Hydrasynth from ASM - Tips and Tricks

This is a place to ask a How do i do this on the Hydrasynth, or to answer such questions.

It’s also a place to suggest new ideas and experiments. Failed experiments are welcome – i’ve done a few.

Feel free to get into the nitty-gritty if necessary – there’s lots of that – this is the Hydrasynth. This is why i’ve created this thread – so dig in.

Generalized opinions on the HS are considered OFF-TOPIC in this thread, but are welcome back on the regular Hydrasynth page.

Respect, Peace and Love!


Post from elastronaut:

i am loving my Hydra … Just one question regarding Theremin mode: I can’t seem to keep the Hold control to remain ON after I save the patch … i.e. everytime I switch to this patch, I have to turn Hold ON again. Is this even possible or am I doing something wrong?

I consider this a bug – i duplicated what you described and saved the patch. I notice that simply the act of saving causes the Theremin Hold (Ribbon - page 1 #4) to change from Hold ON to Hold OFF. My guess from this behavior, is that the HSK going into Save, switches this to OFF and then it is Stored as OFF, but i have no way to confirm this. (I sent a bug report in to ASM.)

BTW: I tried this before and after changing from Firmware 1.1.6 to 1.3.0 – the behavior is the same on each.

So i assume you are using the Mod Wheel to control the volume of the Theremin Note, and that you switched off the vibrato control on the Mod Wheel. It would be nice if you could control Theremin Volume with something different – like for instance the Expression pedal. But there isn’t a Mod-Matrix Destination for the Theremin Volume. OR AM I MISSING SOMETHING?

Side note: The Sustain Pedal (or Sustain button), sustains the Theremin as well as the keyboard. But of course to un-sustain a keyboard note by lifting the Sustain Pedal releases the Theremin note too.

Question for you:
Have you tried using the Ribbon both as Theremin and as Mod-Matrix Source at the same time? (Yes, you can do this! See note at the top of page 68 in the manual.)

Mod-Matrix Sources for the Ribbon are: Ribbon Relative, Ribbon Absolute Bipolar, and Ribbon Absolute Unipolar.

A lot of the possible ribbon destinations won’t make sense to put together with the Theremin, but some things do. Panning an Oscillator(s) in the Mixer for instance (with Ribbon Absolute Bipolar), adds stereo dimension to the Theremin. (Try sending two oscillators opposite directions!)

Another interesting option is using Ribbon Relative as source to an Oscillator Pitch, which is interesting if you are running the Theremin Quantize ON and set to an interesting Scale. Combined gives a looser effect to the Theremin, while still allowing you to go to set notes. (You need to experiment with this, i won’t spoil the fun.) This is very very different from turning up Glide in the Theremin.

Experiment: Use two or three of the different sources for the Ribbon sent to separate destinations in the Mod-Matrix.

thanks for creating this thread and replying…i hope they fix the bug on the Hold control!
I am actually using the Pitch Wheel to control the volume of the Theremin. I set the Amp Level to 0, then I route a slot on the Mod Matrix to use the PitchWhl to control the Amp Level. That way, combined with the Hold On, the Theremin is always triggered but you can control the volume and attack by bending the Pitch Wheel. I was trying to emulate the articulation and behaviour of the Ondes Martenot. For vibrato I am currently using the Ribbon without Quantize so I could add some “natural” vibrato with my finger. But for faster vibrato I assigned also the vibrato to the ModWheel. An interesting option to control the Theremin (volume and other parameters) would be the Expressive E Touche, though a little bit expensive.
Regarding the use of the Ribbon both as Theremin and Mod: Thanks for the hint! I am now experimenting with multiple configurations as you suggested, I am just starting to explore with the wave scan, filter parameters, panning, pitch+alternative scales…very exciting stuff indeed!

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I assume people already know that holding the SHIFT key with character selection on the HS lets you jump through character types.

I’ve been using the new Patch Manager to type in names for patches, and for going back and changing names later. That all is pretty fast and easy once you figure out your work-flow.

