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Thread: Kasina SpectraStrobe Info and Resources Repository

  1. #1

    Default Kasina SpectraStrobe Info and Resources Repository

    Hi all,

    I recently purchased a Kasina and have been heavily engaged in learning how to create AudioStrobe and SpectraStrobe content (with an emphasis on SpectraStrobe). I've got an extensive background in software and hardware engineering, multimedia, and performance. During my journey to learn the specifics of how SpectraStrobe works I noticed that a lot of the information and some of the available plug-ins seems to be a little bit dated and I had trouble getting up and running quickly (as well as finding a thorough explanation in one place). I ended up reverse-engineering quite a bit from the Audacity plug-ins, and even ended up having to write my own tone generator software to get things perfectly "clean" (I was getting a lot of frequency bleed/harmonics/cross talk that was leading to noisy LED control signals).

    After a bit of trial and error I think I've pretty much got a decent working understanding of the technical details and the techniques involved. I decided to create an open source repository on github that captures everything relevant I've learned and makes it available to others interested in authoring SpectraStrobe content. Hopefully this will allow others to get up and running more quickly, and avoid the time I had to spend learning and perfecting all of the details. Likely this information is out there elsewhere and I just missed it, but either way, hopefully this contribution will be helpful.

    I've provided two project templates, one for Ableton Live, and one for Renoise (not to be confused with Reason) that others should be able to just open and immediately begin to modify to create their own content. Also included are sampler-ready .wav files with the 4 needed SpectraStrobe tones that I was able to use to create the templates. An explanation of how to use everything can be found in the README of the repository.

    The project README contains everything I think is relevant to know to understand how to create SpectraStrobe content, as well as a ton of links to Wikipedia articles that cover the concepts involved for those who are less familiar with the terminology, but who are interested in educating themselves further.

    If anyone who is officially part of Mind Place is reading this, I've put this information out there in good faith and I assume this is all public-domain already and helpful to the community. However if I have violated anything by publishing this information, or I have some of the information wrong, please feel free to contact me and I will take the appropriate actions to remedy any concerns.

    The repository can be found here.

    Feedback and corrections welcome!


  2. #2

    Default Re: Kasina SpectraStrobe Info and Resources Repository

    This is a great contribution to the SpectraStrobe database. And thanks for creating an Ableton template! I've never used Renoise, it has some interesting features. I never got into tracker software, it reminds me of how the original Synclavier sequencer worked, I was so happy to eventually have a visual timeline gui in 1990 that became standard in the following years among most daws.

    Is there a technical advantage using samples vs oscillators in SS signal creation aside from file size? Using samples seems easier since the frequencies don’t change.

    Looking ahead I’d like to see experiments in creating visual effects.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Kasina SpectraStrobe Info and Resources Repository

    dougdi - Besides the file size it will really depend on the sampler and its capabilities. For clarity's sake, in both cases here I was discussing using samples either way, and not using a live generating oscillator plug-in (like a VST). In both cases the computer is playing back the tones by reading samples from memory from a digital audio file. The case with the sampler and looped samples is simply that the sampler, assuming it supports the loop points embedded in the sample files, needs a much shorter audio file (also assuming the loop points are lopped perfectly and don't introduce clip/pop artifacts) to generate the correct tones for durations of arbitrary length. For example the 1 second looped samples I generated/am using are only about 88 KB per tone. If I was to used an audio track with the generated tones for the duration of say 10 minutes, it would be many MB of memory per tone file/track. Plus what happens if you decide to lengthen your session? You will have to regenerate a longer tone track, etc. So mostly it just saves time in workflow and memory/disk space.

    However sometimes samplers have built-in features that normal audio playback in DAW audio tracks do not. For example in Renoise, the built-in sampler has tons of modulation and envelope effects for panning/volume/pitch, etc. which include LFOs that are fully programmable/automatable and oscillate up to 20 hz. If you were trying to achieve that by simply automating the DAW's track volume/panning by hand, first that's going to be a lot of manual editing by hand to generate the waveforms, and secondly that's going to require a bunch of resolution to create track automation envelopes at such high rates (like 20 hz). Now of course you could apply some kind of LFO plug-in or routing in your DAW assuming you have access to it - and apply those to the panning and volume of the tone tracks. But for example I was kind of shocked to find out that Ableton Live, without Max for Live, only has an AutoPan LFO effect built-in. If you want other general purpose LFO plug-ins you need to have Max for Live, and potentially pay even more for a variety of modulation plug-ins, although there may be some good free ones out there. And that's not saying anything about the max LFO frequency they might offer.

    Ultimately though given some of the frequencies reaching towards Gamma waves (approaching 40 hz+) even Renoise's built-in sampler LFOs only hit 20 hz. I don't think most music production makes use of general purpose LFOs at such high rates because most are not worried about the use case of flashing LEDs using audio signals

    I've actually started working on a custom VST plug-in that generates the SpectraStrobe/AudioStrobe tones using wavetable synthesis vs. reading audio files from disk, and so far it's working out pretty well. During testing I've been able to achieve accurate enough generation of the needed tones that it doesn't require bandpass filters or EQing because the signals produced are clean enough that there is no frequency bleed or noise, tested up to 96 khz sample rate. I've also put the needed panning pattern of the SpectraStrobe reference tone directly into the VST plug-in, and applied internal smoothing with a filter to keep unwanted frequency bleed/harmonics during the oscillation of the panning and its working great. Next I'm moving on to creating a basic LFO/modulation VST plug-in that you could put inline with the SpectraStrobe VST and I will make sure that I offer LFO frequencies well into the Gamma range since I'm having trouble finding free/easy LFOs for panning/volume modulation that exceed 20 hz (although they're probably out there). I might create a VST for tone generation as well for binaural/monaural/isochronic, but I'm going to guess there are probably plenty out there already. It seemed like primarily the harder things to find where VSTs to generate and control SpectraStrobe signals (Lux Spectra VST seems hard to find at this point) and LFOs with higher frequency options for controlling panning/volume of a track, so that's what I'm focusing on. I'll add the VST plug-ins to my SpectraStrobe repository's resources section once I'm feeling good about their stability and usefulness.

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