Hardware MIDI LFOs/modulators?

Hey beautiful people of lines :black_heart:

I would greatly enjoy some additional LFOs for some of my non-modular gear. So, apart from using my computer/iPad/Digitakt, are there standalone pieces of gear that

  • generate multiple LFOs with reasonable controls over waveform/speed/sync/etc,

  • send those LFOs over MIDI,

  • let you specify MIDI channels and CCs for those LFOs,

  • and are not a Norns?

Like what Mutable Instruments MIDIpal was. Or a bit like an O_C/Pam’s with a MIDI expander. Or something else?

Could something like this be relatively easily built on some open platform like Arduino or Teensy?

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Interesting! Thanks for the tip. I’d appreciate something with direct controls rather than an editor but that’s an excellent start nonetheless.

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Agreed, I know there is a midi LFO app for iPad I have seen as well.

The Conductive Labs NDLR has some midi LFO’s

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MidiALF (in addition to being a super fun sequencer) has 2 midi LFOs and 2 CC sequences:

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This looks great! Thanks for the link

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Maybe you are thinking of Ribn ? I’ve only ever used it in-the-box, but it’s worked well when I have. Given the ubiquity of USB midi I keep meaning to try it on some hardware + my phone.

@Noisetrees
hey ya!
i literally just asked this question last night on MuffWigglers!
https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=243096
:stuck_out_tongue:
anyhow…even though i would prefer hardware…a friend of mine pointed me to this plugin:
https://xferrecords.com/products/lfo-tool

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Haha, great minds… I’ll keep checking that MW thread then too

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Ribn is great, using it a lot with modular through the Expert Sleepers FH-2

Squarp Pyramid can have 4 lfo midi effects per track and can have 64 tracks all set to one midi channel in theory but there might be some sort of midi even kind of limit before you get that far. I use it with my digitone and have used 12 lfo’s at one to one midi channel.

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If you end up using the computer & ableton, suzuki kentaro has really interesting m4L LFOs that you could control with something like 16n and then send the midi out via some sort of interface.

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This is exactly the kind of thing I’m after but with a bit of a simpler box than pyramid.

Yes, his LFO tools are great. I’ve been using them inside Live. For this I’m more after a dedicated box.

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I’ve been looking around for a solution here myself. Any new options? I downloaded MidiLFOs on my iPhone, but I haven’t had any luck connecting that to the few devices I’m hoping to modulate.

I quickly mocked up what I wish existed. Something I can quickly adjust CC, LFO/Env shape, speed, etc:

Maybe I just have to figure out how to make something like that. :confused: All the solutions out there seem bloated and menu-divey (I wouldn’t want to bother with notes/velocity/etc). I have a Befaco CV Thing in my eurorack case and that’s nice, but again a little too much.

P.S. Definitely got a little ahead of myself design-wise, assuming I’d need a menu/endless encoder for something.

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The Octatrack is excellent for hardware MIDI modulation, maybe the best, but if you are looking for a very simple box it might not be it. That said, the complication of the octatrack stems primarily from its breadth of function. So if you ignore the audio side completely and consider it only as a mega MIDI modulator/controller it becomes much easier to grasp. This might seem extravagant but mk1 prices have come down quite a bit and just the MIDI half offers a lot of unique features.

It has 8 tracks of midi sequencing with independent midi channels, and each track has 10 customizable midi cc’s plus pitchbend and aftertouch. These 12 parameters (along with note settings, arp settings, and LFO settings) can all be modulated with any of the track’s 3 LFOs. These can run freely and asynchronously but where it gets interesting is how the LFOs interact with the sequencer. In elektron speak LFO is a catch all for both traditional LFOs and envelopes, so trigger sequences can be used to fire off envelopes or reset LFOs. These triggers can have logic conditions applied to them to create complex generative patterns. Furthermore, besides some bread and butter LFO/envelope shapes there is an “LFO Designer” for each track where you can create extremely compex LFO shapes/patterns with steps and smooth slides with curvature controls - almost like a mini sequencer. Finally if things get a little too wild you can use “parts” to immediately return to a prior point or move forward with a completely different preset of everything mentioned above.

There are downsides however. The most glaring for me was the total inability to label the cc parameters which means sticking to a template and doing some memorization. Even a 3 letter abbreviation would have done wonders in this regard. The other issue is the relatively sparse physical user interface compared to what’s going on under the hood - there’s really only 6 encoders available to be manipulated at one time. The parameters for the LFOs and CCs for the 8 tracks are spread across 24 different selectable pages so you have a narrow funnel through which you interact, though switching pages is only one or two button press away.

The few physical controls and lack of labeling can be easily solved, albeit in an unwieldy way, with one or more knobby MIDI controllers. So theoretically you can have every parameter on the octatrack broken out as a labeled, physical control, which would just be a ridiculously powerful MIDI modulator. For people fond of desktop/keyboard instruments it would be glorious, but most will simply move to a software or CV modular environment to get their modulation fix.

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the cme bitstream 3x midi controller has multiple lfos. they’re since long out of production but they come up for sale every now and then. perhaps overkill for your purpose, but a neat piece of hardware non the less (unfortunately, documentation is not great and i remember having some frustrating moments when setting it up)

edit: there’s also gizmo, open source midi utility based on arduino

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You already mentioned not-the-Digitakt, but I’ll just say I’m using Digitone which has served me well for CC duties.

I cooked up a six-knob breadboard MIDI cc controller with an Arduino in an afternoon, without understanding much about electronics. It’s six knobs and rest of it is code and connecting to norns using ttymidi and routing it to norns virtual MIDI device. Mine doesn’t to CC LFO but it would be easy to add in Arduino. I actually have not thought about connecting it to other devices than norns until now (since norns has high centrality among my gear), so my intuition would be, i guess, to forward that CC from norns onward, with norns as a passthrough device. The Passthrough v2 mod would make this a reality pretty easily i guess

Earlier I’ve livecoded CC LFOs which ran on a micro:bit running MicroPython.

What I’m saying is if i can do it, it must be relatively easy.

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i am a really big user of the MIDIpal.
4 MIDI LFOs in a box…so i use multiple MIDIpals from time to time.
(i have four of those boxes) :stuck_out_tongue:

you can find people on Reverb making them or get one from:

just ask to have the MIDIpal OS and not the MIDIGAL OS if you want the MIDI LFOs.

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