First impressions and shipping status

The first batch of Kickstarter Striso boards has been shipped!

It feels like children leaving the nest, so I’d be very happy to hear about your first impressions and experiences. You can do so in this topic. I’ll post shipping updates here too.

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congratulations Piers - major acheivement unlocked :white_check_mark: :

I recieved my striso yesterday (serial number 72). I am very happy with it. It looks great, is very handy (feels good in your hands). For now, I am using it stand alone. As I can play the button acordion, the fingerboard feels very familiar (though it is not 100% the same as the button accordion). I can just mess around with it, playing simple melodies. The chord settings are also easy, especially when you play only the root positions. You need to know two shapes (major and minor) and that’s it.

However, I have a question about the tuning. The tones produced are a little more then a tone higher than what I expected (I expected A = 440 Hz). I tried to reset the system but that had no result so far. Any idea what I can do about this?

For the use alone it is no big problem but when playing with other instruments it is. Especially because it is not exactly a semitone difference.

Looking forward to a reply. In the meantime I will be exploring this instrument without mixing it with other instruments.


edit: i just checked with a tuner, the note that you hear when you press the ‘A-button’ is something between a B and a C.

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My Striso (#42) arrived today. It was very well packed. I admit I was a bit anxious about what to do but there is a lot of information, a quick start guide, a nice chart with note layout and settings layout.

It is tiny, it is very cute. The USB cable seems solid and in the same color tones as the wood in the Striso. The bag is also a nice add. It seems hand made and I love it. It gives a feeling of luthier, handcraft. Wonderful!

With the settings chart by my side it is very easy to turn MPE on and off, adjust velocity sensitivity and other things. Even the tuning (different tunings are a button away) but I haven’t ventured into that realm yet.

I have tried stand alone. I guess I have to get used to the sound but I’m glad there is a built-in sound anyway. Then I tried with the iPad. No problem connecting it in AUM: Continua and DRC in MPE mode, Resonator (from the Spectrum bundle) in Mono MIDI. I was positively surprised to hear Animoog responding very well to the touches. I had kind of given up on it with my Linnstrument but I think I could try again with the Striso.

Then a quick preset surfing with Equator (1) on desktop. Funny to see how different sounds respond. Some are better suited than others, showing that every controller is different.

The layout is completely new for me, so that will take my learning time in the near future. The pads are very responsive, a bit sticky and “weird” in the beginning. Despite of being so soft they let themselves be hit and respond well to velocity. The glissando button is also something I have to practice but I don’t miss it badly.

I played with it on the table. Trying to hold it on my other hand didn’t work for me. I can both play with left and right hands (I play Linnstrument with the left) and chord shapes are almost easier for me with the left but I would like to learn to play with the right anyways.

I guess I’m going to venture on some easy melodies and interval routines to learn the layout of the notes and get used to the touch of the pads.

Something I’d like to see is a way to turn MPE messages on and off (pressure and timbre) independently. There are free pads for it in the settings.

I haven’t noticed the higher pitch that @rdjvonk mentions but again, I haven’t played “against” other instruments.

Anyway, I’m very happy with my first encounter with the Striso. It makes a good companion for the Linnstrument. The rest is practice.

Congratulations with the release, @pierstitus. Wishing for more children and grandchildren to leave the nest.

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@tiantong , for those of us who are waiting and curious, is there any chance you could share a sample of what the built in synth sounds like?

-Frank

@fkberthold Frank, at the moment I don’t have gear to make a video with better sound than the ones already there. In this page Videos | Striso, videos 1 and 3, you can hear the built in sound. Sound quality isn’t the best but I don’t think I could do better.

I see it as a bonus. If I remember right at one point you will be able to load your own sounds if you know how to program - @pierstitus?

One thing I don’t like is that there is always a sharp attack in the sound, no matter how soft you play. I thought @pierstitus mentioned that there wouldn’t be envelope and I hoped to be able to control the attack (if you can call that to a sound that has no amplitude envelope!) as you would for instance with a bowed or wind instrument.

One example I can come up with now is a basic patch in Madrona Labs Aalto, controlling the amplitude with aftertouch and nothing else. A quick press will give you sound right away, a soft press… you guess it.

