aleph.

  • aaaaaaaaaaaa!

  • can you hear a pin dropping...

  • couldn't get the live cast to work here, so all i saw was the vimeo video... and let's just say that it didn't really explain much to me. looks cool as hell, but maybe i am dim.

    the track sounded very Laurie Anderson-ish. nice!

  • anybody has any shots of the back panel?

  • page is live,

  • ok! posted. thank you all for the kind words. i'm exhausted and happy.

  • lots of reading i know. please ask questions so we can clarify. will have random internet access for a couple hours.

  • is there only one USB port on it?
    so only grid or arc can be connected, but not both?

  • usb hub.

  • http://monome.org/aleph-detail

    may not be totally obvious at the bottom.

  • so grateful you exist in this world!!!

    e + b + k = <3

  • So excited!! Amazing, simply, amazing.

  • so here is how i convinced my brain to go ahead with this...

    i needed a new computer
    i only use my laptop for music
    aleph was designed from the ground up to do what even a new mbp couldnt
    it uses an open, adaptable framework
    and it was handmade

  • thank you so much for making a tool like this!

  • ok, got mine, go ahead and tell everybody!

  • man, it certainly sounds great, and my imagination is running wild...
    BUT 1400 is a lot for me at the moment, and i am afraid i can't pull the trigger today.
    :-(

  • Ooh. I like being wrong! Don't know why I put so much effort into avoiding it; this feels good.

  • i'm in too...so excited! thank you brian, ezra, kelli.

  • "...in the immediate future we will use ii for inter-aleph communication..."

    very interested in hearing more about ii.

  • just reading through everything and trying to work it all out :)

    one question: when the aleph is running an app is it one at a time? or is it possible to run, say, a sequencer app at the same time as a synth app that feeds into an effect app?

    trying to work out how much this is designed as a self contained system vs a super-flexible piece in the chain. apologies if this is in the details text somewhere!

  • chin up karaokaze...hope you grab one in the next run

  • I wonder how much it would take to enable Aleph as Chuckintosh?

  • yeah, definitely congratulations are in order to the E+B+K team!

    and meanwhile, like Raja, i too will cry myself to sleep.

  • God, what a beautifully realised instrument. The possibilities are endless. Congrats brian, kelli, ezra and all.

    Sadly, I doubt I'll be able to afford one unless my circumstances change dramatically, but I'm still really excited to see what delightful uses it's put to.

  • looks awesome, seriously. i can't wait to see more monome+aleph video.

  • hi guys, just to clarify @markeats and @karaokaze, this thing can run one application at a time. some applications are very single-minded (like a dedicated hardware unit), and at least one is extremely flexible, able to dynamically load different DSP patches and controller routings (think like AUlab or even Max.) aleph might replace your setup depending on how complex it is, but it is more likely to be a valuable and versatile team player.

  • thanks for the support! we have a pretty short reach and would be deeply appreciative of any aggregate energy you could help send out! selling out is a lofty goal at this point!

  • Nice! I'm at out of city right now as well and on a slowwwww wi-fi connection, so can only enjoy the details about on the aleph page. Won't be purchasing, but sounds like a great place to start programming.

    Document the coding process and I will make it my priority!

  • What to sell? What to sell?

  • really interested in this; ready to preorder one right now. but...three concerns:

    1. application support. i remember that at launch, the arc didn't really offer any apps, and it still doesn't seem to have taken off the way the monome did, as far as variety or standalone-ness goes. before committing to the aleph, i really want to know what will be available, and what's possible -- i.e. is learning C the only way to create apps.

    2. usable onboard RAM for samples. sample playback was mentioned, so mlr/mpc-style apps seem possible, but only if there's sufficient memory to buffer them. if there's only 64MB RAM, that's not enough to load more than one or two songs at a time, without having to go back and slowly stream from the SD card.

