Login / Register
 
Kyma as compared to MAX/MSP or Nord Modular
New Reply
Subscribe
rabbit friendly
Thread Starter
#1
15th November 2008
Old 15th November 2008
  #1
Gear nut
 
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 105

Thread Starter
rabbit friendly is offline
Kyma as compared to MAX/MSP or Nord Modular

1) learning curve?
2) programming interface?
3) sound quality
4) versatility
5) company updates and progress (seems kyma website hasn't been updated since 2006?)
6) why is kyma so expensive and what do you get for that $$
#2
15th November 2008
Old 15th November 2008
  #2
Gear maniac
 
fader8's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 247

fader8 is offline
1) learning curve?

Steep! But that depends where you are coming from. Note that it's not like your usual effects rack or synth, it's a workstation.

2) programming interface?

Awesome. As "open-ended" as it gets.

3) sound quality

Excellent, but you can just as easily create shit too.

4) versatility

Depends on what you're comparing to. Max/MSP/Jitter has MIDI and video, etc. Kyma is "pure" sound design. In that realm, it has no equal.

5) company updates and progress (seems kyma website hasn't been updated since 2006?)

I get about 3 updates a year, sometimes more. These always fix a few bugs and always adds new features. Sometimes big features. The user-only accessible WIKI site is where everything is happening.

6) why is kyma so expensive and what do you get for that $$

Very high quality hardware, stellar converters, very well supported, etc. I'm running a 14 processor Kyma system now, and I expand it every year. I'll hit 28 processors someday! Yes, a full blown Kyma system can cost as much as a well equipped Pro Tools HD system, but if you do sound design for a living, you won't regret the cost.
#3
15th November 2008
Old 15th November 2008
  #3
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: Sasquatch, OR
Posts: 4,723

ignatius is offline
there was a post on matrixsynth last week about new kyma hardware coming out soon. no info on the symbolic sound website yet but the matrixsynth post said the DSP power will be greatly improved, chasis will be smaller and it will cost half the price... or something like that.

kyma has great converters really musical sounding if that makes sense. that EUverb algo is insane too.

kyma is great, unique and does not sound like plug ins. kyma stuff has its own unique sound from the filters to well, everything but you have to invest some time and be ready to stare at your LCD for a long period of time. the manual is really well written though and symbolic sound has fantastic customer service.
#4
15th November 2008
Old 15th November 2008
  #4
Gear maniac
 
DSPaudio's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 224

DSPaudio is offline
I've spent a lot of time in front of Max, Kyma & the NM over the last 8 years. The results: (400 patches for the Nord Modular), (30 structures for Kyma), (More time in Max than should be allowed, no end in site). I've written the following review assuming you want to be productive making music and not simply spend time inside a tool "tooling new music tools".


1) learning curve?

Kyma is qualitatively in the middle. There are three time metrics I would use to support this view: (getting started, proficiency & mastery).


Given 40 horus with each and a general previous understanding of music software:

- The Nord user will have started making synthesizers and sound effects with a general grasp of the system early on.

- The Kyma user will be combining sounds from the library to get really wicked results, but have no idea what they're doing for another few weeks/months. Confusion is common during the adjustment period.

- The Max user will be on tutorial 4 or 5 (of ~50) and won't be able to approach making (by their own hand) anything that sounds as polished as the Kyma or as smooth as the Nord Mod for a year or more. Dipping into the community for *good sounding* patches will be time consuming as Max/MSP is a general media programming environment & most of the patches *ney, nearly all* of the patches on the forums are not professionally implemented DSP algorithms, (they commonly have aliasing, glitches and slop). I love Max, but it is not a fast road to making music, it is a programming environment for DIY heads and a swiss army knife in the studio (after a year or more time with it).


Given 1 month of focus on each (a few hours per day patching):

- The Nord will be well understood, the user is probably now proficient at creating their ideas with an understanding of the synths sonic limitations and strengths. A workflow is starting to appear in context of the larger picture (making music).

- The Kyma is producing great sounding material but the workflow isn't sorted. Do you use the timeline or the sound gird, when is the Tau appropriate and what analysis files work with which sounds. How can you get that cool convoluted reverb sound you made the other day but didn't save, hmm... no idea. Sound <-> DSP allocation remains a black art. Should you make your own library or just overwrite & add to the Kyma one. Bollocks, this is deep and you haven't touched CapyTalk yet.

