Useablity and issues I am running into

ok now the post José has not been waiting for.

I have been working with the zynthian in the following configurations

The zynthian box is a pi3 with hifiberry card and a 5 inch touch screen that is it no encoders.
my setups

  1. emu xboard 61 via usb into the zynthian.
  2. Roland A800 pro midi out to midi to usb interface into zynthian
  3. guitar with a gk3a hex pickup to Rolland GR20 midi out to usb midi interface into zynthian

Now I am not a programmer. I am a professional musician looking at using the Zynthian as a live performance tool that can be use on tour day in and day out and reliable. Not just a tool to use in the studio.

So I have notices a few things that need to be addressed for a stable reliable and usable synth/sampler

First the understanding that Zynthian is maschine with two sides one being a studio tool creating and manipulating sounds creating snapshots etc lets call it Patch Mode. and then the Performance side playing live and using the snapshots ( which I will now call preformace) that were created in the studio or at rehearsal .

So First we need a way to change between the these two sides so we can boot into either Patch mode or the Performance mode so when you are on tour you plug in turn on and choose the first your first performance and away you go.

So issues in Patch mode in no particular order. Note: all is done only by touch screen

  1. screen navigation by touch screen is very confusing

  2. how to create a Snapshot (preformance) is very confusing

  3. saving presets in an engine is very confusing

  4. inconsistent midi implementation when using a native engine all works as expected. but when using an engine in modui program changes midi control codes do not work as expected.

  5. a master volume, so you can define the volume for each midi channel but need to be able to change the overall volume of the unit and still keep the dynamics.

  6. latest version of LinuxSampler

  7. may be the option that a plugin can listen to all midi channels (omi mode)
    So Issues in Performance mode in no particular order. Note: all is done only by touch screen.

  8. Grouping of performances in groups like sets or shows. This does not need to be done in the ui but could be via remote login from a computer.

  9. having midi controls to modify performance specific controls as Master volume, Performance change.

  10. showing on the screen the performance name the members of that performance and the master volume of that performance.

So in General I am very impressed the general design number of software synths that work. But, as a day to day grab and go performance tool it is not quite there yet. Think to your self you are on stage all you have is a Zynthian and a midi controller in the audience there are 2000 people waiting for (insert your name of favorite artist here I will use Prince) Prince to preform a 3 hr show will it work flawless tonight and ever show for the next year?



Guauuuuu @john !

No, i’ve not been waiting this post, but i really love it, John! :kissing_heart:
Your report is really a BIG contribution to Zynthian’s project. You give us a lot of very valuable information. Thanks!

Let me think a little bit and i will try to give you an answer/explanation on every issue. Of course, i will keep everything in my mind and will try to address all these problems in the near future.

Thanks a lot!

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I just want to mention, that I am using it as live instrument only as well.
The bugs regarding mod-ui and snapshots are known and reported in the forum.
There are pedalboards, you cannot load back into memory through snapshots.
And zynth-ui is not representing all pedalboards correctly when you have more than one pedalboard-item of one type.
It is mixing it up with presets although you don’t use presets.
That’s why i don’t touch the pedalboard via zynth-ui. Loading it and don’t use any knob to change anything was my best practice :frowning:
And yes, in the 2hr show I performed, I once loaded the one preset (mod-ui) with multiple midi-switch filters and didn’t touch it but put it somewhere save. I only changed midi channels for the different sounds.
Zynthian is not there at all. But I am confident that it will be :slight_smile:
Although I am not quite sure, if mod-ui will be the way or if we should better concentrate on our own zynthian-ui implementation and working on a better touch-interface and more features in the webconf.
Not sure, if the mod-ui guys like the idea of zynthian being a kind of mod-duo competitor that much, so that we will always be behind after mod-ui updates when it comes to have a correct pedalboard representation in the zynthian-ui.

That is was something I was also thinking about the last days.

Not only to reimplement the MOD-Duo. You also have the problem of dependency of MOD if we need features. MOD-UI is a fantastic way to create intuitive and easy really nice sounds - sometime also very strange ones.

We are running in the “swiss-army-knife” problem: Zynthian should be everything:

  • Live tool
  • Studio tool
  • Experimental tool
  • Usable as
    • Synth / Sampler
    • Effect-Box for voice/guitar/synth/…
    • MIDI router (split/transpose/change)

… and everything in every combination! :scream:

We should have some limitations in mind: A Raspi[2/3] has hardware limitations. Also the user interface has some. And not to forget: The programmers and software-specialists also have some :smile:. What we all have to do is to try to organize a mix of all requirements and to see what can be realized and how this can be done. This is the boring part of development: create a stable product. So I think this should be started now.

My first suggestion is: We should talk about how we want to document this process and who will be responsible for documentation?

Regards, Holger

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I think it would be better if LV2 Synths/Apps could run natively and not rely on Mod-UI. So Keep Mod-Ui as a tool but also run dexed, JX10, etc… natively my two cents

Yes - this might be an option - but what if you want to have some effect? What if you want to create a complexer setup? I think the way of Zynthian is a really nice way: it is engine based. What is missing for you is a “simpler” engine: one instrument, some effects - all connected one after another, right?

Looking at PluginsManager - nice Python library this should be not too complicated to implement.

But I would like to go the way to implement not thousands of engines or plugins but also to look at how we can organize this easy and also expandible for future tasks. Maybe some specialized engines will fix this - maybe not… we should talk and think about this before implementing.

Regards, Holger

No not at all, I like the flexibility but these setups (zynthian patches) should be able to be save reliably and restored and that if your send a program change midi message in to mod-ui all no sound changing volume level is very cryptic etc… and not have to use a computer/tablet live to see what is happening. But then the difference of creating patches and working with performances. Yes there are workarounds to solve these thing but the best is a clean system.

Again I think we need to sit down an discuss what is best and come up with a overall plan then move forward.


I think, we need distinguish ourselves from mod-duo in friendship and not try to be the cheap twin that can do more.
I can imagine following picture:
Main objective of zynthian is being the knobs of linux based instruments. And maybe in the future a sequencer as well.
This means, Midi IN,OUT,THROUGH.
But we won’t do AUDIO-IN (to mod-ui), because this means competition with mod-duo. I can imagine connecting AUDIO-IN to linux samplers of course.
Mod-ui has to change the way, that we won’t have midi-in, because in my point of view, it doesn’t really work with zynthian-ui right now. We just use mod-ui for effects for each layer. So there is an AUDIO-IN in the pedalboard, which is the audio out of the layer. Mod-UI is only configured with the web interface, no zynthian-ui change of any values (too buggy right now). Selection of a pedalboard for each layer.
Instead we concentrate on offering real world knobs and switches and connect them to the MidiCC etc. commands of the single software instruments.

my 2cts

Midi in and out yes Not thru. Over the last 30+ years I have avoided midi thru rather use a midi patch bay or midi merge/split rather than using a thru.

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