There is a behringer product calling your name somewhere, I'm sure. lol

  • Peter Kirn

    Hi, everybody! Just thought I'd come butt in. It's rude, but … I pay the server bill and have an admin account, so I get to do that.

    Well, I was feeling chilly here in NY, so I'm glad I can warm my hands by the flames of … this thread!

    Can I gently suggest that people do … oh… anything else? Some ideas:

    http://noisepages.com/

    We're finally ready to begin the next round of development on our community site. If you're really in love with your Behringer gear – here's the nice thing about this – you could start a little group for it and have threads with other users. Then you don't have to have monome owners trash-talking you while you trash-talk them. monome users of course already have a fantastic monome forum, but if you've ever dreamed of a non-monome-specific "grid" forum, or "grid controllers and tasty burrito recipes for music production break" group, now you can make one. 

    If you want more flames, you could even make a little "No, Tell Me How You Really Feel" blog on the site, or group!

    There are likely to be some rough edges, so you can flame us here at CDM to tell us what's wrong. Just make sure to include some details. Otherwise, be as mean as you want – I'm used to it. I've lived on the Internet a long, long time.

    Got an idea for a story you think CDM should cover instead of the Arc? A question you want to ask Brian? Hit up the comment form. I listen – seriously. (sometimes you have to tell me more than once, but then I try to listen!)

    And remember, music making is fun. Probably both sides are right, on some level, you're just putting it in terms that make it sound like something is really horrible here. 

    Also – replying to something that's trolling with something attacking the troll is called "feeding the troll." See how the thread then grows? Sadly, since I'm not paid by the comment, does me and you no good.

    Thus concludes this Public Service Announcement. Further flames can be directed at me, though I suggest you email rather than comment, or you might break someone's scroll wheel!

  • goofy priest

    amen. sorry i got sucked in

  • jon doe

    Is is just me, or does Monome seem shady about their prices? I can't help but think they make a ridiculous amount of profit. Especially with all this limited series stuff…

  • lmfao

    JD

    it's not just you. You gotta remember their relaxed lifestyle in the countryside is part of each unit's cost. If you want to see shady check out their forum. They need only announce something, and before details or spec are released the pages are covered with users tripping over themselves to kiss ass and say "I'm buying this" or "oh dear, how am I gonna explain this to the wife" or "damn, gonna have to use some of my 256 savings for this"… They are literally printing money.

    It's quite fascinating actually, from a group psychology perspective.

  • greaterthanzero

    "Ya, I concede you’ll get some nice light shows that way – but I have serious doubts they will have ANY musical purpose."

    That's actually the point that I paraphrased to read "nothing will come of this".  You accused me of making that up and then scolded me for not addressing the very thing I was saying.  So, can we back up a bit?  It was a simple misunderstanding, and it happened on your end.

    (Note me not attacking your reading and comprehension skills.  Please show the same courtesy.)

    It has nothing to do with light shows, and everything to do with dynamic visual interfaces.  (context-based division markers to help you gauge longer distance jumps, pattern grids, menus, oscillating time indicators, etc.)  

    Simply moving a cursor around requires, at minimum, two LED changes at every redraw.  And you're right — if that's the only visual aspect of our interface, arc's the wrong gear.  But it won't be.  Most of the designs we've been discussing will require sending more bits of information to the display, many times per second.

    Meanwhile, information is transmitted more often in the other direction, with or without an accompanying visual update.

    We're going to make apps that use the LEDS and the speed of OSC vs MIDI, in ways that serve musical purpose.  

    You'll probably have a chance to run them on other hardware, such as the LIVID CODE.  Whether that's worth doing without a firmware-based OSC retrofit has yet to be seen, but I'm thinking "no".

    My other question was not "saying words for the sake of it".  It's pretty much the crux of this debate.

    What is actually *required* to make music?  Honestly consider the question.  Any feature you can point to on any device is optional, costs extra, but is worth it to some people.  

    Sometimes, those features define a device.  They're still optional, and they still cost extra.