    3. OS integration. vst/au was mentioned, as was the fact that it's developed in a linux environment. i assume it runs embedded linux of some kind, given the blackfin chip. but will the userspace tools and complementary plugins only be available to mac/win folks? i still run a mixed mac/linux environment at home, and prefer to do anything in linux that i possibly can. i'd be pretty sad if there's only support for mac/win DAWs -- if that's what "bees" does.

    * * *

    despite these reservations, i'm very excited about the device. as i'm (finally) learning how to use my mpc1000, i'm discovering the joys of not relying on the computer and a painstakingly laid-out DAW session. anything that offers offline performance/composition gets my attention, and very possibly my wallet.

    i'm at a crossroads. i can lock myself into one DAW/OS by picking up live 9 + Push for a bit more hands-free workflow, or for a bit more cash i can go for aleph + my existing hardware/software tools.

  • Might I recommend adding a link here?
    http://monome.org/devices/



  • Not that I would want to but, If I pre order, will canceling beforehand be possible? (Basically, I should have the money but it is enough that I can't be completely sure.)

    I would just wait and see but I kinda want to get in early enough to help guide the platform if I can. I have been working toward a couple projects that could be fun to implement here.

  • 1. i take it the aleph supports class-compliant udb-midi devices, such as an mpd?

    i can imagine using this thing hooked up to a monome, mpd18, and nanokontrol.

    2. can those patch points on the top of the device be looped back into each other?

    similar to how some of those circuit-bent NES and digital drum machines work, where you further glitch them out by changing their signal flow with an onboard patchbay.

  • So, am I right that you cannot load existing max patches onto the device? As in, I can't use "Plane" as a step sequencer for a modular synth / Tempest / whatever? there would have to be a new step sequencer written in C?

  • @Yorke:

    max/msp runs only on x86 and ppc processors inside windows and mac -- the aleph has neither chip, and doesn't run either OS. so unless someone comes up with a ridiculously lightweight and complete emulation environment to run on the blackfin, nope.

  • @ioflow

    So a new community of apps and app builders will have to be constructed around this device, all using C to program?

    It sounds like a pretty long term goal. I mean, it's exactly what happened with the monome, but with C instead of Max it seems.

  • will it be able to display the Vin/out like an oscilloscope?

  • @Yorke:

    yup, so it seems -- and that was a concern i raised in an earlier comment. the last thing i usually want to do is learn to program in a low-level language. i'd rather just make music. but if there aren't any apps that do what i want to do...

  • congrats on the launch, brian and ezra :)

    curious, did you end up using libmonome for the monome support?

  • ill be pre ordering tomorrow, (hopefully), just got off work and the banks closed to add more funds to the internet acct. as a hardware guy that's switched over to computer recording, have to say this is unreal. unlimited expandability, a really nice dsp, and a really good community behind it. I believe this will take off and bring the monomer with it. I can see apps being created for monomer to really make aleph go. arpeggiator apps, new sequencers. ect.
    ioflow, if you want a push ill sell ya mine for cheap, lol. first, you need pxt-live to assign 64 sample to your pads, also gives you ml(ive)r type chopping, butyou lose user mode making youre plug ins uncontrollable, (pads play, but cant assign anything to your rotary knobs, basically made to run abletons packs only). I also find myself messing with the scales way to much to find the correct note combinations since its set to major as a standard for each track.

  • ordered! couldn't pass this up as Aleph is integrating all the musical devices I own (modular, monome, arc, midi-equipment, guitar, microphone) into one monster sound environment without the need of a computer. the fact that it's an open development environment is the icing on the cake. excited for sure!

  • @ioflow: thanks for the in-depth and on-point questions. i have some responses and we will probably be addressing these and other important concerns in future revisions of the FAQ.