NOTE: Patch names are limited to 16 characters. Going longer than that is allowed in the Patch Manager -BUT- when you try to save longer names to the HS, it doesn’t. The Patch Manager just puts a message in the message box for five to ten seconds and doesn’t change the name.
I would have preferred that it either truncate the name to 16 characters and use that for the change -OR- simply limit you to 16 characters when typing the name in the Patch Manager.

The Patch Manager is pretty basic, but seems to work well for what it does. I have a hunch they will be adding more features and improving it.

Question: Is there any interest in having a new set of Patch Banks, with the entire bank all set to Warm Mode? (Warm Mode is set by patch, it’s not a global. This is nice, it gives you the choice per patch.)
I have been considering doing this for myself, though i usually prefer the “Cool” sound. If there is interest i was considering the option of posting the Warm Patch Banks here. This could also be done with the new patch bank from Inhalt.

BTW: I am liking the Inhalt patch bank – i’ve only listen through part of it, but some i liked in particular are: Lifeforms #12, Nemo Studio #26, Stories of Old #37, Talking Metal #38.

One of my favorite things (only available on the HSK) is to combine a whole set of features at the same time with the arpeggiator.

First select a polyphonic voice, or better create one. You perhaps want to put the Ribbon into Theremin Mode.

Then create a chord. There are lots of choices, where you pitch it, whether it’s tightly clustered or spread, and whether you duplicate notes across the keyboard or pick notes more at random. Don’t worry about specific chords though for this, that’s not important for this trick. Note: As long as you continue to hold the Chord Key down you can press the Octave DOWN and UP.

Turn the Arpeggiator ON. (The ‘ON’ button will be bright.) Put the Arpeggiator in LATCH mode. (The ‘LATCH’ button will be bright.)

On Voice, Page 3 select a Scale, or create a Custom one. (There are some tricks with Custom scales, which i won’t go into here.) Then select a Key. This is a good screen to leave up, or go back to later, it’s interesting to change Key and Scale with the Arpeggiator running.

If you are using the Theremin with this, set a Key and Scale for it on Ribbon page 2, and usually set Quantize on Ribbon Page 1 #5. (Quantize OFF can be weird-nice too.) Whether you pick the same Scale and Key as with Voice is up to you, bi-tonality is cool too.

Enter your sequence into the arpeggiator from the keyboard. As long as you contine to hold one note down, every note you play is added in order to the sequence. During this you can move Octave UP and DOWN, as long as you continue to hold one note down.

This arpeggiator sequence is then played with the Chord shape you entered, but it’s going through the tonality you set in the Voice. We stay in the Key and Tonality you have selected. Don’t worry (joke) there are only 37 scales to choose from, plus many, many Custom scale options.

Now play with the arpeggiator and filter knobs, (BTW: This is when it’s nice that there is a separate set of knobs for each.) Going between Order and Random is nice especially if you put a particularly long sequence in the arpeggiator. Obviously you can change tempo at will.

Changing oscillators is nice here too. Sometimes i move across Waves with a slow, slow LFO, or with a Expression Pedal or the CV in.

Go back and change the Key or Scale in either the Voice or Theremin screens.

Sometimes its nice to toggle the Chord button, and take the played sequence in and out of Chord mode. Don’t worry, it remembers the Chord you entered even when you are not in Chord Mode, and restarts it when you reenter Chord Mode.

But a warning about entering a new Chord Shape, it seems, at least so far for me, to wipe the arpeggiator sequence.

I found a way around this though with an Interesting Oddity: The arpeggiator continues to run and make noise, after a brief silent gap, after you enter Local OFF mode. I’m not sure on whether this is intended, but it’s there. With Local OFF you can’t change the arpeggiator sequence – which is nice protection, but the Chord button continues to function, and in fact you can enter new Chords to a nice effect. The rest of the controls continue to work too.

I can amuse myself with all this for hours.

Sorry for this “Too Much Information Post”. It’s really hard to avoid – this is life in the Hydrasynth. Be Water.


Hi to everyone!

I’m trying to make a Max editor for the Hydrasynth but have some problems trying to send the NRPN codes. I dissasemble various max patches but sometimes work and other doesn’t… its a bit radomly.