In the Striso there is always a “click” sound at the beginning.

And now I’m going to play with it a little more.

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Thanks @tiantong,

I was under the impression that there’d been some change in the sound from that point. I think the sound from the videos is pretty nice, I’d agree though that controlling the attack would be a good thing. If I remember correctly all of the software for it will eventually be open sourced on github, so the native sound can be tweaked to individual taste. Where there’s already quite a lot of work done in other instruments for Faust, I suspect a number of interesting variants can be made in short order.

Enjoy playing, I’m going to go watch some Faust videos while I wait for mine grin

Thanks for the response,
Frank

Recorded my first steps today. It’s much fun to play and there’s a lot to be learned…

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Thanks for your impressions!

Thanks for finding out, I just checked and the codec is running at 56kHz instead of 48kHz. I’ll look into that soon.

About the sound: The internal sound is different from the sound in my videos, though they have a similar feeling. In the videos I use an Axoloti running a modified version of TSG’s Buzz patch, the internal sound I wrote a long time ago in Faust. The parameters are still optimized for the less sensitive prior version of the Striso. Also the motion effects are quite crude. I’m looking forward to spend more time on the sound, though that will have to wait till after shipping has finished. Thanks for your thoughts on the sound @tiantong.

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Another batch has been shipped, containing mainly Cherry Glow-in-the-Dark editions!

Note that import taxes may be due on delivery for the shipments outside the EU.

This batch has the tuning correct, I’ll post the firmware update in a new thread.

I’m looking forward to hearing new experiences!

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Yet another batch shipped, some more Cherry’s and many to the USA. I’m not yet up to speed to ship all boards this month, but I hope to speed up a bit more.

This batch has the latest firmware with the internal sound tweaked a bit, with less attack and more pressure control.

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Today a bit bigger batch was shipped, I hope to send the last Kickstarter batch next week (except the UK ones).

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Hi @pierstitus !

I received my Striso board (#36) yesterday. Very well packed indeed. It looks nice from all sides and invites to just start pressing buttons right away, which is what I did. Of course it needs a power source, so I ran to the closest phone charger, grabbed my headphones plugged in and spent the next hour or two on the floor happily experimenting.

After some ‘vader Jacobs’ I tried some chords and finally I thought: maybe I can do the (in)famous 4-chords progression. And behold, it goes in a circle on the Striso! It already lets me play with chords in a way that I am not able to do on a guitar. I have only limited knowledge of chord progressions etc. On the striso you can ‘walk’ around: change one note, move one row up or down with your chord. I will ‘analyse’ some songs I know by puzzling how to play those chords on the striso: I am sure it will show that a lot of ‘tricks’ are shared between songs.

When playing some melodies, I found that you have to be quite aware of your ground note, as all patterns are relative to that button.

I am happy there is build in sound: I have no experience with any MIDI or software. I will be exploring some options, but for now I will use my headphones and the build in sound.

Overall: I am very excited!

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Good evening everyone! today I received my Striso # 27, I spent over 1 hour experimenting with it. I like it a lot! a great job was done!

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Hi folks,

My Striso showed up in the mail on Monday. Obviously I’m still working on getting familiar so this is only first impressions. I spent about half an hour noodling with it to get a feeling with it Monday, then about 1.5 hours on Tuesday actively working on learning a song (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star melody&harmony).

Sound

I was pleasantly surprised by the expressive depth that came with @pierstitus’s “creative process.” With a bit of experimentation I was able to get a:

  • bell like tone by striking the (keys? buttons? dragon scales? is there a name for these controls?)
  • flute like tone by pressing the button so it was more ‘down’ on the y axis
  • get a more textured tone by pressing more ‘up’ on the y axis

All of these worked pretty naturally.

There is what seems like a minor bug in key sounding where if you have a chord pressed down (say the lowest C Major) then press another key very lightly, it will reduce the amplitude of the chorded keys without sounding the additional key.

I also found that, for me, there was a fair bit of difference in perceived amplitude between high and low notes based on pressure put on the key.

Ergonomics

Ok, I’m going to start off with my only real gripe. The USB B port seems like an odd choice from a consumer electronics point of view given the predominance (and virtues) of USB C. It feels bulky and is a bit of nuisance having this kind of cable for only one purpose. But I also suspect it was chosen based on how common USB B is in the midi/synth world.

