SSP vs Paca[rana]

So having never heard of the Paca or Pacarana, or even the Wormhole until reading this and googling it, take my response with a grain of salt.

Firstly, it appears to be a DSP processing solution. It requires a computer and Firewire / USB interface. The Pacarana has 2GB of Ram, where the Paca has only 1GB. The SSP is a dedicated DSP processing solution as well, with 2GB of Ram, and a by design upgrade-able CPU module.

From their own FAQ we have the following sample and playback info:

What is the longest sample you can store in RAM?

At 44.1 kHz, the longest individual sample you can capture live or read off the disk is 50 minutes long. The total composite sample duration that you can store on a Pacarana is 200 minutes (more than 3 hours-worth). If you have an individual sample that is longer than 50 minutes, you can trigger it and stream it directly off the hard disk in Kyma.

The SSP however, has no such limit other than the amount of space available on your SD card. This means you can record 16 individual input channels via the CV inputs jacks (which are DC coupled and can therefore be used with audio or CV, and the sampler/recorder can record it all) (and they are retained as channels within the single recording) and 8 individual output channels via the SSPs 8 DC coupled outputs. (all of the same applies) That is a total of 24 channels and up 192 kHz/32 bit, without a limit to sampling length, or playback length. You can also record from your SSP into your mac or PC, and from your Mac or PC into the SSP.

Entry level cost for the Paca is almost 3 grand, and you require a computer, and interface as well. The Pacarana is 4400 USD and you of course still need a computer and interface. You also presumably need a DAW and software with it to get the most out of it.

The SSP is all inclusive, and is a platform that VSTs and other DSP based software can freely run on. 2 grand for the module. You’ll need to provide your own power and case at a minimum. However beyond this the SSP is ready to go.

As the specific processors are not mentioned on the website, and I’m too lazy to truly look, I’ll also mention that the Paca and Pacarana come with 2 and 4 processors respectively. I’m going to guess these are Sharc chips. The SSP is a quad core A17 running at 1.8Ghz. There doesn’t seem to be any updates on the Paca sight since 2010. This is 8 years. In the processor realm this is an eternity. I would say that the SSP is even more capable than the Paca, but I’m ignorant of course in the facts to truly commit to this.

The SSP is also a platform meant for community development from both VST developers and individuals. It is a platform that will continue to grow.

I’d say check out some of the Superbooth videos, and let me know if you have any specific questions.

It is a bright day in the modular world, and a bright day for synthesis!

Hi Matt,

Thank you for your extensive reply; it’s appreciated.

Though, to be honest, it doesn’t really address my questions.
To me, it’s not really about what’s inside the box, but rather about how the user interface (aka the software layer, possibly combined with hardware access) allows the user to interact with it in a meaningful & inspiring, and hopefully also in a musical way.
The actual hardware is mostly irrelevant, and is often overrated. The Paca[rana]'s dedicated hardware might be a decade old, but it (still) sounds incredible and is still powerful enough to accommodate the needs of the most discerning musician/sound-designer. So there’s no need to change that (yet).

BTW: the Paca[rana] is designed to operate on its own (plus a dedicated audio interface, just for the I/O), in a live environment. It does not need a DAW and/or other external software. It has its own sound-making and compositional tools (Kyma 7), with which you can interact. It has an endless list of algo’s & modules with which one can generate, well, anything. And it allows you to combine all of that in a so-called Multi-grid, which can be seen as a sort of DAW-like multitrack machine.

And I’m not seeing that in the SSP. As far as I understand – blame it on the lack of any serious documentation – the SSP does not offer any tools for composition and/or live interaction with that. For instance, can I “pre-compose” a kind of backing track (for lack of a better word), then interact with it in real-time, and at the same time feed it 4 “live channels” of analog input, which are treated & processed interactively in any way I see fit (live) ? Because that’s exactly what a Paca[rana] does.

To me – with all due respect – the SSP just looks like a very sophisticated software synth/sampler/and-a-bit-more with which you can assemble a chain of “modules”, just like I would do with a modular synth. That’s fine, and there’s basically nothing wrong with that – taking your laptop off-stage and put it instead in a dedicated box – but… can I compose with it ? Or, in a simpler form, could I have say, 16 of these “plug-in chains” run simultaneously and select any of them, or Xfade/morph between them, and do this with live interaction ? Or, and this is what my questions were about, can I feed it four analog sources (mostly synths), process them with near-zero-latency, and interact with these in a non-linear, real-time quadrophonic environment (panning would then be one of those interactions) ?

