Haken Continuum in depth review, and what is the Matrix…?

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“Is the hakan continuum fingerboard. It s an electronic instrument with an extremely sensitive continuous continuous playing surface and one of the most interesting and complex synths. I ve ever it s got plenty of envelopes lfo and synth engines. But if you ask me how many it really has my answer will be how many fingers you got the hakan continuum is an instrument hand built by little hakan for close to 20 years.

Now. And has been an ongoing development even longer than that it contains a built in digital synth. Developed by edmund egan. A composer and sound designer and it s the combination of the two that makes it special it can control other hardware and software synths.

But it s at its best when the surface and the built in synth are combined let s start with the surface. It s made of neoprene so to get a sense of how it feels. It s the same material that diving suits are made of the surface is stretched above hundreds of metal bars held by springs and sitting beside magnets. Which are used to detect the slightest touch and movements the result is a surface which if you gently lay your hands on it won t make a sound.

But the slightest touch beyond that can be detected as hits or slide. Or gentle changes. In pressure left. And right motion is on the x.

Axis. Backwards and forwards is the y axis and pressure. Downwards is the z axis. This information is sent both to the internal synth and can also be output through midi.

So while the continuum may look like a regular keyboard. It really shouldn t be compared to one. It s different in quite. A few ways for example it can detect notes you press as discrete specific notes.

But if you want you can completely get rid of that and just have a treat your touch is one continuous surface and then it s up to you to find the right notes. Now you can round notes out if you want completely. But then a lot of the magic is gone. Because it won t behave as a continuous surface having pitched behaved fluidly like that makes vibrato.

Very natural as well as pitch bending. This makes pitch bending in vibrato. Very natural. Whereas with a traditional keyboard you just can t target notes or feel the vibrato like that you can pitch bend cords to the continuum supports polyphonic expression.

What that means is that all the modulations in any direction can happen per note. It means you can change the pitch on specific notes for individual vibrato. Toes and slides. Unlike a traditional keyboard where once you pitch bend.

You do it to all the notes. The same applies for y axis motions. Which means that with motion is back and forth each finger can be in a different place and create different sounds finally with pressure or z..

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Axis control. The continuum is very different to most keyboards. We ll try and establish an initial velocity and from there. The note is static.

As you go along or the envelope control is in the synth or whatever software. You re using here the envelope control is in your fingertips. You control. It overtime you control how it starts.

Whether it s slow or fast whether it decays. It s totally or quickly and this is what i meant when i said your fingers are the lfos and envelopes yes. The synth has those too but the instrument really shines. When you quite literally take these things into your hands.

The only limitation that i saw with the surface is that notes that are less than a semitone away can t be played together and you can play quickly like this. But once you press down on the surface the resolution. The nose needs to be more than a semitone apart to be detected. I haven t found that to limit me.

But i thought i should mention it okay so that s it in terms of the surface. Let s take a look at basic preset control. The continuum doesn t have a built in screen or knobs so it s really best controlled by an external controller whether it s a computer or ipad. And it also supports the beats tab and the more expensive controller by kenton you still have basic control using the the shortcuts printed.

Here and the button on the left. So for example. If i wanted to change a preset. I press this button.

Let s say i wanted to get to internal sound 253. I would need to press a hundred twice and then fifty and three and then i get that so it s pretty cumbersome to use this it s workable and there are some quick controls here. But you really want some external controller connected to it this is what the main controls look like on the screen. You can choose 16 presets to have as your favorites here for quick access let s try this or this and you can access all the presets by choosing a category and individual preset.

Here there are quite a few controls here. The interesting ones occasionally on a preset you ll see these controls they let you sort of their sort of macros or they re called barrels here and they give you control that for example pitch control. Here these are different four preset ignore. This area for a bit beside the barrels or macros.

You also have effect controls you can control the reverb for example or add delay. There are several types of those aside from the computer you can also control the continuum using an ipad app. It gives you great access to preset selection and all the main control parameters affect parameters barrels and so on another really cool continuum feature is its external pedal support you can plug in up to two expression. Pedals and they can be modulated for any purpose be standard sustain pedals.

But also behave like a sostenuto pedal with volume control so let me explain sustain uno is a fancy word for capturing particular notes. Unlike sustain. Which prolongs..

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All the notes and letting them sustain or drone out like what you re hearing here. Now it works not just as an on off pedal to create drones out of specific notes. But if you have an expression pedal. You can also control the level of the droning notes which i think is really really cool ok.

Let s talk about the internal synth. Now you can use the continuum to control any external hardware or software synth. But it really shines with its internal synth called the egon matrix so let s start with an empty preset and in no way am. I going to pretend that programming.

The egon matrix is easy. But give me a couple of minutes and you ll see how powerful this thing is so at its most simple form the egon matrix is a modular synthesizers. Where you make connections between sources and destinations and sources are listed. Here on left and destinations on top.

So for example. The first source is a noise generator and if i want to hear it all i need to do is connect it to either the left or right outputs. So let s do that i do that by just pressing. 1.

And i gently increase the game you ll hear the noise. So that s nice but not very exciting so i will remove the 1 now the beauty of the matrix is that you can also put formulas on the grid. Not just values and these formulas can take into consideration. How you plan on the continuum surface so for example.

