People love to control Ableton Live. It seems to inspire hardware designers more than any other DAW or performance software. One such designer is Galen Farrel (who sounds like he should be in Star Trek) of Envision Sound who is building what he believes to be the next generation (see!) controller for Ableton Live. Strata has reached the prototype stage and now Envision Sound are looking to see what sort of interest there may be in this new level of control.
It’s a familiar format Launchpad style controller with many light-up buttons, knobs and pads. It sort of combines Push with Maschine, with a splash of the Deluge, so it looks like something you’ve used before while at the same time giving off a vibe of complexity. I should stress that this is very much a first prototype, made by hand and so has a certain DIY quality to it. The hardware is important of course but what pushes this into the “next generation of control” is the interaction with Live.
We’ve seen wonderful things with MIDI and OSC but for Strata the magic happens with custom nativeKONTROL scripting and the ClyphX Pro Library. nativeKONTROL is the development company of Sam “Stray” Hurley and has absolutely nothing to do with Native Instruments or their Komplete Kontrol system. The ClyphX Pro Library is already being used with other MIDI controllers to add a depth of control I’ve never seen before. But Galen has been working with Sam to customise his scripts for this dedicated controller.
So what does it do?
Galen has produced over an hours worth of videos demonstrating the Strata’s functionality. They are a little slow and home-made but this whole project is solely his baby and so he has every right to be precise and methodical in his presentation.
But to try to sum it up the Strata has a multi-track approach to control where any function can be simultaneously applied to one or more tracks. So you can move relative volume across multiple tracks on a single knob, change the EQ, move the sends, panning, effects – any of the mixer functions or device parameters can be done across up to 16 tracks on a single control. The two rows of 16 knobs at the top he describes as a sideways channel strip. There’s a bank of 12 knobs for the EQ (EQ-8 loads on each track by default), another 12 for all 12 sends, and 8 in the middle for macro controls. So essentially you end up with a single control for volume, for pan etc. that can be shared simultaneously across multiple tracks. That’s pretty cool.
Along with the 16 track selection you can also select up to 12 send tracks for accessing the device parameters in the same way as the regular tracks.
There’s a whole other stuff in here too like dynamic views, where Live throws up the GUI of whatever it is you’re controlling, from mixer, to sends, to effects and device parameters and back again.
Of course it can do the whole clip launching and scene launching of any Launchpad style controller and give you performance options for recording clips, loading devices, navigation and transport. There’s a lot of stuff written on those buttons.
So Galen is at a crossroads where he’s poured a lot of himself into crafting a workflow that he believes other Live artists would benefit from and he would love to see it go into production. Obviously Kickstarter is probably going to be the next stage but for now he’s looking for people who might be interested in such a device to discuss it with him, dig into it and even try out the prototype so that he gauge whether this thing is really going to fly.
The Clyph X functionality is excellent and it does appear to offer another level of control that wasn’t there before. Is it a work flow that interests you? If so then check out the videos, get on the transporter pad and beam yourself to 10 Forward and make contact with the guy.
- Envision Sound website.