Zynthian UI Users Guide
The physical Zynthian UI is displayed on a display and controlled by 4 knobs (rotary-encoders with push-switches). You can also control the UI with a touch-display, a mouse or keyboard (computer keyboard or MIDI keyboard, both!)
Anyway, the 4 knobs+switches are the primary control mechanism used to navigate the UI: selecting options on menus and adjust the instrument parameters. The knobs can act as assignable MIDI/OSC controllers for the instrument's parameters (frequently lots of them!). You can emulate the knob's behavior using the touch-display, but it's sub-optimal and accessing some features could be tricky.
There are two main screen-layout types:
- Selector Screen: a list of items that you can scroll and select with the SELECT knob (CTRL-4)
- Controller Screen: 4 control widgets in the corners (one for each knob), with label and value indicators (graphic and numeric). In the middle there is a list of controller maps, which you can use to change the parameters controlled by the knobs.
Almost every Zynthian UI screen is of one of these 2 types, however, other screen-layouts do exist:
- Confirmation Screen: It will ask you to confirm some operation.
- XY Controller Screen: It allows to modify 2 parameters at once using the touch interface.
- Info Screen: It displays info about an operation, like "Update Software", or "Network Info"
There are 3 types of clicks (push-switch actions) that can be performed, depending on how long you hold down the knob (or hold your finger on the touch-display).
- short click: less than 0.3 seconds
- bold click: between 0.3 and 2 seconds
- long click: more than 2 seconds
These timing values are the default ones. You can adjust them to your personal feeling from the UI options on the webconf tool.
Click actions for each knob are context dependent. The SELECT knob is mainly used to navigate, and a short click on it will select an item on a "Selector Screen". Inside a "Controller Screen", short clicks can be used to rotate between layers (LAYER knob) or between controller pages (SELECT knob). "Bold-clicks" are intended as shortcuts for jumping to some specific screens. Clicking the BACK knob generally jumps to the previous screen in the workflow sequence.
Most of the actions depend of context (current screen), but there are some actions that are global and will work from any screen:
- bold-back: Main menu
- bold-snapshot: Load Snapshot menu
- long-layer: ALSA Mixer app
- long-back: PANIC! All Notes Off
- long-snapshot: Audio Recorder
- long-select: Power Off
The Title Bar
The title bar have 2 functions:
- Kind of Breadcrumb, normally showing the screen title or layer information: MIDI channel, engine, bank & preset
- Back-button, when using the touch-interface. I know, it's far from intuitive, but Zynthian-UI was not designed with touch-navigation in mind.
The Status Area
On the top-right corner there is a small area where some useful information is displayed in real time:
- Audio Peak-meter or CPU-load => 1 or 2 small horizontal bars on the top right.
- MIDI-IN => Blue M flag
- Xrun => Red Warning flag
- Under-voltage => Red Lightning flag
- Over-temperature => Red Thermometer flag
- Recording Audio => Red Circle flag
- Playing Audio => Green Play flag
The Audio Peak-meter is shown by default. The meter covers the range -50dBFS to 0dBFS, i.e. maximum permissible level at full scale (far right) down to 50dB below (far left):
- The green segment covers the range -50dBFS to -10dBFS.
- The yellow segment covers the range -10dBFS to -3dBFS.
- The red segment covers the range -3dBFS to 0dBFS.
There are independent meters for left and right channels which monitor the system output, i.e. the mix of audio that feeds the Zynthian output. Level decays with a logarithmic rule, taking one second to decay to -200dBFS so will decay to -50dBFS (the displayed range) in about quarter of a second. Peaks are displayed instantly, i.e. the attack of the meter is immediate(*). The peak hold bar remains for two seconds or until a higher peak is reached.
(*) Meter is updated 5 times per second so there can be 200 ms delay in peak being displayed.
Alternately, CPU-load bar can be enabled from webconf, replacing the Audio Peak-meter. The CPU-load bar shows the CPU usage as calculated by the Jack Audio Server:
This is a running average of the time it takes to execute a full process cycle for all clients as a percentage of the real time available per cycle determined by the buffer size and sample rate.
- The Blue M flag is shown when MIDI messages pass thru the MIDI router. Not all messages are detected. Only CC, Program Change and Note On/Off.
- The Red Warning flag is shown when there are Xruns. You should hear clicks and pops too.
- When the Red Lightning or Red Thermometer flag is shown, your zynthian is working in a degraded state, with the CPU frequency capped to 600-800 MHz, trying to stabilize the system and avoid a system crash. You shouldn't see any of them and if you do so, you should consider looking for a better power source (under-voltage) or using a heat sink (over-temperature).
