Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

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Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:54 am

Just saw this and am downloading the demo at the moment.

So good to see somebody actually putting some thought into the user interface of a softsynth rather than trying to copy the hardware paradigm. Softsynth makers: Softsynths are not hardware! People want to be able to program them with a mouse so having tonnes of realistic looking knobs packed into a wood-look panel is no good! I don't care if I can choose between different types of wood, I want to use the thing, not look at it!

Hopefully it sounds as good as it looks to use.

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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by griffin avid » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:26 am

Not digging the look that much.

on a side note,
I hate when programmers take 'normal' controls and change the name or hide what the actual parameter are
for some sort of specialized description. Delay is...delay.
Changing it's name to Folding Matrix Express Tail doesn't help. Using the acronym FMET is even worse.


The good news is I like the sound of its demos a lot.
I'd like to know what % of the demos are done inside the program.
And it doesn't saw whay the demo limitations are.
If the sound is all that, MIDI mapping might make the GUI a non-issue.
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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by Wiglaf » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:34 am

I think it looks terrible. Maybe the layout is fine, but the design is like somebody threw up black paint and then added crayon droppings. To each his own.
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Post by crystalmsc » Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:30 am

I like the Pac-Man world looks of it :D seriously, not often we could play music with that much Pac-Mans. I think it looks refreshing and fun to look at. should be released as a PS3 tittle as it would certainly looks good in HD =P~
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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:44 am

Wiglaf wrote:I think it looks terrible. Maybe the layout is fine, but the design is like somebody threw up black paint and then added crayon droppings. To each his own.
I don't want to j**k off to it, I just want to be able to look at it and see where the parameters are set to. And have enough space around the knobs to be able to click the one I want and adjust it without having to focus my eyes on the screen or use the reading part of my brain. Or bring up the right page of the interface. I think the Automat UI is good, just a little cramped. This fixes it.

Maybe I've been spending too much time studying UIs in this new interactive design job... :oops:

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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by Huppo » Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:27 pm

I personally don't mind that type of interface, I've seen a few different software things with the same flavor, such as dblue's Glitch:

Image

One of the advantages to that type UI (which is also used variously in Ableton and Tracktion) is that it's much more CPU-friendly than an interactive, realistic rendering which contributes nothing to the sound.

I can see maintaining the traditional look in something that's trying to be a software emulation of a real synth but trying to make innovative, new concepts and original designs look like old hardware is kind of silly.
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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by krushing » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:58 pm

Wiglaf wrote:I think it looks terrible. Maybe the layout is fine, but the design is like somebody threw up black paint and then added crayon droppings. To each his own.
May I inquire what do you consider a great UI then?

I think Circle's spot on, utilitarian and easy on the eyes.

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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by griffin avid » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:45 pm

I've got to say whenever I see those huge vertical scrolling lists of free VSTs, I always see some that look incredible. I always think Wow, I would use that if it only sounded descent. Most times the GUI overshadows the sound. I will be spending a good deal of time making/editing sounds so I want a real nice interface. Intuitive is an important adjective since I may not use it every day and I don't want to have to relearn it just because I didn't make music with it for a month or two.

I agree that making a Virtual Instruments mirror/emulate a piece of hardware makes no sense in some cases, but it's also about familiarity. I'm used to knobs/cables so some of the graphical styles make sense. Little graphics that sometimes you click, sometimes you click drag (and sometimes dag off the screen to make large changes), don't always help. Sometimes by simply highlighting the control- the value gets changed (hate that) . I dig faders and a numerical fields for precise values.

Certainly I don't need a screensaver running on my VSTs UI, but if knob animations are robbing polyphony...

I like the overall look of Propellerhead Reason (another reason I think it's so popular).
This, to me, is a great interface. Simple layout. Plain naming conventions and colorful.

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Post by crystalmsc » Thu Aug 28, 2008 5:15 am

Huppo wrote:dblue's Glitch
I like the interface of it even better.
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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by jaypodesta » Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:38 pm

The look of it reminds me of the the JazzMutant style interfaces. With a bit of F1 steering wheel inspiration thrown in.

I guess they don't have hardware to emulate visually so they can do what they want which is probably quite liberating for the designer.

