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Pico: Multiple Midi Outputs on Pico


written by: geert

Hi Mark,

To answer you original question in this thread, we've just release 1.3.7-unstable for a factory 2 setup for the Pico. This now contains 4 AU/VST instruments and 4 Midi output instruments. Is this what you're looking for?

Take care,

Eigenlabs Software Team

written by: shamharoth

Fri, 19 Nov 2010 20:59:25 +0000 GMT

Hi all,
First of all, if I'm asking a daft question here, or it's answered elsewhere already, please feel free to tell me to RTFM.

I'm generally using my Pico to control Kontact and Kore plugins via Ableton Live. This works really well. My question is, given that I don't really use the in-built instruments when I'm doing this, is it possible to replace the sampler instruments, AU instruments, etc. with multiple Midi outputs? What I have in mind is that each instrument selection allows me to output midi on a different channel. I can then setup multiple MIDI tracks in Ableton, each responding to a separate channel, and swap from one track to the next using the Pico Mode Key. For example, drums on track one, bass on track two, keys on track three, sax on track four, etc. and then mode/instrument one to play the drums, mode/instrument two to play bass, etc.

Is it possible to create a setup like this and, if so, could someone point me in the right direction as to how?

Thanks in advance,

written by: steveelbows

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 16:55:35 +0000 GMT

Ive asked for this sort of thing a couple of times, I think we need to wait for Workbench to come out to make this sort of thing possible for us to do ourselves.

written by: shamharoth

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 20:17:49 +0000 GMT

Thanks for the reply Steve. Unfortunately Workbench seems to be vapourware at the minute. Given how long I've been waiting for a proper Windows release and the constant promises that it's just around the corner, I'll believe it when I see it. The posts that appear at the top of the search listings when you search for Workbench seem to promise it in early 2010. Similarly the Software page still promises Windows support in Summer 2010. Working in software development myself I know that these things can go back, but the constant false promises are the one thing that would stop me comitting £4K to an Alpha. Delays I can forgive, but there are currently too many things that have been 'just around the corner' for well over a year now - Workbench, Windows, OSC, Open Source...

written by: geert

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 22:34:45 +0000 GMT

Hey guys,

I don't think you'll have to wait for the Workbench for this. If I recall correctly, Dave has mentioned that he'll cover this in one of the next seminars, so you'd be able to customize this yourself with Belcanto as you see fit.

@samharoth, It's true that there have been some delays, the main reason being that we decided to do things properly based on user demands and re-architect a lot of the EigenD internals with the future in mind. This has taken quite a while and John has been very open about it. You'll see a lot happen at an accelerated pace now, the proof being that only a few weeks after the stable 1.1 release, there's now a stable 1.2 release with Windows support and an unstable 1.3 release with Stage. So yes, there has been a backlog, but it's in the process of being absorbed quite quickly now. The free seminars with user questions should help you do more advanced things with Belcanto in the meantime. Also, feel free to email customer services directly if you have a specific question, we'll do our best to help you out.

Take care,

Eigenlabs Software Team

written by: john

Sun, 21 Nov 2010 21:37:50 +0000 GMT

Hi Mark

We formally released 1.2 Stable which is Mac and Windows 7 compatible, on Friday. We haven't yet made the press/email announcement, it goes out on Tuesday, but you can download the update from the website now. Stage (our first major GUI change) was also released on Friday in the new 1.3 series, currently unstable.

Workbench is not quite vapourware, I have a copy running on my laptop right now, but it is not ready for public release yet. It also means a major break, with probably new base factory setups and a complete documentation revision for us, so it's going to take a while. We wanted to release it earlier this year, but the more we worked on the idea the more it became apparent that it needed more work, some of which had to be to the core system (which we hate tinkering with as it always brings stability worries and requires a lot of testing). It has been a complicated tool to develop. I personally hoped that it would be done by this summer, but it turns out I was far too optimistic in this regard. If you feel you've been misled in this, please accept my apologies but it really has not been possible to make it go quicker. Adding more developer resources would probably not have helped either, there is quite a waterfall of other changes to the system that had to happen before we can release it.

