Controlling Soundbrenner haptic metronomes?


    Mar 04 2018 | 5:09 pm
    Has anyone messed around with the Soundbrenner metronomes?
    I've had my eyes on them since they came out and check up on the hardware/software every now and again, as having something like that would be fantastic for a few projects I'm working on.
    Ideally I would like to be able to send arbitrary cues to separate wireless haptic receivers to cue musicians based on generative timings in Max.
    It looks like they now have a DAW daemon-type thing that will sync to your DAW clock as well as Ableton Link, but from the looks of it it only syncs clock/tempo, and not individual hits.
    Last year (when I had looked them up last) they had a "Vibrate on MIDI Note On" mode, which seems ideal for what I want, but from messaging them, you couldn't address them individually.
    I've messaged their support office again to see if it's possible, but in the meantime, I thought I'd post on here to see if anyone has messed with these, as I would imagine it is using (standard?) MIDI over bluetooth. If so, it makes me wonder if it would be possible to sidestep their clock/sync-based paradigm and address the individual units.

    • Mar 05 2018 | 10:58 am
      Hi Rodrigo! I'm Julian, Soundbrenner's CTO and a long time Max user. I'm happy to see some interest in our product in the community! I wrote the now outdated Soundbrenner DAW Tools Mac app and a substantial part of the iOS app. We built the MIDI suite into the mobile apps so we can eventually discontinue the DAW Tools, because it never really took off and is hard to maintain. The feature you're requesting is indeed only available in the DAW Tools right now, and not (yet) in the mobile apps. We're planning to implement it, but it could take another few months. Sending individual MIDI notes is also a bit problematic: We can't know you want to send one until you send it. Thus, we can't compensate for any latencies. With MIDI Clock, we can, because it's a constant stream of messages. So sending individual MIDI notes for haptic feedback is to be taken with a grain of salt, as it could have latencies that are noticeable.
      Sorry I can't give you a clear release date, but we'll definitely provide this feature at one point, and free of charge.
    • Mar 05 2018 | 11:17 am
      I did use Peterson's Bodybeat Pulse connected to standard wireless IEM systems to send cues to musicians. I never trusted wifi or bt in stage contexts, I had too often problems.
    • Mar 05 2018 | 11:43 am
      Interesting, I hadn't seen those before.
      How strong is the vibration? And does it get false triggered by signal noise in the wireless connection?
      (I presume it takes audio onsets and creates a vibration pulse out of it)
      Buying a bunch of wireless audio systems would be a pain, though I would imagine since it just takes audio impulses, that it might work with a more 'lofi' solution of having those shit radio transmitter receiver things.
    • Mar 05 2018 | 12:19 pm
      Vibration is not intense, but strong enough to give cues or tempos. (it depends of course on the place where you put it…). I only used them with professional IEM, it's easy to put on a tech rider and if all musicians need the same pulses, you can use one single transmitter with many receivers. I didn't analyse precisely how they do work ; with the apps provided you can get 2 types of vibrations (accented & normal) but I never tried to emulate that from a DAW yet (although I hacked the .ipa to get the sound files used by the software)
    • Mar 05 2018 | 1:17 pm
      That's true. Though I guess in my case I'm aiming for a more self-standing approach.
      Out of curiosity, could you post the sound files?
    • Mar 06 2018 | 9:44 am
      @Julian
      Oh amazing, I don't know how I missed this post (or maybe it came it out of order due to funky time zone stuff).
      So are you saying that with the current DAW tools you can send individual MIDI notes to trigger pulses? Though from what you're saying it seems like the DAW tools will be (eventually) discontinued with those features going to iOS apps. That's less useful for me as I would specifically want to be able to control it from Max (or other custom software).
      I do know that that would come with a certain amount of latency that would likely be inconsistent, but hopefully it would be usable enough.
