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  • #16
    It's great that we can set cue points, analyze files, set loops, and so on in a file, but what happens when you turn off the power? As mentioned earlier, the file analysis is saved because when you bring in a file you've brought in before, it's not necessary to re-analyze it. But what about things like beat offsets, or tempo multipliers if Torq didn't parse a file properly?

    I asked Chad what the deal is, and he explained that like Ableton Live, Torq stores a small analysis file separate from the music file that's called up when you call up the music file, and remembers all your most recent settings. These files have a .TQD suffix and take up almost no space on your drive - less than 1 kilobyte. So, if you keep all your music on a separate data drive (which is a good idea anyway, as it's easy to back up, portable, doesn't interfere with what's happening on your C: drive, etc.) all the analysis files will be there as well.
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    • #17
      I noticed that you mention the sound quality of the time-stretching a couple times above. I just wanted to be sure that everyone was aware that Torq has two different time-stretching algorithms to choose from. By default, the "Standard" mode is selected. This is your usual time-domain algorithm found in many devices, though we've tuned ours to align its time-slices with the beats in the song (to help prevent doubled attacks, etc.). So if the Phase Grid (the sequence of grey lines superimposed over the scrolling waveform) is not aligned with the song, the time-steching could be negatively affected.

      However, if your machine is fairly fast, you can open Torq's preferences and select "Elastique" mode for the time-stretching (note that you cannot change this setting on-the-fly--Torq will reload the tracks on the Decks after you make this change). The Elastique mode makes use of the elastique time-stretching algorithm developed by zplane.de. Elastique is what is used in Ableton Live when you select "Complex" mode for your audio clips. While this mode requires more CPU (and possibly a larger audio buffer), the sound quality is amazing and doesn't depend on the position of the Phase Grid. I find that I can stretch songs further from their original tempo using Elastique than I can with the Standard mode and still get good results. But most importantly, Elastique does a great job of maintaining the rhythmic subdivisions of a song. If you're playing a song with 16th-note hi-hats, those 16th-notes will remain evenly spaced as you slow down or speed up the song. I find that the mix sounds really tight when using this mode.

      Of course, if your machine is slower (or if you just don't like the sound of any time-stretching at all) you can disable time-stretching altogether. Just turn on the Key/Speed Lock--this is a button that looks like a padlock and can be found in each Deck of Torq as well as on the Xponent controller. While this button is on, they Key and Speed of a track will be locked together making it behave like good old vinyl (slowing the playback causes the pitch to drop and vice versa).

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      • #18
        Thanks much, Chad, it's clear I need to spend some more time checking out the preferences

        That's great news you're using Elastique for time-stretching, zPlane does excellent algorithms. When I fire up Torq later tonight I'll see if my computer can cope, and report back on the results.

        I did mention the lock thing, which is very cool if you want to do the old "tape varispeed" trick of speeding up a song every-so-slightly to add a degree of excitement as it progresses. If done subtly, no one notices the slight pitch and tempo shift, but it affects our perception nonetheless.
        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • #19
          Like, WOW...the Elastique algorithms make a HUGE different in sound quality. I figured that it would be best to post some audio examples, as they tell the story better than I ever could in words. Each example takes the same loop, and transposes one semitone per loop iteration.

          The first audio example uses the standard stretching to raise pitch.

          The second audio example uses the Elastique stretching to raise pitch.

          The third audio example uses the standard stretching to lower pitch.

          The fourth audio example uses the Elastique stretching to lower pitch.

          Quite a difference, eh? Also, I should mention that with my 1.73GHz Pentium-M - not exactly state of the art - Torq had no problem handling the Elastique algorithms using the Standard (not CPU-saving Economy) engine with 256 samples of latency.

          Seems to me that Torq should use the Elastique algorithms as the default...I think there are probably more machines out there with equal or better specs compared to mine than machines with inferior specs that couldn't run Elastique. Chad, any comment on that?
          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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          • #20
            Using Elastique as the default time-stretching algorithm is definitely a possibility as computers continue to get faster and faster. In the end, we might be able to add some sort of CPU check the first time you run Torq--if your CPU is fast enough, Elastique would be selected automatically. I'd like to do a number of auto-configuration things like this in future versions of Torq.

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            • #21
              I'd like to do a number of auto-configuration things like this in future versions of Torq.


              I'll give that a "yes" vote.
              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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              • #22
                Chad simply Rulz! Hey Chad

                Craig, I'd like you to try it ReWired to another app.

                This is where the "Sync" function stops being "cheating" and starts becoming a powerful production tool. Once rewired and synced to the Master tempo, you can read / generate MIDI clocks and be in sync with your master app, together with FX. And a very powerful thing to try is to have the two decks playing together with up to 16 loops -that is 18 audio streams at once- and then, add whatever you want via ReWire. Infinite -or CPU limited- audio streams, perfectly synced. Drum machines, Guitar effects, Vocoders, loops... you name it. Impressive.



