Trans Computer Maschine FAQ v2.30

Q: Is there any novelty in 'Trans Computer Maschine' plugin reviewers must be aware of?

A: There are some features we haven't seen before in a plugin (let us know if we're wrong in order to correct this FAQ):

  - Launched in 2012, this is the first software plugin implementation of a pattern sequencer featuring 'Skip' in 5 different modes and real-time non-drifting 'Set' controls.
  - Launched in 2012, this is the first software plugin implementation of a pattern sequencer with control switches controlled by MIDI notes from a keyboard for real-time live operation.
  - Our Sequencer 'LEDs' have true analogue response. You might check other plugins like the €99 Modular V sequencer to see how some 'LEDs' blink together or just disappear when stepping fast.

Q: What is its main use aimed for?

A: Our front man was thinking on building this to use himself. He did not find anything similar to build modular patterns the easy way just like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and many electronic pioneers used to do in the late 70's just before the 'Digital Beta' era took over the 'Analogue Peak' one around 1984.

    With 'Trans Computer Maschine' we came up with an instrument capable of generating the sounds he was looking for, but this is just the beginning. We're pattern sequencer fanatics and we're dreaming of sequencers triggering sequencers controlling virtual instruments or external hardware...

Q: Is 'Trans Computer Maschine' able to make Odyssey type sounds?

A: Yes, 99%. It also includes the 2-pole mode LPF with auto-oscillation for early 'Whitefaced' emulation and the controls are ages smoother compared to the low resolution controls in the €99 commercial emulation (try tweaking the filter from the GUI sustaining a note).

    The 1% not modelled is 'duophony' which was removed favouring interconnection with the Sequencer.

Q: Is 'Trans Computer Maschine' able to make Minimoog type sounds?

A: Yes. There are some 'Moog tweaking' switches spread across the synthesizer:

  - Switches at bottom of Oscillators 'Coarse' sliders are to set 'Range' in Moog terminology.
  - Switches at bottom of Oscillators 'Pulse Width' sliders are to set 'Square', 'Wide Rectangular' and 'Narrow Rectangular' in Moog terminology.
  - The Sawtooth-Triangle Minimoog exclusive shape is available as well. This is not just a Sawtooth/Triangle mix but a very special oscillator derived shape and it is missing in many emulations.
  - Both Envelopes, of course, can be used in 'ADS' mode just like in the Minimoog.
  - 'S/H Mixer' with 'OSC3' and 'Mini Noise' sources can be used for Minimoog-like modulation duties.

Q: What is the 'Bass Recover' control for?

A: If there's a drawback on the classic Moog ladder filter it's the low end attenuation at high resonance settings.  We included this novel feature on our latest filter design so users can further adjust the filter response at will.

Q: What is the 'Analog Drift' control for?

A: It adds small random fluctuations to certain parameters in order to faithfully mimic the subtle imperfections of the sound produced by analogue hardware.

Q: What's the meaning of the colour varying indicator on the Amplifier?

A: It alerts that light distortion is taking place, from subtle (orange) to hard (red).

   (please note that it won't show up in a few host-system combos due to graphics incompatibilities)

  - As happens with true vintage equipment the degree of distortion (or absence of it) depends on signal level so you won't find something like a 'Soft Clip' switch in 'Trans Computer Maschine'.
  - Moreover, the output signal will never reach digital distortion as other software instruments tend to do.

Q: Why is the 'Sawtooth' wave shown inverted in the GUI?

A: It is the actual generated waveform as modelled from the original 'Whitefaced' Odyssey.

    Following such behaviour 'Sawtooth' LFOs are named 'LFO Saw' when falling and 'LFO SawUp' when rising.

Q: You're claiming the Sequencer featuring non-drifting 'Set' controls but I noticed some occasional drifts.

A: Restarting, changing presets, or tweaking sync-related parameters on the fly might end with an occasional drift because keeping synchronization is 'Trans Computer Maschine' priority. This is also true for the LFO task of staying phase-aligned with the Sequencer.

    Once the Sequencer is synced and running, the only possible drift will be an inaccurate human input that won't happen too often as you learn to 'play the machine'.

   (check seminal track 'Europe Endless' intro for an analogue world drift example)

Q: Why some middle values are not in the middle?

A: The GUI controls on 'Trans Computer Maschine' are modelled after real hardware so most values show on with exponential response.

Q: Which controls show values in milliseconds?

A: Portamento, Output Lag (S/H and Seq Controls) and Envelope's A, D, R.

Q: Which controls show values in hertz?

A: LFO, LPF and HPF frequencies.

Q: How can I input values accurately?

A: Just click on the value and type. 'Trans Computer Maschine' will check if you're typing well.

Q: Why are Envelopes 'Attack' times limited to 5 milliseconds?

A: They just follow the 'Whitefaced' Odyssey specifications.

