Instead of the Ubuntu laptop, I used my Gentoo desktop to sketch this out. It actually runs the Max/MSP patches (within Wine), such as mlr, better than Ubuntu. I don’t have much in the way of processing or FX software installed yet, so this is an extremely minimal arrangement; just a single Calf reverb effect and some fadeout postproduction in Ardour. I’m steadily writing ebuilds and adding them to my overlay.
mlr only supports audio files recorded at 44.1khz, and the ones I loaded were recorded at 96khz, which led to some interesting playback speeds; it cut playback by about half. It really brought out the transient sounds at the start and end of loops, which I used as percussive effect, playing the samples with kind of guitar-like strumming. I left in one loop at the original tempo, to add some high-end sound. It was a lot of fun — which is what experiments should be.
The picture is a screenshot of my working environment: mlr + JACK Timemachine + QJackCtl + JACKrack + monomeserial. Linux is amazing.
The audio from mlr (via WineASIO) is running to JACKrack, which contains a couple of FX, and the output from JACKrack is then run into the system audio device and simultaneously into JACK Timemachine, which is the big green button to the top right. Timemachine records the raw audio to a .wav file, which I can then process in Ardour.
I tweaked the amount of reverb in realtime with my hardware MIDI controller, a Korg NanoKontrol. I recently modded it, so here’s a picture of the finished project. It looks very nice, and feels even nicer. It has a matte, smooth, velvety finish now. It practically has a soft glow all by itself. Korg really should sell ‘em just like this.
Nanokontrol disassembly guide
0. Setup your workplace. Put some soft material down, such old towels. You’ll be putting some pressure on delicate electronic components, and you’ll be working with a lot of very fine dust: ABS plastic and blue paint. Use a very fine sandpaper grit for the finishing touches, if not for the whole project. I used 220-grit, which gave lovely results.
1. Get the knobs and faders off. Pull them straight up with just a little bit of pressure; they’re easy to remove.
2. Unscrew the screws. Flip the device over, and carefully peel off the rubber grip-pads. Those little round pads cover the screw holes. Set them aside on a clean, dust-free surface. You’ll need a fairly small Phillips screwdriver to remove the outer shell, and a much tinier Phillips for the 8 inner screws holding the inner shell to the circuitboard. There are 6 screws holding the outer shell together, and 8 more holding the inner shell to the circuitboard. That’s about 6 too many. Be careful with the inner screws! The heads are very soft, so too much torque or pressure will strip them.
3. Set aside the circuitboard and backplate; cover them with a towel. Once you start sanding, the dust will get everywhere. Now, start sanding! Remember, you pretty much only get one shot at this, since the screws are so flimsy that you likely won’t be able to take it apart once it’s reassembled. Pay particular attention to the cutouts for knobs and faders and buttons. These take the most attention, but be careful not to scrub too hard! The plastic is very soft, and you will open the holes too wide if you focus on one area too long.
The difference between a quality mod and a subpar one-off is the amount of time you’re willing to spend making sure that each and every last fleck of blue paint is removed, inside and out.
4. When you’re finished sanding, wash the outer shell and faceplate with plain water, to remove the paint and plastic dust. Thoroughly towel them off and set ‘em aside to air-dry before you reassemble the device.
5. Reassemble in reverse order, putting on the knobs and faders last. I left the paint strips on mine, but you’re free to remove those as well, or even give ‘em glow-in-the-dark or UV-reactive paint treatments. Enjoy your new awesome nanokontrol!