- Finally, the Red Circle and Green Play flags show the status of audio/MIDI capture: recording / playing
The Zynthian UI Workflow
The following flowcharts show the different "screens" or "menus" and how to reach each one using the 4 switches. It would be a good idea to print these flowcharts and keep them near your Zynthian Box until you memorize the workflow.
If you want to contribute to improving these flowcharts, you can edit them using the Google Documents Tools:
- Main sequence: zynthian_ui_workflow_main - Layer Options: zynthian_ui_workflow_layer_options - Snapshots: zynthian_ui_workflow_snapshots - MIDI Learning: zynthian_ui_workflow_midi_learning
The UI Screens
This is the first screen you would see when you power on your zynthian for first time and no default snapshot or last-state snapshot has been saved yet. The Main menu gives easy and intuitive access to the Zynthian-UI's main features:
- Audio Recorder
- MIDI Recorder
You always can access this menu with bold-back.
The Zynthian-UI has a lot of short-cuts and most of the options on the Main menu can be accessed on this way, but until you learn the shortcuts and feel comfortable with them, you will find this menu very useful.
Layers are a key concept on Zynthian-UI: the first thing you do when you power-on your zynthian is, probably, create a layer.
A layer is an Audio Processing Chain, normally assigned to a MIDI channel, which can be composed of one or more Audio Processing Units. These units are chained in the same order they are created, but you can change the order from the Layer Options menu. The first unit in a layer is the root and it determines the layer's type:
- Synth Layer => Receives MIDI note-events and generate audio output.
- FX Layer => Receives audio-input and generates audio-output.
- Generator Layer => Auto-generate audio output using an algorithm.
- Special Layer => MOD-UI pedalboard, Pure Data patch, etc.
The rest of units in a layer are usually FX units which process the audio coming from the first unit (root).
All units in a layer receive all the MIDI events coming from the assigned channel. Some special layers (MOD-UI) don't have an assigned MIDI channel and receive all MIDI channels.
You can access the Layer screen:
- from any place, bold-layer
- from Main menu
There are several options on layers screen:
- NEW Synth Layer => Create a new Synthesizer Layer.
- NEW Effect Layer => Create a new Effect Layer that will be connected to soundcard's Audio Input. You can route the audio from other layers to an Effect Layer.
- NEW Generator Layer => Create a new Generator Layer that self-generates audio or midi.
- NEW Special Layer => Create a new Special Layer (MOD-UI, Pure Data, ...).
- REMOVE ALL => Remove all Layers & Effects, returning to the initial state.
- PANIC! All Notes/Sounds Off => Stop All Notes and sounds by sending CC#123 and CC#120 to all channels.
The last option, All Notes/Sounds Off, can be triggered with long-back from any point of the workflow. You can also add a panic-button to your zynthian using the extra pins from the AllInOne circuit or the Zynscreen. Read this for a detailed explanation about how to add a panic button to your Zynthian.
When you select NEW Synth/Effect/Generator/Special Layer, you create a new root-layer (first of a chain), choosing a free MIDI channel for it. You can create up to 16 layers (as many as MIDI channels), each one having an independent effect-chain.
Having several layers in the same MIDI channel is not allowed. If you want two or more layers playing unison (like being in the same MIDI channel), you should use the "Clone" feature, which allow you to bind several layers while keeping MIDI CCs and other MIDI messages (Program Change, Channel Pressure, etc.) independent.
If you bold-click the select switch over a layer from the list, the "Layer Options" menu will be displayed for the selected layer. This menu allows you to:
- Clone MIDI to... => clone the layer's MIDI channel messages to other MIDI channels. Note that only note on/off, pitch-bending, and key-press messages are cloned, while the rest are kept independent by default (CC, channel-pressure, program change, ...). You can select what CC will be cloned by bold-clicking on the channel list.
- Transpose => transpose the layer's MIDI channel up and down, by semitones.
- Audio Routing => route the layer's audio output to the available audio input ports, allowing to process the audio in almost any way you can imagine. You can use this feature for creating your own customized/bizarre FX chains. If this is not enough for you, try MOD-UI engine with the MOD-UI web GUI.
- MIDI chan => change the MIDI Channel assigned.
- Remove Layer => Remove the layer.
- Add Effect => Add an effect to the FX-chain.
- Remove All Effects => Clean the FX-chain, deleting all the effects.
- Effect List => The list of effects in the layer's FX-chain.
By bold-clicking on an effect from the list, you will access the Effect's Options:
- Replace Effect
- Effect Presets
- Move Upchain
- Move Downchain
- Remove Effect
Note that not all these options will be available all the time. For instance, if there is only one effect in the chain, "Move" options won't be shown.
When you create a new layer, you are asked which engine/plugin you want to use for it. A list of engines to choose from is displayed. They can be synthesizers, effects, generators or special engines, depending on the type of layer you are creating. When you select an element from the list, the zynthian logo on the top-right will be animated while the engine is being started.