It also emerged that most users don't actually care about it that much and probably won't use it, so we have prioritised Stage, which as it evolves will have very direct impacts for all users. There is a subset of technically savvy players (which I think includes you, Steve and I) who really want the capabilities Workbench brings, but we are really in a minority as it turns out. My sales teams's reactions to Stage have been along the lines of 'Great', 'That's really cool' etc. Their reaction to Workbench has been rather more 'WTF is that?'. Anyone who has worked in a studio with wiring, or used MAX will feel right at home, but many players won't want to engage with the system at that level. And speaking as someone who gets annoyed sometimes at the presence of electricity when I'm playing, I have some sympathy with them.

I have to say that the thing that has slowed us up this year has been Windows. It has been a very tough port. We actually started it at the beginning of 2009 to give you some idea. It's now released though and I am looking forward to being able to spend more time on new features and less time accommodating the worlds inability to agree a common OS API. As far as OSC and open source go, I'm not giving (and I don't think I've ever given) any date. They're ambitions, they do get time here, but over the last year Windows, Stage, stability and Workbench have been pretty all consuming. Also, both of those items involve legals and politics. We've spent quite a lot of time this year talking to other vendors (including visits to other countries, which is very time consuming) about making the Eigenharps work better with their products, OSC and MIDI extensions. This is a very slow process, and there is not much we can do to speed it up.

I would also say here that we try very hard not to over promise, but it is hard when people want some visibility of our roadmap and where we are going for statements of intent (and we have a lot of intent, you have to have to make anything new) not to be taken as promises, which is what seems to have happened here. Apple solve this with extreme confidentiality, which is effective but I think pretty horrible for their community. Every time people complain about how long it takes us to get stuff done (and you're not alone Mark, don't worry I can take a little complaining!) though makes me envy Apple and wonder if we should adopt the same approach. We make code as fast as we can (and our team have been working their socks off this last couple of months getting Windows stable and Stage ready), we seriously cannot go any faster. Well, not without a corporate cocaine budget anyway, and I don't think that would wash with Isabel (our FD).


PS, just noticed Geert has posted while I've been typing (teach me to make long responses) and he is right, you should see quite a few changes in fairly rapid succession now. But please remember, I NEVER ACTUALLY SAID THAT. Neither did Geert, it is all in your imagination. My name is now Steve.

written by: shamharoth

Mon, 22 Nov 2010 20:26:36 +0000 GMT

Hi John (& Geert,)
Thanks for the comprehensive response to my concerns. Apologies if it seemed like I was ranting, but behind my moaning I hope there's a constructive point. I know that there is a constant tension between claiming too much too soon and never saying anything and therefore losing consumer interest, but my main criticisms stem more from frustration than anger. I've been lusting after an Alpha since your very first demos, so you need to see it from the other perspective as well; originally (and forgive that I can't remember exact dates here) it was clearly stated that EigenD was Mac only, however, this soon changed to 'Windows release shortly' or words to that effect. I was all set to buy an Alpha as soon as the Windows release was available, even selling my trusty Selmer sax to cover most of the cost. Unfortunately then the Windows release was delayed further and when an unstable version was let into the wild this was for Pico support only (as even the new stable release is) - something which until that point had never been mooted as far as I'm aware. Sensing that it was going to be a while I ended up buying a Pico, which I love. Six months down the line, having still seen no sign of either Alpha support or a stable release, I spent some of the cash on a Macbook Pro. I don't regret this in the slightest and, having always been a staunch Windows user, I'm now a complete convert. It's also truly freed up the Pico so that I'm not worrying about software (subject to my original question), but rather just technique. The negative from your side of the equation is that, ironically now I've got the computer to support an Alpha I can no longer afford to buy one for a while longer; the positive side is that my experiences with the Pico have only cemented my conviction that an Alpha is something I want to dedicate time to learning.