If not, then the SSP just looks like a programmable FX/plug-in box to me. But I’m not sure (hence my questions), because there doesn’t seem to be much detailed documentation available. So, in effect (no pun), I feel it’s hard to commit to it, because I’m not really sure what it can or cannot do. Given the fact that its 2k price tag is the same as a well-documented, well-supported Paca, the SSP suddenly becomes a whole lot less attractive from a composer’s point of view… But again, I don’t really know; I might be wrong, but there’s not much to go by for now…

Addendum: I don’t really care about the recording/sampling capabilities (of both machines) – if I want to record (an unlimited amount of) tracks, I can use a DAW or similar. And I’m pretty sure that 192kHz/32bit is overkill (for me); that’s not really a prerequisite to arrive at pristine audio quality.

I’ve seen Bert at SB18. But did not talk to him; too busy, too hectic, too noisy.

So, to conclude… where’s the proper documentation to convince me that this is the machine for me ?

cheers,
_Guy

Hahaha, thanks for your extensive reply!

The documentation is being worked on. The main drive as far as I’ve seen working with Bert and Celine testing is that getting the firmware and hardware ready has been the main focus. The firmware is still very much in development, which of course makes documentation difficult. A quick start guide is being worked on now. I imagine it will take quite some time to get the depth of documentation you are probably looking for.

I can try to explain the workflow if that will help:

You have 4 pages or menus accessed by dedicated menu button on the front panel. These menus are the global menu, network grid (Or modular view), processor view (Or module view), and the recorder. You spend most of your time in the network and processor view.

The network grid is made up of a 2 by 64 grid giving you 128 possible slots to add modules. Very much like how you put a modular physically together. You can add the built in modules, and because of the SDK which is forthcoming, anything the community and audio developers potentially bring forward in the future. The intention being that you modular catalog will consist of hundreds of modules to choose from. (This is one thing that interested me the most as a software engineer. The SDK will follow the VST SDK/Standard as close as possible, making it possible for existing VSTs to be recompiled for the ARM/Linux platform, where it will then run natively on the SSP and can be used like any other built in module.)

In the network grid you add modules, and then make connections between them. This connection system is very powerful and lets you route anything to anything. Just like a modular synth. You can route signals internally, or take signals from your rack and use them. You could process these signals and then send them back out to your rack.You have full access to the 16 inputs and 8 outputs. You also have access to the full range of midi thanks to the USB midi compliant compatibility.

The proc menu lets you work in detail with a module. The Network grid is like looking at your modular system as a whole, and the proc menu is like drilling down and working with just one module. Here you can fine tune the module, with each module in the SSP having their own interface here. Developers are free to use this space as they see fit, but there are of course going to be a few recommendation to help those modules match the existing firmware conventions.

The recorder is a dedicated always running sampler / recorder. It can record anything the SSP creates and outputs to any of the 8 outputs, and can record anything from the 16 inputs. This includes audio and CV. The resulting wave files can be used in internal modules, or used elsewhere by taking the files off the sd card.

The intended workflow is to build up a system and patch. You can then save it and recall it as a preset from the global menu.

I’m working on a video that shows this workflow by setting up just a small patch. As the SSP is a sandbox, there really is no right or wrong way to use it. It’s just important that the user understands what all it can do, so they can truly go wild. I’ve been through a bunch of versions of this video already. Being a noob at making videos it’s taking longer than I thought. Still it should be here in a week or so. Maybe it will help explain all this a little more.

what i am missing here is the word / function multi-timbrality
how many presets can you run/address at the same time?

  • playability / intuitivity / interactivity are words that score high on the ‘inspiring/classic instrument’ index

Hi Guy, thanks for your post. I am going to reply to your questions in a few hours, currently away from my computer.