  - However, type-input can still be used if smaller values need to be set.

Q: How does the Sequencer work?

A: The sequencer generates 5 different signals:

  - The 'Gate', to be used for trigger the envelopes (source selection at bottom of envelopes)
  - The 'Interval/Transpose' value, to control oscillators note pitch ('Seq In' buttons)
  - The 'Control A' value, to control many Synth parameters (source selection at bottom of controls)
  - The 'Control B' value, to control many Synth parameters (source selection at bottom of controls)
  - The 'Clock', can be used to trigger the S/H module (source selection at bottom of S/H)

Q: How can I slave the Sequencer to the host I'm using?

A: The Sequencer 'transport' is slaved automatically when the 'Sync' button is active. If the host is playing in the middle of a bar the Sequencer will wait a fresh bar playing to Start/Stop.

Q: What are the Sequencer 'ON' buttons for?

A: Think of it as a step 'Enabler/Disabler' but keep in mind that it is counted so in musical terms it means a 'Rest':

  - Keyboard notes can be used for 'toggling' meaning 'Enabling/Disabling' on subsequent key pressings.
Q: What are the Sequencer 'SKIP' buttons for?

A: This switch forces the Sequencer to skip a step and it is not counted so the whole sequence becomes shorter:

  - It works in any mode and can be used to emulate Sequencers with less steps like 8, 12 or anything.
  - Keyboard notes can be used for 'toggling' meaning 'Enabling/Disabling' on subsequent key pressings.

Q: What are the Sequencer 'SET' buttons for?

A: These are real-time Sequencer controls, clicking or triggering one of them from the keyboard forces the Sequencer to start playing from that step:

  - It can also be used trickily to freeze the sequence stepping in one note.
  - Skipped values can be used as 'jokers' when playing the Sequencer live!

Q: When I send many MIDI notes for toggling ON/OFF Sequencer steps why is it that only one is recognised?

A: MIDI toggling features were designed with live playing in mind with single event response being a side-effect from such implementation.

    VST automation must be used in order to record or sequence ON/OFF steps at will.

Q: How does the 'Pulse Width' Sequencer control work?

A: It sets the width of the Sequencer Gate which is a pulse wave sent out as the Sequencer steps.

    It is usually associated with the Sequencer note (interval) length but the effect on the final sound is also dependent on the Synth Envelope settings so please spend a little time to look how they work together.

Q: What's the difference between 'Pendulum 1' and 'Pendulum 2' Sequencer Play Order modes?

A: In 'Pendulum 1' the first and last step are played twice so the sequence does not drift on each cycle.

    In 'Pendulum 2' the first and last step are played only once so the sequence will drift one step on each cycle.

Q: Any chance to have Sequencer MIDI data transmitted in the future?

A: This project started with the Sequencer but then we added the Synth because we found people not interested too much in MIDI only controller plugins, but yes, we're working in a huge Step Sequencer MIDI Controller product.

Q: What is the 'MIDI Channel Router' for?

A: 'Trans Computer Maschine' is fully MIDI controllable and many Sequencer controls can be toggled or triggered from keyboard MIDI Notes so this way the user can choose to use the keyboard for either control the Synth pitch or control the Sequencer.

    If two keyboards are connected, each one can be used to control the Synth and the Sequencer separately.

Q: What is the 'Synth Channel to Seq Reset' for?

A: It routes MIDI notes controlling the Synth for Sequencer retriggering purposes.

  - In 'Trigger' mode, the Sequencer restarts from the set 'Step' and keeps playing as long as the 'transport' is not 'stopped'.

  - In 'Gate' mode, the Sequencer restarts from the set 'Step' and keeps playing as long as the 'transport' is not 'stopped' and a MIDI note is held.

   (use the host metronome or auto-quantize to play accurately with the Sequencer 'Sync' switched on)

Q: How is it supposed MIDI control to work over 'Interval', 'Control A' and 'Control B' if they share CC#?

A: Most MIDI controllers does not have enough CC pots but they generally do have MIDI Channel assignments storable in presets so this way you can use the 'MIDI Channel Router' to configure and change on the fly your MIDI control over the Sequencer rows pots.

Q: Why aren't there MIDI velocity control settings?

A: There is not and there will not be MIDI velocity control in 'Trans Computer Maschine' as this feature might alter the original character of the modelled hardware. However, anyone can fool this limitation mapping velocity to MIDI CC.

Q: What are the tiny 'CC1' buttons for?

A: We think a drawback in many modular and semi-modular plugins is the simple modulation wheel control for vibrato, tremolo and LFO based effects.

    Most plugins provide MIDI learn to set an exclusive CC# for each parameter. So how to control vibrato made up from 3 oscillators?
    We solved this in 'Trans Computer Maschine' with these switches hard-wired to CC1 so the user can choose to control LFO effects with the wheel at will with just a click.