Ultimately, as the dad of two young girls and a wife who's given up work to look after them it'd be a huge gamble for me to commit nearly two months wages to an Alpha at the moment, so you have to appreciate how it's not just delivering great hardware (which I genuinely believe you have) that counts to your success, but also walking that tightrope between managing expectations whilst still keeping the devoted interested. Unfortunately in the time I've been waiting, the option prices have crept up, so now I'm looking even further down the line. The fact that I'm toying semi-seriously with releasing some equity when my mortgage tie-in ends in December means you must be doing something right though and I really hope that you succeed.

This bit's slightly off-topic, but I think you've talked previously about how you're being confounded in your aims to open-source things due to your need to keep your intellectual property secure. As a partial solution to this could you not release some kind of device driver kind of interface, whereby you could give programatic control via a 'black box'? If you could find a way to expose a fairly raw input/output interface then this in itself may take some of the pressure off, since I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there that would start delivering new apps for you. If you look at the likes of the Monome, it's that lack of contraint that has made the device so popular, and some of the most interesting devices have been written by 'entusiastic amateurs'.

Thanks again for your replies, and I hope you realise that my complaints are based around a genuine desire to see you all succeed.


P.S. Keep away from the cocaine idea - it would appear that we're both too wordy already, without any chemical motivation. ;-)

written by: bl4cksun

Mon, 22 Nov 2010 23:29:08 +0000 GMT

hey Shamharoth,
I havent tried this yet, so have no idea if it would work, but I stumbled on a free AU called MidiO. This is an AU that allows software that cant drive midi to drive midi through an AU.
If it does work, loading 2 copies of that plus the native midi support would then give you 3 midi outs.
It might need you to have upto 3 different midi devices (or to use different virtual midi devices) but it might be worth a look. I cant remember the url but found it mentioned on the KVRaudio website.
If you do get it to work, post and let us all know!

written by: shamharoth

Mon, 22 Nov 2010 23:43:49 +0000 GMT

Thanks mate. I'll have a look around for it when I get five minutes. I did wonder about using Plogue Bidule for something similar, but I understand that I'd have to pay for that. A freebie would be ideal, especially if it were just a short-term solution until it can be done natively.

written by: dkah

Wed, 1 Dec 2010 14:30:54 +0000 GMT

How about something like closed beta? You let us (the people who like to tinker and can work with unfinished, unstable stuff and maybe help you find bugs) try your not yet for public, but usable software and we promise we will just complain to your bug database, not expect manuals and not hold it against you if the software crashes or behaves odd. You get testers, we get toys, that's why closed beta was invented.

written by: john

Wed, 1 Dec 2010 14:54:56 +0000 GMT

Well that would just mean restricting access to 'Unstable' (which as you may have noticed we try to release early and often on), which seems a little hostile to me. We may end up doing that as our user community grows, but it is nice to be as open as possible while we can, and it's a lot less administration to just keep it voluntary. We do sometimes have a branch running that is not released externally and is restricted (like the current forthcoming iPhone app or the 2.0.X branch now running) but we do try to avoid this as much as possible, its nice to share.


written by: Lowdene

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 06:45:21 +0000 GMT

One of the great tings about this company is that there is a chairman who can be so articulate, honest and enthusiastic about the what they are trying to achieve. This in itself gives me great faith in the future and is worth some of the price of admission! Music is a passion of mine, not a profession and my livelihood does not depend on it, so I tend to be more relaxed in waiting for developments and to be honest I have a lot of catching up to do, not having got beyond the first two seminars because of other commitments .

John, one of your comments worried me: users are not interested in Workbench. How do you know this? One of the troubles of knowing whether someone is interested or not in some future development is that they can't really know what it will do for them, how their creativity may be allowed to expand through the development. Ten years ago a small group of us had the idea that we could develop a new fast technology for reading the complete human genetic code (genome). When we tried to raise money for the project, no one could really understand what that could mean for science and medicine. It was a struggle. Everyone saw it just in terms of where the world stood at that time and what could incrementally change. We persisted and we got it to work. It has revolutionised biological science and is about to do the same for medicine over the next 10 years. The technology is being used in ways even we did not imagine.

So my point is, people find it very difficult to know and articulate whether they want something when that thing is in the future and they can't see it, touch it, use it.