You currently work with one preset (patch) at a time. While this could change in the future, I don’t see it needing to. Don’t think of a traditional preset you might have on a Korg or something, think instead about a patch you have on a larger modular system. Not everything is always working towards the same goal in such a system. You could have many different things happening either in unison with one another, or you could have them all working independently of each other. Such is the case on the SSP. The grid is just like a modular system. You could have as many out, sound sources, filters, effects, modulation, etc. as you want. There are no predefined associations with these modules, and as such you are free to connect them however you want.

You can, as I have, have a preset (patch) that is doing many things all very different from each other. I’ve had a 3 layer 4 voice ‘kit’ (I guess that is how I would call it) which consisted of 3 different sound sources per voice, as well as individual envelopes and filters. It was a complete thing. But right next to that in the grid I had a modulation source, which I was using to affect the 3 layer 4 voice kit, and also external modules in my rack. Next to that in the grid was a sound processing ‘kit’, which took audio from my rack, filtered it using interval envelopes and filters, added delay and reverb and then sent separately from all the other sounds the SSP was making at the time out to my rack again.

The SSP’s firmware is very robust and open. There are of course almost an infinite number of things which could be implemented in the SSP. The open nature of the platform means that in time there really isn’t anything the SSP couldn’t potentially do in the future.

To compare the SSP and the Kyma DSP platform it’s best to compare computation speed/power, onboard I/O, storage options and software and workflow.

Computation Speed:

paca - 19 capstones
pacarana - 40 capstones
wormhole - 60+ capstones

1 capstone equals the computational power of 1 Capybara-320 DSP.

The DSPs used in the Capybara-320 are 24-bit Motorola 56309 DSPs. Datasheet here - https://www.nxp.com/docs/en/reference-manual/DSP56309UM.pdf

The Motorola 56309 DSP can do 100 MIPS and 100MHz clock speed. So 1 capstone is 100 MIPS. So we get:

paca - 19 capstones = 1900 MIPS
pacarana - 40 capstones = 4000 MIPS
wormhole - 60+ capstones = 6000+ MIPS

The CPU in the SSP is a quad-core A17 at 1.8GHz (=1800 MHz), which means it can do 4x 1800 MIPS = 7200 MIPS. This is more than the kyma wormhole.

The best way to compare the processors would have been using DMIPS figures but I could not find a figure for the motorola DSP because by now, it is a very old processor, already out of production. It won’t be long before this DSP becomes unavailable. ARM processors by contrast leverage a lot of new and cutting edge technology in processor design and will be here to stay for many years into the future.

The SSP does 20,000 DMIPS which is about 40x the processor power of a tyical digital eurorack module based on a Cortex-M.

Onboard I/O:

The wormhole does not have any converters, you have to buy and connect an audio interface to it. The SSP has onboard audio converters for 16-in and 8-out at 192kHz/32 bit.

The SSP has device and host USB 2.0 ports so you can connect USB midi controllers to it and record directly into your computer via USB. The Kyma platform does not have a USB device port to record into your computer with. The SSP does not have ethernet or firewire ports although you can connect an USB-ethernet adapter to it.

The SSP integrates perfectly into your eurorack system, including having DC-coupled I/O with eurorack-compliant voltages. This means you can record, process and generate audio, cv and gate signals interchangeably on the SSP. The Kyma platform does not do any of this and was not designed necessarily to exist and function within the eurorack ecosystem.

Storage:

The SSP can do multichannel recording (16 in and 8 out simultaneously at up to 192kHz) to SD flash cards and can load/store/manage samples on SD cards. The kyma platform does not have an SD card slot. I’m not sure if you can use USB sticks with the kyma platform.

The SSP has 2GB of RAM. The Kyma platform’s RAM depends on the system you choose. Both platforms can be upgraded. The SSP’s hardware design allows for Flash, RAM and CPU upgrades in the future.

Software and workflow:

The kyma systems require you to use software on your computer to make patches. The SSP does not, you do everything on the SSP itself.

The module library on the kyma platform is extensive. The library of modules on the SSP is growing, and we already have the most important modules already to build complex synthesis patches (LFO, envelope generator, step sequencer, sampler, wavetable oscillator, granular synthesis, filters, etc).