Anyone have similar experiences?

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Hi godbeat!

I’ve been contemplating doing this myself – but am also looking at other options too (like Python and other options). Still piecing the ideas together in my head. SO i won’t be much help at the moment with your question.

One suggestion though, which i haven’t tried yet myself is to send NRPN data to the HS by other means (other than Max), like various DAWs that will send NRPN. (See note on SQ4 below.) Are you using Max native or in Live?


I’ve been digging around in the NRPN interface on the HS as well.

(As explanation for everyone, NRPN is sort of a baby cousin to sys-ex in MIDI. It provides a custom 14-bit – 16384 level – interface inside MIDI.)

It’s amazing the depth of the interface that is offered on the HS. NRPN can be used with Local set ON or OFF.

I’ve been observing how the HSK sends NRPN data.

You could pretty completely take control of the HS by sending it this data.

Conversely a device set up to receive this data could be nearly completely controlled. Like for instance Spectrasonics could do a very complete synth in Omnisphere controlled by the HS. Or someone, like ASM, could do a VST that would provide an interface. I’m considering Dialog Audio’s SQ4 as a possible option – not sure about it yet though.

For instance; the HSK sends, and i presume receives, ribbon controller data, and the selection made of Ribbon Mode (Pitch Bend, Theremin, Mod Only). The Macros also send and receive 14 bit data.

Another example: i’ve been observing the NRPN data sent when you change the ‘Scale’ and ‘Key’, both for the Voice and for the Theremin, all while making some interesting ambient music.

godbeat: Did you notice how many changes there have been from the MIDI/NRPN documentation that was provided by ASM? Some stuff is different and other stuff is just not documented. I couldn’t find the Ribbon output in the document for instance. And other stuff is just different.

I’m interested in how the “Scale” data is being handled – seems really flexible.

Hi Jukka,

i’m using Max for Live (that’s the DAW i most use) and the very alpha project that i’m working on seems to work well… but without any logic it stops to work.

I use the NRPN Gen 2 1.0 by gbravetti (https://maxforlive.com/library/device/4893/nrpn-gen-2) to catch NRPN codes (the same that are on the ASM 1.31 firmware Midi implementation list) and works like a charm. Some of the NRPN codes are working at bipolar 7 bit, some at 14… other just 1 bit (on/off). I have the desktop unit and cannot test the Ribbon Mode unfortunately :frowning:

I’m not in SQ4… it’s the very first time that i heard that name, i cannot help you so much with this too.

If you take a look on the Facebook Group ASM Hydrasynth Group, on some post are talking about the forthcoming Editor, it could be true or not, but we can hope is true :slight_smile: … meanwhile, i’ll continue my little battle with this tiny monster :slight_smile:

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I reported the ‘secret’ about the plan for the HS editor back in September. I found a hidden page in the ASM web-site that showed an Editor, so i believe it’s true.

But controlling the HS with an alternate interface or using the HS as a controller goes beyond an editor in function. That’s what i’ve been thinking about using an NRPN interface for.

Sounds to me, as best as i can understand what you’re describing, is that you’re having more of an issue on the Max 4 Live side of things, rather than on the HS side.

I have only been keeping casual notes so far of my digging on into the NRPN codes, but found differences with the Macros from the documentation. (Unless i am making a mistake!) I’m considering making my own version of that document – i’d also like to have a reverse list that lists in order of NRPN code. I’ve just been using MIDI OX to look at the outputs so far, and am still planning my next steps.

Dialog Audio’s SQ4 is a pretty basic 4 channel sequential modulator that can have up to 128 steps. It allows you to draw modulation sequences in a variety of ways and can output MIDI CC, RPN, NRPN (7bit / 14bit) and a small group of SysEx with checksums, as well as CV. It sits under a DAW, including Live, Logic, Pro Tools, Reaper, Cubase, and Studio One and so provides the glue to handle these kinds of modulations. It costs $50. More detail here.

I’m probably looking for more capability than this – though it is tempting to use with the HS. The HS has lots of modulation options built in, but SQ4 is a step up, and would allow you to modulate some things not in the Mod-Matrix.

