Mannequins W/2 Beta Testing

Couldn’t you install 2.0 and leave it in looping mode and not worry about the other modes? The fact that the module is capable of running in different modes doesn’t have to be a distraction from the tape/looping functionality. It would actually be fairly difficult to switch modes unintentionally, which I assume is intentional, so you could just pretend they don’t exist, if looping is what you’re after.

The primary thing that’s lost in 2.0 loop is the cue point system, which is in some ways a shame but in practice was very hard to make use of.

The module probably could have benefited from a more extensive beta, but that’s water under the bridge now. The official website probably could/should have links to the 2.0 beta since it’s pretty much a public beta.

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The looping mode doesn’t actually really resemble the past usage of the module. But, to ease @georgie, the previous v1.2 was quite stable, with one major caveat which had prompted the change to v2 in the first place;

The structure of how data was written to the SD card, which allowed bear instantaneous recording and manipulation, would also put abnormal strain on the card. As well, people would usually keep the tape head in a singular position for the entire life cycle of the module. This meant the card would continue to have one section be under huge strain and eventually burn out.

I could be wrong, but this is what lead to the rethinking of what this module could be, and v2 was born. If you want to take the road of using the module as it was originally conceived, you’re in luck! It was quite stable in my experience (not PERFECTLY so, but enough for me to never be concerned). As a result, @georgie could go nuts with it in v1.2 and be totally fine. But it is worth noting that there’s a chance the SD card could burn and as v1.2 is now legacy, you might not get the same automatic replacement as before. But hey! It’s a rad module end using it in the original v1.2 mode is a real joy and the method I personally would choose if I were to reacquire a w/.

Hope this helps!

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Yeah, I admit feeling some of what @georgie talks about here w/r/t wondering why additional modalities were being added when there still seemed to be some unresolved issues surrounding the originally intended functionality of the module (e.g. I’m personally still having clicking problems). But like @xenus_dad says, it’s really easy to just pretend they don’t exist, unless one managed to somehow go nuts on the buttons and switch in a very specific and statistically improbable way. And I can see how the additional modes are appealing, especially for those using i2c and teletype especially.
Either way, I think the looper functionality in 2.0 feels a lot more elegant than in the previous cue-based iterations, at least for my use cases. It’s great except for those gosh darn clicks!

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iirc, the V2 changes also fixed a lot of technical bugs and design issues. it’s really disingenuous to describe the change as straying from the original concept. especially when it’s all the vision of one individual who gets to define the concept however they want.

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My apologies, it was never my intention to cause any offence or to come across like I was criticising the hard work and vision that has been put into this module. The last thing I wanted was for my observation to come across as disingenuous. I was curious about everyone’s interpretation of W/ and thought that offering my own would be considered something positive and from a position of excitement and interest.

I do very much enjoy the V2 firmware and am delighted by the operational improvements and thoughtful user interaction, and after some use I have no bugs to report. I was initially hesitant about posting on the topic and should have exercised reservation. I will keep my thoughts to myself in the future.

Hi @georgie -

I would very much like to discuss some things around W/, but I quickly want to say that, I really don’t want you to feel shouted down by the community around this. I realize the way some of us responded to you might have come across as dismissive of your post or your thoughts, and I want to apologize for my own part in that.

I like to think that Lines prides itself on relatively open discussion, and as a member of the community I wouldn’t want any person like you who was engaging in discussion in good faith to feel shut down, or for myself to be part of shutting someone down.

added after initial post I’m going to enclose this in a ‘hidden’ widget, since it’s long and digressive in some ways. If you do take the time to read it, thanks!

Long opinion / civilized 'rant' / thoughts about W/

So, W/ is a doozy :slight_smile: I am only speaking for myself here (that’s all anyone can do, for the most part), but I think there’s a lot to think about and discuss around W/ as a product. I just want to make sure to put big “these are my thoughts” brackets around anything I say here, more than usual.

I bought a W/ from the first batch, preordered immediately when it showed up on the Control site (literally - I was walking my dog and paid Control money while still out on the walk). I built and sold Slashes boards for a bit, and I currently have 2 W/ modules. I’ve been engaged with W/ for a while, at least as a user and customer.

