Ever since the K4815 Pattern Generator module was released to great
praise in 2010 we have been planning a follow-up product that would
take the Pattern Generator concept to a whole new level. After five
years of planning and exploration we are proud to present: CARBON
CARBON offers several distinct and powerful functions that will
change the way you compose and perform.
CARBON is primarily designed as a pattern-based sequencer. It has six
tracks which can each hold 64 steps. Steps can be generated randomly, edited
interactively, or recorded from a MIDI keyboard one step at a time, or in
realtime while the sequencer is running. Polyphony and CC recording is supported
so each step can contain chords or other performance data.
The fun begins once you've got some notes playing back on a track. Choose a
region to play back, say, the first 8 steps. The track will play those same 8 steps
over and over. Now move to another track and record a new sequence. This sequence
can be a different length, or play back at a different speed. It can even play
backwards while the other sequence plays forwards.
Remix with Patterns and Scenes!
The real power of CARBON is how variations of sequences can be made. By simply
turning the PATTERN control, different steps in the sequence can be enabled and
disabled. The patterns will surprise and inspire you by creating new
rhythms and motifs with a simple twist of a knob. These are all based on your original
sequence and can be changed at any time.
Adding in the concept of scenes lets you quickly switch between different parts
of a song or different variations. Scenes can store the range of steps to play, the
pattern, track mute state and a number of other parameters. Switching back and forth
between scenes offers endless performance potential without ever missing a beat.
The best part of the CARBON sequencer is that all the recording and editing can
be done in real-time without ever stopping the sequencer.
Do you fire up
your DAW software in the studio to simply route MIDI signals from your
keyboard controller to various instruments? Creating a session just to route MIDI
is clunky and slow, and on stage requiring a computer can be a liability. The LIVE
button allows live playing to any combination of outputs.
MIDI Switching / Routing System
CARBON is a complete performance switching system allowing you to easily send your
keyboard signal to MIDI and analog instruments. Two built-in MIDI outputs enable
separate routing of clock and channel signals from each track. The analog section supports
four CV/gate outputs plus reset and clock signals. Both monophonic and duo/polyphonic
output types are supported. You can even send to multiple MIDI and analog instruments
at the same time!
Does your favourite keyboard controller lack a keyboard split function? It's never
been easier to send MIDI where you want it. Send your left hand to one instrument and
your right to another, or two others if you want. Quickly switch back to a single
instrument across the entire keyboard at the touch of a button.
A good arpeggiator has been the holy grail electronic performers for decades.
CARBON has a powerful internal arpeggiator which supports all the standard
arp types plus loads more. Each of the six tracks in CARBON has a separate arp
so you can make serious harmonic madness!
When the sequence is running the arp automatically syncs to the sequencer. When it's
stopped the arp starts as soon as you press a key. Intelligent reload arp
programming allows you time to change chords without losing a step.
USB MIDI Host
Want to use a USB controller that lacks MIDI output ports? No problem! CARBON has a
built-in USB host interface that will power your class-compliant MIDI device and allow
you to use it to control CARBON or send MIDI or CV/gate signals to any device. You no
longer need a computer or other dedicated box to use your favourite USB MIDI controller.
USB to MIDI and CV Interface
Need to use your computer for bigger compositions? Don't worry, you don't have to
disconnect CARBON. When plugged into a PC or Mac, CARBON becomes a powerful MIDI and CV
interface. Use the control surface to run your DAW software. The display can
also be controlled via MIDI. (open spec - future software / plugins required)
All your instruments connected to the MIDI and analog CV ports can be used
directly from your DAW software. The analog clock and reset outputs can also be used
to drive analog clock-based gear from your DAW.