Good luck to you godbeat.

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I think i know your problem => Do you have ARP TX set to ON? (System Setup Page 6, #6)

I’m running 1.3.1 on the HSK.

Turning the Arp ON sends out two NPRN messages: 3F,4E,00,00 and 39,03,00,01.
Turning the Arp OFF sends out one NPRN message: 39,03,00,00. (I’m just showing the payload bytes for the NRPN messages only.) The 3F,4E message is all notes off. The 39,03 message is not documented but is probably for Arp ON and OFF.

My HSK just explodes with MIDI Note Ons and Note Offs – I set up a five note chord, so i get five Note Ons, followed by five Note Offs, at varying velocities.
If i turn Chord OFF i get single Note Ons and Offs. Both ways sounds brilliant with a Voice Key and Scale set, but especially wtih Chords ON.

Interesting to see that with Chord set on, the MIDI Note Ons and Offs for the whole Chord are sent. This occurs both when you play notes on the keyboard with Arp OFF, and Chord outputs generated by the Arp.

I don’t understand the statement on page 21 of the (on-line) manual:
• The chord is not transmitted over USB or MIDI. A slaved device will only receive the played note.
Perhaps this has something to do with Overflow mode – but that doesn’t make sense to me either. Chord are transmitted over USB, which contradicts the statement in the manual.

Question: I notice that if i set the Ribbon to Theremin, the Theremin notes get truncated when Chord mode is running in the Arp, but doesn’t when Chord mode is off. Not sure why this occurs. (Would someone else with a HSK care to duplicate this and offer an opinion on whether you think this behavior is proper – i’m on the edge of using the “b” word.)

BTW: To me the Chord mode used along with the Voice Key and Scale feature plus having a Ribbon controller and the PA/MPE conventional keyboard, is well worth the cost of admission for the Keys over the Desktop. I know it gets said how it’s the same engine working underneath, but that’s misleading imo, there is quite a bit more capability with the Keys. I wasn’t aware of this when i ordered my Keys, but i’m really glad now that i didn’t ‘cheap out’.

Yeah, I have Arp TX set to on. Tried sending midi into Bitwig and Live 10, Arp isn’t received, only the initial note. Also tried sending over Midi Din to the Argon8. Arp notes not received there either.

Are you referring to Arp mode - Chord, or the Chord button? The manual is referring to the Chord button, not the Chord Arp mode.

I don’t know what else to tell you – MIDI output in Arp mode works perfectly on my HSK running 1.3.1

You’re running the Desktop, right? Chord mode – that is using the Chord Buttton and pressing keys to set up a Chord – is only available on the Keys version of the Hydrasynth. That’s what i use with with the Arp to play arpeggiated chords, mapped to Key and Scale if i want, instead of just arpeggiated notes.

Sorry i was not able to help you.

I have the keyboard version. I wasn’t sure if you were referring to chord mode or chord arp mode. Now I understand.

So I’ve figured out my Arp send issue. It only works with Local set to on.

Unless I’m missing a use case for it being that way, it’s the opposite of what you’d want. If I’m sending the ARP to another synth or DAW, I don’t want to hear the internal synth engine being triggered by the keys unless I’m routing back to the Hydra via the DAW…

I was all set to send you this:
Are you trying to run the Arpeggiator, with Local set to OFF? If so you can’t use the keys or keypads to set the notes for the arpeggiator – it has to come remotely. I assume you already know this.

So from your DAW just send it a nested Note_On – Note_Off series to set a sequence like this:
Note_On, C4, VELa
Note_On, C5, VELx, Note_Off, C5, Note_On, G4, VELy, Note_Off, G4
Note_Off C4

I assume also you know you don’t have to run with Local OFF to communicate with a DAW, just kill the MIDI loopback at your DAW.

Interestingly though with Local OFF the HSK keyboard can still be used to set the Chords. Also if you’ve already set and started an Arp Sequence with Local ON, you can then set Local OFF and the Arp sequence continues to run, after a brief hiccup, and the keyboard then only works to change the Chord. I posted this earlier.

