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Orba 2 Hacking Knowledge Base


This forum is intended to share Orba 2 hacking tips amongst the Orba 2 community. NOTE: Please post facts that are well understood & useful. If you have theories to discuss, please start another forum and link to it here.

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These sorts of instruments don't interest me much

Handpans are pretty cool. The history is interesting. It started with this company called PanArt who made some beautiful, original, highly prized and expensive instruments called "Hang". Then everyone started copying them and they threw their toys out of the pram. These days the copies are called "Handpans" and PanArt are still doing their own exclusive thing.

I've followed attempts to create MIDI handpans with interest. The first was the "Ovalsound", a Kickstarter which went out of production - they can still be occasionally seen at inflated prices on sites like Reverb.

Then there was the "Lumen" - this project stalled for ages, I'm not sure if they're finally available or not.

More recently there's the "Neotone"...

...then there's the German "Wavepan"...

I'm planning to build my own DIY device called the "Wheeldrum" from a hubcap and a bunch of Piezos. :-)

There's also a small device called the Phonicbloom Wing Drum which is very Orba-like...basically copied I'd say...with a bit of a handpan focus.

It's a shame Artiphon haven't open-sourced it. Handpans typically have a central pad which can be played like the rest, as does the Wing Drum. It would be quite easy for Artiphon to implement this on the Orba; impossible for anyone else.

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Oh dear, I really am having a bad day. These sorts of instruments don't interest me much although I do like the sounds and music but I really don't know anything about them, though I understand the desire for presets for these, and there's some element of challenge about it. But I've abandoned the idea for now anyway (and certainly today!).

My apologies for my stupid ignorance! Thanks for that preset though, I do like it - it'll get used on my Orba, and provoke some ideas.

>>But one flaw it had was that when a finger is held down the note disappears abruptly, whereas a quick touch rings on

If you are speaking about my hang drum  (drum) preset, this behavior matches the one of of the real world handpans.  Actually that was the whole point, not a flaw, and I like it.

My real Rav Vast  worked exactly like that - if you do not remove your hand immediately after beating out the note,  note gets muted by hand. Same applies to steel tongue/tank drums.

When I was explaining my friends how to play it to get a bright and long lasting sound, I told them to imagine that the drum is a super hot frying pan, which you are beating  while trying not  to burn you hands.

This muting, as a playing technique.  can be an intentional musical expression.

Ignore that last post!

It's now just playing a modified Ohm preset not the samples! Aargh! I'm having a spell of preset failures. I expect I'll get over it.

I did some quick experimenting with the HangDrum idea.

Somehow I didn't pay attention to something @Ignis32 did whilst discussing the issue with @Subskybox. He made a very nice drum mode preset using samples. Loved the scale he used (something that can't be done in a Lead preset). But one flaw it had was that when a finger is held down the note disappears abruptly, whereas a quick touch rings on. The Ohm presets do something like this but they are synth based - so I wondered whether this might be controlled in a sample based preset using the synth patch parameters.

The result was it can be done. First I had to try and use the samples in a Lead preset - easy enough and it worked better than I had hoped (using the synthPatch from Ohm, and Ignis32s samples). But then I had to see if I could make that abrupt stopping be smoothed over and I seem to have succeeded. Which demonstrates that the SynthPatch can to some degree affect a sample based preset.

Basically I was playing with AmpEnv parameters.

(When I made my first test I could get three octaves in lead mode - but that became only two later - don't know why.)

In case anyone is interested I am posting the preset as it is now - it's rather overdone on the time notes sound for, and the major scale is not ideal for this sort of instrument. And it doesn't sound much like a real hangdrum - but I think there could be ways of doing something better.

If you guys don't mind I may add this to the repository thread at some stage but for now I think it's best here. 

Anyway, FWIW here it is.


I've been trying to make a sample based drum preset with only partial success (at last attempts I've found myself with one key not playing a sound. I know it's not the sample and I've exhausted any things I can think of doing with the code without success.)