I think I'd probably be interested in Workbench, but no one's asked me, and I've no idea what it might do for me.


written by: mikemilton

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 13:21:47 +0000 GMT

Thank you, John

The openness is appreciated and it is interesting to hear everyone's experiences.


written by: dhjdhj

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 14:32:29 +0000 GMT

If I may be candid, I have precisely the same concern ---- from the very beginning, once I was able to convince myself that the Alpha was worth having (in spite of my poor experience at the store trying it out), I have had a vision for how I want (and expect) it to work for me. My desired use (an extremely expressive controller to be integrated into my existing environment) seems to be totally opposite to the vision coming from the company (the eigenharp is the center of the universe, change the environment) and I certainly feel that the feedback from customers whose view doesn't fit the current model is being vaguely ignored.

This is a pity --- I've had much more success with my own companies when, after releasing a product I thought was perfect, my customers provided feedback and insights that often changed by 180 degrees some of the functionality and EVERYONE was better off. There's a reason why "market-driven" is a valuable concept.

I'm still hoping for someone to show me (and I've offered to pay support several times already) how to reconfigure my alpha so it just sends out "enough" data that I can process it with my existing tools (including Max if necessary). It was my understanding that Workbench would allow me to do this.


Lowdene said:
John, one of your comments worried me: users are not interested in Workbench

written by: john

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 16:18:11 +0000 GMT

Hi Nick

Most users truly aren't that interested in what Workbench offers. They will be greaty interested in the results of what other people can do with it I think, but they don't want to get involved in that level of technical detail. Talking about listening to our customers, this is what I hear when I talk to them (which I do quite a lot). It's less in what they ask for, its more in how they want it delivered, and smart tools to enable a rich configuration environment are not on the desired menu. They just want setups that do exactly what they want, but they don't want to have to understand how it works, what it does or anything really. Many of them don't have much of a grasp of MIDI, and aren't even that interested. As I've said before, I have sympathy with this view, even though I don't share it entirely. People genuinely want instruments more like a guitar and less like a modular Moog, though they want the sound of the Moog, they don't want the headache of figuring out how to connect it up.

There are a small group who are very, very interested in Workbench (ah, and how many of you would love to own a big Moog Modular I wonder?) as they wish to customise and adapt the instruments and EigenD, usually quite extensively. This group includes pretty much all the people really active here (and many of you are programmers in another life, so it's no big surprise), all the players at Eigenlabs and myself. Workbench is going to be very cool for them (us) and since that includes the dev team and myself, you shouldn't worry about its prospects, it is progressing well. But if we are talking about market driven, the market (particularly the broader market) doesn't really care, however much this might disappoint me, and I suspect you..

What I do think (and hope) will happen is that Workbench will begin a sharing of cool setups on the Wiki and forum, so that those who don't want to grapple with the complexities of notes, events, signals etc can benefit from others who do. This was my original dream for the Eigenharps, that the flexibility would enable a category of player to evolve who would blaze the way in creating fantastic playing environments. We didn't get the tools right to start with to make this work, but we are now very close to having them. I think we're going to have fun with them.

On a different note, Geert has a really nice MIDI routing matrix going into the 1.3 series shortly, for both AU/VST and MIDI ports. I think that this will allay many of the MIDI data concerns here, it provides a great deal of flexibility about what data goes where.

And on a final note I will say that the design ethos of the Eigenharps is to be a musical instrument, a thing for making great noises, and for doing that live, onstage and with other musicians. This is our primary focus. It is not intended that its primary purpose is a piece of studio equipment, highly integrated into a rich studio setup, however useful it might be in that category. In the same way that keyboards and guitars do fit into a studio, we want the Eigenharp to fit well too, so increasing levels of interoperability is important to us and will be happening steadily as time goes on, mainly I suspect through OSC. But it is not the main driver and has never been (and I don't think that we have ever indicated that it was), our main focus is getting them out on stage, and providing musicians with the tools to make this better. In order to do this well we are forced into repeating a surprising number of features already present in other software, as those features are often MIDI centric, can't cope with the data rates or require fairly demanding setups (in the technical sense) that a lot of musicians just aren't interested in.


written by: steveelbows

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 16:27:04 +0000 GMT

As someone who has been vocal about various shortcoming since the Pico first came out, and who has had to be patient because none of the features I need were a priority, I have a few comments.