                ... and you have not mentioned the Snapshots and the Sampler! And you can sample while you play. Even better, one of the buil-in FX is also a sampler.
                www.guslozada.com

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                • #23
                  Craig, I'd like you to try it ReWired to another app.


                  Sounds like fun...!

                  ... and you have not mentioned the Snapshots and the Sampler! And you can sample while you play. Even better, one of the built-in FX is also a sampler.


                  Well, so far I've probably mentioned about 3% of what Torq can do ...FX is what I'm going to cover next. On one level Torq is so easy...you can do things instantly. But on another level, it's really daunting, because it can do sooooo much.

                  The more I work with it, the more I think Torq is so much more than "DJ software"...it's some new kind of product category, because it blends live performance, DAW, and traditional DJ functions into one package. In a way, it reminds me of Ableton Live but not from a functional standpoint (although they do have commonalities) - more like the way it takes a fresh look at a particular way of working.

                  I started off this review thinking Torq + Xponent was pretty cool, but the deeper I get, the more I think it's a pretty genius app.
                  Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                  • #24
                    I know

                    I was just trying to make you jump straight in the fun. I know you'll love it.
                    www.guslozada.com

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                    • #25
                      It might seem strange to cover effects next, because there are many "fundamental" features we haven't covered yet. But, when I first was getting started with Torq, I was surprised how easy it was to use effects, and how much difference it could make to what was being played. Torq's effects implementation is very well done and a significant addition to the program, so now's as good a time as ever to investigate further.

                      I remember when DJs first started using effects with turntables. In fact, over ten years ago a guy in Europe started making the "Super Tone Control" from my book Electronic Projects for Musicians and had a nice little side gig selling them to DJs. He was very open about where he got the design, so I'd go to clubs in Europe and when I met DJs some of them would say "Hey, you're the tone control guy!"

                      But we've come a long, long, long way from the days when DJs had to cobble together a bunch of multi-effects and hope there was a tap tempo button. Torq not only integrates a bunch of effects and lets you have three simultaneous internal effects per deck, but there's also a slot per deck for VST effects. Now that's really cool. And of course, with Xponent, you have hands-on control over crucial effects parameters.

                      The attached image shows the menu that allows selecting any of the 10 onboard effects. Each effect "strip" has three controls (left to right):

                      * Enable/disable (the "power" button)
                      * Send amount control if the routing is Send effect, Wet/Dry mix if the routing is Insert effect.
                      * Routing button to choose Send or Insert routing
                      * Effect selection button (chooses the menu shown in the first attached image)
                      * Tweak button that alters one parameter per effect
                      * Tweak button that alters one parameter per effect


                      The routing defaults differently depending on the effect you choose - for example, opening distortion chooses the insert routing, while reverb or delay choose the send routing. However, these aren't set in stone - for example, you can use distortion as a send effect (which can make for a really cool effect, BTW).

                      In Torq 1.5, you can create effects chains, where placing an insert effect below a send effect processes the send effect with the insert effect. At first it didn't seem like this was working, but rather than look stoopid in front of Chad or Gus, I now know enough to check preferences . Sure enough, there's an option to turn Chain mode on or off.

                      The function of the Tweak control and Tweak button depends on the effect that's chosen. There is no GUI for the effect, so this simplifies matters. (And now's probably a good time to mention that the Tooltip help is excellent, so it's easy to hover over a Tweak option and find out what it affects.)

                      As far as Xponent is concerned, for each deck there are four knobs and four buttons. Two knobs and buttons control the "top" effect, while the other knobs and buttons control the "middle" effect (the two controls adjust the controls, the buttons control enable/disable and the tweak button). I presume you can alter the lower effect only on-screen or via external control.

                      Next we'll cover how Torq handles VST effects, then we'll include some audio examples of the more esoteric effects (I assume y'all already know what delay and reverb sounds like).
                      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                      • #26
                        Great review

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                        • #27
                          Thanks! But I'm just getting started. This is a very deep setup, and it's obvious a lot of thought went into it.
                          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                          Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                          • #28
                            Hi Craig (and hello to Gus--whassup!),

                            If you look at the front edge of the Xponent controller, you'll see a small switch for switching between "Bank A" and "Bank B". This switch is changing the MIDI Channels used when you tweak knobs and stuff. We've set this up to allow you to select the effects you're controlling with the Xponent's knobs. As you correctly noticed, you control the first two effect slots with Xponent when using Bank A. If you flip to Bank B, you'll end up controlling the third effect slot with the first two knobs and buttons, as well as the VST slot with the last two knobs and buttons.

                            As with everything in Torq, you can re-assign the MIDI control any way you wish just by right-clicking on a control on screen, then moving the hardware knob/slider/button you want to use for control. This enables you to completely remap the effect controls if you wish (i.e. Bank A to control slots 1 and 2 and Bank B to control slots 2 and 3).

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                            • #29
                              First of all...thanks Chad for monitoring this thread and contributing tips. I'm sure I would have figured out this stuff eventually, but you're definitely speeding up the learning curve.

