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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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Just for your amusement - an example of the weird sounds the Orba can make when you start experimenting.

(Don't listen if you are of a nervous disposition!)


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I hope it's insured. ;-)


That thought had already occurred to me.

But at least I am getting some understanding of how to get control of gestures and effects - which has been something of a holy grail in my mind.

Well strange noises ended in another personal holy grail discovered. It is possible to play over two octaves without resorting to A+key8.

It's not an ideal solution and I suspect won't work well on all presets (Not tried on sample based presets yet. I think they may be least likely to work well.) 

Of course, it needs creating a modified preset.

Has anyone discovered a way of reversing the direction of the Y axis in the radiate gesture, by any chance?

I suspect it's not possible (except perhaps by hacking the Orba programming itself which I wouldn't dream of doing).

I have been playing around with using pitch bend - but I can only get lower notes playing on the inner area of the keys and higher notes on the outer. This works well in some cases but it would be good to be able to do it the other way round which I feel would be better to use for other cases. (In particular, I have made presets that will play over two octaves this way, but I think it would be better to use if I could make the top octave play in the inner area, not the outer.)

If it were possible I think it might make some gesture effects better to use, as well.

I do not know if it was there before, but now I see Save logs button in Android app. Might help with debug, or something.

Some observations:

When I was first playing with presets I got the understanding that pitch bend was limited to just a tone or two. Having seem numbers in some presets that suggested this was not the case I decided to experiment to see if I could find the limits for myself. What I discovered in that was that I could only pitch bend down in pitch a whole tone but bend up a whole octave - I stopped at that point because I'd reached what I wanted to be useful. (I think it might be possible to bend down further if the starting point is at a higher value, but I haven't tested yet. This enabled me to create presets that could play chromatic scales, or play over two octaves without having to resort to using A+key 8. I use the snap trick, as it was described in earlier posts on this forum, to make each key act as two splitting it across the Y axis. Tilt was tried for this sort of thing but I found it unsatisfactory to use

In the Grapefruit Lead preset there seemed to be an octave jump created by introducing harmonics into the sound as an effect. I managed to get something like a a two octave range by tilting and chromatics on the Y axis of the key. The octave effect wasn't as good as I would like - but I think it could be improved. Pitch bend is better for the octave change. The harmonics method can work with tilt better than pitch bend will though.

(It is possible to have two pitch bend seeker entries in a preset - but it didn't help, although it is a curious and interesting thing to do!)

The technical bit: the value 8192 seems to be the value for the note playing as it should to go down, set that to ouMax and subtract 171 for each semitone down you want to go down for the inMin value. To go up, set 8192 as the inMax and add 171 for each semitone you want to go up. (I'll let you do your own maths.) I was not convinced that 171 equated exactly to a semitone - but since it seems to give the right result over 12 semitones it seems it is.

It is important to mention that these methods may not translate when exporting to midi devices. I don't do this myself so I can't comment on that.

When attempting to implement an idea Rusty Perez had I came across something else I rather like. (That conversation is in the Preset repository thread - the wrong place for it really - I apologise for that!)

I was aware that I could jump pitch by any amount I wanted so I knew I could use 4ths or 5ths but I hadn't considered that particularly useful. However I played with 5ths on a chord preset which was made with a particular recording as inspiration. While using 5ths on chord preset can add extra chords - which is useful - on presets with complex chords (ie: not just the usually triads) it can not only increase the number of chords but act almost as it's own, rather pleasing effect, surprisingly pleasing to me.

There is a minor tweak I need to sort out - notes played on the inner part of the key are sometimes quieter than those on the outside. I think that's just a case of removing a seeker from the preset or perhaps adjusting it, or the modSource entry. It's just something left in the source preset I've used some of the time.

I think I have posted presets using these methods but I will make a point of posting the ones I think work best as examples for others to experiment with, or just borrow the methods.




I know that Pitch Bend values are 14 bit values (require two bytes) and therefor are in the range 0-16383 with the value 8192 being in the middle (representing no Pitch Bend). The note that is produced is dependent on what the Pitch Bend range is set to. I'm not sure if its possible to change the range on Orba. 

