As a casual musician, I enjoy recording original music for myself in my own small home office or studio, and enjoy experimenting with different methods to create interesting and sometimes unconventional musical compositions. is. His Orba 2 from Artiphon can do just that with ease. I’ve had a lot of fun with this little synth. It’s more than just a gimmick, so I can imagine many ways to incorporate it into my own studio.
I spoke with Mike Butera, a musician with a PhD in acoustics and founder and CEO of Artiphon, a Nashville-based designer of smart digital instruments. According to the company’s website, these are “multi-sensory instruments that anyone can play.” Butera says he wants digital music to be more tangible, tactile, and more accessible to everyday consumers.
Orba 2 is one of those multi-sensory instruments. An ergonomically shaped synthesizer that fits in the palm of your hand. Artiphon sent him an Orba 2, and when he picked it up and played it for the first time, he couldn’t put it down for hours. First, I paired the device with his Orba 2 app on my phone and tried out all the instruments and sounds preloaded in the app. In no time, we had a sweet-sounding loop with a drone bass and a killer ambient lead over a simple 4/4 rock beat.
Orba 2 is priced at $150 and is available online directly from Artiphon, through Reverb, and at retailers such as Guitar Center and Sam Ash. It’s easy to pick up and play right out of the box, and you don’t need any musical knowledge to start making really cool-sounding music. This unpretentious little instrument is amazingly versatile and so easy to use that it can turn anyone into a musician and makes a unique little gift.
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What is Orba 2?
The Orba 2 is Artiphon’s successor to the original Orba device launched in 2019. A compact synth, looper and MIDI controller, the size and shape of an average orange cut in half. Orba 2 basically has the same design and interface as the original. Eight multi-function pads radiate across the top of the device, but with enhanced functionality throughout.
Perhaps Orba 2’s most notable enhancement is the ability to record literally any sound in the world into the app and play it back on your device. Strum chords on your guitar, hum songs, record train whistle and snap your fingers. You can even dive into the ocean and record whale sounds and sample them with Orba 2. If you do, use a waterproof recording device.)
Orba 2 also adds an ‘auto-quantize’ feature that allows you to automatically align your music to the beat as you loop your music. Auto quantize is a lifesaver if you don’t have the perfect rhythm because you don’t have to worry about getting it exactly in time. The software will handle it.
It also has significantly longer loop times than its predecessor. In his original Orba he was only allowed to loop 8 bars (30 seconds maximum loop), while in Orba 2 he was limited to 128 bars or a maximum loop time of 5 minutes. This gives you plenty of time to create and loop elaborate, comprehensive musical compositions consisting of drums, bass, chords (rhythms), and leads.
The device includes a standard 1/8″ headphone stereo jack and a USB-C port for charging and connecting to a computer or other device (although you can also connect via Bluetooth ). It’s equipped with a 3-watt speaker at the bottom, which is fine if you’re just playing casually in your living room, but you can plug in headphones and get plenty of effect.
Orba 2 is compatible with iOS 11+, Android 9+, MacOS 10.12+, and Microsoft 10 (64-bit)+.
What you can do with Orba 2
For such a simple-looking device, the Orba 2 offers considerably more than you might expect, albeit with certain limitations.
It’s probably best used as a musical sketchpad to help you develop and store your musical ideas. That’s where Orba 2’s portability and extended looping capabilities really come in handy. You can use the included app to save your looped songs and later build on them or just play them. play on the bus or in the park. Get inspired anytime, anywhere.
Orba 2’s 100+ presets cover every musical style, from traditional synths, bass guitars, pianos, violins and acoustic drums to video game sounds, beatboxes, hand drums, vinyl scratches and meditative ambient sounds. I will do it. Some presets between modes share the same in-app artwork. That is, they sound good when played together. One of my favorite presets in the whole mod is called 1981 and can give you some really great Stranger Things vibes. Another preset I like is Ambeeant. This is perfect if you want to create a very chilled out and relaxing composition, like a smooth late night groove or what you’d expect to hear in a dimly lit shisha he lounge.
