Helpful ReplyOrb Composer

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jerrypettit
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2018/09/24 16:45:49 (permalink)

Orb Composer

Anyone here familiar with this program?
 
It's been out a while, I've watched several videos, and it does look pretty cool--but I'm not finding many reviews or discussions about it.  The ones I do find have all been very positive.
 
Jerry
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Michael A.D.
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/09/25 12:48:44 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby ZincTrumpet 2018/09/25 16:24:26
I downloaded the demo to try it out, so why don't you do that too?
 
I found it to be pretty weak - the results I got were rather boring.  And it crashed a couple of times.
 
I've already un-installed it.
And now I need to get rid of the 20 something software MIDI interfaces it created to control each instrument as the un-install did not remove them.  Yechh... 
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mettelus
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/09/25 14:47:16 (permalink)
Friendly reminder to create a system restore point or even disk image before demoing software. The rubbish that could potentially remain is a not worth blindly installing things.

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msorrels
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/09/25 16:21:34 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby ZincTrumpet 2018/09/25 16:24:21
I picked it up (the Artist version).  To be honest it's kind of weak, compared to Rapid Composer or even Band-in-the-box.  It does crash, a lot.  And it only works with its virtual MIDI device, with no options to route or control where one of the instruments goes.  It lacks a lot of the fundamental controls you'd want it to have really, to control the composition and results.  The Pro version with the larger instrument set might be better.  I'd definitely recommend you try the demo.  Setting up a project for it is kind of a pain.  Without their Cubase starter I doubt anyone would be willing to do all the routing work it needs.  Making a complete starter project/template for SONAR/CbB would be very painful.
 
You can remove the MIDI virtual driver by uninstalling "Bome Virtual MIDI 2.1.0.44" which should be in your control panel Programs and Features.  It installs it but the uninstaller doesn't uninstall it.  Seems to co-exist with my LoopBe30 driver.  But it does mean I have a ton of MIDI devices/ports.
 
 

-Matt
 
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jerrypettit
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/09/26 10:44:26 (permalink)
Thanks for the feedback, guys--and I especially appreciate the human/computer sacrifice involved.  I WOULD have eventually downloaded the demo--and I HAVE watched a couple of hours of YouTube videos on it...but I'm glad I'm going to take a pass on this.
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Syphus
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/10/16 08:54:07 (permalink)
@msorrels - I just recently pick up the Artist verson of ORB.  You had mentioned above that "Without their Cubase starter..." there would be a lot of work to set it up . . .
 
Can you elaborate a bit as to what the process is (understand I have not attempted to set it up yet with CbB) . . .  Let me know if I should start another thread for this.  I'd like to get a heads up on what I'm in for.
 
I also considered installing Reaper to run it - but I'd like to not be sidetracked by another DAW.
 
Any pointers would be helpful . . .
 
Thanks,
 
Syphus
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msmcleod
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/10/16 09:05:41 (permalink)
msorrels
I picked it up (the Artist version).  To be honest it's kind of weak, compared to Rapid Composer or even Band-in-the-box.  



I felt exactly the same. I use Rapid Composer occasionally, but the complexity is a bit overwhelming and the tutorials are all based on older versions which look very different from a GUI perspective.
 
I was hoping that Orb would be a friendlier experience. It was... kind of... but the results weren't great.

Mark McLeod
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msorrels
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/10/16 12:41:42 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby ZincTrumpet 2018/10/17 09:14:35
Syphus
Can you elaborate a bit as to what the process is (understand I have not attempted to set it up yet with CbB) . . .  Let me know if I should start another thread for this.  I'd like to get a heads up on what I'm in for.

 
Let me explain how Orb Composer works and how the Cubase starter template is setup.  Inside Orb Composer there are a bunch of instruments (depending on the version of Orb Composer).  Every instrument is defined to output to a specific MIDI port and channel.  The MIDI ports are all provided by the Bome virtual MIDI driver and have names like "orb 1", "orb 2", etc.  Inside Orb Composer you can't change the assignments or make your own even.  It's all hard coded to the instrument.
 