Some engines have special behavior regarding layers and MIDI channels:
- setBfree: This engine can create 1, 2 or 3 layers assigned to the several MIDI channels starting at selected channel, each one corresponding to the upper, lower and pedals sections of the Hammond B3 emulation.
- Pianoteq: Only one layer can be created, assigned to the MIDI channel you choose.
- Aeolus: By default, 4 layers are created, assigned to different MIDI channels (1,2,3 & 4), each one corresponding to the 3 manuals + 1 pedal of the Aeolus default instrument definition. You can change the MIDI channel assignments from the Aeolus native UI. If you want to use a different instrument definition, you will have to tweak the engine's code a little bit.
- MOD-UI: Only one layer of this type is allowed and it will receive ALL MIDI channels. If you want to filter the messages by channel, you can do it within the MOD-UI patch. (There are plans for improving this behavior.)
- PureData: Only one layer of this type is allowed, but it can be assigned to a MIDI channel.
MIDI Channel selector
This screen is shown in various contexts:
- After you have selected the engine for a new layer. Only free channels are listed.
- When you change the assigned MIDI channel from the Layer Options. Only free channels are listed.
- When you clone a layer from the Layer Options.
Presets (instruments, patches, or sound designs) for a synth engine are organized into banks. Choose a bank to see the list of presets you can pick from within that bank.
Once you have chosen a bank, the preset screen will be shown. Choose a preset to load the instrument/sound/patch you want and the Control Instrument screen will be shown.
If the preload with note-on feature is enabled, you can preload the presets by playing notes. When you do so, the highlighted preset will be pre-loaded before clicking select.
You can return to the control screen directly, without selecting any preset, by clicking bold-back. In that case, the previously selected instrument will be restored in case you pre-loaded some preset.
Use bold-select for adding a preset to your favorites. You will see a little * at left. Bold-select again for removing the preset from favorites. For listing only your favorite presets, click snapshot.
This screen is shown after you have chosen a preset. Your instrument is now enabled and playable and you can modify the parameters.
Turning any of the 4 knobs will change the value of the parameter displayed in the boxes adjacent to each knob. You also can use the touch interface to change the values. See below.
The central list shows the different pages of parameters that you may alter. You can navigate the page of parameters by clicking short-select to step by one page.
If the page list is long, you can "bold click" the select switch to navigate the list using the select knob.
From the instrument control screen, if you bold-press two knobs at once, you should enter the XY-select mode.
The 2 controllers you pushed will be green, indicating they are pre-selected for XY-control. You can change the pre-selection by rotating any knob, navigating through the controller pages if needed.
Once you have selected the parameters you want, touch the display to enter the XY-control pad and use the touchscreen ala Kaoss-Pad.
Click back to return to XY-select and back again to return to the control screen.
Snapshots are used for saving and restoring the status of Zynthian. A snapshot includes the full state, including layers, effects, parameter values, MIDI-learning, etc.
You can enter the Load Snapshot screen with bold-snapshot. It works from any place. A second click and you will be at the Save Snapshot screen.
Before loading any snapshot, you should save one, and to save a snapshot, you should create some layers, etc. The Zynthian UI will use numbers for naming the banks and snapshots. You can rename the snapshots to something more specific using the webconf tool.
By default, snapshots are stored as a single list and bank-related stuff is not shown by Zynthian-UI. If you want to use banks for organizing your snapshots, you simply create a second bank using the webconf tool and the hidden bank functionality will be enabled.
When using snapshot banks, if you want to go up one level (from snapshot list to bank list), you must use the ".." entry. The back button will close the snapshot screen.
You can save the status as "Default Snapshot". This "Default Snapshot" will be loaded automatically at startup. To delete it, you can use the webconf tool or the command line.
Restore Last State
If "Restore last state on startup" option is enabled on webconf (it's enabled by default), then the state will be saved when powering off (using long-click select or from Admin Menu) and restored on next boot. This option has priority over the "Default Snapshot".
MIDI-learning allows you to easily bind specific MIDI events with Zynthian-UI actions. There are 2 types of MIDI events you can learn:
You can map any parameter in the Zynthian UI to a CC knob/slider on your external MIDI controller. I intend to extend this feature to other MIDI messages, but currently only CC messages are supported. Until then, MIDI-filter rules can be used instead.
Learning a MIDI-CC is quite easy:
1. From the control screen, you click the snapshot button. You will be in CC MIDI-learn screen. It’s identical to the Control screen except that all the controllers have a tiny yellow “???” in the bottom.
2. Move a zynthian controller. Its tiny “???” will change to green while the other 3 will go back to normal state.
3. Finally, move a knob/fader in your MIDI keyboard/controller and the binding is done. The new CC number should appear in the bottom of the learned controller, replacing the tiny "???".