W/ has had, to put it mildly, a bit of a rough existence (again, big “this is my opinion” disclaimer around all this; I’ll stop belaboring that now). I think the original thread about W/ here is a testament to that. Just randomly scrolling through that thread and stopping anywhere, you are likely to see the words “issues” and “problems” a lot, and also “stick with it” and “I’m hopeful” and “frustrated” … you get the point, maybe.

I don’t know the history of the pre-release and post-release development of W/, so I can only speculate. Did it not receive a wide-enough beta test? Many many issues were surfaced almost immediately when it reached people upon release. Some of these were technical, and some of these appeared to be essentially UI issues. One person’s elegant UI can be another person’s confusing, impenetrable UI, but judging from forum discussions here and at The Other Place, many people had difficulty navigating the module’s functionality, in addition to the “legitimate” software problems.

Also (ok, one more “this is my opinion” disclaimer) (also please please read my whole post before coming at me with pitchforks) (meta: apparently I’m a little scared of the community too!), Whimsical Raps/Mannequins have not always been very communicative or forthcoming about the status of W/. Sometimes Trent and others have been very engaged with both the community and with individuals’ problems with the module. Other times, there have been long periods where no news has come out, and it has felt like W/ was either stalled or abandoned.

I have gathered that there were Reasons for that - primarily, that Whimsical Raps was very heavily involved in the development of Crow, and resources that might have otherwise been available to address issues with W/ have needed to be allocated to Crow development. I have also gathered that Crow v3’s development might have had some impact on the time that the W/ 2.x is currently requiring to come to full release (in beta for over a year now, and 4 months since the last beta release). There are probably other reasons also which are legitimate and which are not any of my business.

Nevertheless, it is frustrating. It is frustrating that the WR site still discusses the 1.2 version of the software when it is very clear that is not going to be its future. It is frustrating (to me at least) how long it is taking for things to settle and become stable - though, I am happily using and enjoying the 2.x beta and have been for some time.

I deleted a post of mine above because I deemed it too negative, but I’ll state the rough contents of that post now - as an owner of W/ modules, I sometimes feel like I am participating in a crowd-funded art/technology project. I’ve paid in some money, and I might receive a fully working module eventually, with functional software, but the form that software will take is not firm, though it does take community feedback into consideration, and it will take place on the artist’s timeline and at their discretion. (Please, please keep reading before coming at me with torches.)

It doesn’t help, in discussing these things here, that @Galapagoose is a well-loved leader and member of the community here, and rightly so. Their contributions and the effort put in to both the Monome and Mannequins ecosystems are enormous, and even saying that that feels like an understatement - the amount of work and creativity and vision is huge. We largely love their instruments. This community arguably centers around Mannequins almost as much as Monome. Many of us here owe much to Mannequins and to Trent.

Also, Trent is a human being who posts here. I don’t know Trent the human being personally, but many many people here do. Trent the Mannequins developer has always been Trent the quality human being when I’ve interacted with them.

But so, combining that with the love for Mannequins here, and I think there can be a bit of a defensiveness around any criticism or critical discussion of Mannequins on Lines. I think possibly there was some of that in the response to @georgie’s post, and also maybe some impatience that that ground has been well covered and discussed, and the ship has sailed.

This is not calling @georgie out for possibly not having read the 2000+ posts in the W/ and W/ beta threads - I haven’t read every single post - but “I would like the module as originally conceived” and variations have been talked about, and there are options if one wants to use it that way, and there are options if one wants to use it in other ways.

All this has given me opportunity to think about this technological ecosystem, and Eurorack and other ‘niche’ technologies, and if it’s not too pretentious, about capitalism and companies as entities. (Finally getting to my larger point here.)

We tend to view a product as a contract. If I have given you money in exchange for a physical good and/or software, it should operate as described, without bugs or defects, and it should continue to operate as described originally, and it should be supported in a reasonably timely fashion. There are good reasons why we tend to operate under these assumptions, mostly to do with consumer protection.

I’m not sure it is actually reasonable to view all “companies” this way, at least in binary black & white terms. Sometimes a “company” has limited resources and can only allocate them in certain ways. The idea of the Mythical Man Person Month always applies - you can’t just apply double the people to a problem and expect it to get done in half the time. This is especially true when the “labor” is a particular individual with very specific skills and a specific vision. You can’t just hire another Trent or 3.

