- Sound Engine
CVC Design Philosophy
The CVC is made specifically for the Continuum Fingerboard to interface with the interesting and diverse world of analog synths.
That Analog Attitude
Analog synth people tend to be more open to new continuous controllers than most Midi-oriented synth people, and more willing to learn new performance techniques. Midi-oriented people often prefer an instrument that is just like a Midi keyboard with a new feature, or just like a Midi wind controller with a new feature. They want to sound great the first time they try a new instrument, so the new instrument must have playing technique very similar to some existing instrument that they can already play well. Since the Continuum is quite different to play than a Midi keyboard or a wind controller, it does not fit into that way of thinking.
Flexibility and Latency
In addition to people's attitudes, there are other great advantages of analog synths over most digital synths. Most hardware Midi synths don't let you get "inside" the sound definitions enough to customize them nicely for expressive Continuum playing. Some software-based synths (like Reaktor) do let you get in and customize, but software-based synths can have the problem of sluggishness -- doing processing in a PC can add noticeable delay. Most people assume the delays come from Midi's slow bit rate, but Midi delays are commonly eclipsed by combinations of other factors (delays due to: operating system scheduling, interprocess communications, software queuing, driver implementation issues, block-structured computations, etc).
While delay does not render software-based synths useless, it does give them a different feel. Mark Smart is an experienced Continuum player who likes using both Reaktor and analog synths. Mark says he feels the delay when he plays Continuum with Reaktor, something he had not noticed until he started using the CVC with analog synths.
Analog modulars are fantastic both with respect to latency and flexibility -- they have super-fast response, and by the very nature have almost total control over internal configuration. Only a few digital systems (like Symbolic Sound's Kyma, which has dedicated DSP hardware as well as sophisticated programmability) can say the same.
Before the CVC
Even before the CVC, it was possible to control analog synths using Continuum Midi output through a standard Midi-CV converter. It can work pretty well, but in practice it is very hard to set up everything optimally for the Continuum. The data coming from the Continuum is standard Midi, but it is so unlike a keyboard that most people were getting their Midi-CVs set up "almost right", not "exactly right". From Haken Audio's point of view it was very frustrating, because so much time and effort was spent perfecting the Continuum's Midi functionality. Typical problems people had with Midi-CVs were: the Continuum response is sluggish, or the Continuum is not correctly in tune, or slight zipper/buzzing noises in the control signals, etc. And mostly people would think "that's just the way the Continuum is", and do not realize the problem is in the Midi-CV configuration.
A Dedicated Hardware Device
The CVC was developed so that analog synth people could concentrate on their Continuum playing technique and on their sound patches -- and not spend so much time and effort messing with a Midi-CV. The CVC is as good a product as Haken Audio can currently design. The CVC is perfected for the Continuum, and does not support other Midi devices. Controlling an analog synth from other Midi controllers besides the Continuum will still require a standard Midi-CV. Controlling an analog synth from a Continuum via the CVC will give one the best possible response time and accuracy.