Of course, MIDI-learning configuration, including CC mappings, is stored and restored with snapshots.
Technical Note: MIDI-CC learning works with all the engines. It uses the engine’s native MIDI-learning capabilities when available. Zynthian’s MIDI-filter mappings are used for the rest. To be more explicit, native MIDI-learning is used for MOD-UI and ZynAddSubFX OSC parameters. All the other parameters are managed by Zynthian’s MIDI-filter mapping.
MIDI Program Change: ZS3 (SubSnapShots)
A ZS3 (SubSnapShot) saves the state of the active layer in the context of the current snapshot (layer layout). When recalled, the saved state is restored and the active layer is changed.
Every ZS3 includes:
- Layer ID - Bank Name - Preset Name - Controller Values
Once a set of layers has been created (i.e. loading a snapshot), ZS3 loading is very fast in comparison with loading snapshots, as no engine have to be started. It take less than 1 second in most of cases, and you can map ZS3s to MIDI programs very easily using MIDI learning.
The idea behind this feature is to have a fast preset-change mechanism that can be used on stage. In combination with the “Single Active Layer” feature, it turns Zynthian into a “Stage-Beast”. You can prepare a snapshot for the full performance, and use ZS3s for fast changes from a song to another, or between parts inside the same song.
Learning to create a SubSnapShot is obscenely easy:
1. From the Control screen, click the snapshot button twice. You will see the current list of ZS3s and a message: “Waiting for Program Change…”
2. Push a “Program Change” button in your keyboard/controller and the ZS3 will be stored in memory, associated with the Program Number you selected.
After that, you can recall the stored ZS3 by pushing the same Program Change button again. Of course, stored ZS3s will be saved with your snapshot and restored on load.
You can update and delete stored ZS3s by bold-clicking on the list. An options menu will be shown with both options.
ZS3 behavior depends of the "Single Active Layer" option:
- Single Active Layer Enabled: ZS3 list shows all the ZS3s stored, no matter the layer. Recalling a ZS3 changes the active layer, so the layer associated with the recalled ZS3 will receive *ALL* the MIDI input. Only 127 ZS3s can be stored.
- Single Active Layer Disabled: ZS3 list shows only the ZS3 of the currently active layer. Recalling a ZS3 changes the active layer, but every layer receives MIDI input for its channel only. You can use several keyboards on different channels and store 127 ZS3s by MIDI channel.
Audio & MIDI Recording
These simple tools allow you to record Audio & MIDI tracks easily, using the internal SD-card or an USB memory stick for storing the files.
It's also used when you want a quick way to upload sound samples to websites via the webconf component detailed below...
Most sites would prefer you to upload compressed files and oggs are perhaps the way forward . . .
For accessing the Audio & MIDI recording tools:
- From the Main menu, select Audio Recorder
- From any place, long-snapshot
When you are in, short-snapshot for switching between Audio & MIDI Recorder.
WARNING! Using the internal SD card to store the captured files will increase the risk of corruption. You should use a USB memory stick instead.
1. Press "Start Recording" to start a new capture.
2. The red circle should appear in the top-right status area, indicating that a recording is going on.
3. Press "Stop Recording" for finishing the capture. The red circle will disappear and the recorded file will be added to the list. The filename is generated automatically and should be something like "jack_capture_01". The prefix "SDC" or "USB" indicates where the file is stored.
You can play files by simply selecting and clicking the file. The "play" symbol will be displayed in the UI status area. For looping the file, turn on the "Loop Play" switch before playing.
NOTE: You can play a file at any moment. Recording and playing can take place simultaneously.
When playing audio, a volume control will be shown. When playing MIDI, a BPM control will be shown for adjusting the transport speed.
Recording audio & playback MIDI are transport-bond. If you stop recording audio while playing MIDI, MIDI play will stop, but MIDI playback will remain enabled, so when starting a new audio record, the MIDI playback will start again.
A bold press will delete the selected file, but you will be asked to confirm the action.
Managing recordings from your computer
Audio & MIDI recordings can be managed from your computer by accessing the webconf's captures section. From this section you can:
- rename recordings
- delete recordings
- convert audio recordings to .ogg format for upload to websites.
- downloading recordings to your computer
- reproduce the audio recordings in your browser. If .wav files doesn't work in your browser, try converting to ogg.
It is a good idea to rename your recordings so they can be easily identified.
The ALSA Mixer app is a pseudo-layer that allows to adjust the soundcard output/input levels and other audio-hardware related options. Technically speaking, it's a user interface for the ALSA (Audio Linux Sound Architecture) mixer.
For accessing the ALSA-Mixer app, you have 2 options:
- Selecting "ALSA-Mixer" option from the Main menu
- Long-pushing the layer knob (CTRL-1)
You can configure the mixer controllers from the webconf's hardware->audio menu. Simply click the + button on the "Mixer Controls" text area.