- Max/MSP
You've only been at it a month. You want to have the flexibility of Max but the immediacy of Nord with the stellar sound of Kyma, ha.hA.HA! You'll be a star, keep at it, 3.4 billion years isn't that long on the galactic calendar. You're inundated with patches coming off the Max forums, the last one you downloaded was for interfacing a dancers body to an AI weighted score follower written at some research facility you had never heard of. You've located thousands of "externals" (plugins) and can't decide which of 5 pitch tracking objects you should use for that crazy patcher you're building that implements a kazoo detector to trigger actuators releasing a piece of burning toast while playing a sample of the I love Lucy theme backwards. Yes it's art. Max/MSP opens *that* door and it's truly Pandora's tool. I love it, but getting it to sound *good* (e.g., non glitchy, non digital, smooth, tight response, etc...), that's a tall order. Consider you only have 20,000 days on earth.


Given 1 year:

- The Nord user is approaching master or already transcended the interface and is in patching bliss. Self control is the only path to enlightenment and/or music. Good luck, using the Nord is addictive and fun. Who needs music when you've got self running patches.

- The Kyma user is half way to enlightenment and isn't singing Marvin Gaye's "What's going on" anymore. Probably chanting at some Buddhist center daily.

- The Max user has finally created their masterpiece (Burnt Toast /or how I loved Lucy), I downloaded it, wasn't impressed (sounded glitchy like everything else coming out of the Max militia), so I got back to work (using Max, whaaat?).


2) programming interface?

- Nord rules for ease of use and "speed of thought" patching.

- Kyma's canvas is strange, but you're dealing with LOGOS here. Have a sugar cube. Again it's the middle ground.

- Max is a visual programming language, no joke. You don't have to do clever hacks to process logic in this environment *it is logic*. More flexibility at a higher hourly cost.


3) sound quality

Kyma wins. Very little can touch it as it covers the whole range of DSP including new techniques invented by Symbolic Sound. Besides the Nord/Kyma/Max environments I've used Synthkit, done hundreds of hours work on the VL1 expert editor and toyed with Csound (since '96). In my experience RTCMIX and Csound *can* compete, but those are straight programming languages.

Max isn't 64bit yet and passes samples around in blocks which makes non-linear signal processes dependent on the time grain of the dsp-chain. This is bad if you like to use feedback to warm things up or do physical modeling. (You can use a vector size of one [Poly vs 1], but the CPU usage is extreme, leaving little space for further experimentation and polyphony - 2008/2009).

The Nord G1 sounds like a distorted lego (I miss this). The Nord G2 is pretty characterless, leaving the sound up to you, but doesn't have spectral or sampling tools like Kyma & Max.


4) versatility

For me, Max wins hands down. I've written my own music software in Max, a database, a network penetration testing tool, a wave librarian/editor, a Kyma Knock-off, A networked standalone VJ application for a fashion show, etc.

Ohh, you want to make music? Hmm. Kyma or the Nord.


5) company updates and progress (seems kyma website hasn't been updated since 2006?)

- They're probably not going away. Kurt and Carla are great. They've got a very nice system that should be tried by anyone serious about sound design. Most people I know haven't stuck with learning it because it has a very distinct paradigm and most programmers are either *more DIY or less DIY* than Symbolics' approach. For those who know how to balance, the Kyma really is the third path.


6) why is kyma so expensive and what do you get for that

- It's the best?
- Reference level converters
- Surround Mixing Controls Built in
- Performance oriented Timeline / Sound Scheduler
- Nearly every form of experimental DSP implemented in simple prototypes
- Massive realtime re-sythensis without slogging through CCRMA or IRCAM packages
- The option of using the Harm Visser Physical Modeling Toolkit on real DSP
- An interface that imposes limits that help you get work done; Kyma has a role
- The Kyma is unconventional. You can't easily worship this system like other hardware because it's too strange. You can only use it or move on. Many move on, some stick with it and gain the force.

My overarching recommendation; get some analog modular gear to relax after working in Kyma or Max or the Nord... It's really unbalanced to just have digital stuff around, better yet, play a real instrument.

Work to rid yourself of the marketeers poisonous lie about needing the latest technology to make music. Haven't you heard, without DSPaudio's nortron you'll never have any fun in the studio.

