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Author Topic: What's so bad about soft synth GUIs?  (Read 1321 times)

johnchop

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What's so bad about soft synth GUIs?
« on: September 19, 2012, 04:12:54 pm »
I'm likely not the first to post about this, and apologies if it's well-trodden ground.

I came across this article today http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670760/will-apples-tacky-software-design-philosophy-cause-a-revolt

Although it's discussing Apple in particular, it reignited my thoughts about Arturia's (and other soft synth developers) approach to GUI design, i.e. mimicking the real-world object.

On the one hand, a product that immediately reflects a classic design gives potential buyers some sense of familiarity (for the precious few who might have owned said instrument) or "enhances the realism", albeit in some really superficial way. I also realize this could be seen as educational ("this is how it worked, folks!"), which is a noble enough mission.

On the other hand, from a pure day-in, day-out user experience perspective, those classic hardware interfaces are do not translate well to a 2D GUI. Simpler ones, like the SEM and Mini, are alright. The ARP and Modular... well, I guess I need a bigger monitor?

Perhaps the worst offender is the CS80. Sliders work "backwards" (down=more in some cases, and yeah, I know this is how the original worked). There wagonloads of GUI elements in a very cramped space, with tiny fonts to boot.

I like to program, but the more complex synths are a royal p.i.t.a. to use for this purpose.

Arturia, have you considered GUIs with a tabbed or otherwise sectioned interfaces?  For example, with the CS80V: tabs for each oscillator>filter>amp section, the sub oscillator, the mod matrix, and effects?  This could free up screen real estate to make things like MIDI mapping more obvious.

I realize I could create my own UI in a plug-in host that supports such things (= more work), or I could just get really huge monitor.  :) Certainly, a more task-oriented GUI would win some fans (along with improved preset browsing... a topic for another day).

Thanks for listening.

Your fan,
-John H.

mauronedj

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Re: What's so bad about soft synth GUIs?
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2012, 06:43:13 pm »
I think that you are right!

I've figured this all time when I program this synth! The arp and the Modular are really frustrating one's, like the CS80....

I think that this plugins are not optimized for the newer resolution and the carachters are not really chrispy and cleary...the SEM V and the Wurli are perfect, like the Spark as well.
So why don't upgrade the graphics of the old one's?

They are still monsters plugins, but whit that impossible to tweak GUI they are not very easy of use!

Good topic!
Mauro.

mauronedj

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Re: What's so bad about soft synth GUIs?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2012, 07:00:19 pm »
UP Arturia,
Please consider a new GUI for your old synth's, as clear as the SEM V and the Wurli one!

OneLittleFonzie

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Re: What's so bad about soft synth GUIs?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2012, 01:16:21 am »
That's one of the reason I created my own ipad controller apps.


Ron

mauronedj

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Re: What's so bad about soft synth GUIs?
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2012, 03:14:11 pm »
Up for this request please!

I think it's a very good improvement if you make the synth GUI bigger, and optimize it for the newer screen!

Man-Machine

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Re: What's so bad about soft synth GUIs?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2013, 09:37:41 am »
I think Arturia is listening, look at the new iPad version if the Minimoog. Even in the small tablet screen the buttons are bigger than my desktop version. It is still not perfect, the keys need an option to turn off by those that use a hardware controller.

A good example of retaining the visual style of the original synths while being practical were the old Creamware emulations, hardware and software.

Also, I think Korg did a great job on the iPad with the MS20 plus extras. For the desktop version, they offered an optional replica controller of the original synth for the tweakers. It can't get better than that!

I've have tried to make more use of Arturia synths but its hard for me, having a few real analogues at home. I'm not even talking about the sound being better or not. Soft synths nowadays sound really good, including Arturia's. The whole point, to me, is that that I can easily tweak a bunch of knobs and synthesize sounds that are my own, nobody else's. Just like a composer that create his own original melodies and chords, the sounds and textures are my own too! This aspect of synthesizers is easily lost with soft synths, specially Arturias...
L8er Osci8ers

beefinator

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Re: What's so bad about soft synth GUIs?
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2013, 12:57:18 am »
I was ranting with a friend about this recently, not really because I cared all that much, but mostly out of boredom.

Anyway, what was really bothering me at the time was this iPad app I found out about called tabletop.
It's on-screen pictures of hardware which you connect with virtual cables on a virtual tabletop.

Which I just think is wrong.

Software doesn't itself bother me (I basically work solely on hardware), and software emulations of hardware devices can get very close to the sound of the actual thing.
But it's just stupid to try to make software that is used exactly like the hardware, it doesn't work, it's on a screen!
So they're trying to sell the fun of having a hardware-based setup, physical knobs and cables and all, in an attempted direct translation, which ends up being just a clunky and inefficient interface.
There's a reason physical devices have knobs and buttons; they're easier and more tactile to handle than a touch screen.  They're not just a pointless novelty that is at all worth displaying on a screen exactly as you would see it in reality.

I dunno.  It just bothers me.  But I don't really care, since I can just choose not to use them.

 

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