CARBON Features and Specs
Pattern-based sequencer, performance control system and USB interface
Beautiful colour LCD screen shows everything in real-time
Six rotary encoders and nineteen buttons offer fast intuitive control
Six tracks with two assignable outputs per track
Up to 64 steps per track
Polyphonic tracks store chords and CC data (6 events per step)
Playback start and end points are uniquely configurable for each track
Gate pattern function offers quick remixes each track
Multiple track select allows adjusting multiple track parameters at the same time
Tap tempo and fractional BPM setting for perfect timing adjustment
High resolution internal clock source never drifts or jitters
Swing control with automatic handling of tracks with different time divisions
Flexible MIDI and CV routing allows huge control possibilities
Bias tracks allow transposing of other tracks for oldschool sequencer tricks
Six scenes offer fast parameter changes during live performance
LIVE mode allows live performance from a keyboard
Keyboard transpose mode allows transposition during playback
Internal 2MB flash memory offers storage for 64 songs - Upload and
download from PC or Mac (software required - TBD)
Keyboard split and LIVE multi-select modes allow fast and flexible live MIDI routing
Powerful arpeggiator on every track can be used live or with sequence playback
Rock-solid MIDI / analog clock source can be the heartbeat of your studio
At Kilpatrick Audio we are customers too! When choosing products like complex software or hardware we tend to choose those which are open and able to be fixed by the-end user. Every company is forced to move onto newer and better things to stay in business, and this means that many products eventually stop being supported. That nasty bug that annoys you? That simple feature or enhancement you wish existed? You're out of luck!
With open source it's possible and even encouraged for you to make changes or improve the product. Although we aim to continue working on CARBON, it will never be possible to implement everything that has been requested. We hope that users will step in to add the things that are very specific to their needs, and then share their changes with others.
As a side-effect of open hackability, the firware for CARBON is also a good reference or starting point for other similar projects. We did a lot of annoying work so you don't have to! You are free to use code from CARBON in your own project as long as you follow the rules of the license.
CV Polyphonic Modes
Quad Mode (AAAA) - uses all four outputs for polyphonic playing
Dual Mode (AABC or AABB) - uses pairs out outputs for duophonic mode
CC output to CV
The recorded CC can be output to a CV jack.
1V/octave supported (-5V to +5V range)
1.2V/octave supported (-5V to +5V range)
Hz/volt not supported (future firmware may support this)
USB Host Support
USB host port is a powered USB host for up to one
class-compliant USB MIDI endpoint (hubs or devices with
internal hubs are not supported) - up to 500mA of power
USB Device Support acts as a self-powered device with
class-compliant USB MIDI connection supports MIDI to/from
CARBON including clock syncing with computer allows firmware
update to device from Kilpatrick-supplied update software
Inter-track Modulation Capabilities
CARBON supports "bias" tracks which can be used to transpose one
track from another. So imagine track 1 is playing a 16th note pattern
and track 2 is playing whole notes. If track 1's bias track is set to
track 2, it will be transposed once per bar by the track 2 sequence.
Since a few tracks can use the same bias track, it's possible to
program an automatically transposing sequence. A similar effect could
be made by using the song mode. (more on that below)
Song mode allows a similar behaviour to bias tracks, but doesn't
occupy a track, and also allows other parameters to be automatically
changed as well. Song mode enables scenes switching to be automated.
You could program Scene 1 to play for 16 beats, followed by Scene 4
for 32 beats. In each case, playback can be transposed up or down by
a specific number of semitones. Song mode can be enabled and disabled
with the touch of a button.
CARBON supports up to 6 MIDI events per step. This can include note
and CC data. Each note length and velocity is separately recorded.
Recording and Editing Notes
Notes can be recorded either in step recording mode when the
sequencer is stopped, or in real-time recording mode. In both cases
single notes, chords and CCs can be entered. In real-time recording
mode the length of notes is also recorded and can be any number of
musical ticks. The start of a note is always quantized to the nearest
Track Lengths / Polyrhythms
CARBON does not have a concept of meter or time signature. The
beat is the base quantity for all timing functions. Each track can be
set to a step length related to the master tempo. For instance one
track could play 1/16th notes where another is playing quarter notes.
The length of each track can also be set independently of other tracks.
Tracks loop over and over while playing.
Interfacing CARBON with DAW
Using CARBON with a DAW is primarily designed for clock syncing.
Events can be sent from the DAW to CARBON to control various functions
but CARBON is mainly intended to be used stand-alone.
Uploading and downloading song data could be done with some software
(not planned yet) using SYSEX specifications that will be released
around the time of CARBON release. We intend to publish the specs and
source code of CARBON to enable other developers to implement these
Editing Gate Patterns
The internal gate patterns will be editable by using a special
version of our KPatternEdit software. (coming soon) This software works
on Windows and Linux. Unfortunately Java + MIDI does not work on OS X.
If you have the desire to help port this please let us know. We do not
have OS X any developers.