More Zynthian Workflow Updates

Coming from and MPC background means that I'm used to working with samples, but part of the reason I wanted the Zynthian was to have the ability to play with synthesizers off the computer.

Given the limitations of my current setup, I'm working towards a kind of hybrid workflow that involves the computer for precision work like cutting up samples, but otherwise leaves the rest to the Zynthian and a MIDI controller.

I've gone on before about how perfect the MPD is for the Zynthian, so I'll try not to repeat myself, but for my own records I will note how I'm using it.

The sliders that run across the top of the MPD are obviously begging to be used as volume controls, with the toggles underneath being used for track mute or pattern selection.

I've mapped the pads to cover MIDI notes 36-99, or C2 to D#7, with note-repeat set to momentary, and the MIDI clock to external. I've set up a host synced MIDI clock generator on the Zynthian to control this.

I'm not yet using the transport controls, this will be the next task. Hopefully I can assign them to record / stop record audio. I'm still pondering on the previous / next and play buttons, perhaps flipping between ZynStep (previously ZynSeq) and the control screen, or flipping between instruments.

I currently have way more rotary encoders than I need, with only four being used in most tracks, usually to control the filter cutoff and resonance of my lead and basslines. I have also been playing with program changes to have quick access to favourite synthesizer parameters.

Instrument wise I've settled with FluidSynth, LinuxSampler, and TAL NoiseMaker. For effects, I'm mostly relying on Shiroverb, TAL Filter, Calf Vintage Delay, x42 Compressor, and a MIDI Note Velocity randomiser.

Aside from EQ and occasional x-runs, the biggest issue I have right now is getting lost with MIDI channel / layer numbers, toggle / volume controls, and ZynStep pads. ZynStep works in columns, but I'd much prefer to work in rows to better reflect the physical buttons on my controller. It's a minor thing tho, and with practice I'm already much improved.

I have been tempted by an MPD232 so I can get visual feedback for toggling tracks, but I'm going to wait a while. Hopefully I can figure out a way to keep ZynStep and my MPD visually in sync without having to upgrade. For me, it really is the only thing missing from the MPD32.

Posted: 2021-02-21

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