Firstly I dont get the sense that John thinks that workbench is unimportant to a range of users, Im sure they are keenly aware of people wanting this stuff badly. The impression I get is that during the development years, some miscalculations were made about how various aspects of the system should work, and the diversity of functionality & interoperability that people would be expecting. At some point in the last year these new realities have been taken onboard, but the realities of being a relatively small company mean they cannot deliver the wide and deep changes fast enough to please us all. Broadly speaking I have been reassured by Johns words on these subjects in recent months, and although I could argue about the exact priorities and still have a few concerns about whether I will be able to do what I need even when workbench comes out, all I can reasonably do is wait and see what happens over the next 12 months.

One thing that has ruffled my feathers in recent weeks is that I lost access to the forum or the ability to download software from the website. When I contacted support, they explained that you get 1 year support when you buy the instrument, and that had run out for me. They addeda free month to my account whilst they work out the option to buy more support, but I was totally horrified that I may be expected to pay to post on this forum. And given the state of the software, Im not overjoyed about the prospect of paying more money to get newer versions of that at this stage either. I strongly urge Eigenlabs not to start charging their customers for this stuff at this stage, because the bottom line for me is that you released your instruments before the software was really ready, I can live with the inconvenience, just about, but to be asked to pay more money at this stage feels like a slap in the face.

edited to say that I wrote this post before Johns reply showed up, so Im a bit out sync.

written by: carvingCode

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 17:03:33 +0000 GMT

Charging for participating in support forums and downloading updates to software? (I can understand the necessity for periodic upgrade fees (for major upgrades) when software is stable, fully functional and upgrades are not absolutely necessary to performance.)

But charging for participating in support forums? All current Eigenharp owners are alpha and beta testers for the company. So, why consider charging any of us? Reminds me of the recent reply about my concern for lack of documentation. The company would rather charge buyers for tutorials than provide the classic type of documentation provided by every significant software provider.

Additionally, the assumptions about what the average player wants out of the Eigenharp seem out of step with what many are requesting. Why not develop the hardware and software, provide appropriate resources and documentation and let the user base determine how they want to use the instrument?

These is not the marks of a friendly, sustainable company. They are mistakes shared by hundreds of new companies that have failed before they could develop a user base large enough to sustain them.

I hope Eigenlabs reconsiders the path it's on.

written by: john

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 17:15:03 +0000 GMT

Hi Steve

Ongoing support (beyond the first year bundled with our instruments) is going to be chargeable starting shortly, we just haven't had the time to put the billing mechanisms into the website yet and we're still looking at what we're going to charge and for what.

I appreciate your point about the software, but 1.2 is a good release, decently stable and Windows 7 compatible. It's available right now. It might not have all the features that you want (what software ever does?) but it cannot continue to be developed without a paid programming team, and that revenue has to come from somewhere. The profit margin from selling you an instrument does not contain sufficient provision to cover support beyond one year.

Part of our revenue model has to include charging for ongoing support, it is a substantial cost. I can't think of any company who provides permanent free support for a product at no charge (Apple only bundle 3 months with many products now), and I think our support is of good quality. It is probable that our general revenue model with software and support will need to get more complex in the coming years. We intend, for example, to charge for the IOS version of Stage once it is in full Stable and available through the appstore and some other components of our software system may become chargeable as well.

If we want to end up with an ongoing viable business (which I believe to be in everyone's interests) these things are not optional for us, however uncomfortable the thought might be. We can't continue to offer the level of support we do without charging for it (and I might add that it is highly unlikely that support charges will come anywhere near covering support costs for those subscribers in the next year or two, it will still be heavily susidised).


written by: steveelbows

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 18:10:18 +0000 GMT

I dont mind paying for iOS version of Stage at all.

I wouldnt mind paying for support, but I dont really count the forum as being the premium support channel, especially when a proportion of my posts here are trying to help other people.

