I have a pretty extensive catalog of sounds and loops, and I was wondering how easy it would be to port these to the Orba. It seems like they're a little bit more complex than just sound files, but perhaps they are comparable to multi-samples in Ableton?
The Orba can't load samples; the onboard sounds are synthesised rather than sampled, so what you'd do would be to play your existing sounds on an external device with the Orba as a MIDI controller. To play them back through the Orba speaker you'd need to be using a wired rather than a Bluetooth connection, but you'd be able to use your existing software and use the Orba to do things (like triggering loops) that it can't do on its own.
Sound design for the Orba is quite challenging because of the enormous number of dimensions of control, which is why Artiphon haven't opened it up to users yet. (It would also be quite a big undertaking in UI terms, so I can see why they haven't prioritised it; it really needs something like an Equator-style desktop front end.) But I hope we'll be able to make our own horrible noises with it at some point down the line.
That makes sense, and it makes it even more interesting!
I'd love to see a sound design tool for the Orba.
Down the line, I'd be super interested if the Orba synth engine was combined with different form factors, like the Instrument 1.
Yes, if there's a limitation to the Orba it's that you can't play an existing tune on it the way you can on the Instrument 1, though as an MPE controller the Orba can do things that even the Instrument 1 (which is still pretty cutting-edge four years on) can't accommodate, and whose capabilities now outstrip even the best third-party MPE synths. (CC112 and 113 in particular are still fairly uncharted territory, and the insane number of gestures and messages available is both an opportunity and a challenge.) If they were creating the Instrument 1 today they'd undoubtedly include some of the Orba technologies like Bluetooth MIDI and an onboard synth, and the world would tremble before us. Perhaps it's safer for everyone that they're currently two separate species of amazing. We've been warned about what would happen if those three Robert Pattinsons in the Tenet finale actually collided.