Yes, I think I saw the 16383 value in a preset (perhaps one of yours). When I was experimenting I stopped at a value that gave me an octave up because I didn't see a use for going further. I didn't really explore going through lower values because beyond a whole tone it didn't seem to work on my first attempts and since again it didn't seem so useful.  I'm really just looking to expand what I can do for my own playing and sharing what I learn.

Well, it was inevitable - my Orba 2 is now in a state of bootlooping uselessness. I have tried most of what I can think of but I don't hold much hope of recovery. I have a new Orba on it's way to me but I will stop experimenting and load it with the presets that I will find most pleasing and useful for my own purposes and leave it at that. Given all the things I've done to my Orba I can hardly expect Artiphon to help.

I do have it in mind to create a document to share what I do (and don't) know but I won't be able to attach examples in a coherent way since I won't be able to check on which versions of presets illustrate things.

In case any one is interested I will mention now the main things I have played around with - ask if anything is of particular interest to you I'll try and answer if I can.

I did some experiments with drum presets mostly to increase the number of sounds that can be accessed in a single preset using the velocityThresholds. They also showed that sample and synth sounds could be blended together, although I never worked out how to do that at will, rather than just accident. The examples may give clues though. The sets aren't particularly useful - I used some "eccentric" samples to try and make it clear to tell what was happening.

Much of the rest was about using pitchbend - in chords I was able to create presets with a wider range of chords (and unusual combinations) available and they also created options that I find musically quite inspiring. With lead presets (and that would apply to bass presets) I wanted to find ways to make playing them more expressive. I had limited success with that - in particular I didn't do well trying to add other gestures with pitchbend to get the effects I hoped for. I also tried to improve the ranges without having to interrupt playing. That was successful but I couldn't find a good way of getting two octaves with accidentals. It may be possible to get further and do better on that.




...oops. Been there done that. I eventually got a replacement although it took several months.I'm being very cautious with this one. As we know, there's no complete "factory reset" on Orba 2 like there was on Orba 1.

I messed mine up by opening partitions that aren't supposed to be opened (thanks @Subskybox! ;-) ) and messing with the device directly. I wasn't sure if it was possible to bork it just by messing with the XML. 

If you can't get it replaced and it's basically a doorstop anyway, I'll dig out some notes on the stuff I tried with mine before giving up. It's possible that yours isn't so far gone, though a bootlooping Orba 2 isn't good news. 

Thanks @BLG145 - I certainly have been to places on the Orba no sane man should go. @Subskybox was right to be cagey about that,  but then I think it was one of his videos that tipped the balance for me when I decided to buy one! I got through a couple of crashes previously and survived -  this time I may have gone too far in my attempts to recover and done more damage to the system.

The lack of  "factory reset" is an infuriating issue, it's not just a matter of keeping users happy but also making their own lives easier. It seems a theme with Kickstarter projects for creators not to give enough thought to how the products will be used in the wild.

The big shame for me personally is that I like the device, limited yes, but likeable. If I end up without one I will miss it! (But I'm not going to spend any more money on it now.)

I frequently looped Orba 1 but it was always recoverable. My theory about breaking Orba 2 was that I'd created an invalid preset, and each time it started up it tried and failed to load it, and reset. I couldn[t find a way out of it. Since Gear2Music's repair shop (UK) couldn't either, they eventually refunded it...and I stupidly bought another. :)) 

(I'd encourage you to contact Artiphon tech support, because they did offer to replace mine. I opted to go via the UK reseller instead, which was quite irritating as it took them 6 months to conclude they couldn't fix it.)  

This is a video I made of what my loop looked like. If your looks the same, it's probably had it.

If it appears in Device Manager (Windows), it may be possible to work with it. The problem with mine was that it only appeared in Device Manager very briefly while looping, and not long enough to send any commands to it.

I think it stopped looping after something like 16 cycles. After this, I think one of the partitions was available in File Explorer on Windows. Manually resetting the contents of that partition didn't save it, but may be worth a try. I think Artiphon Tech Support provided a copy of the file(s) for it. I admitted I'd broken it by messing with it, but they still did their best and offered to replace it.

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