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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by Yoozer » Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:48 pm

Wiglaf wrote:I think it looks terrible. Maybe the layout is fine, but the design is like somebody threw up black paint and then added crayon droppings. To each his own.
It provides maximum contrast, while this

Image

does not. Neither does any of Arturia's other offerings and trying to cram a vintage interface on a screen is pretty much stupid, and it won't fool the analog purists who don't believe it can be emulated in software anyway while it frustrates the users because the labels are unreadable.

A slider is bound to a single dimension - up or down. A mouse does not have this constraint, and people are c**p in aiming the mouse. Why then use sliders to change the parameters of an envelope? We're talking about a modulation over time here - it's made to be put in the X-Y domain, and forcing sliders on the user is silly. Graphical envelopes for screens are an insanely good idea, since they remove the restriction a slider has - which it only has because you can't make a movable, zoomable envelope in the real world, and they also remove the restriction of the processor which has to render the envelope (for software envs, that is) - namely, that it only has 3 points (plus 2 fixed points at zero) that can be moved (or a few more when you have a time-level envelope).

A knob is more compact than a slider, cheaper, and doesn't suffer from issues such as getting dust in there. It's not that great in what is the second duty of a slider - displaying the value. You have to make a small mental translation to look at the knob and deduce the value. A knob has as a second issue that you can't move 4 of 'm at once - with sliders you just hook your fingers beneath 'm and move up or down.

Making a knob black with minimal difference from the rest of the panel and then using a thin grey-white line (or worse, a dot) to denote its value is stupid, too. Make it colorful and big so you can accurately see what the value is - you see that the "value" meter of the thing runs from zero, which helps with the aforementioned translation - you no longer have to find the angle or find where a dot is positioned.

Contrast. Size. Clarity. All vitally important for a good user interface. And when it's on the screen, you may throw away all those restrictions of the physical world - and that's a good thing.

Ask yourself why a Jupiter and a Juno have the chunky colored labels and buttons - the text is easier to read on the stage, you don't see dirt that easily, and each block denotes a group of related parameters. In that sense, Circle is no different. Things went downhill with the D-series and the M1 is almost as minimal as it gets - everything on a small display. The Trinity/Triton just set/followed a trend - from appliances to instruments, and since it had a much bigger screen, it was OK to put the action there.

That's also the reason the waveforms have the names of cities - you're going to remember Delhi, but not nr. 23.
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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by griffin avid » Sat Aug 30, 2008 8:53 am

All great points there. I wonder if that's an actual screen sized shot since it does look cramped and I can't read the parameters. But I remember being able to- on the old CS80 software. The other option seems to be a vertical scrolling GUI (like Reason) where it's several page lengths. I hate menu diving so...


Any ideas Yoozer on what a better approach would be?
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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by Yoozer » Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:31 am

I've lots of better ideas - but that would stop fooling people from thinking that it's a CS80. I even have some (arguably) awesome ideas for a screen like the one on the iPhone. Intel now has the Atom CPU which is really small and runs at 1.6Ghz - and that might just be enough to run a high-quality softsynth on low-power.

This would remove the barriers that embedded programming currently has - just dumping a softsynth in there via USB, small color touchscreen, bunch of genericized knobs and sliders, and you have the Origin - only a lot less expensive since the guts are generic.

I'll whip up a replacement UI when I've finished coding the other app - overtime :(.
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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by CS_TBL » Sat Aug 30, 2008 3:46 pm

Personally I find the envelopes of the CS80v a bit unclear when having a mouse to move them. Maybe with a real CS80 it's not much of an issue, but boy would I've preferred to see a *graph* of the envelope in CS80v.
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Re: Circle - A softsynth with thought put into the UI!

Post by Wiglaf » Mon Sep 01, 2008 4:56 am

Yoozer wrote:A mouse does not have this constraint, and people are c**p in aiming the mouse.
If they suck at using computers, they might...I sure don't have trouble aiming.

May I inquire what do you consider a great UI then?
It's like p**n. I know it when I see it.

Although to be honest, the UI is just about the last thing I care about when it comes to using computer software. Probably because I still think text-based interfaces are just fine...C:\> anybody?
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