Note: Step Sequencer is alpha software
Zynthian has a step sequencer which provides:
- Pattern editor
- Song editor
- Pad triggers (ZynPad)
The step sequencer may be accessed from the main Zynthian screen or by a long press of the SNAPSHOT encoder. Access to the editors and players is via a menu.
Short press the LAYER encoder. The menu is displayed. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to highlight a menu entry. Move beyond the bottom entry to scroll down if more options are available than screen size allows to display. Short press the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the menu entry or short press the BACK encoder to cancel.
Menu may also be accessed by clicking the top bar (not the status display on the right) with a pointing device. Menu options are selected by clicking on them and the menu may be scrolled by dragging up and down.
All patterns and songs are saved to a common file.
Some parameters must be adjusted using the parameter editor. This is a control that appears in the top bar showing the parameter being adjusted, its value and some buttons to allow up / down adjustment of the parameter.
Access the parameter editor by selecting a menu entry. The parameter editor is displayed with the current parameter name and value. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoders to adjust the value. Values may have minimum and maximum limits. Short press the BACK encoder to cancel and close the editor. Short press the LAYER or SELECT encoder to assert the value and close the editor.
Parameters may be adjusted with a pointing device by clicking on the cancel, up, down and assert buttons.
Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Save" menu option. All patterns and songs are immediately saved to disk.
Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Load" menu option. All patterns and songs are immediately loaded from disk.
The pattern editor allows the creation of a sequence of MIDI events within a time-boxed period. This period is defined in steps. The quantity of steps may be selected for each pattern. Any quantity of MIDI events may be added to the pattern at each step. The most common MIDI events are notes. The pattern editor displays a grid with horizontal tramlines indicating black and white notes. There can be a grid indicating time divisions and octaves. There is a pianoroll on the left with each 'C' note indicated by a legend. Clicking on a note with a pointing device will sound the note briefly. Most common workflows are exposed via rotary encoders, push buttons and pointing device input. More options are available via menus.
There may be up to 999 patterns loaded into the step sequencer. By default pattern 1 is displayed. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Pattern" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the pattern to edit. The title and grid change to show the pattern that will be selected. Short press the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the pattern or short press BACK encoder to cancel.
Use the BACK encoder to select the note to add. The screen will scroll at top and bottom edges. Use the SELECT encoder to select the step at which the note will start. Use the LAYER encoder to select the duration of the note. Duration is indicated by the length of the highlight border. Use the SNAPSHOT encoder to select the velocity of the note. Velocity is indicated by a yellow bar in the bottom left of the screen. Short press the SELECT encoder to add the note. The note is indicated by a shaded block starting at the required start step with length indicating duration and opacity indicating velocity.
Notes may also be added by clicking on the note / start step if you have a pointing device. To scroll screen with pointing device drag the pianoroll up or down.
Use the BACK encoder to select the note to remove. Use the SELECT encoder to select the step at which the note starts. Short press the SELECT encoder to remove the note.
Notes may also be removed by clicking on the note / start step if you have a pointing device.
Use the BACK encoder to select the note to adjust. Use the SELECT encoder to select the step at which the note starts. Use the LAYER encoder to adjust the duration of the note.
Use the BACK encoder to select the note to adjust. Use the SELECT encoder to select the step at which the note starts. Use the SNAPSHOT encoder to adjust the velocity of the note.
Short press the SNAPSHOT encoder to start playback of the pattern. The pattern will resume playback from its previously stopped step, looping when it reaches the end of the pattern. Short press the SNAPSHOT encoder to pause playback. Bold press the SNAPSHOT encoder to stop playback and / or recue to start of pattern. NOTE: When exiting the pattern editor playback will stop. This is because the pattern editor is a design tool and not intended for performance.
Playback may also be controlled with a pointing device by pressing the start / pause and stop / recue buttons in the topbar.
Playback may also be controlled via external MIDI transport control (start, stop, continue, locate).
Changing Pattern Length
By default each pattern is 16 steps long. This may be adjusted from 1 to 64 steps in each pattern. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Steps in pattern" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the quantity of steps in the pattern. The quantity of grid columns changes to match the step in pattern.
Note: The pattern editor always shows all the steps, i.e. there is no horizontal scrolling or zooming.
Change Time Divisions
A user may wish to use the concept of time divisions, e.g. beats in a bar, steps in a beat, etc. This is presented by the display of vertical lines. By default the steps per beat is 4. This may be adjusted from 0 to 24. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Steps per beat" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the quantity of steps per beat. The vertical grid lines move to match the steps per beat. Setting to zero will hide vertical lines.
Note: The steps per beat is constrained to the values: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24. This is because it must divide exactly into 24 which is the quantity of clock cycles per beat.