You can even create your own presets by recording sounds or developing instruments from scratch using another OrbaSynth app available for download from Artiphon. Recording sounds using the mobile app or desktop app is easy, but to export sounds and use them with Orba 2, Orba must be connected to your phone or computer with a USB cable. Want to record something on the go and instantly play it back in Orba? However, if you record sound on your phone and don’t have Orba or Cable, you can save the recording for later export.
One of my favorite things about the Orba 2 is its responsive gesture controls. The top pad is touch sensitive and responds nicely to the strength of your taps. For example, you can press and hold a pad to play a note or crash cymbal. Or radiate your fingers in or out to add a little vibrato, control pitch, volume, and more. Other gestures include spin, bump, move, shake and tilt. All of these help enhance the sound you are playing and create a very cool sound.
I also like that Artiphon does a great job of making Orba 2 accessible to non-musicians by programming the lead presets to play the pentatonic scale. This makes it easy to create a lead part that melodically fits the song no matter what note you play.
Artiphon Chief Marketing Officer Adam McHeffey said in an interview: “It’s all about immediacy and just having fun while you play. It’s not about making fun of anything. It’s about familiarity and really getting out of your head and just having fun.”
If you want to get the most out of Orba 2, you can use it as a MIDI controller and connect it to digital audio workstations like GarageBand, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Cubase and more. When I hooked up Orba 2 to GarageBand, the possibilities of this little device were completely opened up in terms of the different kinds of sounds and configurations it could create. I was able to export songs from Orba 2 to GarageBand, but only as single tracks. There doesn’t seem to be a way to export individual tracks. So the best way to take advantage of GarageBand and other DAW software with Orba 2 is to start from scratch and create directly within your DAW.
Fun, but not without its flaws
Artiphon works well with Orba 2, but it has some inherent flaws and room for improvement. For one thing, changing octaves is easy and can be done in Orba 2 itself, but since there are only eight keys to play, it can seamlessly span a wider range of notes than playing a traditional synthesizer. will be inaccessible. The trade-off with the Orba 2’s compact size is a necessary but disappointing one.
I also found the main Orba 2 app to be pretty buggy overall on both mobile and desktop. Especially when I was saving songs and trying to load them into his Orba, it crashed frequently and was frustrating. The app also lost connection with his Orba at random intervals, so I had to reconnect or re-pair with my phone and his MacBook much more often than necessary. Another frustration was that it was often not possible to adjust the volume of individual instruments in the loop. Even though the app shows the option to do so. Occasionally, I’ve wanted to turn down the volume of the burgeoning drum he beats I’ve created to let the subtle elements of my compositions shine through. I tried. This put a real damper on my efforts to mix my productions to sound the way I wanted them to. I hope it will be resolved.
Orba 2 adds some nice convenience features and is significantly better than the original Orba, but one feature that may become available in future firmware updates is the individual This is the ability to layer several different presets of the mode on top of one. another. For example, it would be nice to be able to layer several different lead presets into one loop configuration. For example, if you want not only the lead guitar part, but also a piano lead and a violin lead. This allows you to add some cool dynamics to your song. If you currently have a lead part already looped and want to change the lead instrument to something else, the originally looped part will change to the other preset you choose. Sure, running Orba 2 in his DAW would get around this, but it would be nice to have the functionality available from the app as well.
Is Orba 2 worth it?
Overall, I think the Orba 2 is the perfect little instrument for casual musicians (or even those with no musical background at all) who want to easily create cool-sounding music anytime, anywhere. But professional musicians probably want something with a little more depth and range.
Orba 2 is one of a kind, perfect for experimenting with a virtually unlimited range of sonic possibilities in the palm of your hand. It’s a worthy addition to your home studio and will help add impressive dynamics to your music. It’s a great tool for coming up with new musical ideas on the fly, wherever you are. And it’s just for fun. If you like one, so be it. Orba 2 is worth it and you should try it.