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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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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!



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.


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'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 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.


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.

>>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.


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.

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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I had a moment of inspiration this morning!

Initially I found using Pitch Bend problematical - it left me playing out of tune a lot.

@Subskybox found a good trick to use pitch bend to give two notes on one key (little or no bending sound). I found the most successful way to use it was to have the true note playing on the outer area of a key and the bent note a semitone lower towards the inner area. This works pretty  welland my thanks to Subskybox for that - I have been able to create chromatic playing presets.

(I favour  using a semitone down because it seems more useable than a semitone up.)

This morning I thought perhaps it might be possible to have a "safe" area by the rim where the true note would play in tune and then bend approaching the centre. My first attempt worked well - but then I thought perhaps there could also be a "safe" area  at the inner area as well. Trying that out in also worked well.

As an experiment I tried this method on two presets - one using Teatro's Lyre samples  which I set to play the "true" note at the inner area and a tone above by the rim. The sound is not quite right for the oriental zither type sound I was thinking of, and it would probably better using a pentatonic scale, but the principal worked well.

The other one was a synth based EGuitar preset (which JAMIX VcZ posted for the Orba 1 - which I borrowed for an Orba 2 preset) and went with the semitone down setting. This allowed something more like blues note bends.

Since both of these use borrowed content I won't post them but instead try and get round to applying these to something  my own and post them.

For those who might want to try this for themselves these are the important parts of the Pitch Bend seeker for the bluesy version:  "inMin="-0.5" inMax="0.5" outMin="8021" outMax="8192", and this for the zither one: inMin="-0.5" inMax="0.5" outMin="8192" outMax="8534".

It would be simple to adjust the inMin and inMax parameters to suit your own preferences, and the numbers  for the out parameters should give you clues if you want to adjust the pitch values.

As above I'm attaching a preset for an oriental zither style sound. Some minor tweaks to what I said above, but basically the same as described above. It seems to make a convincing sort of sound. The "true" pitch is near the centre, bending to a tone up towards the rim. (Not sure whether that could be reversed, but in this case it seems to make sense to me.)

The preset is based on my sample based "Madaharp" preset. So if you happen to have loaded that on your Orba you should only need to copy the preset into your Artiphon folder.

At some point I hope to have a blues minded synth based preset to add, but I have a couple of drum experiments and other bits and pieces, so I may just do a new batch of presets in one go.

And forgot to add the actual preset! That's what keeping it down to one cup of coffee in the morning does to this old man.

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I was poking around in the preset file for Artiphon's Hand Pan trying to find how it played so strangely. Although I haven't really worked that out but I did note a row of settings in the synthPatch section that I have not seen before - the relate to Wave Guide and "gliding". It doesn't seem to do anything in the Hand Pan preset but by playing about with it in a synth based patch I got a really strange sounding glissando between notes! Well, that was quite a surprise!

I will play about with the parameters and see if I can get something that sounds reasonable and demonstrates what it is. When I've done that I'll post it here for anyone who wants to play with it.

I have been wondering for a while if a gesture might be able to control a wave guide parameter - because if so there are things that could be possible and useful for live playing. This hints that there might be a way of doing that which hasn't been revealed in any of the presets we have seen. 

These drums and stems were also written with some programs, could they not be made available? Or wouldn't it be possible to somehow write a drum and stem and sample editor that could be used to import your own sounds and kits into all four instruments? But we really need a basic song editor. If this could be solved, then Orba 2 would make sense, but...

I'm attaching a preset (the artipreset file) which illustrate the glide features that snuck into the Artiphon Hand Pan preset, but were unused. (I mentioned them here earlier.) The settings here demonstrate the effect but I suspect using shorter time parameter values might offer a neat legato to some synth based presets (don't think it will work on sample based ones).

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