This makes me view “companies” like Whimsical Raps or Monome, or Mutable Instruments or really almost any Eurorack or small synth manufacturer, as being somewhere between open source and a company like Korg or Berhinger, or Honda or Apple or Nabisco for that matter. And it makes me think I should have different expectations from a one or three person company than I do from a large company, and adjust my expectations accordingly.

This is especially true when what you are getting with something like a Mannequins module (or other similarly sized makers) is exactly that uniqueness of vision. You wouldn’t necessarily want Whimsical Raps to have to behave like a ‘normal’ company, because they wouldn’t make Mannequins modules if those were the boundaries. You want them to be able to take risks, and to take the time they need. It is, in some ways, something between a product and art, and that’s specifically the value of it.

I need to take a moment to acknowledge that Whimsical Raps support is generally very good, both in my own experience and what I’ve heard from others. WR sent me a modified Run jack for my Silver Clouds Just Friends which I bought third or fourth or fifth-hand. By all accounts, if you have a scratchy pot on your Mannequins module and you can’t replace it yourself, WR is likely to try to help you out, even if the module is well past warranty. I am neither saying that we should not expect good support from a company like WR, nor that they don’t generally give good support.

The conclusion I’ve come to with W/ specifically, though, is that it is going to become what it’s going to become, and what it’s going to become is not entirely in line with its original conception. And some of the reasons for that are ones I know about, and some I don’t, and I’m not going to be able to know those. I either need to be ok with that and accept that, or I can sell the modules and move on, which is always OK too.

Anyway, I hope I didn’t offend anyone with all this, least of all folks at WR. I very much enjoy Mannequins instruments and look forward to continuing to use them, including W/, for now. :heart:

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Yeah @georgie although I agree with @jonatron about the “original vision”, I do think concerns, criticisms, and especially bugs are very much worth sharing in this thread. While a lot of work was put into the v2 firmware, I think it’s safe to say we all want it to be the best it can be, and your perspective can help make that happen.

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Is there a way to individually address two W/ running the same engine via teletype? I see the Alternate ii address explination for Crow, how could this be done for Teletype to send individual ops per W/?

now that there’s a nice and civilised opinion/rant above, below are my thoughts:

  • I’m now completely unsure if this version is better than v1 (which I simply couldn’t get to grips with) and thus W/ sits outside my rack despite there being free space.
  • This firmware has been in beta for such a long time, I wonder what’s stopping it from becoming official?
  • the approach to SD cards points to obsolescence baked into W/, simply because cards and vendors will inevitably move on from W/'s favoured implementation.

2¢ on the topic of W/ becoming what it becomes: my impression is that it’s better described as an extension unit for the i2c modules it works well with: Teletypes, Crows, whatever provides hands-free programmatic control of it (or UI to it really).

i for one am having a blast actually using my w/ v2. maybe you should try it out? the interface is much more intuitive, especially if you aren’t using crow/tt to control things.

firmware isn’t easy, and getting it right is even harder. things are in a good place, just use it! :smiley:

this is somewhat true, it is a great unit to use with i2c, but it’s much easier to use standalone now than v1 was. the interface is far more intuitive.

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I was wondering how hard it would be to implement OP for teletype to switch modes in /w. That would be incredible. As I understand it, you still have to manually change from w/ synth to w/ tape, etc.

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Not yet! Should be possible soon-ish (this fall).

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Awesome! Can’t wait. Thanks for the heads up, i’ll be looking forward to it.

This turned into a great big ramble on things that I don’t actually have first-hand experience with. I kind of forget why I started writing the post in the first place, but it was prompted by some of the discussion up-thread, so I’ll post it anyway. tl;dr I like w/ even though I don’t own one and have never used one.

Summary

W/ was a big part of what brought me to lines (along with trying to understand norns). Pretty much from the moment I heard of it it became something I had to have. I still don’t have one (ha) but I’ve followed its development pretty closely almost since I got into eurorack and synthesis more generally last January. As an English major, an incessant noodler and collector, and a ‘sketch’ artist the idea of a ‘history navigator/sonic journal’ was infinitely more approachable and appealing than a precision-this, quad-that or really any other VCGs (voltage-controlled gizmos). I’ll be honest, I only now feel like I have anything close to a clue as to what I’m doing.

