That Expressive-E Touché SE is quite the thing.
For the first half-hour or so I was ready to send it back. Nevermind issues with the PACE copy protection scheme for the instrument plugin that comes with it, which doesn’t effectively demonstrate the controller’s real potential once you do get it working anyway. Bitwig’s “assign MIDI controller to this knob” feature is frankly horrible for this, where just touching the controller might trigger multiple sensors, and if you choose the right one, the scaling is all on a separate interface and not very intuitive.
Fortunately before I gave up, I tried Bitwig’s modulator system instead, which includes a MIDI CC device. That one works really well and isn’t hard to deal with. I just need to remember that CC16 is rear pressure, CC17 front pressure, and CC18 sideways movement (as I have set it up).
I made Ondes Martenot-like presets for Aalto and Bitwig’s FM-4 synth. Front pressure controls volume, rear controls timbre, sideways motion affects pitch. It’s amazingly expressive and fun to play, though getting the relative sensitivity settings right is key to not accidentally skewing the pitch a lot with every note. Overall it’s like adding another dimension or two to playing synths.
I also set up an FX Grid preset that routes the three control values to CV outputs on the ES-3 so I can use them with modular. That works just as fantastically well. I can use front pressure to open a VCA or LPG… or to trigger Natural Gate or an envelope, for that matter. And of course I can set up any sort of exotic routing — damping, structure and pitch on Rings for instance, for a wild and weird time.
Its usefulness directly with the Lyra-8 is a little weak, especially where it comes to pitch modulation. But I’ve found that assigning sideways motion to the delay time on a plugin or module can work for both vibrato (due to Doppler effect) and more slow, subtle movement. (Sideways motion is great for all sorts of subtle effects changes, and that’s something I’m going to explore a lot…) Front pressure can go into Hold CV (affecting all 8 voices depending on Hold knobs and envelope switches) or an external VCA or LPG.
Overall, this was a really great choice and I’m glad I went for it.
Other gear thoughts at this point:
- A ring controller or a pitch touchstrip, for more of a true Ondes Martenot feel with the Touché, could be fun. Space for it is questionable though, the Touché already gives a fair amount of “horizontal freedom” when paired with a keyboard.
- More realistically: a way to select between a few tuned notes (somewhat similar to the Lyra) in a compact way for the modular would be nice. It’s not high priority though. Also I need to see if the SQ-1 can already do this well enough…
- I could still get an arcade button module for manual gates. Kind of a nostalgia thing I guess. There are a few options, but I may see if someone can custom-build one that’s more suitable. In fact, if that could be combined with the above concept, it’d be fantastic.
- I do have an Adventure Audio Skin module (just delivered, waiting for me to get off work in a couple hours) to play with, to bring skin conductivity to the modular. I’m not expecting a lot of it, but we’ll see.
- There’s some good stuff in the rainforest charity auction. I’m going to grab a DSM-03 Feedback if I can — maybe even two if they don’t go much higher. I’m still kind of hoping other manufacturers join in; Erica just did (pity my case’s PSU can’t handle the Fusion Delay) and in past years Bastl and Dreadbox were involved. Software-wise, so far I really just want that DeFilter.
- I donated a bunch of my unused software licenses to the secondhand auction — so far they have raised $89 in bids.
- SynthTech E520 Hyperion Stereo Audio Processor… I’m leaning toward “no.” I’m confident it will be pretty wonderful. The demos are all either excellent or just plain weird, but so far I feel like I can replicate them with plugins.
- Omsonic Stochastic Inspiration Generator? Kind of on my radar, but I still think I could maybe imitate it well enough with either Teletype or Bitwig.
- Pedals…? There’s stuff I think is nifty, but I believe I’ve got it all covered with plugins. In fact I could probably let go of the Tensor and Dark World and not really miss them too much, but I think before I did that, I’d try just running the Lyra through them instead.