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New Orba Players Welcome!

Hi there and welcome to the new Orba forum!

Please introduce yourself, and let us know what you think. We’re eager to hear your thoughts. 

If you come upon an issue, the fastest way to find a solution is by contacting Though we do our best to always respond, your post in this forum could get lost in the more high-volume threads.

You can also feel free to start a new forum thread if you have an interesting discussion point. It could be about anything – the sounds, the industrial design, the app as it continues to be developed, or anything else!


Rock and roll,

Adam from Artiphon

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I received my orba a few weeks ago, and I think it's amazing. I hate that there are so many poor reviews.. I think people are expecting too much from this very cool little thing. I had no expectations, and so far I couldn't be happier with my purchase! Thank you guys for this! I will likely be ordering one or two more. :)

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I'm primarily a bass guitar player, but I have started playing with synthesis and electronic music in the last year or so, mostly using PreSonus Studio One (on Windows), since it came with the Atom pad controller. Routing things through S1, I was able yesterday to make the Orba control my Behringer Model D hardware monosynth, which was pretty entertaining.

I'd originally ordered the Orba hoping to have it for a long field training exercise I was going to be doing with the Army in April. The same factors that delayed the Orba canceled the exercise, so it worked out okay in the end. For those times when it's either portable music or no music, I'm pretty happy to have this thing, but I think it will find a place in my studio workflow, too.

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I just unboxed my Orba in the last hour.  Messing around with it now.  Hope to share thoughts and suggestions on the forum in the future.  Let's all share experiences and learn from one another.

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The harmonizaiton of the major scale is major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished. So, for the key of C it's:

C D E F G A B C -> C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim, C

For G it's:

G A B C D E F# G - > G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim, G

For F it's:

F G A Bb C D E F -> F, Gm, Am, Bb, C, Dm, Edim, F

And so on. This DOES correspond to the Nashville numbering system. The traditional chord numbering system uses roman numerals to indicate the root of the chord and upper/lower case to indicate major vs. minor like this: I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii. The Nashville numbering system uses Arabic numbers and ASSUMES that you know that the 1, 4, and 5 chords are major and that the 2,,3, and 6 chords are minor.

The numbers on the Orba also correspond to the Nashville numbering system. If you're in C Major chord mode, the 1 pad will always play a C major. The 2 pad will play a D minor, and so on. In Major mode there is only one "tricky" thing. Normally the vii (7) chord is diminished, but the diminished chord much less useful than the others. It's basically V7 (5-7th) chord with the root missing. So, for example in the key of C, the vii (7) chord is a Bdim. Bdim is the same as a G7 without the G. A much more useful chord that almost always works when you're trying to use the vii (7) chord is the V7 or maybe even better the V with it's 3rd on the bass. That's why the 7 pad on the Orba doesn't play a diminished chord. Instead it plays the V with the 3rd on the bass. In the key of C, this is a G/B (G with a B on the bass). For technical reasons this isn't exactly true. The lowest note is a G, not a B, but the B is the one that's doubled up. To summarize, the primary difference between the Orba pad numbers and traditional numbering systems is that they replace the 7dim with the 5 chord with it's 3rd on the bass. I the key of C, the 7 pad plays a G/B instead of a Bdim. In the key of G, the 7 pad plays a D/F# instead of an F#dim. In the key of F, the 7 pad plays a C/E instead of an Edim, and so on.

Harmonizing the natural minor scale is similar. For C natural minor, the chords are Cm, Ddim, Eb, Fm, Gm, Ab, Bb. Those chords can be a bit awkward to use, especially the Ddim. Once again the folks at Artiphon made a good musical choice for the chords, and once again I think they do something different with the Ddim - maybe Bb/D? I haven't had time to analyze the the major chords yet. Artiphon publishes the notes for the major chords, but not the minor chords. In theory, they should be the same, just shifted over.

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@ZUrlocker When you hit the record pad and the metronome starts, it doesn't start recording until you play a note. Then, it will record until you hit the middle menu (logo) button again, at this point it will wait until the end of the current bar and then begin looping. It's different from a guitar pedal in that it does sort of quantize this part, but not the actual playing/notes. 

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Hi, I'm really excited that the Orba will be on it's way soon!

After looking at the User Manual, I wanted to ask if the firmware update will also be available for Linux? It would be a shame if I couldn't use my Orba! :)

Cheers, and thank-you.

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Okay, 24 hours with my Orba and I have some first impressions I'll share:

Hardware Construction and Interface Usability: Great work Artiphon! 

Very thoughtful design for how users will interface with the Orba. It is a pleasure to use and the controls are intuitive and easy to learn. Feels good in the hand. The right weight for longer sessions - Not too light to feel like a toy - Not too heavy to prevent longer sessions - Just right for me.

Now, some constructive feedback and ideas for improvement: 

#1) Looper -  The looper function is a critical function of this device achieving its potential as a standalone synth. I notice that the record loop function works well however there is a noticeable delay between the end of the loop and the restart of the loop. I have recorded several loops and ensured I ended the recording immediately after playing last note. I also tried recording loops of various lengths (2 bar, 4, etc.) to see if it was a length issue. All of my results experienced a slight but noticeable delay between end of loop and restart of loop. Drums are the most noticeable instrument this occurs with, the bass chord and lead are less noticeable. This would be a priority improvement for me to be able to use Orba without the app and/or a DAW. 

#2) Quantization - I agree with others above, a Quantization feature on the device (not app) is priority because most of us don't play as well as a metronome. We need the ability to adjust directly on the device.

#3) Change key from device -  I also agree that a key change feature on the device (not app) is priority. We need to be able to select key including toggle from major to minor on the device.

