Artiphon Chorda

This looks to be the logical hybrid of Orba and Instrument 1; a friendly MPE synth/controller for beginners, leveraging the oversimplified Orba software (for better or worse).

It’s got 12 pads, to Orba’s 8. And a “bridge” pad which acts as a strum bar.

  • More explanation needed on how it decides which chords to strum while you’re playing your melodies.

Pressure/aftertouch is likely still based on the surface area of your finger, but there is more space for that, and rectangular pads are more predictable overall. This will also benefit the Y axis.

You do, of course, lose some of the benefits of a circular controller, such as dynamic octaves, or the “spin” gesture.

  • …but I’m fairly sure Orba never publicly implemented either of those things, so whatever.

Likewise, no word on whether you’ll be able to select presets on the hardware, much less change key without reaching for an app.

  • So, it may or may not be performance-ready, nor is there any promise that it will ever get there.
  • But four extra pads does mean room for expansion – Orba painted itself into a corner, interface-wise.

There’s also an arpeggiator which uses touch gestures to alternate between patterns (but which does not appear, from the brief previews available, to control expressive parameters during playback, such as velocity).

  • We have next to no detail on that; it can improve a great deal through software updates. But as a reminder, relying on software updates has been something of a gamble with Artifon.

EDIT - some important questions answered in the comments section:


Interesting. I have an Instrument One, Orba 1, Orba 2. Their software support is shockingly bad, but I still like the hardware and it’s fun to hack around with. I’ll probably end up nabbing one of these as well. Just can’t resist new electronic music gadgets.

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Last day of the campaign.

I dropped my pledge a few days ago, when I realized that there wasn’t a single instance of bending between notes in any of their demos, nor any hint or promise that this was ever meant to be a feature.

I mean, it’s a continuous playing surface, but my assumptions about what that could mean were just a strong personal bias on my part.

…which doesn’t seem to mesh well with what’s actually on offer.

Similarly, the arpeggiator seems to use a flat velocity value, rather than leverage continuous expression data from your fingers.

Part of me is certain that will change before they deliver the product. The features of the arpeggiator have barely been touched on thus far, after all. How can we judge such a primitive representation?

But again, my assumptions about Artiphon’s trajectory rarely seem to line up with their vision, and I just have to accept that I don’t know what they’re planning.

It’s got 12 pads. A chromatic scale should be possible. And maybe it is, but they haven’t promised one. What scales are supported? Don’t know. Can’t guess. (Orba does major and minor, and typically locks the lead synth to pentatonic. I don’t think it can bend into blues tones…)

I might buy in later, when the features are less hypothetical, and I can better evaluate whether I want what it does.

This isn’t a permanent decision.

I’m just sacrificing my early bird discount so it won’t be a leap of faith.

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