With the buttons themselves, you can get the notes to sound with a very gentle touch, while it does take substantive pressure to get full volume you can set the key sensitivity and volume both to high to get considerable range of expression without having to lean on the key.

I started off holding it in my lap, directly forward from my body. This worked well playing just melody, but when I tried to play with both hands one above the other it felt awkward like my hands were getting in each other’s way. I might be able to adjust to this, but it’s early days so I’m decided to keep experimenting.

I tried flipping the board so it was sitting against my belly at a 45 degree angle, which is how I first imagined playing it. I found for this to work I also had to brace it either behind with my thumbs or with the edges of my hands. Not necessarily a deal breaker, but a consideration.

Finally I tried holding it in my lap at a 45 degree angle so the y axis was naturally aligned to my left hand. This made chording very easy and natural with my left hand. It made the y axis more left/right on my right hand which felt weird after an hour’s practice with it in the first position, but I think that was just a matter of getting used to it, so it’s how I plan on playing with it for the immediate future.

Actually Making Music

So, now to the important part, making music. Piers has sold how natural it is pretty hard. Just to be clear, I’ve come into this with a healthy dose of skepticism about the virtues of the key layout.

I was wrong.

I found that for both reading sheet music and playing by ear it flowed incredibly naturally. For sheet music once I established which key I was playing in I sight read and played on my first try… slowly, but I still managed it. Ok, it’s the melody for Twinkle Twinkle, we’re not talking Rachmaninov here. Still I was impressed with how natural it felt.

While noodling before and after I was able to pick out and find tunes far more easily than I have with any other instrument (A caveat, I’ve also been working with an ear training app, so take that with a pinch of salt). It was genuinely fun even after an hour and a half of battling playing with both hands and a metronome.

Overall

Congratulations and thank you @pierstitus, you’ve made a truly remarkable device. I’m actively looking forward to my next practice session.

-Frank

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Got my Striso #95 ~ 2 weeks ago, and while life has conspired to keep me from playing it as much as I want, I have had the chance to mess around a little. I love it so far!

I do want to ask if the alternate tunings are fully implemented, or if maybe my ears just need training… I can only tell a difference in 5/7TET modes. The others sound indistinguishable from 12TET to my ears.

It does seem to play nice with one other piece of my gear so far, here’s a video I took with it sending MIDI thru my PC out to my Minitaur. Just played a simple pattern but it was super fun. Was very pleased to see how the motion controls were mapped by default! I might have got a little carried away with the wiggling haha. Port fatigue warning!

https://youtu.be/-RJfcBXFhzk

Cheers!

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Thanks for all the reactions and video, and welcome on the forum @drenchtoast, @bvo and @dmats!

@drenchtoast The alternate tunings are indicated by a different color of the led. The clearest difference is heard by finding two enharmonic notes in 12TET and playing them in another tuning. More interesting is for example the playing a major third alternating between 12TET, where it is 14 cent sharp, and meantone, where it is just. Being used to the sound of 12TET makes us less sensitive for those little changes than those who are used to Indian music for example.

@bvo Nice observation about the circular movement of the chords!

Furthermore one of the last batches has been shipped, to UK backers this week. Next week I hope to send the last Kickstarter batch out!

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Thanks for the extended post @fkberthold, it’s really motivating to read so many positive points, but also your gripes (nice word ;-).

I tend to call them keys nowadays. Dragon scales sounds cool too though :wink:

You’re right about that the keys influence each other in some ways, and I must confess I don’t completely understand what’s going on. I decided it’s minor enough to not delay the whole project a lot, though with the increased sensitivity it’s more noticeable than before.

The sound level of high and low notes definitely could be more balanced, you’re right. I’ll look into that for a firmware update.

The USB port question was asked before, I agree it would be nice to have only one kind of cable. However I am not totally convinced (yet) by the durability of USB-C. As the Striso board can be used hand-held the connection should be strong. USB-B feels stronger than USB-C and is still common in audio equipment (and printers). Also, the USB-B connector fits tightly in the design.

I’m really happy to hear your excitement about the note layout, as that’s really the thing that started this project!

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