ZynPad only seems to allow up to 8 tracks - am I misunderstanding how it works?


I’m new to Zynthian, having just assembled my v5 kit a couple days ago. I promise I did read the manual, but please forgive me if this is in there and I’ve just missed it.

So I am looking at building up songs on the Zynthian, and am using ZynPad/ZynSeq for it. From what I can tell though, it seems like you can have a maximum of 8 sequences going at one time. Given it seems 1 instrument (synth, drum kit, etc) is assigned to each column of sequences, that suggests you can only have 8 instruments in ZynPad.

This seems strange to me and makes me feel I must be missing something, as I know in general you can have up to 16 instruments per snapshot assuming I’m following everything correctly.

Am I understanding this right? Granted, 8 tracks should really be plenty for my purposes, but I just want to make sure I’m following everything okay. I did see there is some stuff you can do in arranger that seems to work around this, but admittedly I’m not quite following it.

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Hi @ndguardian! A warm welcome to the land of Zynthian. I hope you enjoy your travels here.

Did you see the dedicated sequencer documentation on the wiki? It may be slightly out of date but it was updated recently by a community member using the current stable version.

The feature you want is “Groups”. (I had to check its use myself just now because it has changed since I first built it - making the default workflow easier but this workflow a touch more complex…) You will need to use the Arranger view only to change the group assignment. After this you can continue to work in the pad view. Arranger and pad view are accessing the exact same sequences but showing differently and allowing different amount of config. Each sequence may be in a mutually exclusive group (A-Z). By default the sequences are assigned groups in columns in ZynPad so if you have an 8x8 grid you will have 8 groups, each with 8 sequences. You can assign any sequence to any group so you could have 1 group with 64 sequences or 16 groups each with 4 sequences. (You can’t have 64 groups because there are only 24 groups available, A-Z.) To do this you need to venture in to the (scary) world of the Arranger.

  • Within Arranger, highlight a sequence by moving the select cursor up/down through the sequences
  • Open the context menu and select and select the option “Group”
  • The main Arranger view is shown, the topbar has white background showing it is in parameter adjust mode and it shows the Group selection
  • Use the arrow keys (or select knob on V4) to select a group for the sequencer then press the SEL/OK button
  • Repeat for each sequence until you have assigned them as you wish
  • Return to ZynPad view and you should have more (of fewer - as desired) mutually exclusive groups

Hey @riban ! Appreciate the warm welcome. :grinning: I can tell it’s going to be quite the learning experience, but I’m excited!

I did see that documentation, but admittedly there’s a lot there. I think I read through it a couple times and something just wasn’t clicking for me.

One thing that probably was making it difficult to wrap my head around groups was my only real frame of reference for “clip launching” style workflow is more Ableton-esque, where you have an instrument or MIDI channel in a column, and everything underneath that is just clips of that instrument. This makes a ton more sense now that I better understand it, so thank you for explaining it to me.

If I may ask a potentially dumb question now, is there a way to set all clips in group X to MIDI channel Y, or to set a default MIDI channel for a group? Like for example, I was walking through your steps above to create a new group and set sequences accordingly, and that made sense. Then I had to go and set each one to the same MIDI channel after the fact. Easy enough, but it’s slightly tedious if you’re doing something similar for many different sequences or groups.

Hmm…actually having read the arranger doc more, I think I see why that option may not be available. Since you can in theory have multiple tracks as part of one sequence (presumably 1 track == 1 MIDI channel? Still reading), it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to set a default MIDI channel per group. Maybe I’m wrong though.

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Alright, reading from the very top again and looking at this more, it makes more sense.

A group is a collection of related sequences, a sequence is a collection of related tracks, and each track within a sequence gets a pattern. Neat!

One thing I am not seeing though is how I go about editing a pattern for a given track if I have multiple tracks in a sequence. If I press the Pad button while selecting a sequence with only one track from the ZynPad screen, I can get to the pattern editor. If I press it while selecting a sequence with multiple tracks, it takes me to the arranger. This makes sense, but I don’t seem to see an option from there to edit the pattern for a given track.

You don’t happen to know off the top of your head how I would do this, would you? I’m not seeing this in either the arranger section or in the pattern editor section.

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I am glad you were able to understand the wiki entry. It has changed a lot since I first wrote it with a lot of contribution and update (based on user experience) from @lfo and @jofemodo.

Access to patterns from arranger seems to have changed and been broken for V4 due to some regression at some point. We need to look at that… For V5 you can access a pattern from Arranger by bold pressing the PAD/STEP button. I want to revisit this as it may benefit from a different behaviour but for now, that is how you access it. The BACK/NO button will return to Arranger from Pattern Editor.

Remember that a track may have zero or more patterns allowing creation of longer / more complex sequences.

You have subsequently discovered that the default presentation of sequences in ZynPad can be modified in Arranger to make them more complex so the concept of one pattern in one track in each sequence is a vitrual / default idea. However, there is certainly a case to have some user configurable defaults / reset states, e.g. a user may always want Scenes to initialise with 6x6 grid and MIDI channels assigned differently than the current hard-coded default. Please add a feature request to our issue tracking system.

My earlier description of using Arranger to set groups can be simplified if you are using the default, simple ZynPad view with single pattern in single track in each sequence. ZynPad has a context menu option to select MIDI channel. This will, by default change the MIDI channel and group for the selected pad (sequence). So to change MIDI channel and group it is simpler:

Within ZynPad view:

  • Highlight the pad to change
  • From context menu, select “MIDI channel”
  • ZynPad view is shown with parameter editor enabled
  • Use up/down buttons or Select (bottom right) encoder to change MIDI channel

The pad changes colour and text to indicate which channel and group is selected. By default groups A-P are assigned MIDI channels 1-16.