What I did discover in the process was that synth patches will play along with the samples. Since there are parameters that will control the level of the synth element you can finese how much you want of each keys' patch, or indeed silence it. Pretty cool.

I've just tried this preset (the zip file pipedowntest above) and it did work in another key correctly and also in a minor key. So I think this is a workable and useable formula for chromatic presets - at least, those synth based. I guess sample based presets will present different challenges.



I have had a spate of experimenting with your ideas on pitch bend again.

I have posted a couple of the first results in the repository thread, but I think I have just managed something which is better - but I've not tested it fully yet - I think it may interest you.

At first I could only get the two note effect playing the scale notes near the centre and shifting up at closer to the rim. But I really wanted to get that in reverse. So I would have the scale playing at the rim and flattened notes near the centre - I think this would be the most useable way for it to work.

I was trying to see first if I could reverse the direction of the modulation, and second to try "lying" to the Orba to play a semitone low and pitch bending to the right pitch. These didn't seem to work but somehow I seem to have managed to get what I wanted.

There are hints of my attempts - I reversed your values for inMax and outMax, which seems to give a cleaner break between the two notes on each key, and my lie about the key is still there though I'm not sure the Orba pays any attention to it.

So this works well in the key of  C major but I've not yet tried it in a minor song or a different key - but I think you'll like this if it works well in those scenarios.


On the advice of Subskybox (or others -  I can't quite remember!) it is well worth using a XML Validator Tool and a MD5 Hash Generator. Small errors can creep into your preset which will stop it being loaded. The Orba also seems to dislike blank lines. Checking the "factory" and "readOnly" entries are both "0" is also a helpful thing to do. I have found sometimes a preset won't load and I've been unable to figure out why - but I've messed about with my Orba 2 quite a lot so I tend to think it's beginning not to like me!

Wow, I really appreciate the suggestions--I feel like if I can get this working, this gadget will really be a great little compositional tool for me. I also appreciate the mental stimulation of digging into Python a bit--cheers! I will report back with results. Thanks again, you all.


Those scripts were never designed to work with Drum Presets. I've been holding off hoping Artiphon will release an update of OrbaSynth which would allow this. I did make an update a while back so that the script will work for Stem Presets (similar to Drum Preset but will repeat). I don't think this would help you achieve what you are looking for however. :(

I think the best approach is what I did in the very beginning.. Take a Drum Preset, update the UUIDs and just edit the paths to the wav files.. That's how I achieved this:

Actually, use my scripts to make a stem voice (it will generate all the UUIDs you need) Then edit an existing Drum Preset and just replace the .wav files referenced. Good Luck!

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Thanks for the quick reply, David--I did actually use Subskybox's python scripts, using a drum preset file as the 'template.artipreset' in the Sample Set folder. The Orba 2 always fails to load the preset after I've deployed it. But you're right, the drum preset is much more involved, and  I don't pretend to know how to reverse engineer it to debug the issue. 


Subskybox will know more about his than I, but the first thing is that drum presets are quite different to the other types. You need at least eight samples for a drum preset (one for each key) and they are handled differently to pitched voices. The inbuilt sampling function is not really suitable for that. 

I suppose Artiphon could create a method for handling it but I don't think that fits in with their view of what the Orba should be.

You could use externally created samples and use Subskybox's method of creating a preset using an existing drum artipreset file as a template. However, the drum presets have different parameters and seem to me to be rather more complicated. (I have looked - but not dared to try anything myself!) Such a preset might also present problems with midi compatibility unless it is made carefully with that in mind.

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Pardon if I missed this, but I couldn't find any explanation of why the sample function doesn't permit copying to the Drum Preset? I tried Subskybox's (very cool) approach to generating presets, but can't adapt it to enable creation of new Drum presets. I'm sure it's user error, I'm just unsure how.

Looking at the factory_content_Songs folder I notice that some (but not all) of the songs in a minor key have intervals parameters showing a minor scale but the tuning parameters  (midi numbers) are for a major scale.

The Wind and Sea song is one example of this. Whether that's significant or not I haven't investigated.

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