Author Topic: A shout out for the Axoloti  (Read 1519 times)

kat

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A shout out for the Axoloti
« on: May 06, 2017, 08:05:26 AM »
Hey all,

I haven't spent a lot of time on the DSP side of this forum but I'm quite surprised to see relatively little talk about the Axoloti here.  I have one for the express purpose of guitar effects and it is very, very cool.  There are some distinct downsides, mostly to do with a steep learning curve that I'm still climbing slowly. It's quite hard to find the right objects to build patches, and there's virtually no documentation. But right out of the box you can make and use some very lovely effects. 

I'm particularly happy with how immediately it works for creating novel, and really nice-sounding, delays.  There are some existing delay objects that just sound great with no extra work, and then you can tweak with additional filters or combinations.  I built a multi-tap delay that does things that I'm pretty sure no commercial delay pedal can do, and it's a huge spur for songwriting and recording creativity.

I'd love to see the community of guitar-focused Axoloti users expand because I am pretty sure we'll run into common problems.  Happy to start some further conversations here if anyone is interested...

Transmogrifox

Re: A shout out for the Axoloti
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2017, 11:43:52 AM »
I strongly considered it but opted to invest my time into developing stuff on Bela because of the amount of extra I/O capabilities (namely 8 analog/digital, digital/analog channels for control).  Also digital I/O is synchronized with audio so for me it adds the extra capability for interactivity.  Also Bela appealed more to me as a platform for developing stuff directly in C, although I have since realized Axoloti is perfectly suitable for a C programmer...it's just the thing they show off is the GUI patch interface.

The one thing that stands out with Axoloti for a more general purpose community DIY use is it doesn't require you to know C, C++, faust or Pd...on the other hand you are limited by what the C++ gurus develop in the form of building blocks. 

I would guess the main reason Axoloti doesn't get as much attention as what is due is because it's simplicity of use and attractiveness to the non-programmer type is mostly unknown.  For example, how many people actually browse the digital/dsp board?  I think the average DIYer thinks DSP is way beyond their skill and so they aren't even aware of what things are available.

For the more technical type, part of the hobby is doing things like developing the Axoloti hardware and low-level software itself.  For example, markseel is developing an Audio DSP platform that looks really cool, but with that project on his plate where does he have time to mess around with something like Axoloti?

I for one chose a platform and now my time is being used developing stuff on that platform.  It just so happens Axoloti wasn't that platform, but I can see it's a really cool project that a lot more people should be aware of.
trans·mog·ri·fy
tr.v. trans·mog·ri·fied, trans·mog·ri·fy·ing, trans·mog·ri·fies To change into a different shape or form, especially one that is fantastic or bizarre.

kat

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Re: A shout out for the Axoloti
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2017, 12:50:19 PM »
Those are all good points, and of course there isn't an answer to "best platform" for digital effects because it's so dependent on what you want to do, and your individual skill set... as well as taste what kinds of problem-solving you find fun versus annoying. 

I'm curious to have an example of what the "extra capability for interactivity" with the Bela would let you make, just to get a feel for the types of projects that might be possible on that platform that the Axoloti can't do. 

Well anyway, FWIW, my experience with the Axoloti is quite positive so far, which seemed worth sharing in case others want to try it... obviously your mileage may vary.  I have a ton of programming experience, although not in an audio context so it's hard for me to say whether the GUI is intuitive for non-programmers or not... I suspect if you have more audio background than I do, it probably is. At first I found it a bit frustrating because I was trying to translate ideas for how I would write an algorithm into the object set that the Axoloti software provides.  But once I got used to it, it turned out to be extremely fast.  I'm enjoying the immediate feedback - that I can go from idea to testing in the space of minutes without having to compile anything or even type. Guitar-in-lap, mouse-in-hand, and boom, there's a new effect. 

And in particular, if delays are your thing, it's a lovely playground and you don't have to get too deep into things to get a good sound.  For me personally, that beats spending a fortune on a line 6 or echolution or whatever... I can design exactly what I want, custom for individual songs or whatever.



Transmogrifox

Re: A shout out for the Axoloti
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2017, 11:35:06 AM »
"Extra capability for interactivity":
[EDIT] I just looked up the Axoloti core and realized it also has ADC inputs for pots and things, so maybe the main advantages of Bela don't shine out as brightly :)

The only things on my list that may not be easily available on Axoloti:
Vocoder input -- one of the ADC inputs can be used to take an extra microphone input...but I would have to check the Axoloti specs deeper to find out the sampling rate on ADC inputs because maybe it is high enough to do voice input.
"Orchestrion" type of stuff -- actuating solenoids with analog outputs to pluck acoustic instruments or whack gongs, drums.

The full linux operating system running on the Bela makes it attractive for web-based stuff, easy recording to file, looper, saving/loading samples, etc.

As for interesting delay effects both are about equal capability if you know how to program (C++ or Faust), but Axoloti stands out for somebody who doesn't know DSP theory and/or doesn't know a programming language.

Quote
I can design exactly what I want, custom for individual songs or whatever.

Whatever DSP platform you choose I think this is one of the strong points of getting into DIY DSP.  Axoloti makes it accessible to the non-programmer type so you can get to work making music.  In the end maybe I would have chosen Axoloti if I had researched it more.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2017, 03:51:05 PM by Transmogrifox »
trans·mog·ri·fy
tr.v. trans·mog·ri·fied, trans·mog·ri·fy·ing, trans·mog·ri·fies To change into a different shape or form, especially one that is fantastic or bizarre.

orbitbot

Re: A shout out for the Axoloti
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2017, 03:45:24 PM »
I got an Axoloti about 2-3 weeks ago, and have been having a ton of fun with it. Occasionally literally cackling with glee :D Though so far for me it's very much early days with trying to understand all the patch-building details, exploring all the corners of the UI and learning about the Axoloti objects, so I'm sure that there's more to come. I had an eye out to try it for guitar effects, but haven't gotten started on that patch, so for now it's basically a noisemaker/effect for whatever I've been able to plug in. It has definitely been an enabler for all sorts of experimentation and learning though, really glad about the purchase.

t

I'd love to see the community of guitar-focused Axoloti users expand because I am pretty sure we'll run into common problems.  Happy to start some further conversations here if anyone is interested...


One thing I've been wondering about is how to connect the Axoloti in a normal line of pedals, how have you been using yours? Been daydreaming about eventually hacking off the end of the board to put everything into a pedal-sized enclosure, but no concrete plans for what to go for as of yet.

kat

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Re: A shout out for the Axoloti
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2017, 10:28:38 PM »

One thing I've been wondering about is how to connect the Axoloti in a normal line of pedals, how have you been using yours? Been daydreaming about eventually hacking off the end of the board to put everything into a pedal-sized enclosure, but no concrete plans for what to go for as of yet.

Yeah, I haven't totally solved this either.  For the time being I am playing and noodling with low-stakes recording, so it's not an issue yet for me to be using a bare circuit and connecting/disconnecting by hand.  It sounds like it takes a bit of a hack to wire up the Axoloti directly for true bypass.  And while I could go ahead and 3d print an enclosure from specs online, I'd rather have a metal box.  My tentative plan is to buy a large-sized aluminum box and put in a separate little switch circuit so I can bypass it.... but, I haven't set this up yet.  It will probably be ugly, but I am not the fussy type as long as it works!  I would love to hear if someone has solved this in a durable and effective way for guitar applications...