There is also an SDK we will be releasing which allows anyone to make modules for the SSP. Since we plan to keep the SDK as close as possible to the VST standard this means that anyone with pre-existing VST instrument or plugin code will find it relatively easy to port their stuff over.

Documentation:

Right now there is limited documentation for the SSP available. Luckily the menu system is very simple to use, and we do have the essential pieces of info that you need to start using the system. More will become available as all backers start to use the SSP.

Value:

So does the SSP do what you want? I made a list of things you asked for. I think it ticks all the boxes:

  • self-contained (need to bring your own eurorack skiff/power supply)
  • high-end
  • hardware based
  • modern hardware design with the latest CPUs on board
  • eurorack compliant I/O
  • ability to build multi-timbral patches (only one patch runs at a time but you can build multiple chains within one patch)
  • run multiple processing chains in parallel with live interaction
  • ability to play back audio files to certain channels while at the same time processing sound on other channels
  • no seperate audio interface necessary
  • easy to learn patching system
  • machine for live performances
  • can process several audio streams in realtime with near-zero latency
  • controllable by external cv/gate
  • being able to spit out quadrophonic sound (8 outputs available)
  • not just your typical pitch shifting, reverb FX
  • more of a modular approach
  • reasonable price
  • easy to use good looking GUI with shallow menu system
  • no seperate computer necessary to patch or use it

The wormhole starts at 6828 USD and the SSP is only 2000 USD. I think it’s pretty clear the SSP is amazing value for money.

If you want the SSP in a non-eurorack format we have the ENGINE/REMOTE system (same hardware) as well. Same CPU and software and similar high quality converters.

We are in Belgium at the moment for manufacturing and shipping of the SSPs. If you want to come by for a demo send me a personal message.

Hope this helps!

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speaking of which
can/could the REMOTE be used to control the SSP?

I’m not Bert, but there is no reason why it couldn’t. It actually connects to the engine via USB as well. Very cool stuff. Would need some tweaking in the firmware I’d imagine though.

The big question though really becomes why would you want to do that?

Since the SSP can handle midi, you could plug in any midi controller and use it through out the sytem already.

Support for the REMOTE in the software has been there from the start because the ENGINE and REMOTE existed before the SSP did.

However, with the changes that have been made to the software the past year with the introduction of the SSP, I have some modifications I need to do to make the key mapping identical on the REMOTE to what it is on the SSP at the moment. Not a lot of work but something I need to find a few days for.

The nice thing is that the REMOTE integrates seamless with the SSP, no MIDI mapping to do. So you can connect it via USB (HID) and it instantly works. The key and encoder layout is identical as on the SSP.

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Wowsa. I’ve opened a can of wormholes. :wink:

Bert, et all, thank you for taking the time to reply & explain.

A few things…

Bert, you’re comparing the SSP with the Capybara('s Motorola processor). That’s not really fair, since the Capy is out of production for quite a while, and has been replaced by the Pacarana & Paca systems, since 2009 or thereabouts. Though nobody seems to know which DSP’s are inside the Paca[rana], I’m pretty sure it isn’t ye olde Moto’s anymore… Carla & Kurt have been doing this since 1989, so I reckon they know what they’re doing.

Furthermore, the Wormhole isn’t a system an sich. It’s just several Paca[rana]'s hooked up to each other via ethernet. So, if you’re chaining 8 Pacarana’s – like they do in the Lucasfim studios – you’re looking at 16.000 MIPS (*), blowing the SSP straight out of the water. Admittedly, my wife wouldn’t be happy if I’d spend 32k$ on some small boxes. :exploding_head:

(*) This is assuming their processors do 100 MIPS @ 100MHz. I’m guessing they’re a lot faster now.

Then there’s the philosophy behind the Kyma systems. There’s a reason why it’s “just a simple box”, and it’s a very important reason. All that box needs to do, is process audio. Nothing else. It doesn’t have to drive a fancy OLED display (and losing ticks in doing so), it doesn’t have to care about IO protocols nor does it have to convert A to D and back (since that’s what the external Audio Interface deals with), etc… All audio processing is always sample accurate. Everything it needs to do – and there’s really a lot of it – it does within that sample.