    Does the monome even need LEDs?  Not for triggering one-shots.

    Does an MPC need to be velocity sensitive?  Plenty of users disable velocity.

    Does a trumpet need valves or a mouthpiece?  Not if you're bashing it into a tree.

    Does the arc need a large high resolution encoder?  Not if you're only controlling numbers that range from 0-127.

    Does the arc need to set brightness levels individually for each LED?   Not for some apps.

    Does the arc need LEDs at all?  Depends on the apps.  But if you don't use any that take advantage, who needs 'em?

    Should the arc have any of these features if you don't care about them?  Well, that depends whether someone else is able to benefit.  You don't have any use for an arc, but maybe they do.

    You seem to feel that no apps we create will take advantage of arc's potential in any musically useful way.  And I repeat:  "Have a little faith in the community; we’re pretty good at this."

  • http://www.edisonsdemo.tumblr.com edison

    still no audio clips lmfao?

  • lmfao

    ======================

    ======================

    "Ya, I concede you’ll get some nice light shows that way – but I have serious doubts they will have ANY musical purpose.”

    That’s actually the point that I paraphrased to read “nothing will come of this”. You accused me of making that up and then scolded me for not addressing the very thing I was saying. So, can we back up a bit? It was a simple misunderstanding, and it happened on your end.

    ======================

    ======================

    Oh contraire, if you're paraphrasing I believe the misunderstanding is your fault. Not that there was one anyways, as 'nothing will come of this' is not an accurate way to paraphrase what I said. We've gone through this already, I'm not saying the apps won't be made – I'm saying the truly musical useful ones will easily be compatible with pedestrian push-button encoders (sans led apps) or the likes of the LIVID CODE for this with led-emphasis. And I said I wouldn't be surprised if the bcr2k was hacked to function with led-emphasised apps too. Lets not go on the merry-go-round a second time.

    ======================

    ======================

    (Note me not attacking your reading and comprehension skills. Please show the same courtesy.)

    ======================

    ======================

    You don't need to attack my comprehension skills, they're bang on. I'm not saying your comprehension skills aren't up to scratch either – but for whatever reason you've been paraphrasing erroneously. I'm not concerned why.

    ======================

    ======================

    It has nothing to do with light shows, and everything to do with dynamic visual interfaces. (context-based division markers to help you gauge longer distance jumps, pattern grids, menus, oscillating time indicators, etc.)

    Simply moving a cursor around requires, at minimum, two LED changes at every redraw. And you’re right — if that’s the only visual aspect of our interface, arc’s the wrong gear. But it won’t be. Most of the designs we’ve been discussing will require sending more bits of information to the display, many times per second.

    ======================

    ======================

    sure, and while there might be nice flourishes that won't be recreatable by the other led-encoders currently available, I'm still maintaining that what's musically necessary to successfully interact with these apps will be provided by the LIVID CODE…$51 cheaper for 30 extra push-button interactive-led encoders.

    ======================

    ======================

    Meanwhile, information is transmitted more often in the other direction, with or without an accompanying visual update.

    We’re going to make apps that use the LEDS and the speed of OSC vs MIDI, in ways that serve musical purpose.

    ======================

    ======================

    Again – see: flourish VS function

    ======================

    ======================

    You’ll probably have a chance to run them on other hardware, such as the LIVID CODE. Whether that’s worth doing without a firmware-based OSC retrofit has yet to be seen, but I’m thinking “no”.

    ======================

    ======================

    time will tell

    ======================

    ======================

    My other question was not “saying words for the sake of it”. It’s pretty much the crux of this debate.

    What is actually *required* to make music? Honestly consider the question. Any feature you can point to on any device is optional, costs extra, but is worth it to some people.

    Sometimes, those features define a device. They’re still optional, and they still cost extra.

    Does the monome even need LEDs? Not for triggering one-shots.

    ======================

    ======================

    you're obfuscating, and I won't entertain it.

    ======================

    ======================

    You seem to feel that no apps we create will take advantage of arc’s potential in any musically useful way. And I repeat: ”Have a little faith in the community; we’re pretty good at this.”