I have mixed feelings about the charging for software in future. I dont think its a model people tend to expect when buying hardware in this day and age. And I dont think its the model hardware companies use to keep their business viable either, surely making the software better is an ongoing thing that is supposed to make your product sell better as time goes on. Maybe this plan will work ok at some point, but I think the fact the timescale for workbench availability slipped makes it a bit of a dangerous decision at this stage of the game. This really doesnt feel like the sort of thing Id expect to happen in 2010, and reduces your overall chances of success as far as Im concerned. Im well aware that I only bought your cheapest instrument but my word, if I had purchased an Alpha then I think I would be quite upset indeed that the thousands were not considered enough to provide ongoing support & evolution of the product without many further charges. I imagine that lots of these problems are due to the issue of scale, customers have grown use to a mass-produced world where stuff is cheap, and you are operating in something of a niche at present. I want you to succeed, I would not want you to listen to me if it robbed you of income necessary to prosper, but at the same time I am extremely concerned that you may be making decisions which dont help your prospects.

When I ordered the Pico I hoped that I may get on with it so well that I could go around the net making lots of happy and positive noise about it. Various things, some small and some larger, have scuppered my ability to evangelise this stuff. I've been waiting for the day that changes and I can be positive, now I am concerned that day will not come and I may as well just sell my Pico and move on.

written by: natcl

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 19:01:01 +0000 GMT

Given the price of the instrument I'm quite shocked to see there are plans to charge for the software, since it's an integral part of the instrument by itself. The thing that drew me to the Eigenharp is the fact the instrument is still evolving, but if I have to pay like I pay software upgrades, I'm not sure I'm in. I'd rather wish the whole protocol was open and I could just code my own instruments.

For Stage on the iPhone I don't really mind if you charge for it as since you're using OSC we can use any OSC client to send info to EigenD, I just hope you won't close the access.

written by: john

Thu, 2 Dec 2010 19:11:20 +0000 GMT

Hi Steve

We haven't yet decided what our ongoing support levels and charges are going to be (or even if the forums will be open or closed to people who have bought support, so everyone please calm down about that, its likely it'll be some kind of mix), so your input is useful thanks.

You are quite correct that many people have become used to hardware being accompanied by free software, but if you look around you will find quite a rich mixture of revenue models. Apple are perhaps the best example, they make high volume, high quality products with a big software component, the core of which they give away with the hardware. It's important to note though that they do charge for many major system upgrades, which they generally make every year or so, and they also charge (highly in my opinion) for ongoing support beyond what is often a short initial period. They also have a lot of value add applications that they sell on the basic platform, all of which have often quite substantial maintenance costs beyond the first year.

They also make hardware that is quite frankly soon obsolete. This is part of their business model, and since they sell you a new phone every 2-3 years, they get recurring revenue from you. I would dearly hope that someone with an Alpha will still be playing it in ten years, it is not a piece of consumer stuff, its a musical instrument, but that means if I don't charge you for support I might never see any more revenue from you, even though you incur costs with us every year.

We are not in the position Apple occupy, either from the maturity of software point of view or volume of manufacture point of view, but it does not seem unreasonable to be charging for ongoing upgrades beyond an initial year, particularly if we can keep those costs sensible. as part of an overall revenue mix. If the price of our instruments has to cover all ongoing support and software development for all our customers they will have to get substantially more expensive in the future. I don't think this is fair to potential new players, or sane from a commercial point of view.

As you may be aware, I am not the only investor in Eigenlabs, and I have also to justify the very substantial ongoing cost of software development and what it means to the company to my fellow shareholders. It is very hard to do so if it is all free, even more so in the light of me wanting to GPL the core system. From a forward planning point of view we need to see ongoing revenue from our customers, however small it might be, in order to justify substantial continued investment in developing the software beyond what is needed to simply sell instruments. This is not an unusual model for any business (and I have started, grown and sold a number of software businesses in the past with a fair degree of success, it's not exactly foreign territory to me) and I am unclear really as to why anyone thinks that we're might be either unfriendly or lacking in openness (sorry carvingCode, that sounds a bit snippy and I don't mean it that way - I do understand what you mean, I just don't think that it makes us unpleasant or commercially in error) by charging for things that cost money.


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