All notes within a pattern may be permanently transposed. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Transpose pattern" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to move all notes up or down. The pianoroll scrolls to indicate the transposition.
By default 16 note are shown on the pianoroll and corresponding 16 rows in the grid. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Vertical zoom" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the vertical zoom. The quantity of rows in grid (and notes in pianoroll) change to match the vertical zoom value.
The pattern editor plays its sequence of notes out on a single MIDI channel. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "MIDI channel" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the MIDI channel between 1 and 16.
Clocks Per Step
By default each step within a pattern is advanced after 6 MIDI clock cycles. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Clocks per step" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the clocks per step.
Note: Adjusting the steps per beat will automatically set the clocks per step. Adjustment of clocks per step allows fine control and less common time signatures.
A pattern may be cleared of its content. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Clear pattern" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Short press the LAYER or SELECT encoder to clear pattern or short press BACK encoder to cancel.
The currently selected pattern may be copied to another pattern location. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Copy pattern" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the pattern to copy the previous pattern to. The title and grid change to show the pattern that will be overwritten. Short press the LAYER or SELECT encoder to overwrite pattern with previously selected pattern or short press BACK encoder to cancel.
The song editor allows the assignment of patterns to a variable quantity of tracks. Each song may have any quantity of tracks. A track represents a sequence of patterns. Each track may have any quantity of patterns and hence be any duration. Each pattern may belong to a group (A, B, C...), has a MIDI channel and a play mode. The track group and number are shown on the left with its MIDI channel in brackets and its play mode shown by an icon. Patterns may not overlap on the same track. A timeline is shown along the bottom of the grid. Bar (or sync point) markers are indicated by vertical lines with its time (in time divisions) at the bottom in the timeline. There may up to 999 songs loaded.
There may be up to 999 songs loaded into the step sequencer. By default no song is displayed. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Song" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the song to edit. The title and grid change to show the song that will be selected. Short press the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the song or short press BACK encoder to cancel.
Use the BACK encoder to select the track. The screen will scroll at top and bottom edges. Use the SELECT encoder to select the time at which the pattern will start. The screen will scroll at left and right edges. Use the LAYER encoder to select the pattern that will be added. Pattern number is shown in the bottom left of the screen. Pattern duration will be indicated by the selection border. Short press the SELECT encoder to add the sequence. The sequence is indicated by a shaded block starting at the required start step with length indicating pattern duration. If the pattern overlaps an existing pattern then the existing pattern will be removed.
Patterns may also be added by clicking on the track / start time if you have a pointing device. To scroll screen with pointing device drag the track list up or down or timeline left and right.
Use the BACK encoder to select the track. Use the SELECT encoder to select the time at which the pattern starts. Short press the SELECT encoder to remove the pattern.
Notes may also be removed by clicking on the pattern within the grid if you have a pointing device.
Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Add track" menu option. A new track is added to the end of the track list.
Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Add track" menu option. A new track is added to the end of the track list.
Short press the SNAPSHOT encoder to start playback of the song. The song will resume playback from its previously stopped step. Playback will continue to run even if playhead passes beyond the end of the last pattern. Short press the SNAPSHOT encoder to pause playback. Bold press the SNAPSHOT encoder to stop playback and / or recue to start of song.
Playback may also be controlled with a pointing device by pressing the start / pause and stop / recue buttons in the topbar.
Playback may also be controlled via external MIDI transport control (start, stop, continue, locate).
The timeline is quantised to time divisions. This is the minimum step that may be navigated / pattern positioned. A user may wish to use the concept of bars (or other larger time divisions). This is presented by the display of vertical lines. By default the time divisions per bar 16. This may be adjusted from 1 to 999. This setting also defines the sync point for live playout, i.e. the time at which a pattern will start playing after being triggered.
Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Bar / sync" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the quantity of time division per marker. The vertical grid lines move to match.
Transpose **NOT YET IMPLEMENTED**
All notes within a song may be transposed. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Transpose pattern" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to move all notes up or down. Note: This setting is at song level. Patterns are not individually transposed. Playback is transposed.
By default up to 16 tracks are shown. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Vertical zoom" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the vertical zoom. The quantity of tracks change to match the vertical zoom value.
By default 64 time divisions are shown. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Horizontal zoom" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the horizontal zoom. The quantity of columns change to match the horizontal zoom value.
Each track may be assigned a MIDI channel. Use the BACK encoder to select the track. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "MIDI channel" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the MIDI channel between 1 and 16. The track title changes to show the MIDI channel in brackets.
Clocks Per Division
By default each time division is 6 MIDI clock cycles. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Clocks per division" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the clocks per division.
A song may be cleared of its content. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Clear song" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Short press the LAYER or SELECT encoder to clear song or short press BACK encoder to cancel.