    • Mar 12 2018 | 10:59 am
      Yes, you can use the DAW Tools to send MIDI Note On messages and choose one of 9 different vibration patterns for each note of the octave. It still is pretty limited because you can only connect one single device, and the app hasn't been updated in a while.
      You can use the iOS app to send those MIDI Note On messages to, in the future. For that to work, you just connect the iPhone as a Bluetooth Over MIDI device using the macOS system MIDI settings. It then just shows up as a MIDI device on Max, and if the app's MIDI settings are enabled, it receives anything sent to the iPhone.
      The latency for MIDI clock is manageable, because we can compensate for it, and we also apply some fancy algorithms to make is as stable as possible. Constant latency can be offset using any DAW and of course inside Max itself.
    • Mar 12 2018 | 5:47 pm
      Ah right, that makes sense. Though having to go from computer->iOS->Soundbrenner makes things a bit more complicated in having to worry about keeping my phone charged etc...
      Originally I was planning on going a DIY route with some xbees and an arduino variant, so I'll look towards that again.
    • Nov 07 2019 | 4:12 am
      Any news on this? I'm also wanting to send individual pulses from Max straight to a Soundbrenner metronome without using a smartphone... if possible.
    • Nov 07 2019 | 7:10 am
      In the end I ended up buying a few lofelt Basslets, which are meant to be wrist worn sub speakers, but by sending it short "blips" as audio, I can achieve the same results. Plus they can easily multicast, as each one is paired to a sender dongle.
      I haven't fully finished the project, but I basically have an Arduino Teensy hooked to two sound "capes", and have the Arduino programmed with a very simple synth so that I can send MIDI messages from my computer to the sender dongles, then four different Basslets can receive the "audio" and produce pulses/blips/clicks.
    • Nov 07 2019 | 10:38 am
      Great to hear you found a solution. Lofelt's Basslets are great devices, and yes, you can use them for audio to haptics, wirelessly. Unfortunately they don't sell them anymore. You can achieve the same with Soundbrenner's wearables, but the main use case here is the vibrating metronome. Individual haptic cues are also possible though. In The Metronome by Soundbrenner iOS app, you can enable MIDI input and send individual MIDI notes, which trigger different haptic effects. It's not an advertised feature but more of an easter egg. Use at your own risk!
    • Nov 08 2019 | 12:48 pm
      Thanks for the updates, guys. Two very interesting and potentially useful devices, but also two cases of "so near yet so far" for my intended use. The Basslet's no good if you can't buy it, and the Soundbrenner'd require new hardware (I'm still happily using an iPhone 4S that doesn't meet the system requirements) and risky software. Oh well...
    • Nov 09 2019 | 1:59 pm
      You could try building your own solution. If it doesn't have to be wireless, things get considerably easier. Look into the Texas Instruments DRV2605 driver, which includes audio-to-haptics processing. Depending on your use case you would then decide wheteher to use an Eccentric Rotating Mass (ERM) motors or a Linear Resonant Actuators (LRA). A great resource for haptics are the articles published by Precision Microdrives on their website. And if you have a specific question, you can hit me up as well. I'm not saying it would be a quick and easy project, but maybe give it a try? I'd use a Teensy and a DRV2605 breakout board from Sparkfun to make things easy. And I'd start with a LRA and see if the strength is enough (those are more accurate and precise, but weaker).
    • Nov 09 2019 | 6:36 pm
      Super helpful info!
      I tried looking into some DIY options, but I kept getting stumped on the wireless side of things. In the end the Basslet hack/approach worked out well for me.
      It may also be worthwhile dropping them (lofelt) an email explaining what you want to do. When I bought mine, I messaged them and scored some refurbished ones for fairly cheap. So even though they are not for sale anymore, it's entirely possible that they may have some refurbished and/or B-stock laying around.
    • Nov 11 2019 | 1:21 am
      Thanks again, guys.
      @Julian: DIY is beyond me, but I'll keep that info in case I decide to get my local electronics guy onto it.
      @Rodrigo: Ta. Emailed 'em and waiting for a reply.