If you're in it for life, get all 3 (stagger the purchases, don't blow your mind and wallet simultaneously, always do these two actions at different times).

Anthony Bisset / DSPaudio
Quote
2
#5
15th November 2008
Old 15th November 2008
  #5
Gear addict
 
CircusofMind's Avatar
 
Joined: Apr 2008
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 316

CircusofMind is offline
Great review!
rabbit friendly
Thread Starter
#6
16th November 2008
Old 16th November 2008
  #6
Gear nut
 
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 105

Thread Starter
rabbit friendly is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by CircusofMind View Post
Great review!

Wow! no kidding!

Thank you so much. I actually am a sound designer and I already own a modular and have been doing computer based music for over 15 years. So I have a lot under my bealt already. But I still can't spell belt.

So it sounds like Kyma might be the way to go!

But maybe I should wait for this mysterious update ...hmmmm
#7
16th November 2008
Old 16th November 2008
  #7
Gear maniac
 
fader8's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 247

fader8 is offline
Nice post Anthony.

Being a Kyma user and a "casual" Max/MSP/Jitter user, one of the biggest differences in these platforms for me is that I can muck around in Kyma, almost randomly trying various things and have a damn fun time and even hit on something inspirational which triggers a whole new direction for me.

Max on the other hand, I tend to use only when I have something very specific in mind that really can't deviate much. But this reinforces your point about how useful it is to have both.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit friendly View Post
But maybe I should wait for this mysterious update ...hmmmm
I wouldn't hold my breath on this. To be sure, it will happen someday. But the "when" element . . .

In my experience, hampering personal development on the premise of pure speculation is never prudent policy.
#8
16th November 2008
Old 16th November 2008
  #8
Gear nut
 
memedesigner's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 96

memedesigner is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSPaudio View Post
I've spent a lot of time in front of Max, Kyma & the NM over the last 8 years.
One of the all time best posts on internets. Thanks for distilling the 8 years experience for us.
#9
16th November 2008
Old 16th November 2008
  #9
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: Sasquatch, OR
Posts: 4,723

ignatius is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit friendly View Post
But maybe I should wait for this mysterious update ...hmmmm
the post on matrixsynth was removed. so it was either premature or untrue. i sent the post to a friend in an email so here it is:


http://matrixsynth.blogspot.com/2008...-pacarana.html

"There will be two new products: the Pacarana and the Paca sound computation engines. Both the Pacarana and the Paca are named for animals smaller than the Capybara and either can serve as a smaller-yet-more-powerful replacement for the Capybara-320 in a Kyma sound design workstation. Each of these new platforms connects to your computer via FireWire 800 (we can supply an 800-400 cable if your computer has a FW 400 port). The new devices use external FireWire or USB audio converters and they can also use the Capybara-320 converters through the Flame FireWire interface.

Kyma X continues to work exactly as before.
Millimeters Inches
Pacarana 357 X 249 X 45 14 X 10 X 1.77
Paca 281 X 249 X 45 11 X 10 X 1.77

Capabilities
The flagship Pacarana is 50% more powerful than a fully-loaded Capybara-320 for far less than half the price. The entry-level Paca is $500 less than the price of a Basic Capybara-320, but the Paca is 5 times more powerful. The new machines are more compact and do not require expansion cards.

Summary
The Paca and Pacarana sound engines provide more computing power in a smaller package for less money. Pacas and Pacaranas are easier to take on stage for live performances, to bring along on tours, to move from your personal studio to a sound stage, to transport between work and home or to move from one studio to another.

What's next
We are currently accepting orders for the new machines and will begin shipping on December 1st. (If you were to decide to place an order in advance, we would not charge your credit card until the day we actually ship the system to you. Ordering in advance is simply a way to reserve a system and to reserve an early position in the queue)."

There is no news of Pacarana on Symbolic Sound's website as of this post."
#10
16th November 2008
Old 16th November 2008
  #10
Moderator
 
Reptil's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2004
Location: in a low orbit
Posts: 21,601

Reptil is offline
I enjoyed reading that review. Very informative. Thank you very much. I now know I'm a Kyma person. Well at least the concept appeals to me.
I'll look further into this.
thumbsup
__________________
"You must have Chaos within you, to give Birth to a dancing Star" Friedrich Nietzsche

for sale a complete SERGE SYNTHESIZER (Creature, EQ-Shift, BOG)

for sale EURORACK MODULAR CASE


#11
16th November 2008
Old 16th November 2008
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Swami Digital's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: SF bay area
Posts: 533

Swami Digital is offline
Looks like matrixsynth took the page down too, I can't see it on their site anymore.

