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Re: Eventide Orville questions

> I'm in the hard work of learning how things work in Orville and other
> multipourpose DSP machines to get one of them.

For Kyma, I recommend an AES preprint "A Framework for the Design, 
and Delivery of Real-time Software-based Sound Synthesis and Processing
Algorithms" by Hebel and Scaletti presented at the 97th AES convention 
It's short (text is about six pages) and concise.  You can also order a 
manual for $35.  That's what I did before buying.

> I heard Orville kicks Kyma (in flexibility and DSP power). is this true,
> having in mind that Symbolic Sound's Kyma is expandable up to 28 DSPs?

I'm a Kyma owner so I'm quite familiar with it.  After reading the Orville
manuals (all three including the programming manual), it's clear to me 
that Kyma
is quite a bit more powerful and flexible.

This is not surprising given that a top end Kyma system (not including a 
computer) prices out at $11,435 USD.  What is surprising is that you can 
with a basic unit for $3,300 and expand it without discarding any parts.

In a nutshell, the major differences between the Kyma and the Orville are
because the Kyma requires a host computer at all times.  You only need to 
use a
computer with Orville when you're doing heavy-duty programming.

The fact that Kyma requires a computer is both an advantage and 
If you can't deal with a computer onstage, Orville is for you.  It is well
designed to function as a conventional rack-mount effects box.  The 
Orville is
more self-contained.  For example, you can plug non-MIDI footswitches and 
directly into it.  With Kyma, you must use a MIDI footswitch and CC pedal 
you'd probably need a MIDI hub).

On the other hand, the computer gives Kyma some capabilities that Orville 
doesn't have.  For example, with a MIDI keyboard, you can use Kyma as a 
keyboard, triggering samples of any length from the hard drive.  You can 
use Kyma as a digital mixer/recorder, recording directly to/from the 
hard drive.  Since Kyma programs are stored on the computer's hard drive, 
have quick access to virtually an unlimited number of programs.

You primarily control the Orville via it's front panel LCD and buttons.
Eventide has done a great job with this, but it is limiting.  Kyma uses the
computer screen to display control widgets on a "virtual control surface."
These widgets include the usual assortment of buttons, toggles, 
faders, etc and is completely customizable.  Both Orville and Kyma permit 
use of external MIDI controllers such as the Peavey PC1600.  However, Kyma
provides special support for the MotorMix, a box similar to the PC1600x 
but with
motorized faders and LCD labels for the faders.  The MotorMix mirrors the
virtual control surface.

In terms of programming, both units are similar in concept.  You can 
create a
signal flow diagram with boxes representing "functional units" (unit
generators).  You specify the connections between the boxes.  The boxes 
functions such as EQ, delay, level changes, etc and the connections 
specify the
signal/control flow.   Both units provide about 1000 of these "functional 
for your use.  However, Orville appears less general, distinguishing 
control signals and audio signals (i.e., there are different boxes for 
and audio signals).  Kyma is completely general, permitting you to freely
mix/interchange control and audio signals.  Also, Orville limits you to the
modules supplied by Eventide (unless I missed a developer's kit?).  You can
create your own in Kyma (a caffeine-laden process of writing DSP assembly
language, not for the faint-hearted).  I'm writing a set of real-time 
specific modules, for example.

Kyma does quite a bit of work to distribute the workload among the DSPs.  
don't have to rewrite your programs, for example, to take advantage of new
additional DSP cards.  With both Orville and Kyma, there is not a 
correspondence between "functional units" (the boxes in your signal flow
diagram) and DSPs.

Among the software, the Orville features Eventide's famous Ultrashifter and
reverb programs.  Reverb design being the magical, black-art that it is, I
believe that the Orville's reverb is gorgeous sounding while Kyma's 
comes in second.  I haven't A-B'ed them so I'm bending to conventional 
here.  I never used the Ultrashifter but it is certainly well-known in the
industry.  So if you need fabulous reverb and Ultrashifting capability, 
Orville is for you.  On the other hand, I like the Kyma's reverb programs 
I'm not primarily a pitch-shifter kind of guy.

The Kyma provides very powerful sound analysis tools that I haven't found 
Orville.  These include several varieties of spectral analysis and 
Kyma is used by several researchers to investigate such subjects as
psycho-acoustics, modeling physical instruments, and sonification of 

The latest release of Kyma provides a timeline interface that is completely
absent from Orville.  This interface is well suited for time-based 
You drag and drop Sounds (signal flow diagrams provided by Symbolic Sound 
created by you) onto a time lime.  You can have any number of tracks.  You 
adjust the starting time/duration of each sound.  You can also adjust such
parameters as  panning, levels, etc. on a track-by-track basis.  It's quite

I'm getting far afield from looping so it's probably time I quit rambling 
now.  This posting is too long already anyway!

Dennis Leas