So what they have done is setup starter projects and templates for a handful of DAWs, sadly not including CbB/SONAR.
 
The Cubase template has every instrument setup with a MIDI track set to receive input  from the right orb port and right orb channel.  They are doing this using a Input Transformer feature in Cubase that is kind of a pain to setup.  And we are talking about a lot of tracks.  Even for the Artist version (I count more than 80 tracks in the Artist version template).  Each MIDI track has to be setup to receive the right port and right MIDI channel and have a name that matches the Orb instrument.  They group them in folders by type, with the Artist version having 14 folders (like "KEYBOARDS", "LEADS", etc).  Then in order to "use" one of the MIDI tracks they have setup you have to hook an actual instrument to that MIDI track and you have to turn the echo on for that track.  You also have to configure Cubase to sync along with the external MIDI timecode (which comes in on orb port 0 channel 1).
 
All of these things can be done in CbB, but your talking about hand building a 80+ track template.
 
Now you don't have to hook up every track of course, and I have done a small handful of tracks.  But in that case you have to create a MIDI track, figure out the correct inputs for the instrument (with no guide other than the software itself).
 
This kind of routing nightmare is pretty common with MIDI though.  I think I'd be happier with Orb Composer if it would allow me to setup my own ports and channel assignments rather than having a completely fixed list.  It also seems to have some settings for each instrument track inside itself, none of which you can control.  Which is why the Artist version can't do orchestral strings for example.  The AI/Logic controls for the type of instrument is hidden/built in.  Just like the MIDI port and channel it will use.
 
Setting up a template for CbB wouldn't take more than a few hours though but I haven't bothered to do it (I'm mostly using Cubase these days since the death of SONAR).
 
Orb Composer Artist even with the sale price is still way overpriced.  The Pro version is super overpriced.  I might be willing to upgrade for less than $99 but anything more than that I'd just pass.
 
It should be a VST which would solve a bunch of the template and routing issues (though not all) but I guess they figured this "solution" was better for them.

-Matt
 
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Syphus
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/10/16 14:51:28 (permalink)
@msorrels - Thanks for the information.  This gives me a better idea as to how I will proceed with this.  I'm still going to try to make a go of it (since I bought it ).  I'm hoping that it will progress into something better as time goes on.
 
I assume that they provided a "Cubase template".  (I just saw your comment as I re-read your post) I'll be looking at it today to see what is what.
 
 
Thanks Again,
 
Syphus
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msorrels
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/10/16 16:45:58 (permalink)
They have templates for the following DAWs:
Cubase
FL Studio
Live
Logic
ProTools
Reaper
Studio One


This is all in the Resources folder (or maybe it was a zip that I extracted into the Resources folder).  There are some PDF files in the Resources folder that explain the templates/starters.
 
Truth is setting it up in CbB/SONAR isn't hard/tricky, it's just a lot of busy work.  I suspect you'd spend more time just typing the instrument names and verifying the connections than anything else.
 
But even with a template/starter project you still also have to load in soft synths and set them up with the right instruments.  No short cuts there really.
 
Given that CbB is free they really don't have much reason not to build a set of templates for it.

-Matt
 
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Syphus
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/10/17 01:48:27 (permalink)
It would seem it would be to their advantage to have a template . . .  But who knows the reason (as to why not).
 
I'm going to start looking into it this weekend when I have some extra time. . .  .
 
 
Syphus
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JClosed
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/10/17 12:52:57 (permalink)
Well - I do not use the standard template for Cubase.
 
For Orb Composer Artist the setup is fairly easy. Most starting points you get in Artist consist of about 4 to 5 instruments. Setting those up in Cubase is simple. Just create a rack instrument (I use HALion 6), and create the amount of MIDI tracks that is needed. In Orb Composer you can look at the instruments you are using, and you can get the MIDI output and channel that instrument is using. You then only have to set up the MIDI input and use the transformer (in a very easy way) to select the channel you are using. It only takes a few seconds.
 