    1) i must reject the comparison to the arc, which of course is a computer controller and an extremely specialized one, best used (i think) in conjunction with other controllers or in individually idiosyncratic ways. aleph is a very different thing. it does indeed run bare-metal applications written in C; i have spent a lot of time over the last 3 years developing low-level firmware, mid-level drivers and schedulers, and both high and low-level audio processing routines. every component of the system has been thoroughly tested. only in the last few weeks have we been ready to really push the possibilities of application development, and in that short time i've made some things that i have sorely missed in the commercial music tech world, things that i can use with all the immediacy and reliability of dedicated hardware. we are very excited to make more things and have taken care to make the aleph's hardware eminently capable for a wide (very wide) range of use cases. i hope and believe that initial aleph users will contribute software, but i will not wait for them to do so! much more to come in the next weeks.

    2) 64MB of RAM is what it is, a few minutes of audio. this is a lot for an echo / live looper, a lot for a sample-based beat machine or keyboard, and not a lot if your performance is based on manipulating long pre-recorded tracks. personally i'm more interested in synthesis and live processing and that is the focus of development so far. (also, RAM is expensive and address space in the DSP is limited.) however, the device is open to expansion. for example, it would be challenging but relatively straightforward to implement a system that background-buffered from SD card or USB mass storage, to RAM, if that is a priority. but i would say that this not the optimal tool for the job, any more than, say, a Nord Modular, OP-1, Access Virus or Boomerang. these are all useful things but they can't play a DJ set or mix your album.

    3) aleph is not an embedded linux device. that would eat up too much processing power in this limited environment. the firmware is built from the ground up. there are two processors: an AVR32 handles UI and peripherals, the DSP is totally dedicated to audio processing; neither have any but the most minimal "OS" layer. there are many advantages and disadvantages to this. on the plus side, it is efficient even without aggressive code optimization (so the code we're writing is still clear and readable, and people can undertake more aggressive hand-optimization or ASM programming if they wish.) one of the disadvantages is that you cannot simply load plugins from other environments.

    when we refer to linux in the details page, we are talking about the development environment: we write code for the aleph on linux, and at ship time we will distribute a self-contained development image that mac or windows users can use with virtualization software. it is probably possible to develop natively under mac or windows, but we don't recommend trying it unless you really enjoy building toolchains from source and that kind of thing.

    "bees" is our all-purpose control application. it can swap out the running DSP modules in real-ish time, and allows the user to create and manage arbitrary networks of control processing, gluing analog/digital input to sound processing parameters and analog/digital output via arithmetic operations, time-based operations, etc, and changing routings/values interactively if desired. editing bees patches can be accomplished from the unit itself using a menu system, or from a host computer via USB or sdcard. in some ways, bees is analogous to a vst/au/lapsda host, or to a max patch (sans MSP), or to the language side of SuperCollider; likewise the aleph's DSP modules are analogous to vst/au/lapsda plugins, poly~ subpatches, or SynthDefs in supercollider. but these are only analogies.

    the unit can also swap out applications at a lower-level, from the bootloader, for users who want the device to behave in a more single-minded fashion, and/or want to squeeze every CPU cycle for control processing/scheduling. it takes about 30 seconds to switch applications in this way, so its probably not suitable for mid-performance, but thats why we have bees.

    we are also exploring various approaches to higher-level development tools; scripting and code generation. user feedback will be very useful in guiding the direction of this research. and as raj has pointed out, we have a lot of foundation work already, and will be polishing and streamlining an API for realtively easy development. i think it will actually be an excellent entry point for C programming. i should also stress that tweaking the control-side behavior, even in C, does not require touching the DSP side, and vice versa. i should also stress that we are very committed to making this instrument highly useful to non-programmers as well as developers of all levels.

    to sum up: i think its misleading to think of this device as a replacement for a DAW, VST host, or any other modern computer-based production system. think of it instead as a no-compromises approach to designing a desktop synth/effects unit with completely open software and unprecedented connectivity. the last thing we want is to mislead anyone.

    i hope this helps clarify some questions! please ask away. dont take no wooden nickels

    -ez