First hours impression and review

Hi all:

I just got mine Zynthian running last night and got to spend about 2 hours with it. I have a lot of synths and have been in the synth / music-gear game for a long time and consider myself fairly adept at figuring things out without reading anything first. Despite the fact I am an engineer, I load the RTFM. That said, I am usually pretty good at this so how far I can get without reading things is often an indication of how good the interface is.

Initial setup: easy. Plugged in a midi cable, figured out to add a device, easy to select midi channel, instantly responded to incoming midi, no issues. Next, change preset. This was much harder for me and now today, reading the manual, I know why. I noticed the buttons were behaving differently and I see now they are timed. I tried feeling for timing yesterday along with double-click presses, neither of which worked for me. I will try again tonight by my first criticism is that the buttons are too spongy for a 0.3sec press to be accurate, IMHO. A denser button rubber would work better in my opinion.

Eventually I figured out how to get back to the preset menu and change sounds. Sound quality is good, mixer was easy to figure out as well. I still had the screen protector on for now so I didn’t try the touch component. Encoders were easily understood what parameters they were controlling. Navigation via the UDLR buttons was just fine. The left/right switching channels/parts took a little getting used to but is probably a good design choice.

Next was changing instrument, this was also pretty easy via the menu and I was able to see all the options, nicely grouped. I tried some soundfont stuff and the drum sampler. Timing seemed pretty solid, but I didn’t measure. I can see the sampler being a lot of fun once I get my own stuff into it.

Then I wanted to mess with fx. This was also easy to add to the chain, easy to select from the menu and dial in the parameters. I did find at time the screen was lagging. I read today about the CPU indicator and I believe it was green the entire time so maybe I just need to get used to load times. I am using a Lexar 128gb SD card U1 USH-I V10 speed.

The quality of the fx, I didn’t try reverb because I hate most of them, so that will come later, but with the choruses, distortions, phaser, I was pretty happy. Overall sound quality is high and I had only a couple dropouts when I was working with a preset setup that had numerous parts.

Positives: navigation of complex system largely clear through menu structures.

Negatives: button triple-state timing is tough given the feel of the buttons for me.

I’m guessing you can adjust the timing of the button states with a config?

Anyway, I was pretty positive about my experience and getting started without reading anything. I will do some real reading today and revisit.


Thanks for the review. It is really good to hear the challenges and success of users and you probably got further than you should without reading the user guide. There are some UI methods that underpin Zynthian that everyone should know. (Maybe we need a TLDR to explain those key methods.)

The button timing is configured in webconf. Button firmness was actually a carefully considered parameter with many iterations to get an optimal feel. So that bit of feedback is interesting. The timing feels okay to me. A short press does something on release. A “bold” longer press does something else on release. Press and hold does another thing after a couple of seconds (no release required). This may not be intuitive hence a bit of explanation may help.

Understanding navigation also helps. I don’t think we have a perfect UI but have been trying to provide some consistency based on some basic UI principles.

Keep up your investigation and continue to inform everyone of your adventures. It is very much appreciated.

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Hi @tuj !

Nice to know you started to enjoy your zynthian.

Yes, of course, you can configure this from the webconf tool, in the UI options screen.
I’m pretty sure you will be comfortable with bold and short presses very soon. Anyway, the need for “bold” presses has been largely reduced in V5 and they are “absolutely” needed in just a few cases. The second function in the top row of silicon buttons can be accessed with a second push.

You probably will discover some nice tricks :wink:

The best!

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