As an example - Use the Pop/Rock template in Orb Composer, and you get four instruments. They are Piano 1, Guitar 1, Synth 1 and Bass 1. If you generate some random stuff you can see that these instruments have the outputs Orb1 - Ch1, Orb 1 - Ch11, Orb 2 - Ch 4 and Orb 1 - Ch 13 respectively. Now set up the MIDI input for Piano 1 in Cubase by selecting the MIDI input (in case of Piano1 it's Orb1) in the Inspector. Then click in the input transformer (orange icon in the Inspector), select Channel Filtering -> Channel 1, activate the rule and close the transformer. Repeat that for the other MIDI tracks and you are done. As said - it only takes about a minute to set this up. It's easy to add more instruments if needed.
 
You can save the above setup as a Cubase template to start a project. I personally have made some basic templates, so I can start projecs very fast without too much hassle.
 
And about Orb Composer itself. It's a fun program that can help you to create starting points. Do not expect the software will create a complete song or something. That's not the purpose of this program. In my humble opinion this program is great when you have a "starting block" or "writers block" of some kind (it would surprise me if nobody here had those bad moments here). Do not forget you can configure almost everything to your needs, and you can also inport MIDI, so you can do some keyboard dabbling and import the generated MIDI to see if what happens. All in all it's a fun program to play around with, as long as you do not demand the impossible.
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jerrypettit
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/11/23 14:48:28 (permalink)
I note that it is half-price for a few days, thanks to Black Friday. (So $199 for Pro)
 
Still...I'm concerned about the lack of reviews around the Interwebitubes and am still sitting on this side of the fence...
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msorrels
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/11/23 20:59:16 (permalink)
Just before the sale they released a free update Orb Composer S.  Now it's a VST host.  This makes things a lot better and it becomes much more usable.  Though I'm not really impressed with their VST scanning/manager functionality. 
 
They still have a huge gap in software quality though.  The release notes talk about fixing all the memory leaks and crashes, but the new version crashes almost as often as the old one did.  It also has some wonky UI behaviors.  When it first came out I submitted a couple of bug reports to their ticket system.  They took the website down to start the sale.  When it came up they "lost" my tickets.
 
When a software developer can't even keep a bug report (yes I created a new ticket reporting the loss of the first two tickets) I'm not sure they are ready for the real world.
 
I really like the base idea and how that part of it works though.  Mixed on if upgrading would be worth it.  Try the demo is all I can say.

-Matt
 
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jerrypettit
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/11/24 00:00:30 (permalink)
I appreciate all of your input, msorrels.  I think I'll wait until a next version, if it even lasts that long.  Again, just the mere fact that there is virtually nothing out there on the Internet discussing the product is enough to make me question buying it.  Sounds like it's not quite ready for prime time yet.
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msorrels
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Re: Orb Composer 2018/11/24 15:11:16 (permalink)
You might want to also check out the Captain Plugins from Mixed In Key, they work a lot like Orb Composer in terms of music theory (call and response/structure/etc).  They also have a stand alone app Odesi you can get with a bundle.  The only bad part is they have yet to release the melody plugin for Windows (it's Mac only).  Their development seems to be going kind of slowly, but the software hasn't been as unstable as Orb Composer for me. 
 
https://mixedinkey.com/captain-plugins/
 
It's a bit less orchestra oriented (think pop/rock/EDM) and can help you make interesting parts/phrases/bits.
 
And no, none of these guys (and I have them all) will do more than help guide you a direction, keep you on target and help manage song structure.  Truthfully I've used most of them as tools for learning about music/music theory more than actually making finished pieces.  I see them kind of like interactive learning tools.  Musical laboratories.
 

-Matt
 
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