-D
__________________
FS: Sherman FB1, Snyderphonics Manta, Waldorf MicroQ Phoenix, Grace m101 pm for details.
rabbit friendly
Thread Starter
#12
16th November 2008
Old 16th November 2008
  #12
Gear nut
 
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 105

Thread Starter
rabbit friendly is offline
I wrote to symbolic sound yesterday asking if there was an upgrade path available if a new system came out within six months after I bought it. They replied that I would be qualified for an upgrade. I'm still waiting to find out if that's a hardware swap or what. Judging from other users' posts it seems that there is a grace period where they will exchange your legacy system for a new one at equal value.

note: they did not deny having a new version available soon - although that might not mean much
#13
17th November 2008
Old 17th November 2008
  #13
Gear Head
 
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 69

BigBadJohn is offline
DSP audio - Thanks for taking the time to write such a thorough review. It is very helpful, as I am considering purchasing a KYMA system.

John
#14
17th November 2008
Old 17th November 2008
  #14
Gear nut
 
cebec's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 94

cebec is offline
Anthony, great review!

I've used the Nord G1, G2, Reaktor, Kyma X with Capybara 320 (plus 4 additional cards), and now use MaxMSP (since v. 4.5) and I agree with your assessment 100%.

Since selling my Kyma last year to invest in more analog modular stuff, I've been hoping for new Kyma hardware. The Kyma platform is the best sounding of all and feels like a musical instrument. It was very easy to incorporate into my workflow and didn't disrupt the process of music production like some of the others can. The Nord Modular platform is still one of the most fun, addictive environments I've used.
#15
17th November 2008
Old 17th November 2008
  #15
Lives for gear
 
dlmorley's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2002
Location: Belgium
Posts: 6,243

dlmorley is offline
To my ears the sonic quality of KYMA was amazing. Clear, full and nice sounding.
Programming was fun and it really is a great box. Not a go to box for me, so I sold it, but superb quality.
I am sure you can do most the stuff with a variety of other things, but I doubt it would sound as good in many cases.
#16
17th November 2008
Old 17th November 2008
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Swami Digital's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: SF bay area
Posts: 533

Swami Digital is offline
Can you write your own library functions in Kyma? Or just combine blocks into new algorithms?

-D
#17
17th November 2008
Old 17th November 2008
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Dirty Halo's Avatar
 
Joined: May 2005
Location: Hollyweird
Posts: 8,770

Dirty Halo is offline
I also owned a system, the part that makes it stand out from any plug, is the Capybara, it's coverters and of course, processing cards.

The trouble for me was, it was WAAAAAAY smarter than me!

But seriously, too much work to get anything usable for music, which is what I do. IT's very deep and powerful, but not fast or easy results for anything spontanteous or musical. IMO.

If there are cool plugs that do similar things like the morphing, I'd love for people to list them here!

-Andrews
#18
17th November 2008
Old 17th November 2008
  #18
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: Sasquatch, OR
Posts: 4,723

ignatius is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swami Digital View Post
Can you write your own library functions in Kyma? Or just combine blocks into new algorithms?

-D
you can do pretty much anything. it's a very well thought out system.

i recommend you get the kyma manual for $35 (they will deduct the cost of the manual from your order if you order a system) and read up on how it works and the many possibilities to see if it's something you are really interested in enough to lay out the cash and have the time to invest in it.

i think it's usefulness really depends on the user and how much time you invest in it and your creativity etc. there really is nothing like it out there and it does sound as good as people say.
#19
17th November 2008
Old 17th November 2008
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Phaidon's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2007
Location: N.Y.C.
Posts: 3,000

Phaidon is online now
#20
18th November 2008
Old 18th November 2008
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Swami Digital's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: SF bay area
Posts: 533

Swami Digital is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by ignatius View Post
you can do pretty much anything. it's a very well thought out system.

i recommend you get the kyma manual for $35 (they will deduct the cost of the manual from your order if you order a system) and read up on how it works and the many possibilities to see if it's something you are really interested in enough to lay out the cash and have the time to invest in it.

i think it's usefulness really depends on the user and how much time you invest in it and your creativity etc. there really is nothing like it out there and it does sound as good as people say.
Cool. I'm thinking of getting one of the new systems when they are released, if the Haken Continuum will be compatible with them. The main thing is that I want to be able to write my own library functions. I was thinking of building my own platform as well, but if it's already been done very successfully, there's no need for me to waste time. I'm still trying to decide if it's worth it vs. MAX/MSP.