On top of that, literally, sits the Kyma software. It’s been around for nearly 30 years, which could be translated to “being an adult”. Compared to such vast history & experience, the SSP’s software is not even “a toddler”, I’m sorry to say. Having just some basic modules like an LFO, envelope generator, step sequencer, sampler, wavetable oscillator, granular synthesis, filters and a bit more… well, is not really a lot nor does it carry a lot of weight, compared to Kyma’s thousands and thousands of building blocks (“Prototypes”).
And herein lies the biggest difference between the Kyma and the SSP. Kyma’s Prototypes can be regarded as quarks, whilst SSP modules are more something like a complete atom, or even a molecule. SSP modules are “set”, or fixed. “Here’s your VCO”… which is fine by itself, but what if I want to build my own VCO (or 16.000 of them running in parallel) ? Or what if I want to build my own formant filter, but I want it to process only the “a” vowels of an incoming live audio stream ?

I’m guessing your answer will be "but sure you can, with our SDK."
Alas, I’m not a programmer. Nor do I feel the need to be one… So I’ll be stuck with whatever the SSP team or its user base-with-programming-skills has to offer me.
And, in worst case scenario, Kyma still can’t do what I require, there’s always CapyTalk, on top of Kyma. Granted, an old-school programming language based on Smalltalk, but it’s easier to learn for idiots like me than any modern hi-level language like C or C++. In case I would need it (which I most likely wouldn’t).

Let me add one more thing in favour of the Kyma system… indeed, you need a computer to “program” it {initially}, but once you’ve done that, you can disconnect the computer, and take just the Paca[rana] with you on stage. Apparently it’s also very reliable, and will never ever crash. There’s a famous example out there of a performance which had a laptop hooked up to a Pacarana, which (of course) crashed, but the Pacarana happily went on working, and the audience didn’t even notice anything.

Let me conclude by trying to compare both systems, {obviously} without really knowing the SSP (so please forgive me my ignorance).

  • The SSP, in simple terms, is a digital modular synth/sampler. Granted, a very sophisticated & powerful one, but still kind of a closed system, like synths generally are. If I wanted to change the innards of one of its modules – akin to modifying the hardware of a VCO to adapt it to my needs (which I can actually do, btw) – I’d be stuck {because I ain’t no programmer}. And just like the SSP’s analog counterpart, a modular synth, I can’t really compose with it; I can only try to come up with a clever patch which might disguise itself as a whole composition, but really isn’t it.
  • The Kyma system is like having a whole laboratory of resistors, caps, etc available, without limitations. I could use these to build my own modules, but that’s not even necessary; there’s plenty of modules (“sounds”, in Kyma speak) available. Then I’d build a “patch” with these. After that, I’d save that patch as a new sound (comprised of n modules, made with n resistors etc). Then I’d repeat that, and again and again, until I have something like 24 “full synths” running simultaneously. But I’m not done yet. I take all of that stuff, and put it in a linear timeline and/or non-linear multi-grid… which really is a simple way of saying that I’m actually creating a fully-fledged composition there.

Of course, Bert, I wouldn’t be happier if you could convince me that the SSP is a system for me, so yes, I’d love to have a personal demo, if possible. If I can figure out how to send a personal message…

Cheers !
_g

I strongly disagree with this as it is a gross over-simplification of what it is. It is exactly as the name implies, a single processor, or DSP workstation.

The modules are not meant to be modified at the level you are looking for, but that doesn’t mean that a module that is exactly the way you want, can’t be created and used. This platform is dependent on the community and software developers, but lets not forget that when the Kyma software first came out, it was nowhere near as competent as it is now. It’s taken many years for it to mature and for the catalog of modules to exist.

On the contrary, because the SSP SDK is targeting a standard that has been use for a long time, there is a ton of DSP software in the form of VSTs that are just a recompile away from being available on the SSP. This means that it is easier to get software running on the SSP because the majority of the programming work has already been done and it is a familiar format.

16,000 MIPS is actually slightly more than double the SSP but at 16 TIMES the cost! And you still need an interface and computer for the initial configuration. You are paying $2 grand per 1,000 MIPS. I don’t think anything is getting blown out of the water, but your wallet. :grinning:

Please don’t take any of this the wrong way, as I think this is a great discussion.

