The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Synths for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Volca (sample) firmware hack? Drum Machines & Samplers
Old 26th September 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Volca (sample) firmware hack?

Not sure where to post this.

I have a volca sample and beats.

I am really interested in getting into the firmware.

I understand it's transmitted via the audio jack and so is much like the (very) old tape-based systems we used back in days of Atari and Commodore.

What I would love to be able to do is get into the firmware and be able to hack around in low-level stuff.

I also understand this will not be simple but I have some development experience.

I just need a few pointers if possible.

Has anyone been down there?

Anyone?
Old 26th September 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 
re5etuk's Avatar
Did you ever try taking a Sinclair spectrum game and turning that back into compilable z80 ?
That’s also audio .. or maybe the audio from a pocket operator. ?

I think you need the dev environment used , libraries , compilers , dev board.
I know some consoles and synths have been ‘hacked’ , it takes a lot of effort , and it’s a volca sample , not sure how far that device is worth ‘hacking’ , easier to get a better sampler.

It took many years for people to hack the nes , create a development platform , libraries , their own cartridges without infringing any rights .
And considering the wealth of documentation for commodore / Atari , that would still be very difficult .
Old 26th September 2018
  #3
Here for the gear
 

well if you had looked into it rather than just given me a crappy answer you might have found that there is a volca sample SDK. Exactly what I was looking for. Maybe I should have waited before posting - but all I was after was something helpful rather than dismissive.

Thanks anyway.
Old 26th September 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
 

The SDK doesn't let one hack or change the firmware, so far as I know, but only load and manipulate sample data. It does stand to reason that firmware updates may use the same sort of physical signaling to send the digital data.

If putting in different samples is all you're interested in, then the SDK is exactly what you're looking for...it's just that isn't really the firmware.
Old 26th September 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 
manalishi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by amp3rsand View Post
well if you had looked into it rather than just given me a crappy answer you might have found that there is a volca sample SDK. Exactly what I was looking for. Maybe I should have waited before posting - but all I was after was something helpful rather than dismissive.

Thanks anyway.
No sh17.

FWIW, get in touch with the fellow GSer who wrote Vosyr. He'll tell you what's so easily accessible and what's not (but I suggest that you are a lot more polite to him).
Old 26th September 2018
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by amp3rsand View Post
well if you had looked into it rather than just given me a crappy answer you might have found that there is a volca sample SDK. Exactly what I was looking for. Maybe I should have waited before posting - but all I was after was something helpful rather than dismissive.

Thanks anyway.
I would humbly suggest you might have gotten a more helpful response if you were clear about what you were asking for. If you were actually looking for the SDK, that's what you should have asked for. The SDK does not give you the capability to hack the firmware, so if that's actually what you're looking for, you haven't found it yet.
Old 26th September 2018
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amp3rsand View Post
well if you had looked into it rather than just given me a crappy answer you might have found that there is a volca sample SDK. Exactly what I was looking for. Maybe I should have waited before posting - but all I was after was something helpful rather than dismissive.

Thanks anyway.
So you didn't post here because you had already looked into this project you're "really interested" in and you couldn't find any other info.

You posted here because you were too lazy to even look far enough to find the SDK (which won't actually do what you want) and you thought your time would be better spent p1ssing on an actually reasonable response, plus berating the responder for not doing the easy work you were too lazy to do.

Got it, that's the kind of poster you are.
Old 26th September 2018
  #8
Here for the gear
 

I wasn't being 'lazy' I just posted here and carried on looking. I found the SDK not too long after.

And I think the initial reply was a bit 'snotty' (I'm from the UK, look it up) so I replied in kind.

To be clear what I am really interested in is finding a way to make the volca sample have 32 steps instead of 16.

Not sure if it's possible via the SDK or not (but as you seem to have access to sequence data and there is a 'song' mode on the volca sample it might just be possible...?)

I was just a bit put out by the initial reply having no really helpful information and seemed a bit dismissive of the fact I was a 'noob'.

Apologies all around
Old 26th September 2018
  #9
Gear Nut
 

As an observer of this thread, I would judge the OP as the asshat here.
Old 26th September 2018
  #10
Lives for gear
 
re5etuk's Avatar
Hi
My response was a bit harsh , but I often see questions which often take longer to write and post than just looking on google and doing the research ‘yourself’.
I wasn’t in a great mood and that was expressed in my response . And I’m not the forum police , so it would probably be better if I didn’t post anything .