I want to also point out for everyone, and remind myself – that Key and Scale are applied at the Voice layer and therefore are not applied to the transmitted MIDI, be it chords or notes. The Hydrasynth does send the NRPN data to designate the Key and Scale, so those could be read, lets say by a Max app in Live and applied.

I use the Hydra with Local set to off so I can use the it as a controller for other synths and VSTs without triggering the internal sound at the same time, and only triggers the hydra engine when I select the Hydra’s track (loopback).

The Arp only working with local set to on is fine if you just want to record the Hydra arp notes for the Hydra itself, but if you want to trigger another synth or VST with the Arp from the Hydra, it’s a royal pain. I basically have to mute the Hydra audio.

Not a big deal, just seems odd that it will only transmit with local set to on, when most use cases it would be better if it worked with local off.

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I have the HS desktop. The arpeggiator won’t play more than a couple of notes of a chord over MIDI from my Alesis v49 controller kbd. If I play, say, an 8 note chord, only one or two of the notes will sound.

I’m using an ancient MacBook Pro running Logic 8. It has an Intel processor so won’t run any recent OSX. Which could be the root of this snag.

Manually playing notes without the arp works fine. The arp also works fine from the front panel pads. And the arp sometimes latches, even when latch is off. Not had any hanging notes when playing manually.

ASM haven’t replied to a support request via their feedback form. Any thoughts?

Thanks All.

Forgot to mention that sequencing chords in Logic and arpeggiating them has the same effect i.e. still only a couple of the notes sound.

Well probably not much i can add to this. It’s not a Hydrasynth thing – i’ve used this in the past and in order for me to think about your issue i recreated it again on my HSK. It works.

So in the tips category – Just do the trouble shooting basics. Simplify, isolate, substitute, and try different things. Get creative in your attack. Has it worked for you in the past and stopped working, or is this the first time you’ve tried? I’m sure you know all this anyways but talking it through may help. Oh and top tip, read the manual again.

Interesting symptom that you can play regular notes via MIDI, but that the arpeggiator isn’t engaging. That eliminates a whole portion of investigation. I was first thinking connections, or MIDI channels, but that would mean no notes at all. Obviously your Arpeggiator ON button is lit, you don’t mention it, but it must be. You say: “If I play, say, an 8 note chord, only one or two of the notes will sound.” Does that mean it arpeggiates with one or two notes? Did you check the Arp Length? Look in Arp Edit (Press Shift Arp ON, it’s on page one). You probably want Length set to Default, but try other numbered settings, and see what happens.

ADDED: How is Tap Trig set on page 2 of Arp Edit? I had forgotten about this feature.

Story: In setting up to test this to help you, i plugged my trusty steed in directly via MIDI DIN. It wouldn’t work, so i thought – “Hey wait, this works i’ve done it before, what’s going on?” So i backed off, confirmed my connections, and when that didn’t work i plugged “Old Paint” back into my computer MIDI interface. Then i got remembering, i haven’t seen the LEDs on the MIDI interface work from this keyboard recently. So i went and got another horse from the stable, and plugged that into the HSK, and it works fine of course. I’ll troubleshoot the non-working keyboard later.

Arpeggiator Length Variations
My last post brought me an idea.

The arp parameter Length (how many notes of the arpeggiator sequence that are played) is a destination of the Mod-Matrix and a parameter modifiable in the Macros. It makes a very interesting variation on the arpeggiator, if you put a long sequence in, paying attention to order and being aware of the use of repeats – AND THEN – varying the Length parameter. This is most effective for the Arpeggiator Mode settings of Up, Down, Up/Down, Up & Down, and Order.

Another variant of this though could be to set a short Length and create a large sequence mainly of a few notes, two or three let’s say, repeated many times in the sequence, perhaps mostly one note. Pay attention to the first few notes in the sequence. Then switch the Mode between Random and Order (or the others) to go between a a random sequence of just those few notes, or maybe predominantly one note, and a sequence that’s repeating and flowing. Alternate these two in a rhythmical pattern.

Extra points if you apply Scale and Key to any of this.