If i were to put a z instead of the 1 then the volume of the note will be determined by how hard i press on the surface. Now noise isn t very musical. But if i take the x axis parameter and plug that into the frequency of oscillator. 1.

And then connect that oscillator to the output. Just like we did before well now you re talking i can use this to also play chords. If we want because the eagan matrix is polyphonic and that s a nice instrument on its own. But let s make it more interesting.

Let s take the y axis and have that affect the timbre of the sound. All i need to do to make that happen is plug it into here they re taking a step further you can add entire formulas to each of these intersection points. And these formulas can be sums or multiples of the xyz parameters as well as take into consideration. A host of other things like envelopes lfos.

The barrels or macros expression pedal into inputs and more let me give you an example of this by adding a tremolo so for that we need an lfo and on the egan matrix. We use shape generators. Which can be either looping lfos. Or one time envelopes.

Let s start with a fixed rate. Lfo at 5 hertz. Which means five times per second..

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And now what we need is a formula that will take this lfo and multiply it by the pressure. I m applying when i m touching the surface now for this i need to create a new formula and i can use any one of the formulas. Here let s take a i ll change it to a multiplication formula choose shape generator as the source and i ll take and make it a triangle of the phone and i ll multiply it by the pressure when each of these elements on the formula is blue. It means that it s active and finally i need to add a trigger to the lfo and for that i ll use w.

Which stands for window. Which means the basically the window from when my finger it touches the surface until it leaves it and finally i need to take this a formula and use it by replacing the z s here with a s and now fall goes. Well we have a tremolo now i want to add just one more layer of complexity here. I want the tremolo rate to be dynamic based on how hard i press the surface.

So for that i need to introduce a new element. A new formula and i ll use b for that this will also be a multiplication formula. Now i have to admit it does take a while to get your head around this. But it s not impossible and in order to move the tremolo needle.

I ll multiply the z axis by 10 and this does require some experimentation and then the final step here is to replace the 5 hertz constant with formula b now you ll notice as i touch the surface the tremolo rate increases the harder i press and that s how you create patches with the eagan matrix. It s not exactly simple. But once that you get the idea you can go in and tweak existing presets and eventually maybe make some of your own and if that s too hard just pick a row that isn t used and you can add some egan matrix graffiti to it okay so you heard me talk about lfos and oscillators and filters. But i casually ignored these big banks on top these three banks.

Contain a world of synthesis options that are way beyond your standard synth rather than go through all the parameters. You can download the manual and have a look at that if you want let s just play a few free sets that use these synth engine x . I m going to call them big banks instead of by quad banks. If you don t mind.

This is the scaled resonances big bank. Option or a preset that was created using it and the percussive sound can completely change character. If you hold on to it this preset is called french sex. It was created using v.

By quad mode. Back. This. One was created using the by quad malfunction.

You get pretty much speaks for itself. After the bike. Wand banks. There are sign banks.

This preset uses science. Pray rightfully called the bird echoing. This one uses wave bank next up let s hear something using the harmonic manipulator and the violin viola cello bass preset is just a wonderful example of how this can sound like an instrument and behave like one i m a violinist. But with some practice this can sound really nice and this is not sample.

I could go in and change. The the core engine. Let s say to our alto sax..

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Then it would sound completely. Different next. Up is the modal manipulator and the harp is a really nice example for that there s also a delay bank. They can be used as a synth that was based on voice delay and the next.

One is based on some delay. Micro delays are what you need for your next horror movie project. This next. One messes around with bandpass filters.

So much control at your fingertips aside from all that there are some bonus synthesis methods that you can t really edit using the matrix. But give you a taste of what potentially may come in the future. This one is a great example. The continuum has a two che mode.

What this means is that you can use separate parts of the surface to determine. Which notes will be heard and another to determine their tambor or gate. So for example. Let s take this chord.

The left hand can also control this expression. So that s just about the tip of the iceberg for what the eagan matrix can do the continuum comes with about 300 presets. Some of them very different from the others. Like this one for example and the continuum really shines with the internal presets.

But you can use pretty much any other external hardware or software since some of the notable ones are the audio modeling virtual instruments i played their double bass in the beginning of this clip the impact sound works instruments. I played their food the beginning of this but the continuum comes with presets for on the sphere and contact and notable npd synths are rolling equator which works well with this the ipad apps animove mobe 15 and garageband the continuum works well with modular synths either with a module that hakan cell or with expert sleepers fh1. So the last thing i want to talk about is price. There are a few other expressive quote unquote instruments out there.

But nothing quite like this the continuum has its flaws. I wish it had an internal display. I wish it had onboard knobs. But most of all i wish it were cheaper this half sized version is 3400.

The full size version is five thousand three hundred dollars. So it costs more like a good saxophone than achieved synth. The continuum is expensive because it s handmade and it s not the poles day job. I just wish you would find a way to mass produce these or lower the costs.

Because i highly recommend this. And it should be in the hands of more people gani questions hit me up in the comment section below hit like if you like this subscribe. If you want to see more thanks. ” .

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