People do hack machines , zaquencer , there’s a KORG er-1 revision , matrix 1000 firmwares , but it takes an enormous amount of work which often results in a paid for release , it’s much more than getting the sdk which is often just a way to do basic stuff (in this case to get sample data into the proprietary format)

KORG prologue is a step in the right direction to open things up , but again it’s not hacking , it using sdk’s , a framework they’re allowing people to work within.
Jjos on Mac us often used as an example of ‘hacking’ , but from what I understand he was involved in aka products and knew it pretty well before developing his own os , not just using the equipment , but the cpu / controller chips etc at a much lower level.

And to be honest , KORG sampler is a cheap limited device , but you can pickup far more powerful samplers for $100 , which can most likely do what you might take months to develop if you do get anywhere.

So in future i’ll Refrain from posting my gut reaction , I’m on here far too much at the moment and I didn’t mean to annoy / insult anyone.

If you want 32 steps then just use 2 x 16 steps and song mode , it seems like it’s already capable , just not in the exact method you hope for. (I’m a Brit too so I think we understand any nuance of language we both use , it’s all fine , it was a snotty response )
I had no idea you are a noob , as you mention experience in development and bring up systems from 25 years ago , I often do that but it’s because I made games on them though admittedly it was all art based working alongside coders , who did all the sdk / actual game engine work
Old 26th September 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by amp3rsand View Post
I wasn't being 'lazy' I just posted here and carried on looking. I found the SDK not too long after.

And I think the initial reply was a bit 'snotty' (I'm from the UK, look it up) so I replied in kind.

To be clear what I am really interested in is finding a way to make the volca sample have 32 steps instead of 16.

Not sure if it's possible via the SDK or not (but as you seem to have access to sequence data and there is a 'song' mode on the volca sample it might just be possible...?)

I was just a bit put out by the initial reply having no really helpful information and seemed a bit dismissive of the fact I was a 'noob'.

Apologies all around
Fair play for apologizing, that's rare enough.

I actually thought @ re5etuk 's post was quite reasonable. If you *had* reverse-engineered firmware from a Sinclair or Pocket Operator than you would have a good base of very relevant knowledge on parsing and understanding software encoded in audio streams. He's also very accurate about the amount of work reverse engineering can be.

Not that anyone shouldn't try it, but it can be enormously difficult.
Old 27th September 2018
  #12
Lives for gear
 

(why doesn't korg just release an anniversary firmware update,
with some user requests - that would be a classy user-appreciated
gesture, and more fun)
Old 27th September 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
 
midiquestions's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benskia View Post
As an observer of this thread, I would judge the OP as the asshat here.
Interestingly enough, no one asked.
Old 1st November 2018
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by re5etuk View Post
And to be honest , KORG sampler is a cheap limited device , but you can pickup far more powerful samplers for $100 , which can most likely do what you might take months to develop if you do get anywhere.
Hi! At the risk of them all disappearing from online auctions the moment you might mention them, which samplers in the $100 range would you say to look out for? I'm open to almost anything as long as it can be midi or cv controlled at that price! There are some diy solutions out there, sort of. But I assume you mean finished products, probably classic?

Edit: I own a volca sample (also sorry not quoted properly)

Thank you for any info! (or if anyone else wants to chime in, or suggest a good thread already on this here. I searched with my phone but nothing promising yet!)

Last edited by slothdude; 1st November 2018 at 10:48 PM.. Reason: More about me
Old 2nd November 2018
  #15
Lives for gear
 
grasspike's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by slothdude View Post
Hi! At the risk of them all disappearing from online auctions the moment you might mention them, which samplers in the $100 range would you say to look out for?

For $100 on Amazon and other places you can get brand new in the box a Casio CTK-2090. It allows sampling of 1 long sound up to 2 seconds or 5 short samples for things like drum sounds.

It is very much like the old Casio SK series from the 1980s as once a sample is recorded, you can play it polyphonicly pitched up and down the keyboard.

It responds to MIDI via USB. I sequence mine via a MIO 4 plugged into my squarp pyramid.

It is a lot of fun for $100.

It records samples one at a time using either the built in Microphone or an analog line in jack. Since the sample length is 2 seconds long or less, I have an old phone loaded up with tons of 2 second samples that I use the line in to record.

If you have 2 second samples with no attack or release you can loop them which makes for a very mellotron like experience
Old 2nd November 2018
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grasspike View Post
For $100 on Amazon and other places you can get brand new in the box a Casio CTK-2090. It allows sampling of 1 long sound up to 2 seconds or 5 short samples for things like drum sounds.
Thank you! What a strange beast - will keep on my radar! That's a big deal that it scales it across octaves over MIDI. I should have said that was a minimum requirement of sorts (here we go, haha). Most of the modern cheaper stuff seems just percussion based - won't scale over MIDI. Apparently even the SU-10 does that! ...Well looking at the 2090 manual we can only sample with the built-in mic! I'm afraid that's the clincher for me :( Not even an SD card slot. Dang! Maybe one of Casio's other recent-ish offerings.... ....wait a sec you said it does do line-in? Maybe I'm looking at the wrong manual wtf?