The currently selected song may be copied to another song location. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Copy song" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the song to copy the previous song to. The title and grid change to show the song that will be overwritten. Short press the LAYER or SELECT encoder to overwrite pattern with previously selected song or short press BACK encoder to cancel.
Each song has a master track displayed along the bottom of the screen. The master track may have tempo changes added at any time during the song. By default songs have a tempo of 120 BPM. Use the SELECT encoder to select the time at which to add a tempo change. The screen will scroll at left and right edges. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Tempo" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the tempo. Short press the LAYER or SELECT encoder to add a tempo change to the selected song or short press BACK encoder to cancel. The tempo is displayed in the master track as red text below the timeline.
Remove Tempo Marker
Tempo persists until the next different tempo change. You cannot have consecutive tempo markers with the same value. Use the SELECT encoder to select the time at which to remove tempo marker. The screen will scroll at left and right edges. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Tempo" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to adjust the tempo. The tempo marker changes and will disappear when it is the same as the previous tempo marker. Short press BACK encoder to cancel.
ZynPad is a performance mode for the step sequencer. It presents a grid of pads that my be tapped to trigger sequences. Each pad may be a member of a mutually exclusive group where pressing a pad in the group will cause other group members to stop playing. Each group is allocated an alternating colour (blue / purple) and is identified by the first character of the pad name, e.g. A, B. C, etc. A pad will start playing at the next sync point, e.g. at the end of the current bar. This maintains synchronisation between sequences (assuming the sequences have been programmed to be synchronous).
Each pad has a colour which indicates its group. Odd groups are blue whilst even groups are purple. Click a pad to start the pad's sequence running. If the transport is not running then it will be started and the sequence will begin immediately. If the transport is already running then the sequence will begin at the next sync point. The pad will change to orange whilst it is waiting to start. The pad will change to green whilst playing. Click on a pad to stop the sequence playing. The pad will change to red whilst waiting to stop. The pad will change to blue or purple (depending on its group) when stopped. Click a pad in a different group (with different first letter) will start that pad's sequence running synchronously with existing sequences, starting at the next sync point. group will stop the currently playing sequence (from this group) and start that pad's sequence running synchronously with existing sequences, starting at the next sync point. An icon on the pad indicates the play mode:
The play mode and sync point is set in the song editor.
ZynPad Song Selection
ZynPad is configured by the song editor. Each pad represents a track in a song.
Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Song" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the song. ZynPad changes to match the selected song. Short press LAYER, SELECT to select song. Short press BACK encoder to cancel.
The quantity of pads is defined by the quantity of tracks in the song. There will always be the same quantity of rows as columns. Extra pads required to fill grid (greater than quantity of tracks) are shown disabled. Text and icons scale to match pad size.
Zynthian step sequencer may be controlled by external MIDI controllers.
MIDI START message will start playback of the currently selected song or the pattern in the pattern editor if shown, from the start of the song or sequence. MIDI STOP message will stop (pause) playback of the currently selected song or the pattern in the pattern editor if shown. ZynPad sequences will also be stopped. MIDI CONTINUE message will resume playback of the currently selected song or the pattern in the pattern editor if shown, from the point it was previously stopped (paused) of the song or sequence.
To use an external MIDI clock to synchronise Zynthian: Navigate to the Admin page. Disable MIDI Clock Internal. Provide an external MIDI clock.
Sequences will only play after receiving MIDI START / STOP / CONTINUE or being triggered from Zynthian user interface and will play at the rate of the external clock. 6 MIDI clock messages are sent for each beat. A beat is often considered to be a crotchet / quarter note.
Trigger Sequence **NOT YET IMPLEMENTED**
Each sequence (pad) within ZynPad may be triggered by MIDI NOTE ON messages. The MIDI channel is configurable.
Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "MIDI channel" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the MIDI channel for external trigger. Short press LAYER, SELECT to select channel. Short press BACK encoder to cancel.
Use the BACK encoder to select the track. Short press LAYER encoder displays a menu. Select "Trigger note" menu option. The parameter editor is displayed in the top bar. Use the LAYER or SELECT encoder to select the note number for external trigger. Short press LAYER, SELECT to select note. Short press BACK encoder to cancel.
The Admin menu gives access to some configuration options (most of them also accessible from the webconf tool). Also includes basic testing options for audio and MIDI.
You can access this menu from the Main menu.
Touch Screen UI
You can navigate and control the Zynthian UI without knobs/encoders/switches at all, using only the touchscreen (or mouse).
You can "emulate" the switches by tapping the controller widgets (squares in the 4 corners of the screen). There are short, bold and long actions, same behaviour than rotary encoders work-flow. The only screen having the 4 controller widgets is the "Instrument Control" screen. Most of screens are selectors, which only have 1 controller widget. On those screens you can click the zynthian logo (top-right) to emulate the "snapshot" switch, and you can go back by tapping the top-bar area.
