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FOURCUBE Protake

Categories: Software Prototypes/Non-Commercial Products

Submitted by:Jonathan Weinreich

10 May 2022

Elevator Pitch

FOURCUBE Protake

Dr Jonathan Weinreich had a vision to build a synthesizer with unparalleled expression and articulation, well suited for producers who require a pristine session.

Product Description

FOURCUBE Protake

The FOURCUBE protake is the result of 7 years research and development. It all began when I noticed that many software synths produced signals that were far from ideal from the point of a studio engineer. There where clicks and pops all over the place, an-harmonic distortions, and many other artifacts that lead to listener fatigue. It was clear it was not going to be a simple matter to address all these issues.

How It's Innovative

For software to produce results comparable to the very best analogue modular synths is a big ask. Subtractive synthesis has so many issues that it is not an ideal starting point, so it was decided to use additive methods. This is a firm theoretical starting point, but it sets its own problems. The computations can either be fast and inaccurate, or very slow and accurate. Inaccuracy was not a suitable foundation for a top end product, accuracy is a necessity. For many years, this foundational code has been honed using SIMD assembly code until it is fast enough for a production synth, and running on all hardware post 2010. The filters are naturally 24dB/Oct, and sound just as one would want, full, rounded, resonant to the point of oscillation, all without clicks or pops. There are 4 oscillators and 4 SV filters, which can be run in serial or parallel, and supporting envelops and LFOs, and modulation units. The envelope generators are key to the articulation of the Protake. They involve novel computations to assist in interpreting the midi score in a way that minimizes clicks, and maximizes expression, driven using the hidden "sens" parameter in an intuitive manner. This interacts with voice stealing to render a virtuoso performance, as though a top musician was interpreting the given score. The adjustments are small, but very noticeable to the performer, because the instrument responds in a way that sounds very natural, and lends itself to expressive techniques. Beneath the hood, the top level is written in JPP, an in house functional language. It is based on work on quantum functional languages I started in 1991. It is a revolutionary language, designed for writing large applications in.

See MIDI Innovation In Action

Most Inspiring Use Cases

Without doubt, the most inspiring use is exploring the range of expressive possibilities of the Protake. It is no secret that the power of music to touch emotions is related to the expressiveness of each tone. When playing on the Protake, it feels like it has an unbounded amount of expressive power, and it is teaching you how to reach deeply into the world of emotion and spirituality that it unlocks. Synths can be used for many genres, but now they are reaching a point of maturity when they can surpass the expressiveness of any instrument. Right now the world needs music more than ever. Give a gifted musician/composer an instrument that is able to touch peoples emotions in such a deep way, and perhaps the world can be set on a better course?

Expansion Plans

The technology used to create the Protake is very flexible. JPP is due for another upgrade to help fuel the next stage of SAAS development. The prototype GUI can be improved. The appearance is secondary, no-one sees it in the final product (the music) but I come from the video production world, so it's high on the list of upgrades, but is not seen as essential. Key to expansion is a flexible cloud setup. I have chosen Cloudflare to provide the reverse proxy which immediately enables a global market. Over the next few months the software side of this microservice architecture is being expanded to give users the experience they expect from a top rung IT company. Assuming the Protake is successful, it will need a maintenance path. Given all the hard work put in, it is now relatively easy to add new features, and design spin off products. As well as the synth, the tools and the ecommerce platform are valuable products, and can be marketed. There are also ideas for hardware MPE controllers, and potentially a hardware Protake.

Commercialization

It is at a late prototype stage. The synth engine is lacking only a few release features, and the copy protection system requires integration with the ecommerce systems. The initial market is music producers who require a plugin that can equal/excel the results from analogue modular synths. It is expected to be at a release stage within the next two months, with the possibility of taking early sales (involving hand processing of licenses). Once the short term licensing code has been developed, the synth can be released on subscription to the larger market. I am also looking to license the technology to distributors/other companies that need a top end synth engine. Alongside this is the fourcube.net website, which has been in development in parallel with the synth. It also uses JPP in it's core, in combination with typescript, and the typescript has been published open source on github, and is based on keystone6.