Any others folks know about?
Old 2nd November 2018
  #17
Lives for gear
 
re5etuk's Avatar
In terms of cheap samplers , Yamaha a3000 , esi32 , akai s2000 , that era of rack sampler... they not small desktop things , but something like a3000 has 64 note poly , multiple outs , fx , envelopes , lfo’s , hard drives , 64meg ram and can sample ... no need to xfer from another device.
Or some great unique iOS sample players for under $10 too , but obviously need $$$$$ to buy iOS device.
Old 2nd November 2018
  #18
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by re5etuk View Post
In terms of cheap samplers , Yamaha a3000 , esi32 , akai s2000 , that era of rack sampler... they not small desktop things , but something like a3000 has 64 note poly , multiple outs , fx , envelopes , lfo’s , hard drives , 64meg ram and can sample ... no need to xfer from another device.
Or some great unique iOS sample players for under $10 too , but obviously need $$$$$ to buy iOS device.
Wow A3000 sounds amazing! Thank you! Yeah I've often thought of getting an iPad just for music. I hate touch screens but they have their advantages. And iPads are standardized so there's lots of music apps for them among other things, and they're NEW. I also made a Zynthian which is basically a custom version of Raspbian on a Raspberry Pi with a tiny screen and 4 clickable encoders - you can load lots of effects, synths, or samplers and it has MIDI DIN5 in/out/thru. Works really great, no mouse or typing, but is a mess right now as I don't have it in a decent enclosure.

But yeah just having a dedicated sampler with polyphony would be so great. Does what it says! I swear a school I went to many years ago had a Peavey rack sampler! Wouldn't mind that weird thing now!
Old 2nd November 2018
  #19
Lives for gear
 
grasspike's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by slothdude View Post
Thank you! What a strange beast - will keep on my radar! That's a big deal that it scales it across octaves over MIDI. I should have said that was a minimum requirement of sorts (here we go, haha). Most of the modern cheaper stuff seems just percussion based - won't scale over MIDI. Apparently even the SU-10 does that! ...Well looking at the 2090 manual we can only sample with the built-in mic! I'm afraid that's the clincher for me :( Not even an SD card slot. Dang! Maybe one of Casio's other recent-ish offerings.... ....wait a sec you said it does do line-in? Maybe I'm looking at the wrong manual wtf?

Any others folks know about?
Yes it has a line in. I have an old cell phone that I use as a librarian for it. Full of 2 second samples.

Once you have something plugged into the line in it turns off the built in mic.

Then you press the sample button and it will listen for incoming sound and automatically sample it for up to 2 seconds. That is all there is to it.
Old 2nd November 2018
  #20
Lives for gear
 
xanderbeanz's Avatar
The OP was not to blame, it was the replies that were facetious.

Old 2nd November 2018
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grasspike View Post
Yes it has a line in. I have an old cell phone that I use as a librarian for it. Full of 2 second samples.

Once you have something plugged into the line in it turns off the built in mic.

Then you press the sample button and it will listen for incoming sound and automatically sample it for up to 2 seconds. That is all there is to it.
is that the way forwards though?

Last edited by whatever17; 23rd November 2018 at 07:42 PM..
Old 2nd November 2018
  #22
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grasspike View Post
Yes it has a line in. I have an old cell phone that I use as a librarian for it. Full of 2 second samples.

Once you have something plugged into the line in it turns off the built in mic.

Then you press the sample button and it will listen for incoming sound and automatically sample it for up to 2 seconds. That is all there is to it.
Ahhhh ok! Well shoot sounds pretty usable! That makes a huge difference thank you
Old 2nd November 2018
  #23
Here for the gear
 

Retrokits.com

Just to stay on topic a bit I don't think anyone's mentioned the Retrokits.com MIDI cable/adaptors that add "single MIDI channel sample triggering, chromatic play capabilities and more to the Volca Sample". There are other devices supported too.

There is also someone who made a (simple?) chromatic midi adapter for the Sample with an arduino. That's for diy if you're up for it.