Now I (sort of) have my euro-legs, but w/ still looms large in my mind. Ultimately I’m glad I still haven’t gotten my hands on one. I think the process has really tempered my GAS and made me learn to think long and hard about any given module that catches my eye, about how I would fit it into the system I want to build and about what that system will look like and do more broadly. And more than that, it has made me think about the all the implications of modular synthesis and the various levels at which that term operates. Obviously at the level of individual modules you can pick and choose whatever you like, but as @xenus_dad said above, each maker has their own unique set of ideas, interests and inspirations. There is a modularity of vision, of design philosophy and sonic intention that modular users are afforded over and above that of individual modules that, to me, forms as big of a part of what makes modular so special.

Now, I don’t own any Mannequins modules aside from Cold Mac (which I haven’t yet been able to play with due to an on-going overhaul of my rack) so I’m kind of talking out my ass here, but I’m curious what you WR power-users will have to say about this. From where I stand, it seems like the WR vision is one of a compact system populated by a few dense, multifunctional modules with an emphasis on intense interdependance and patch-programmability/-surveyability. I remember early on in researching w/ reading a post across the proverbial pond that said something along the lines of ‘every mannequins user has to have two of each mannequins module’. While I think they meant this somewhat disparagingly, I think there is a kernel of truth to this! Listening to and looking at the panel of a Mangrove, I can think of one thing in particular that would go almost perfectly with it, and that is…another Mangrove! You could make some wild, amazing music with nothing but your own two hands and a pair of Mangroves, I’m sure.

W/ seems like the glue that holds all that together. In its first iteration it was a way to record your patch-history and continue to play with it, even after taking down your patches. I love this idea so much. Now, in v2 it seems like a more active member of the ecosystem. The journal idea is still there but it’s combined with two other modes (and again, what better friend for your w/ than another w/ or two?) that allow for more hands-on interaction with the rest of the system. In both of it’s iterations, w/ seems like the most condensed expression of the overall Mannequins ethos of doing a lot with a little, the opening-up-onto-itself of a small, closed system. This ethos even spilled into the material history of the module (not intentionally, I’m sure) - the ground-up overhaul w/ underwent is fascinating to me and what @Galapagoose has done with such a small interface under such rocky circumstances is nothing short of incredible. I think. Again, I don’t own the module.

Oh and re: @eesn comment about obsolescence due to SD cards…I don’t know, lots of very popular modules use SD cards, not to mention all the other consumer electronics that rely on them. I don’t think they’re going anywhere soon. I could be wrong about this, but I don’t remember reading anything about an upper limit on the kinds of SD cards w/ is compatible with…is this true?

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yep, I left a link in there to the specific quote saying a particular class of older cards work well with W/'s “non-traditional” way of accessing storage, and where it recommends against more modern cards. And I think I can understand that, having coded microcontroller SD-card-based audio playback in the past. In my post I didn’t write that SD cards are going anywhere… it’s just easy to imagine the medium becoming slower to access for realtime audio (small chunks, low latency, reads and writes).

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Just like to say that after a year of not using W// in 1.2 I updated to 20b7 and I really enjoy W// Tape again. Thanks for making this work !

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I just got back into using w/ again, and firstly the 2b7 is amazing. It feels so easy to use now.
However, yesterday when I was powering on my case i noticed w/ was not responding at all… so I power cycled once and it came back… but as I am paranoid I power cycled again and it was dead.
Repeated the same thing a few times and just stays dead.

This morning I booted into fw upgrade mode and re-installed beta 7 and it works fine again.
Any guesses on this? Similar experience?

Last time I used it it was fine, and I had used it to just record a basic loop, and ended my patching session by just leaving it playing out with loop disabled, and I probably left it playing on its own for about 5 min of silence or so if I am wildly guesstimating.
Next time the above issues happened.

I just started using the w/Syn mode (never actually tried it before :slight_smile: ) and one thing surprises me : the V/8 input is bipolar and 0V is C3. This is not very convenient to use with things that output V/8 as these typically output only positive voltages.

I haven’t seen any option to either have some sort of octave switch or to set 0V to C0 or C1 for example. Is this something that could be added ?

I asked about this a little while ago. It sounds like it’s not in the cards right now. It’s fairly straightforward to lower sequencer CV with DC offset, which is how I’ve dealt with it.

Thanks for the reply.

Yes, adding an offset works but In my quite small system that means using half of my Quadratt for this and I lose the quantization (from a quNexus here) too.

I understand the limitations of the interface, but this seems like a strange default choice for treatment of V/8 cv sources (even if all the inputs can handle bipolar signals).