#4) The Desktop and Mobile app - 

 Ok lots of work to do here. What I'd suggest first (before any effort is expended) is for Artiphon to internally consider: What you want this app to be to its users? I question whether you even need an app outside of something to push firmware updates. Who is your target market? 


- Entry level beginner musicians have almost everything (See my list above)  they need to make music directly on the great piece of hardware you've designed. The app is not adding value to this segment, other than a very small list of additional sounds, which I'm sure you intend to grow over time  however......

- The world doesn't need another sound library or DAW so why take it in that direction? Ableton, FL Studio, Garage Band etc. perform well in this space and work great with the Orba so what do you have to add here? If I want a nice ambient soothing pad vs. the chord built into Orba, I'm picking my sound from Ableton (maybe Kontakt) or if I'm using my iPad, Garage Band or Groovebox.

My main suggestion is this: Consider your target users. The way I imagine it, you have two groups of potential users: 

  • Beginners who want to an instrument that makes music more accessible. Orba is already poised to meet these users with current design. To better serve this market, you need much more education, tutorials etc. I suggest building out tutorial content further but also partnering to point your beginner users toward more music education resources. ("Want to dive deeper into music production and become an Advanced Orba user? Check out our partners and get the Orba owner discount....etc.") If beginner users want to develop beyond playing on the Orba, they need education in music production and some music theory. They do need not an Orba app. 
  • Users who know what the acronym DAW means. What do we want out of Orba? We want something small to carry around like a music fidget spinner that we can noodle around with to generate ideas. The minute an idea starts to take shape, we're plugging in to our DAW of choice, choosing or shaping the sounds we actually want to hear and using the Orba to get our MIDI data into our DAW. You've already made this experience pretty seamless and I was able to get my idea into Ableton in less than 5 minutes to start shaping it. Great work here. As advanced users, your goal with us could be to delay the amount of time it takes us to reach for the DAW. Give us the features requested above so we spend more time on Orba before being forced into the DAW to continue the development of our ideas.
All said, I'd consider spending time and resources on the features users are requesting on the Orba itself and dump the app unless you've identified a market between beginners and advanced AND you have a solid roadmap to build the app into something relevant and usable (it's not currently). 

In summary, thank you for innovating in this space. The hardware you've designed here is truly ground-breaking and I'd like to thank you for bringing this to market. Looking forward to seeing where you take this next! - Foster 

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@Foster Presley I feel like you’re right that Orba appeals to both casual musicians as well as pro producers, but I think that’s exactly why the app needs to be expanded, for the folks who don’t know what a DAW is like you said. How are those people supposed to try new sounds if there was no app at all?

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Hi their, I'm a totally blind user who uses VoiceOver, and I've tested the Orba app for both iOS and MacOS. sadly, the app is not accessible with VoiceOver. when will the app be fully accessible with VoiceOver? I would love to have an accessible way to update the firmware of the Orba, as well as customize settings, if possible.

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Heather Buchanon probably not. Regular people don’t even know about Linux much less building software for it. I know, it’s sad isn’t it. The most used operating system on the planet and most companies don’t create software for it. From what I’m reading it appears the desktop app will only work on Mac or Windows so don’t mean to disappoint you but the answer to your question would be no, you can only update the firmware from a Mac or Windows computer. A desktop or laptop computer, not your phone, tablet, or phablet. So if you don’t even have a desktop or laptop computer you can’t update the firmware.

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Hi! Just placed an order and should receive my Orba mid-March!

In the meantime, I did a lot of RTFM and watched your tutorials. Once thing I noticed is that right now, it doesn't seem that we're able to mute/unmute parts (I just posted a new thread as well on that topic).

Is there any chance this could be added in a future update? Maybe something like HOLD PLAY/PAUSE BUTTON + PART to mute/unmute? This would allow us to develop full songs instead of 8 bars loops...


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the app is just a blank screen. having trouble connecting it to do the update. this suuuuuuuuuucks

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@Moon - Yes you are right, this sucks.

And watch out, before you know it, a fellow buyer will explain to you that we have to stay positive because it is such a sympathetic small company that is doing its best in these difficult times. Or someone from Artiphon will tell you that there is actually no problem because the Orba works fine on some versions of IOS via a USB-cable. Sigh ...

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Hi all!

I'm a new user from Rome, Italy. I received Orba as a Xmas present and I like very much playing around with it, I really like the concept and the feeling it provides.

I also like that there's stuff to explore, like its usage as a controller for Logic Pro and creating new presets for the internal synth.

Here are some minor negative notes instead, I suppose it can always be useful to know the first impressions from newcomers:

  • Like reported by others, the definition of "song" in the app is confusing, it makes you expect that when you load a "song" from the app you also get a demo sequence which showcases the loaded sounds. Justs a wrong naming IMHO, then you read the manual and understand that a song only loads sound presets for all 4 modes and some global settings. Then maybe they should have been named "global presets" or "globals" or similarly. But it's ok once you understand it.
  • I was also confused by how the "change-octave-by-sliding" feature works: I expected that when holding A, pressing pad 8 and then sliding one pad up, I was moving one octave up with respect to the current setting, e.g. like pressing the usual "octave up" button on a standard controller. Instead pad 8 always represents the base octave; so if you already are playing two octaves up from the base setting, and you want to move one octave further up, you have to press pad 8 and then slide up THREE pads, which is not always an easy gesture. Anyway, as in the previous note, this is also ok when you understand how it works; though I still think the other way around would have been more user-friendly.
  • The pitch change when I use the vibrato gesture is hardly noticeable, and it seems to me it's not enabled for many preset sounds.
That's all for the time being. Looking forward to exploit all of Orba's features!

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hey, your software, and customer service suck. great midi controller though.

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