Zynthian

Questions discussions about the things that actually make the sound, i.e. MIDI apps, synthesizers, soft synths, etc.
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gonzoB
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2021 9:45 pm

Zynthian

Post by gonzoB »

I've just bought a Zynthian synth. I built it from kit form, as I had a spare RPi4x8GB. I loaded up the Warbl whistle soundfont and it sounds really good. Zynthian can run various synth engines, and I tried out the soundfont on the packaged version of FluidSynth. Certainly the sound is significantly better than what I got running my own FluidSynth build on the RPi.

Note that I had to apply modulators to the soundfont for CC2/note-on velocity, otherwise you can't start a note a low volume and increase it.

I'm only in the early stages of leaning how to drive Zynthian, but it looks really good.

Gonzo
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Gonzo Projects Page: https://gonzos.net/projects
LouisB
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2021 4:22 pm

Re: Zynthian

Post by LouisB »

Ha Ha, I have just order a Zynthian for my Warbl literally late last night and then I read this! How are you getting on with the Zynthian and the Warbl. Have you tried it with my breath expression soundfont (see my post here: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=224 ) there should be no need to apply modulators to that soundfont.

What is the latency like with the Warble? I was hoping to use my Android phone and the FluidSynth MIDI Synthesizer app but there is too much latency for me with this setup. (I am quite sensitive to even a tiny bit of latency). I am really hoping that this setup will work well with low latency. Reading the Zynthian forum it says using the Raspberry PI headphone jack can introduce more latency and that you are better off using the Zynthian audio outputs. So I would be interested to hear your views on the latency. Please keep us updated how you get on and I will post again when my Zynthian arrives. I hope I don't have to wait too long!

Louis
gonzoB
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2021 9:45 pm

Re: Zynthian

Post by gonzoB »

Hi Louis.

I tried your soundfont. Yes it works fine with CC2. Like you are sensitive to latency, I am sensitive to reverb, and I find most of the sounds too reverb-y.
I prefer S Christian Collins' GS soundfont https://schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php, but it needs tweaking for CC2. One of the issues with both these soundfonts is that they aren't adjusted for the octave that the instrument normally works in. Now, the Warbl can easily accommodate that by using the buttons, but many other wind controllers can't. That's where the Zynthian comes into its own - it has the ability to add a transposition layer that can correct for Eb/Bb and octave.

I find the latency in Zynthian acceptable. On your Android phone, try reducing the size of the soundfont (only the presets that you REALLY want). Certainly the latency is more on my Android, but I think it is acceptable for practice purposes.

One of the big features with the Zynthian is the ability to connect to it remotely (with a PC) so you can upload soundfonts and configure various things. Are you buying a kit, or the complete package? The Zynthian forum is very active and helpful.

I note in your comments about the soundfont you don't mention PolyPhone as an editor. I think it is excellent https://www.polyphone-soundfonts.com/

Gonzo
---------------------------
Gonzo Projects Page: https://gonzos.net/projects
LouisB
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2021 4:22 pm

Re: Zynthian

Post by LouisB »

I have just replied to your points about the breath expression soundfont over here viewtopic.php?p=986#p986

Regarding the Zynthian I am buying the complete package and haven't heard anything back yet :( . I just realized this might be rather foolish due to the chip shortage and I should try and source the Raspberry Pi 4 myself.

My phone is a Moto G6 Plus that uses the Snapdragon 630 octa-core vs Raspberry Pi 4 which uses the Broadcom BCM2711, Quad core Cortex-A72. I struggled with terrible latency on my phone but I discovered that killing the dolby audio greatly improves things. But is is still not good enough. I have set the polyphony to 8. Removing unused sound really should not make any difference as the entire soundfont is loaded into memory and I have confirmed this with the Louis_Whistles_TBD.sf2 which is only 90 kB in size.

I am hoping that Raspberry Pi 4 is faster! :? At least with Raspberry Pi 4 I can alter the Fluidsynth buffer size and buffer count which reduces the latency at the risk of xruns. This is something that cannot be changed on the the FluidSynth MIDI Synthesizer app.
gonzoB
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2021 9:45 pm

Re: Zynthian

Post by gonzoB »

Here's a nice portable WARBL package I've put together:

Image

I've loaded the Warbl Whistle soundfont (along with my other favourites) into Zynthian. It can be powered by a powerbank (this one's a 10Amp-hr @5V one). It pulls 800mA or thereabouts, so the life will be hours. The speaker is an old 20W Sony battery-powered one - loud enough for small groups, and again, hours of use. The speaker is not too good on bass, but it's great for whistles.

When the current lockdown is over I'll take it to the park!

Gonzo
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Gonzo Projects Page: https://gonzos.net/projects
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admin
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Re: Zynthian

Post by admin »

Very nice! Thanks for the photo and all the info about Zynthian.

Regarding latency on Android, it still seems to vary widely depending on the device and the OS version. If you haven't seen it, this page has results of a round-trip latency test with a wide variety of devices and OS versions:

https://superpowered.com/latency

It looks like the MOTO G6 Plus shows 43 mS latency with Android 9 and 181 mS with Android 10 (go figure :)). For comparison, it's typically around 10-20 mS for an iOS device.
Andrew Mowry
info@warbl.xyz
LouisB
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2021 4:22 pm

Re: Zynthian

Post by LouisB »

Oh wow. I have just received and built my Zynthian and it is absolutely amazing I am really very very please with it. I cannot detect any latency with it and I am really sensitive to any noticeable latency. Previously I was using my laptop to play my Warbl and that works well but it is so fiddly to select the instrument using the mouse and to change the volume. But with the Zynthian I have got the encoders and I just quickly twiddle the knob to change the volume and also the program. It was a breeze to install the BreathExpression soundfont and also the GenUserSelection.sf2 provided to me by Gonzo (he said in another post DM him if you want a copy) I just went to the web page http://zynthian.local/ that is created by the Zynthian box and used the upload sounds feature.

Probably the main use I will have for the Zynthian is to expand the sounds on my Roland PR101 piano. I was getting quite board with the sounds on the piano but the Zynthian comes with a demo of Pianoteq is which a realistic physical modelling engine and has given my piano a whole new lease of life so that is an amazing bonus with the Zynthian and it fits nicely on top of the piano as well.

The Zynthian was fairly fiddly to build but in retrospect nothing was really that difficult. I had to enlarge the LED holes with a needle file to get them to fit. and i panicked when I first turned it on as there was nothing happening -- but I just need to wait much longer. It does lots of self tests on first boot.

Gonzo thanks for the photo that was the next thing for me to buy -- a battery -- I wondered if it would work with a battery and what type to buy but you have answered my questions.

Also Andrew that link is really useful I am considering getting a different phone that has better latency. there is a newer version of FluidSynth MIDI Synthesizer app that improves the latency but it is still not good enough for me. I can look at the results on that page to help decide -- but maybe i don't need a new phone now as I would miss not having the Zynthian encoders to change the volume and to select the patch.
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