-D
#21
18th November 2008
Old 18th November 2008
  #21
Lives for gear
 
cubivore's Avatar
 
Joined: Jun 2006
Location: houston tx
Posts: 739

cubivore is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSPaudio View Post
I've spent a lot of time in front of Max, Kyma & the NM over the last 8 years. The results: (400 patches for the Nord Modular), (30 structures for Kyma), (More time in Max than should be allowed, no end in site). I've written the following review assuming you want to be productive making music and not simply spend time inside a tool "tooling new music tools".
If you're in it for life, get all 3 (stagger the purchases, don't blow your mind and wallet simultaneously, always do these two actions at different times).

Anthony Bisset / DSPaudio
best post ever!!! thanks for all the info
#22
18th November 2008
Old 18th November 2008
  #22
Gear Head
 
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 50

panda21 is offline
personally i found max/msp quite hard to get anywhere with because you really have to get into that particular way of constructing things. its more like designing a digital circuit than programming and i always felt like i was wasting my time trying to figure out how best to tell max to do what i wanted it to when i felt like i could have just written an audio unit or max plugin to do it in half the time

of course the benefit of max is that all the annoying gui stuff and all that is taken care of for you.. but theres still more plumbing like smoothing parameters and smooth attack/releases and stuff that you have to construct by hand than i would like.. when you take that into account building something like a granular synth that you could actually play and use is almost as much work as programming your own plugin, so if you can already code its slightly frustrating, imho.

on the other hand it is a great way to let people get really deep into creating things without requiring them to learn how to program in C and all of the baggage that comes with that, but its still just as functional
#23
20th November 2008
Old 20th November 2008
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Swami Digital's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: SF bay area
Posts: 533

Swami Digital is offline
Anyone heard anything else about the Pacarana and Paca release? It looks like the posts were pulled soon after they were put up. I guess it was a premature leak, but I was wondering if anyone else had heard anything?

-D
#24
20th November 2008
Old 20th November 2008
  #24
Gear maniac
 
Izok's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2006
Location: France
Posts: 225

Izok is offline
Lovely converters !!! thumbsup so dynamic !
#25
20th November 2008
Old 20th November 2008
  #25
Gear nut
 
cebec's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 94

cebec is offline
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swami Digital View Post
Anyone heard anything else about the Pacarana and Paca release? It looks like the posts were pulled soon after they were put up. I guess it was a premature leak, but I was wondering if anyone else had heard anything?

-D
No, but I just spotted this on their home page:

Something new is coming...
Watch here for clues...
#26
24th November 2008
Old 24th November 2008
  #26
Gear nut
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 97

Marzipan is offline
They're really teasing people now, check out the new "clues" link!

I'm after one of the new systems when they come out, just wish they'd hurry up and spill the beans!
#27
27th November 2008
Old 27th November 2008
  #27
Gear nut
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 97

Marzipan is offline
Wow another update, looks like the rumours about the Pacarana were true after all!
#28
27th November 2008
Old 27th November 2008
  #28
Gear maniac
 
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Barcelona
Posts: 251

lcvl is offline
#29
27th November 2008
Old 27th November 2008
  #29
Gear interested
 
rlainhart's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2006
Location: Rockland County, NY
Posts: 2

rlainhart is offline
They will.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Swami Digital View Post
Cool. I'm thinking of getting one of the new systems when they are released, if the Haken Continuum will be compatible with them. -D
rabbit friendly
Thread Starter
#30
27th November 2008
Old 27th November 2008
  #30
Gear nut
 
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 105

Thread Starter
rabbit friendly is offline
looks like lots of people are trying to get rid of their soon to legacy systems on ebay. Glad I waited the few days before ordering.
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
nyarlothothep / So much gear, so little time!
8
Tibbon / Electronic Music Instruments & Electronic Music Production
16
tillyxengineer / So much gear, so little time!
5
ryangeller / So much gear, so little time!
5
will_ie_2000 / So much gear, so little time!
3

Forum Jump

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.