Bert, you’re comparing the SSP with the Capybara('s Motorola processor). That’s not really fair, since the Capy is out of production for quite a while, and has been replaced by the Pacarana & Paca systems, since 2009 or thereabouts. Though nobody seems to know which DSP’s are inside the Paca[rana], I’m pretty sure it isn’t ye olde Moto’s anymore… Carla & Kurt have been doing this since 1989, so I reckon they know what they’re doing.

I didn’t say that they don’t know what they are doing. You asked for an objective factual comparison and I gave you one.

If you read the kyma website you will see they specify the processing power of the 3 products they sell (paca/pacarana/wormhole) in terms of capstones where 1 capstone is defined as one DSP from the Capybara-320. It’s public what DSP is used in that box so that is all that matters. The 56309 is also one of the latest DSPs from the now obsolete 56K motorola family. So one capstone = one 56309. And we know the MIPS of that processor, that is also public info.

I am quite sure they still use the same motorola DSPs because the DSP code was written in assembly specifically for that family of processors and you just don’t move over to a different architecture that easily.

Furthermore, the Wormhole isn’t a system an sich. It’s just several Paca[rana]'s hooked up to each other via ethernet. So, if you’re chaining 8 Pacarana’s – like they do in the Lucasfim studios – you’re looking at 16.000 MIPS (*), blowing the SSP straight out of the water. Admittedly, my wife wouldn’t be happy if I’d spend 32k$ on some small boxes. :exploding_head:

I don’t understand your logic regarding the wormhole. You are comparing an investment of $32,000 in an 8x pacarana system with one SSP of $2,000?

You can put 3 SSPs in your eurorack system, then you’ll have 21,600 MIPS which is more than the 16,000 MIPS you get with 8 pacarana’s, and you will have spent $6,000.

Your comments make me think you just came here trying to prove a point rather than asking for info to make a decision on what is best for your workflow and needs.

(*) This is assuming their processors do 100 MIPS @ 100MHz. I’m guessing they’re a lot faster now.

They are not. Read the datasheet of the 56309, I gave you the link.

Then there’s the philosophy behind the Kyma systems. There’s a reason why it’s “just a simple box”, and it’s a very important reason. All that box needs to do, is process audio. Nothing else. It doesn’t have to drive a fancy OLED display (and losing ticks in doing so), it doesn’t have to care about IO protocols nor does it

It’s best not to voice opinions about complex technical topics if it’s not what you deal with on a daily basis. I’m a computer scientist and I know what I’m talking about. This is my full time job.

There are no computing cycles “lost” by driving a big display because the CPU we uses has dedicated graphics hardware on board to do all that. The same goes for all the I/O.

have to convert A to D and back (since that’s what the external Audio Interface deals with), etc… All audio processing is always sample accurate. Everything it needs to do – and there’s really a lot of it – it does within that sample.

See above. Moving data from converters into and out of memory ready for processing is done by dedicated hardware in the CPU.

On top of that, literally, sits the Kyma software. It’s been around for nearly 30 years, which could be translated to “being an adult”. Compared to such vast history & experience, the SSP’s software is not even “a toddler”, I’m sorry to say. Having just some basic modules like an LFO, envelope generator, step sequencer, sampler, wavetable oscillator, granular synthesis, filters and a bit more… well, is not really a lot nor does it carry a lot of weight, compared to Kyma’s thousands and thousands of building blocks (“Prototypes”).

The development of the synthesis engine of the SSP started about 10 years ago.

Yes, we don’t have ALL the modules in the kyma system yet but we already have the most important building blocks necessary to build something useful and impressive, and we’ll be adding more modules as we go forward. I think I made this clear in my post as well.

And herein lies the biggest difference between the Kyma and the SSP. Kyma’s Prototypes can be regarded as quarks, whilst SSP modules are more something like a complete atom, or even a molecule. SSP modules are “set”, or fixed. “Here’s your VCO”… which is fine by itself, but what if I want to build my own VCO (or 16.000 of them running in parallel) ? Or what if I want to build my own formant filter, but I want it to process only the “a” vowels of an incoming live audio stream ?