Q: What is the 'K MEM' selector under Oscillators for?

A: This is a global setting related to the Oscillators MIDI pitch control:

  - 'Disabled' is the normal mode when previous MIDI pitch is flushed on patch change.
  - 'Enabled' is the non reset mode when previous MIDI pitch is kept on patch change.

Q: Why the 'P Bend' decimals does not move when I move my Pitch Bend controller?

A: Your MIDI Controller is of the many (and most) built with crappy chips not handling LSB Pitch Bend Data (Low Resolution Bender).

Q: What are the differences among the selectable 'Lead Modes'?

A: The 'Odyssey' mode sets 'Last Note Priority' and enables 'Envelope Retriggering'
    The 'Minimoog' mode sets 'Low Note Priority' and disables 'Envelope Retriggering'
    The '2600' mode sets 'Low Note Priority' and enables 'Envelope Retriggering'
    The 'Synthi' mode sets 'Last Note Priority' and disables 'Envelope Retriggering'

Q: What is the 'Low F' Oscillator switch for?

A: This comes from modelling the ARP hardware and sets an Oscillator to be used as LFO.

  - In this mode the Oscillator pitch control by MIDI Notes or Keyboard is disabled.
  - The Sequencer works either way just by enabling the 'Seq In' switch.

Q: What is the 'Scale' Oscillator switch for?

A: It sets both the 'Coarse' and 'Fine' Oscillator tuning controls to respond with stepped resolution for tonal tweaking.

Q: What are the 'Lower' frequency modulation sources available in Oscillators?

A: These are negative constant signals intended for extra subsonic transposition.

Q: What are the differences among the selectable 'Gate Modes' in Envelopes?

A: 'KBD Gate' is the normal mode when you just want to control the Envelope as you play the keyboard.
    'KBD Repeat', modelled from the Odyssey, retriggers the Envelope at LFO rate while you hold a keyboard note (as in the song 'Neon Lights').
    'Auto Repeat', modelled from the Odyssey, retriggers the Envelope at LFO rate without holding the keyboard (as tweaking the Envelope Shaper 'Off' knob in classic EMS synthesizers).
    'Seq Gate 1x' is the normal setting where the Sequencer takes control over the Envelope.

    'Seq Gate 2x' is the double triggering setting where the Sequencer takes control over the Envelope.

Q: What are the 'Expand' sources available in the S/H Mixer?

A: These are extra gain controls to raise the level of the opposite signal in the S/H mix.

Q: Why when I feed the S/H module with an LFO waveform, the LFO doesn't trigger the module?

A: If you set such connection, the S/H takes a sample from the LFO for each LFO cycle so the sampled value is always the same.

Q: What does the 'OUT' warning showing up under the 'Seq Steps' selector mean?

A: The LFO operating range is up to 20Hz so if syncing is going to end with a greater value it get stuck at 20Hz and shows the warning 'OUT' (of sync).

Q: What are the differences among the selectable 'HPF assignments'?

A: 'Serial' means everything is HP filtered.
    'Parallel' means only LPF disabled signals are HP filtered.
    'LPF Bus' means only LPF enabled signals are HP filtered.
    'Bypass' means nothing is HP filtered.

  - Bypassing the HPF prevents waveforms from being slightly curved so perfect shapes can be obtained.
  - Do not set 'Bypass' if you are after what some developer calls 'True Analog Emulation'.

Q: Why is my oscilloscope showing a different shape than selected?

A: You are probably using the 'S/H Mixer' to make the oscillator self-modulation trick.

    Different shapes can be obtained this way and the pitch on carrier pulse waves varies as 'Pulse Width' changes. A hidden stage we added is modulator pulse waves being 'squared' at oscillator input.

Q: Why did I end with a sound that never stops?

A: You probably ended with a patch with non-zero Amp Gain.

    This is modelled after the ARP hardware and its operation is unusual because this gain is not affected by the Envelope controlling the Amp so the signal just pass through.

    It is mainly used to make sustained, never stopping FX sounds.

Q: Can I load multiple instances of the plugin inside a host?

A: Yes, but first you need to close it and rename copies of the plugin file like 'T-C-M-II_2.dll', 'T-C-M-II_3.dll' and so on. This might not be needed in some configurations but we advise you to do it to prevent a crash.

Q: Is there a Linux version available?

A: 'Trans Computer Maschine' works trouble-less with suitable VST compatible host software in the Linux/Wine platform. The required program files can be found in the Windows package.

Q: My project studio is Mac-based so what if I want to use 'Trans Computer Maschine' for composing?

A: Sorry, no Mac version yet. In the meantime you can create true modular patterns just using that old PC thrown in the garage loaded with 'Trans Computer Maschine' as a hardware module feeding your mixer.

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