                              Now as promised, more about the effects, and some audio examples...

                              Strobe (first audio example) pulses the music rhythmically, from 1/4 notes to 128th notes. The two controls affect rhythm and depth of the "strobe." In the audio example I have Strobe on full so it essentially "switches" between audio on and off, but you can have it switch from, say, half-on to off, as well as fade in the strobe effect.

                              Reverse (second audio example) has only one control - you push the button, and the sound reverses (or if you prefer, sesrever dnuos eht). Aside from doing psychedelic 60s effects and letting you decode the backwards satanic messages that are so common these days (yeah, right), the manual mentions using reverse to momentarily "bleep" obscenities.

                              Brake (third audio example) slows down the sound, as in "slamming on the brakes." The speed-down is variable from 0 to 10 seconds, and you can vary the mix of the dry sound as it goes on in the background, and the "braked" sound. In the audio example, the first brake is for the full 10 seconds, with no dry sound. The next brake is also 10 seconds, with some dry sound mixed in. Then there are some short brakes. I don't like the abrupt low-level "thunk" at the end, but I can live with it.

                              Repeat (fourth audio example) lets you repeat an interval from 2 bars all the way to 1/1024th of a beat (yes, that hits the audio range). As with Brake, there's a wet/dry control; the other control determines the interval, and you bring the effect in and out with one buttons, and initiate capture of the interval with the second button. Fun stuff!!

                              The Dual-Filter is very clever. One control is the wet/dry mix, while the other controls filter frequency. But the clever part is that the second button choose between a bandpass response, or a combination lowpass and highpass response. The way the latter works is that starting at the full counter-clockwise position, the low pass filter is all the way closed. As you turn the control clockwise, the filter opens up until halfway up, at which point the lowpass filter is all the way open. Then the highpass filter kicks in; at the halfway point, it passes everything then as you continue turning the control clockwise, more and more low frequencies are cut.

                              The fifth audio example starts off with no filtering, then goes into the bandpass mode. Then it goes back to no filtering; next, the lowpass filter closes down, then opens up and goes into the highpass mode. When it reaches the highest highpass setting, I switch back to bandpass, and then just before fading out, return to the unfiltered sound. In all these examples, the wet/dry control is on full wet so you hear the full effects of the filtering.

                              You all know what a Phaser sounds like, but here the twist is that the second control can either determine LFO speed, or sweep the phase manually, depending on the setting of the second button. The Flanger works similarly.

                              With Distortion, the second control determines the amount of nastiness, with its associated button choosing between an overdrive effect or a sample rate/decimation effect.

                              Delay is fairly standard; it's set up as a send effect, so the first knob controls send amount, and the second, the amount of feedback. The second button does tap tempo (I can't find any delay option for automatic tempo sync).

                              Reverb is reverb, with one control for send amount, and the other for reverb time. But what's cool here is that the second button has a freeze function, so you can freeze the reverb tail. A typical way to use this would be to set a long tail, freeze it, then go from wet to dry. Unfortunately with the current incarnation of BBS software I'm limited to five attachments per post, so we'll include an audio example of the reverb in the next post, along with some observations about the effects.
                              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                              • #30
                                All right, let's do that reverb audio example.

                                The clip starts off dry, then increase both the amount of wet signal at the reverb decay time. When it's at max decay, I hit the freeze button to capture this gloriously strange wash of sound , then back off into dry signal territory again. Then just before the end fade, I pulled the frozen section back up again for a little because...well, I just can't help myself.

                                So let's summarize the effects thing.

                                First of all, they're wonderful. The two knob/two button thing does the job, and limits you to intelligent choices rather than throwing a zillion parameters at you. As a result they're quick to use live, and responsive.

                                Not so good: This was the first time I felt a little cramped with the controls. I'm into fader-slamming type moves, and I don't have small hands. It's acceptable and useable the way it is, but I would have preferred slightly larger knobs, with more space between them.

                                One fine point is that when you change effects, the knob has to "grab" the current setting before it does anything. This makes sense; you wouldn't want to initiate, say, Delay and find the feedback was already up full. But the way Torq does this is pretty smart.

                                Let's say you call up a new effect. Referring to the attached image, the physical position of knob on the left (circled in yellow) is around 10 o'clock, while the existing parameter setting is 0. So, you need to move the knob's physical position to 0, at which point it "catches" the value and now the parameter value follows the knob.

                                You know if a knob has caught the setting, because a blue/purple skirt appears to show the knob position (see the knob circled in light blue).

                                There is one other fine point: I'm not totally sold on the taper of the wet.dry effect knob. It doesn't seem to use an equal power curve, because as it goes from dry to wet, the level appears to dip a little bit. This seemed to be the case with all the effects, so I'm not sure whether or not it was done on purpose. This is something that could easily be changed in a future rev if most users feel the same way. However, this does not get in the way of enjoying the effects, which really are quite cool - as you know if you listened to the audio examples!
                                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                                Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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