If you want to build your own VCO or a VCO that has 16.000 oscillators in parallel you can use our SDK (which will be based on the VST standard, for which there is a massive amount of free source code and help available online, starting with the kvraudio community). You can also build whatever synth architecture you want in the patching grid on the SSP.

I’m guessing your answer will be "but sure you can, with our SDK."
Alas, I’m not a programmer. Nor do I feel the need to be one… So I’ll be stuck with whatever the SSP team or its user base-with-programming-skills has to offer me.

OK, so explain to me the process by which you build your own VCO in the kyma system without programming? Using smalltalk for writing DSP code is extremely inefficient. Are you sure you are not talking about controlling DSP modules? That would make more sense.

Let me add one more thing in favour of the Kyma system… indeed, you need a computer to “program” it {initially}, but once you’ve done that, you can disconnect the computer, and take just the Paca[rana] with you on stage. Apparently it’s also very reliable, and will never ever crash. There’s a famous example out there of a performance which had a laptop hooked up to a Pacarana, which (of course) crashed, but the Pacarana happily went on working, and the audience didn’t even notice anything.

You seem to imply the SSP is not reliable. Based on what info?

The SSP, in simple terms, is a digital modular synth/sampler. Granted, a very sophisticated & powerful one, but still kind of a closed system, like synths generally are. If I wanted to change the innards of one of its modules – akin to modifying the hardware of a VCO to adapt it to my needs (which I can actually do, btw) – I’d be stuck {because I ain’t no programmer}. And just like the SSP’s analog counterpart, a modular synth, I can’t really compose with it; I can only try to come up with a clever patch which might disguise itself as a whole composition, but really isn’t it.

The SSP is a modular synthesis system just like the Kyma system with the differences I outlined. There is nothing closed about it, you can write your own modules for it and you can even replace our software if you want and use the hardware for your own software.

You say you can build a VCO in software without programming, so I would like to hear in detail how you do that on the Kyma system and how you make it run efficiently.

Your statement that you cannot compose with a modular synth doesn’t make any sense to me. The kyma system is a modular synthesis system.

The Kyma system is like having a whole laboratory of resistors, caps, etc available, without limitations. I could use these to build my own modules, but that’s not even necessary; there’s plenty of modules (“sounds”, in Kyma speak) available. Then I’d build a “patch” with these. After that, I’d save that patch as a new sound (comprised of n modules, made with n resistors etc). Then I’d repeat that, and again and again, until I have something like 24 “full synths” running simultaneously. But I’m not done yet. I take all of that stuff, and put it in a linear timeline and/or non-linear multi-grid… which really is a simple way of saying that I’m actually creating a fully-fledged composition there.

In the kyma system you use software on the computer so obviously there you can work with compositions like you would do in any other DAW or sequencing software. The kyma hardware does not have a display so you cannot edit the sequence on the hardware itself.

The SSP does not have a fully fledged multi-track sequencer like is available in DAWs, but it could have one, which could allow you to edit directly on the SSP, because it HAS a big display. To play back sequences on the SSP all we would have to do is support loading MIDI Files in a MIDI playback module.

So again, I think you mostly wrote this reply because you wanted to prove a point, rather than asking for an objective opinion to make up your mind …

Let me start (and end) with the end :

No, I really don’t. If I gave that impression, I apologize. I’m certainly not here to offend anyone.

I’m indeed in the process of making up my mind, and I find it difficult, mostly because of lack of deep information, and no hands-on experience (with either system).
I do know a bit more about how the Kyma system works – mostly through conversations with Kyma users – and I do know that it would fit my need(s).

However, the Kyma’s ancient hardware, its somewhat awkward setup and its staggering learning curve, have withhold me so far from hitting that “buy” button, and have forced me to look elsewhere for alternatives. And it looks like SSP is a contender for that.

That’s why I’m here; to learn more about the SSP, and to see if it would fit my needs. No more, no less. And I really want to be convinced that the SSP is a machine for me.