Actually looking at the features again at RetroKits, for $65 shipped to US (at this time) it might be worth it since I already own a Sample (and I got it used for cheap). But Id love to have a proper sampler with professional features really.
Old 2nd November 2018
  #24
Lives for gear
 
grasspike's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by slothdude View Post
Ahhhh ok! Well shoot sounds pretty usable! That makes a huge difference thank you
No problem, it's obviously budget gear and has compromises but for $100 it is a good value

It uses old school sampling tech where to change pitch it just plays it faster or slower. Which I really dig. What ever gets sampled the machine will place on Middle A. So if you sample another synth or keyboard make sure its an A

I do a lot of Ambient/Psybient stuff. I like to sample various noises and then play them back way down the keyboard. Doing this you get a lot of gritty low end rhythmic textures as the samples loop
Old 2nd November 2018
  #25
Here for the gear
 

Cooooool very into all types of ambient as well, beats, no beats, noise, like anything really. Been listening to 1-Bit Symphony slowed down 50% with reverb! And the Ciani/Kaitlyn Smith album slowed down as well.

That was more how I thought I would use the Sample actually, more for noise and drone and found sounds but not necessarily rhythm. But its really a drum machine :/ Cmon Korg just give us update!

I used to pitch stuff way up to save RAM and then load it in my AWE32 and play it at normal pitch - definitely some digital grit there if you're into that!
Old 2nd November 2018
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by slothdude View Post
That was more how I thought I would use the Sample actually, more for noise and drone and found sounds but not necessarily rhythm. But its really a drum machine :/ Cmon Korg just give us update!
The Sample can definitely do noise/drone duties using the infinite loop trick. With a bit of exploration, you can squeeze a lot more out of it than typical drum machine functionality.
Old 2nd November 2018
  #27
This is the endless loop trick I was referring to (not my video):
Old 7th November 2018
  #28
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stopthesignal View Post
This is the endless loop trick I was referring to (not my video):
Ohhh dang! I saw another one of his and thought it was that - I've never seen this! Thank you!
Old 23rd November 2018
  #29
Here for the gear
 

experience in somewhat similar endeavors

Hi amp3rsand,
I actually think hacking the Volca Sample FW is a great idea :-)
I have done similar things - reverse engineering & hacking music gear firmware for the fun and challenge. And you learn stuff too doing it, too!
Zoom V-Amp; pulled EEPROM and dumped content, and flashed new ones to get other functionality as a MIDI controller.
Zoom MRS-8; zoom offered FW updates that were flashed into the machine using SD cards. I reverse-engineered it (it was using a really exotic NEC microprocessor architecture and added some custom signal processing and features.
Behringer FC1010: EEPROM flashing the 8051
Line 6 Variax; reverse-engineered the FW update mechanism (done over MIDI) and analysed the signal processing, discovered hidden modes etc.
Here creating own updates was tricky - I found a hidden SYSEX that dumped memory contents at any given address and used that to dump the boot loader, so the checksumming mechanism could be inspected and implemented to sign the modified "main" FWs.
I never did anything truly useful but it was more fun than crossword puzzles.

So - the Volca FW updates are coded using KORG Syro I guess, so the first step would be to decode the FW update wav using a reversed version of the audio coding? Then look into the binary blob and start to see if it is (fingers crossed) a raw ARM binary with some CRC at the end :-)
It might turn out that there is some obfuscation that makes it "impossible" but there is at least some stuff that an be done before throwing your hands up.

/P
Old 23rd November 2018
  #30
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by pajen View Post
Hi amp3rsand,
I actually think hacking the Volca Sample FW is a great idea :-)
I have done similar things - reverse engineering & hacking music gear firmware for the fun and challenge. And you learn stuff too doing it, too!
Zoom V-Amp; pulled EEPROM and dumped content, and flashed new ones to get other functionality as a MIDI controller.
Zoom MRS-8; zoom offered FW updates that were flashed into the machine using SD cards. I reverse-engineered it (it was using a really exotic NEC microprocessor architecture and added some custom signal processing and features.
Behringer FC1010: EEPROM flashing the 8051
Line 6 Variax; reverse-engineered the FW update mechanism (done over MIDI) and analysed the signal processing, discovered hidden modes etc.
Here creating own updates was tricky - I found a hidden SYSEX that dumped memory contents at any given address and used that to dump the boot loader, so the checksumming mechanism could be inspected and implemented to sign the modified "main" FWs.
I never did anything truly useful but it was more fun than crossword puzzles.

So - the Volca FW updates are coded using KORG Syro I guess, so the first step would be to decode the FW update wav using a reversed version of the audio coding? Then look into the binary blob and start to see if it is (fingers crossed) a raw ARM binary with some CRC at the end :-)
It might turn out that there is some obfuscation that makes it "impossible" but there is at least some stuff that an be done before throwing your hands up.

/P
Could you please fix the zoom sampletrak?
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump