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How many different kinds of modules are there? What are they?

There are over 360 different Prototype modules that you can use in constructing your own signal flow diagrams or in the timeline. There are too many modules to list all of them, but these are the categories:

Sources & Generators Additive Synthesis Aggregate Synthesis
Compression/Expansion Cross Synthesis Crossfading
Delays Disk Distortion & Waveshaping
Envelopes & Control signals EQ Feedback
Filters Flanging & Chorusing Frequency & Time scaling
Gain & Level Global Controllers Granular Synthesis
Granulating & Chopping Inputs Live Capture & Tracking
Looping Math MIDI In
MIDI Out Mixing Modulation
Morphing Oscillators Outputs
Panning Recording Replicators & Prefixers
Reverb Sample playback Scripts
Selectable Sounds Sequencers Spectral Analysis-FFT
Spectral Modifiers Spectral Processing-Live Spectral Processing-Preanalyzed
Spectral Sources Stereo Surround & Multichannel
Time & Duration Variables & Annotation Visual Displays
Vocoders

Effects

Can you use Kyma as an effects processor?

Yes. You can route signals from the audio inputs through any of the processing modules. (In Kyma, you do the routing on the computer screen, rather than on the small front panel of a hardware effects box). You can also schedule different effects at different times, using the Kyma timeline. In the current release, you can have 8 independently processed live inputs plus an unlimited number of synthesized sources, samples, and disk track being processed.

What other kinds of signal processing effects are there in Kyma?

Doppler-shifting (both stereo and quadraphonic), waveshaping-distortion, granular reverb, live spectral morphing (not a simple parameter cross-fade, but a true analogy to a visual morph), several flavors of highly intelligible vocoding, cross-synthesis and cross-filtering, freeze-framing, time-stretching, TAU analysis/synthesis, slipstick synthesis, modal filter physical models, live spectral analysis with completely twisted forms of resynthesis, live analysis with aggregate synthesis, and every conceivable combination of all of the above.

The reason I want a Kyma/Pacarana is to make even more complex and outrageous effects than I do already. On the other hand, I want to make certain that Kyma can also do some of the more standard effects. For example, I would like to know if your system can perform these various functions:

Ring Modulator

Yes! Ring modulation is simply multiplying one signal by another. The classic Dalek-type effect is achieved by multiplying your voice by a sine wave oscillator. You can do this in Kyma by feeding two signals into the Product or VCA module. There are also examples showing how you can do single sideband ring modulation (ring modulation but with only one sideband rather than both the upper and lower sidebands).

Reverb

There are several reverb algorithms in Kyma. People especially seem to like the one called EuVerb that was designed by one of our customers, Eugenio Giordani, using basic elements found in Kyma.

In Kyma you can combine several different style reverbs together to get a smoother sound or you can construct your own totally new kinds of reverb just like Eugenio did by piecing together individual elements. You can even use a script to algorithmically construct a new kind of reverb out of lots of copies of a single element (like delay) with different parameter settings.

Delays

Yes, there is a variable delay line with optional feedback and another flavor of delay line called Harmonic Resonator that has an optional low pass filter on the feedback path. There are also modules that write to the Capybara memory and other modules that you can use to read from the memory, so you can create your own feedback paths.

Comb Filter

Yes, in fact a comb filter is made by adding a signal to itself delayed. The Delay module has a check box where you can choose either Comb or AllPass as the filter type.

Flanging & chorusing

Kyma has flanging and chorusing examples already set up for you in the Sound library. Or you can create your own variants using delay lines and sweeping all-pass filters.

Pitch Shifting (with and without formant-shift), EQ, Compression, Filtering

Yes (both time-domain and using spectral analysis/resynthesis for live pitch-shifting), and there are standard kinds of EQ, compression, and high/low/all pass filtering.

How many discrete signal paths can be processed simultaneously?

Inside the software, the number of independent signal processing paths is unlimited. When it comes time to mix and output those processed signals, the current version of Kyma has 8 virtual audio inputs and outputs, each of which can be routed to a physical input or output on your audio converter.

Can I play electric guitar through Kyma as a super guitar effects box? Is it real time?

Yes, you could use Kyma as the ultimate "stomp box" and control it with MIDI pedals. You can also use to process your voice or an acoustic instrument. You can take it a step further and use the acoustic signal to control the synthesis and processing; live amplitude, pitch, and timbre-followers turn your voice or instrument into an expressive controller.

Synthesis

What kinds of synthesis can you do in Kyma?

In broad categories, the synthesis algorithms include: additive, TAU, aggregate, cross-filter, waveshaping, modulation, distortion, formant, granular, multiwave, and subtractive. But the real power of Kyma becomes apparent when you start combining these synthesis techniques together with effects and live input; it's difficult to decide what to call that additive waveshaping? additive analog? distorted subtractive live transmogrification? In Kyma, you are inventing your own synthesis and processing algorithms all the time, simply by combining modules in the signal flow editor.

We've also found that the way you control a synthesis algorithm can have a huge impact on the way it sounds. Take the exact same synthesis algorithm and compare the way it sounds when you're using a breath controller, vs a keyboard, vs the Continuum fingerboard, vs a MIDI fader box, vs a Wiimote, vs envelope followers on characteristics of a live acoustic input. That's why we provide so many different ways of performing and controlling the live parameters of the algorithms in Kyma. A simple oscillator comes alive when you are controlling with your own hands on a tablet or with your own voice using the microphone and envelope trackers.

Can you use Kyma to emulate any synth in the world?

The idea behind Kyma is that it is like a "language" for describing sound. So in theory, yes, you should be able to emulate any kind of synthesis in Kyma. In practice, some kinds of synthesizers will be easy to emulate and some will be time-consuming. The power of Kyma is that you have the possibility of making just about anything...but that does not mean that everything is automatic or trivial to do so. On the other hand, creating something truly new has never been easy (otherwise, everyone would be doing it!)

We made Kyma with the idea of providing you with an environment or language for creating new sounds, not as a software model of older hardware. If you are looking for literal software models of old synths and effects with photo-realistic images of their front panels, then you should have no trouble finding them out there. That is not what Kyma is about. Kyma is about the future of sound manipulation. It's about new forms of abstract synthesis and processing that could only be done with computers. It's about putting the power of audio manipulation into your hands, about leveraging your creative imagination with the mind-magnifier known as a computer, not about reinventing the wheel or electronic nostalgia.

Is there a window in Kyma where you can edit the spectrum of a sound?

Yes, Kyma's spectrum editor shows the frequency and amplitude envelopes of each harmonic of a sample that you have analyzed using Kyma's spectral analysis tool. You can use this editor to delete, smooth or even redraw the frequency or amplitude envelope of the harmonic.

Can you analyze and resynthesize sounds with nonharmonic partials? How many breakpoints can you have in the amplitude envelope of each partial?

You can have an arbitrary number of envelope breakpoints, and you can have both harmonic and inharmonic partials.

There is also a more computationally efficient form of additive synthesis called Group Additive synthesis in Kyma for doing purely harmonic resynthesis (or, if you prefer, for doing really twisted-sounding resynthesis of nonharmonic sounds).

What is the most important synthesis algorithm in Kyma?

The most important synthesis algorithm in Kyma is not a synthesis algorithm at all but the extent to which you can combine synthesis and processing algorithms in ways that no one has ever heard before. In fact, Kyma makes it so easy to combine synthesis, processing and sampling techniques that the things you throw together graphically are actually new algorithms that other people would present as new research results at academic conferences!

Sampling

Can you capture a sample and loop it during a live performance?

Yes, you can record the live input into the sample memory and play it back at the same time (or after an arbitrary delay). You can continue to record new input into the sample even while it is looping.

To record the live microphone input into the sample RAM, you feed the microphone module into a module called MemoryWriter. Any module that uses samples or wavetables can also use the input that you are recording live. For example, you could capture the live input and loop it, reverse it, granulate it, or even chop it up and reorder the bits with a sequencer. You can read out of the memory while you are recording into it, or you can delay the playback for as long as you like capturing the input at the beginning of a timeline, for example, and only playing it back at the very end.

If you are heavily into live looping, you might want to check out the Looper's Construction Kit by third-party developers Green Tea Software.

I like to use a lot of BPM-based loops. Does Kyma have any tempo-based looping?

There is an entire category of modules for beat-based looping (including BPM-based sequencing and effects). BPMSampleLoop automatically adjust its playback rate to fit the live BPM control. BPMTimeStretchLoop and BPMResynthesisLoop adjust their rates without affecting the pitch. BPMRandoMiniLoop gives you beat-based random looping and SampleAccelerator chops your sample into smaller and smaller bits for an accelerando effect. Then there are DerangeSampleBits, ResequenceSampleBits, Shuffle-izeDrumSample, and several other similar modules that take bits of your sample loops and reorder them or shift them in time, all linked to a live BPM control.

When you drag several BPM-based modules into the same timeline or mixer, they are automatically synched to a master BPM control that you can either draw or control live from a MIDI fader.

Can Kyma read all my sample CDs?

Kyma can read files in the AIFF, Sound Designer, and WAVE formats. Samples in proprietary sampler formats have to be converted to one of these interchange formats first before Kyma can read them. There are several tools on the market for doing sample format conversion (see, for example Chicken System's Translator).

Should I sell my current sampler and use Kyma to replace it?

Kyma can function as a standard sampler, but if you are looking for a grand piano, an imitation symphony orchestra, or a sample-based band for creating demos or notating your scores, then you are probably going to find that a special-purpose sampler would be a more efficient way to approach the task.

In Kyma, samples are viewed as source material for transformation. Kyma was not designed with the goal of imitating acoustic instruments. It was designed with the goal of taking ordinary sounds and putting them through extraordinary transformations. So you can lead your listeners on a journey from the real to the surreal and back again.

Can it trigger samples directly from the disk without having to load them into RAM first?

Yes, and this means that you can have samples of virtually unlimited duration (limited only by the amount of disk space you have available).

Is there a wave editor in Kyma?

There is a graphical waveform editor where you can perform basic operations like cut/copy/trim and paste. This editor also includes several templates that you can use to generate control or synthesis wavetables (like envelopes, waveshapers or single-cycle waveforms for oscillators). In the preferences, you can also set up Kyma to open a third party wave editor if you have a favorite. The wave editor in Kyma is great for trimming your samples, doing some editing, and generating synthetic wavetables; it is not intended as a substitute for a multi-track editor or a standalone wave editor.

Mixing

Can you use Kyma for mixer-type operations? For example can I have real-time control over volumes, panning, output routing, internal sends/returns from effects modules?

Behind the timeline GUI lurks a software mixer. You can think of each track or the timeline as a strip of a mixer with live or automated volume and panning controls. Each track has an optional input (or you can synthesize everything within the track). You can route each track to any number of outputs, or use the panner controls to send the output flying around the room. Each track can be routed to any number of submixes which can become the inputs to other tracks so they can go through effects modules and be routed to any output channels.

Hard disk Recording

Can Kyma do hard disk recording?

The Tape Recorder tool provides a convenient way to record the audio inputs of the Capybara into a mono or stereo sound file saved on any of your computer's disks.

Kyma timelines can be recorded as up to 8 independent channels (even if your Capybara has fewer physical outputs, you can still record 8 virtual output channels, so you can transport your work to surround sound studios and venues). Each channel is recorded as a mono soundfile in AIFF, Sound Designer, or WAVE format. Recording a timeline in this way preserves any multi-channel panning you might have built into your timeline.

Additionally, you can use DiskRecorder and DiskCache modules to schedule the recording of individual Sounds or sub-branches of Sounds to record to disk at specific times and for specified durations. The advantage of recording with the DiskCache is that you do not lose track of how you created the recording, and you can easily recreate the recording with different parameter settings in the future.

Could you use Kyma as a substitute for a DAW or hard disk multi-track recorder?

You can record to the hard disk and do some basic graphical editing on the recording, but Kyma is not intended as a substitute for a hard disk recorder and multi-track editor. Most people use Kyma in conjunction with either a DAW or an audio sequencer. Kyma can read/write WAV, AIFF, SDI and II files, so it is straightforward to move files back and forth between Kyma and a hard disk editor or audio sequencer.

How many simultaneous disk tracks can you get?

For stereo files, 9 to 16 For mono files, 21 to 27

How can I record the output of Kyma my hard disk? Do I have to take S/PDIF out of the audio converter and send it to the S/PDIF in on the computer?

The Pacarana is already connected to your computer via FireWire cable that we supply with the system. Using a menu command, you can record any Kyma sound directly to any hard drive connected to your computer without leaving the digital domain.