    ======================

    ======================

    Not at all. You know, maybe your comprehension skills really are sub-par. But I'm just inclined to believe your blinded by your fanatacism.

    And I repeat: "The apps made that employ the led ring in a musically useful way, will just as easily be controlled with MUCH better value controllers like the LIVID CODE. Everything else will be a flourish."

  • Automatic

    Just let him have the last word folks.

    He's obviously an acne-laden 16 year-old with no life.

    Now let us all go make some nice music with buttons and knobs and let him blow off some of that teen angst. We've all been there ;-)

  • Automatic

    …Wait… no…

    Hey this might actually be Tehn…

    LMFAO? is that you Brian?

    Good one! You had us going for a while!

  • GreaterThanZero

    The part where we're going in circles is this:

    Your assumptions about how the LED ring will be used are not in line with what I have planned for it.  I don't do flourish.

    Perhaps you feel you have considered all possible interfaces, or perhaps you believe I will fail to produce one of musical value.  In either case, you're mistaken.

    That's not fanaticism.  It's self confidence.

    —–

    The apps and primitives that I'm in pre-production on, I hope will be usable on other platforms, as this increases the potential user base and gives my work greater value.  But knowing the specs, and knowing where I'm going with it, I don't have high hopes for an equivalent device emerging on the MIDI side.

    Someone could rewrite CODE's firmware, but a more realistic option would be to make the LED rings an onscreen component of your emulator, not reliant on MIDI at all for the visual interface.  (That will solve a lot of the problem, at a livable cost to ease-of-use.)

    So then you've got a low-res encoder.  It's not the end of the world, but you do potentially lose the correlation developers are expecting between the numbers we receive vs the speed and distance that your fingers have traveled.  Each user will probably have to fine-tune some variables in the emulator, or everyone will have to agree to use the same encoder as one another.  In fact, sticking with the the same encoder that arc's got might help, but it still won't be exact, because…

    MIDI still sucks for this.  Could you just buy an arduino and run your encoder through that?  Is that so hard?  Come on.

    Otherwise, your movements aren't sampled often enough, and while the emulator might be fairly close in its interpolative guesswork, it is guesswork.  

    (These being offset values instead of absolute voltage, it's not like the motion curve clicks back into place, creating an accurate but jagged representation.  Dropping resolution in this context means you'll have a very smooth curve that may or may not describe the same shape at all.)

    Again, a very clever team might get close, but an easier, more straightforward solution is "for the love of god, don't use MIDI to report encoder use!"

    Still, virtualizing the LED rings and forgoing precision (and/or going with a similar encoder and a non-MIDI processor) should get you most of the way there with most apps, at a fraction of the cost.

    That might be sufficient.  The alternatives you've laid out would not be.

    …which is a shame for you, if you were hoping to win that bet.

  • lmfao

    wrong again. there is no single point that you're insisting on regurgitating over and over again, it's the whole thing. Between erroneous paraphrasing, or simply saying the exact same shit again and again – it's tired now.

    I've made my point clear, you can say what you like, but not until the apps are out will any of it hold any real meaning.

    GODSPEED.

  • http://www.robpointer.com Rob Pointer

    "I’ve made my point clear, you can say what you like, but not until the apps are out will any of it hold any real meaning."

    FWIW, this also applies to your whole argument about value as well.

    Physician, heal thyself. lol

  • GreaterThanZero

    @lmfao,

    This disconnect is the point.

    You don't know what I'm making; just that every aspect you care about will be easily replicated on another device.

    I, in turn, can't know for sure that what I'm making will meet your standards of value, because when I asked about your standards, you told me I was obfuscating the point.

    I described the challenges that replicating my work will entail, and offered solutions.  You tell me I'm regurgitating the same point.

    Neither one of us can say anything definitively until apps are out.  But we could have held productive discourse if you weren't so resistant.

    It is tired.  

    I'm glad you're done talking to me.

    See ya.