Striso and other (Soft-)Synths


I’m curious if other Striso users can share their experiences with controlling external MPE enabled Synths (preferably soft-synths). Do you have any favourites? Which stand-alone devices work well with the default Striso parameter ranges or are easy to tune so they are playable in a nice way? I have tried to get some of the MPE-enabled instruments in Ableton to work but so far I haven’t gotten to an experience as good as the build-in sound. If anybody has good patches / presets etc… they can share please let me know.

I am happy to temporarily stop playing the Striso (upon which I get some hours a day; one would think I’d be better by now, but am an "old rookie) and share.

Here’s what I use (and admittedly, on the cheap, so no overwhelming hundred-dollar standalone instruments, or anything):

  1. ThumbJam, and many of the free additional voices. While they don’t all “move” like some others, I use Tenor Sax, Concertina, Violin and Viola and Cello, Banjo, Cittern…you name it, and I probably use it. I use them as individual voices, but also as combinations with #s 2 and 3, below:

  2. Roli 5D, which was free, but I bought a couple of 4 dollar 12-packs of instruments, so I’d get nice acoustic sounds like Duduk and Steel String Guitar and lots of orchestral sounds. These sound wonderful by themselves, and have quite a few options with adjusters at the top. More important to me is the abilitiy to “feed” them with ThumbJam sounds (without hassle or complications) so they get enriched, depending upon my choice. I like TJam Acoustic Guitar with Roli Steel String, for instance.

  3. And here, it gets kind of nice in other ways: I use GeoShred, which comes with nice synth sounds of all sorts, and some good instruments, but the real sweet sounds, to my ear, come from some elegant add-ons of “acoustic model” instruments, from SWAM and Naada. SWAM winds I like: Clarinet, Oboe, Flute for favorites; and I bought 2 Naada instruments; Duduk and Erhu. The Duduk is nice, but only an octave and a half, and the Erhu is very cool. Each (and all Geo instruments) comes in 10 or more variants, so much to experiment with. Now, my favorite Geo instrument is the Oboe, which also has a limitted scale (maybe 2 octaves) so what I do for it and Duduk is to pick a compatible ThumbJam voice (Tenor Sax, usually) so that the notes above and below the Geo range still sound when I push, and the result is not very noticeable when I only get the ThumbJam note at top or bottom of a run or phrase.

I realize that when I add all the instruments I put in GeoShred, it is a hundred bucks. But ThumbJam was, like, 12 dollars and Roli free plus about 8 dollars worth of options. All told, still a relatively inexpensive hobby, at least compared to my concertinas!

I bet others will weigh in with (probably) completely different favorites, which is part of what’s so cool about Striso and all these new controllers. So far, I have only played them “in public” over JamKazam, Jamulus, and Sonobus platforms, and shared some quick samples in SoundTrap (which I forgot to mention, has many, many sounds/instruments, including some very nice ones, and lots of “DAW-like” options and easy remote sharing, though not real-time) but nobody has turned me (and those sounds) away from sessions. I don’t expect the same (not yet, anyway) from my local Irish Trad or Old Time sessions, but in time, I suspect my little Striso and iPad and small speaker will be at least as acceptable as, say, a Roland digital accordion. Those “look” acoustic, but certainly have more in common with Striso under the skin than with vibrating metal reeds, eh?

And, one more I forgot: My friend Aaron has used his with Surge, a free and open-source major synth for PCs, and more, and it sounded amazing, but my old laptop doesn’t like it so much, yet. I need to try harder with it, but it doesn’t work on my iPad so would not be portable, by my standards. So far, everything I would take out to play fits in a large shoebox, with lots of room to spare! I suppose “shoebox plus laptop” would still be portable, but the iPad has me hooked…odd that I don’t like Garage Band.

I’ve mostly used the Striso with Pigments. It’s just a great softsynth, and I can map the velocity, aftertouch, y-axis and acceleration sensors to any parameter I want. It also allows me to remap the velocity and aftertouch to a curve, making it easier to consistently play moderately loud when playing with an amplified band without using a compressor where I don’t want one.

Thanks a lot for the suggestions so far.

Those look great, I should have mentioned however that I don’t have any iOS phone or tablet, those only seem to be available on those platforms and e.g. not as VST instruments on regular Mac OSX or on Android. Unless there’s a way to run iOS apps as VST that I’m not aware about, I’m afraid I need to pass on those otherwise great sounding suggestions.

Surge and Pigments look cool too and seem to have a VST or Mac standalone option, will play around with those a bit and see if I find any presets I can start working with.

As for VSTs, apart from SurgeXT, I really enjoy Plasmonic by Rhizomatic (Absynth developer) and of course Roli’s Equator.

Connecting to the Eagen Matrix on my ContinuuMini is also great.

And I should have considered that not everyone uses iPads. I do imagine Surge XT and maybe Pigments will offer opportunities to explore with your Striso! I have to look at Plasmonic…