You can change the controller values by "sliding" up/down over the widgets. (see the green arrow in the figure) This is the same as turning the knob. If you are using a mouse, the mouse wheel also can be used to change the controller value.
MIDI-CC Learning with a touch interface
1. In the "Instrument Control" screen, navigate through the parameter screen list to get to the parameter you want to learn. 2. In the parameter/controller area, slide with your fingernail from left to right. A green "??" should appear at the bottom. 3. On your MIDI controller, move the desired knob/slider (or a CC-assigned pad). The green "??" should be replaced by a tiny number, and the parameter should change when you move the knob/slider or push the pad. CC-assigned pads can be very useful for on/off parameters.
1. In the "Instrument Control" screen, navigate through the parameter screen list until you get to the parameter you want to unlearn. 2. In the parameter/controller area, slide with your fingernail from right to left. The tiny number, indicating the current CC assignment, should disappear or change. If the parameter is an engine-specific controlled engine, the number will disappear. If the parameter is a hardcoded MIDI-mapped parameter, the number will change.
CUIA: Callable UI Actions
The Zynthian UI can be controlled remotely using a set of commands called CUIA: Callable UI Actions. These CUIA are available on several interfaces: Key Bindings, MIDI, OSC, etc.
Key Bindings: Controlling the UI with a computer keyboard
The user interface may be driven using a USB keyboard, e.g. QWERTY, Dvorak, etc.
|A||None||Start audio Record|
|A||Shift||Stop audio Record|
|A||Alt||Toggle audio Record|
|A||Ctrl||Start audio Play|
|A||Ctrl+Shift||Stop audio Play|
|M||None||Start MIDI Record|
|M||Shift||Stop MIDI Record|
|M||Ctrl||Start MIDI Play|
|M||Ctrl+Shift||Stop MIDI Play|
|Space||None||All Notes Off|
|Space||Shift||All Sounds Off|
|Insert||Ctrl||Reload MIDI Config|
Controlling the UI with MIDI messages
These actions are available using MIDI messages on the Master Channel (default 16, but configurable with the webconf tool), specifically, note-on messages (0x9) are used so you can use a MIDI keyboard for controlling the Zynthian UI. For instance, to Power Off the zynthian, you send this message:
0x9F (Channel 16 Note ON) 0x00 (Note code for POWER_OFF as below) 0x00 (Velocity/parameter)
or play the C-1 key, if your keyboard has it.
This is the full list:
Num CUIA Note System Real-Time 0 POWER_OFF C-1 1 REBOOT C#-1 2 RESTART_UI D-1 3 RELOAD_MIDI_CONFIG D#-1 4 RELOAD_KEY_CONFIG E-1
10 ALL_NOTES_OFF A#-1 11 ALL_SOUNDS_OFF B-1 12 ALL_OFF C0
23 TOGGLE_AUDIO_RECORD B0 24 START_AUDIO_RECORD C1 25 STOP_AUDIO_RECORD C#1 26 TOGGLE_AUDIO_PLAY D1 27 START_AUDIO_PLAY D#1 28 STOP_AUDIO_PLAY E1
35 TOGGLE_MIDI_RECORD B1 36 START_MIDI_RECORD C2 37 STOP_MIDI_RECORD C#2 38 TOGGLE_MIDI_PLAY D2 39 START_MIDI_PLAY D#2 Start/Continue: 0xFA, 0xFB 40 STOP_MIDI_PLAY E2 Stop: 0xFC
51 SELECT D#3 52 SELECT_UP E3 53 SELECT_DOWN F3
64 SWITCH_BACK_SHORT E4 63 SWITCH_BACK_BOLD D#4 62 SWITCH_BACK_LONG D4
65 SWITCH_SELECT_SHORT F4 66 SWITCH_SELECT_BOLD F#4 67 SWITCH_SELECT_LONG G4
60 SWITCH_LAYER_SHORT C4 61 SWITCH_LAYER_BOLD C#4 59 SWITCH_LAYER_LONG B3
71 SWITCH_SNAPSHOT_SHORT B4 72 SWITCH_SNAPSHOT_BOLD C5 73 SWITCH_SNAPSHOT_LONG C#5
80 SCREEN_ADMIN G#5 81 SCREEN_LAYER A5 82 SCREEN_BANK A#5 83 SCREEN_PRESET B5 84 SCREEN_CONTROL C6
90 MODAL_SNAPSHOT_LOAD F#6 91 MODAL_SNAPSHOT_SAVE G6 92 MODAL_AUDIO_RECORDER G#6 93 MODAL_MIDI_RECORDER A6 94 MODAL_ALSA_MIXER A#6 95 MODAL_STEPSEQ B6