So far, I’ve learned that the SSP is cheaper, faster, more modern, more practical, and currently has a somewhat basic (but fair) set of tools available. This will obviously grow over time… Again, just an impression simplified by my lack of knowledge about the SSP.
What I’ve also learned, is that the SSP [so far!] does not have the tools to provide me with non-linear compositional & live-improvisational methods. Running a MIDI file is not that. Running several hard- or software sequencers isn’t that either (though Numerology comes close). Running a complex patch on a complex modular [synth] is not that either, though I understand it is for a lot of other musicians. I respect that, but it’s not my thing. I’ve always had large modular systems, and they do not allow me to perform my compositions live without resorting to backing track-like stuff, except for that time when I had enough large modulars to interact & compose with in a live performance. Those days are gone, so now I’m looking into digital alternatives.

In order to understand what I’m looking for, then perhaps it’s best to look at what Morton Subotnick did with his Ghost Tapes to perform his earlier works, back in the 70/80-ties.

So, perhaps it’s possible that my needs would be satisfied by running several SSP’s in parallel. Not because of its immense fire power, but because it would allow me to run “several complex patches on several modulars at once, and in sync”, so to speak. That may sound arrogant, but it’s what my compositions ask for [live]. I need a large system to create just one set of sounds, and I’d need several of different sets (layers) at any given time, at any given point. A bit like an orchestra.

Can the SSP do that, or will it be able to do that in the near future ?

Thanks,
_g

Yep, and depending on how many voices/layers you wanted you might not even need more than 1 SSP. The SSP allows you to send CV and Midi channels (voices) to any destination. Because of this you could have 1 controller (midi keyboard, for example) playing 1 set of the voices, and a USB midi controller (another midi keyboard, for example) controlling another voice.

You could also use one midi controller and just use channels 1-4 for one layer, and 4-8 for another layer, and so on. You would need to be able to configure your controller to work like that though.

AND because the platform is a finely tuned Linux kernel streamlined for the DSP workload, the ability to add custom controllers, and get USB hub support so that you could have more than one midi device plugged into the USB port at a time is all possible. Currently only 1 USB midi controller is supported at a time though.

The big take away, and the point I’m absolutely not trying to exaggerate is that with the SSP there really isn’t anything that isn’t possible, if not now, then one day.

Also I hope I have understood your workflow enough that this response makes sense.

2disbetter, thank you again for your swift & extensive reply.

What you’re saying sounds interesting, and does indeed seems to make sense for my required workflow.
Could you please elaborate a bit more on what exactly channels are in the SPP ?

Judging from what’s being previously said here, the SSP is beginning to look like a viable alternative to the Kyma system. I’d still like to see/hear a proper demo of it, so I hope Bert can free up an hour or so to demonstrate it to me. Bert ?

cheers,
_g

The SSP itself doesn’t have any limit to the number of channels/voices it can do outside of the limits of the processor. Midi however has 16 channels, so on a single controller you’d be limited to 16, and in the front input jacks (with a CV and gate each, although you can go far beyond this) you could have another 8 voice. This is really just to say you could have up to 24 different control sources for sound sources. The number of voices the SSP is capable of depends on the complexity of your patch and what all is being done in it. I’ve been messing with a 4 voice 3 layer sound myself in testing, and I’m usually right around 35% CPU usage, with a bunch of other modulation and sound processing going on in the same patch.

If you were to use samples from things you previously played and recorded, and then trigger them, along with the sound sources you patched up, the amount of sound you could have coming out of the SSP is pretty limitless. (There are of course limits, but I’m not sure what they are, as I think hitting that limit would just be so many sounds that it would be just noise.) All of this is just based on the complexity of the DSP being done in your patch.

Hi all!
I’m an avid Kyma user (3x Pacarana) and have used Kyma in my film scoring work for well over 18 years now.
My initial thoughts and reactions when comparing systems has far less to do with comparing DSP / amount of RAM etc, but more about the holistic intended workflow. I don’t own an SSP (yet), but just looking at the functionality and intended flow, I do see a clear advantage to the SSP when building patches in combination with analog modules. Kyma is just not optimized for CV GATE flexibility the same way. You can of course create workarounds, but it’s always going to be just that, a workaround, whilst the SSP was built specifically with analog modules in mind.

With that in mind, I can’t wait to see how the SSP will sound together with Kyma.
I have a feeling they will compliment each other quite well :sunglasses:

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don’t forget i can send 128 notes at the same time per midi channel x 16
#blackMIDI

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Indeed, as well as a 128 velocity values.

:+1:

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