Fiwe - wireless audio effects

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Fiwe
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Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby Fiwe » Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:50 pm

Hello,
I would like to announce our little project, Fiwe: https://fiwe.studio
The idea is basically to develop hardware that aims to replace a lot of the gear that one must carry to rehearsal or gigs (effect racks, foot switches, cables, ...)
Te hardware is still being developped, but there the software is already testable and should give a good idea of the capabilities: https://fiwe.studio/testing-software-standalone/
I am very much looking forward to questions, comments, and maybe a few people may like to test the software and give us feedback, or feature requests, etc :)
But for now, is the idea sound, what do you guys think of the project?
Wireless audio effects - https://fiwe.studio

gimmeapill
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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby gimmeapill » Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:39 am

Could you highlight the differences with the Mod Duo? https://www.moddevices.com/
The concept looks 99% the same except for the wireless part, so it could be worth adding a comparison matrix ...
Also, there doesn't seem to be any source link or repo included.
Otherwise the web site looks good.

BR,

LX

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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby Fiwe » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:28 pm

Hello Gimmeapill, thank you for the feedback :)
Yes you are perfectly right, the use cases are very similar but we are hoping to differentiate ourselves with the portable aspect indeed.
I have created a FAQ section on the website where these two initial questions are answered: https://fiwe.studio/forums/forum/f-a-q/

I am copying the content here for convenience though:

What's the difference with the Modduo ?
The concept, available effects and unlimited routing/configuration power are very similar. However, we are working to provide a somewhat more portable system where you may just hide a small box in your pocket and freely roam around on stage or in the rehearsal room :)
Here are some points that differentiate our solution:
<ul>
<li>Smaller size – it basically fits in your pocket</li>
<li>Higher mobility – the ‘beacon’ concept tries to remove the need for fixed footswitches, even though you may still use them if you prefer</li>
<li>More I/Os eg. xlr, wireless, microphone, etc</li>
<li>Better power consumption – the battery is internal and rechargeable with a simple mobile phone charger or usb powerbank</li>
<li>Cheaper – we are aiming at ~300€</li>
<li>Higher CPU/memory power – if one attaches to the box a 10€ single-core raspberry pi or a 30€ quadcore one</li>
</ul>

<b>
Where’s the source code?</b>
The code will be opensourced under the (L)GPL license as soon as it is in a good shape. We are still slightly ashamed with some variables called ‘bla’, routines that should be refactored out as proper classes, etc.
We are concentrating on the functionality and bug-fixing for now, but opensourcing is a definite must. At the latest, when we start shipping the first hardware…
In the meantime, we are looking forward to answering any technical question :)
Wireless audio effects - https://fiwe.studio

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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby gimmeapill » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:24 am

Thanks for the clarifications.
I don't have much time for testing the SW right now, but I like the approach so far.

A few more questions related to the HW box:
- any word yet on the SOC / chipset and operating system?
- on the audio side, what are you (ideally) targeting when it comes to sampling frequency and round trip latency?
I saw mention somewhere on the site that there's the potential to go down to 1ms and that indeed picked my curiosity...
- "3W amplifier" -> do I understand that this could easily be modded into a mini combo?

Anyway keep us posted on your progress, I bet this is of interest for a few users here ;-)
Last edited by gimmeapill on Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby tavasti » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:16 am

Fiwe wrote:But for now, is the idea sound, what do you guys think of the project?

Nice idea, but I don't know how big part of guitarists will be ok with it.

- you can't get software which will give exact enough sound for compared to some real hw pedal. Some players will stick with 'but I want sound of Boss ZYXXY-123'
- controls, for certain effects you want to switch them while playing, with switch or expression pedal. With controls on a box on your belt, not that easy.
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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby CrocoDuck » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:42 am

tavasti wrote:Nice idea, but I don't know how big part of guitarists will be ok with it.

- you can't get software which will give exact enough sound for compared to some real hw pedal. Some players will stick with 'but I want sound of Boss ZYXXY-123'
- controls, for certain effects you want to switch them while playing, with switch or expression pedal. With controls on a box on your belt, not that easy.


The idea is indeed quite cool. However, yes, guitarists are a bit "backwards thinking" in regards of audio stuff. I would have marketed that towards more instruments, for sure bass too, as perhaps bass players are more on the patch-per-song approach and be-practical-and-comfy-on-stage approach than guitarists.

I am one of those weird guitarists that:

1) Does not like any amp in the entire planet and prefers to play with few effects straight into a DI straight into the mixer of the venue.
2) For few effects I mean no more than 5.
3) I would rather use a soundcard and a laptop + MIDI foot controller for all my effects, + radio bridge if I really want to.

I normally want to control my effects (I make massive use of wah-wah), so even with 3) I would need to have some kind of MIDI controller to switch and tweak while playing. This why I think I would go with something like a normal radio bridge plugged in a MOD device, so that I can control the thing with foot controls when I need to, rather than something that sits in my pocket, hard to reach.

The idea is cool though, and I believe it could fit some musicians better than others. Check out what bass players think of it. In my experience they are often more open to innovations too with respect guitar players.
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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby gimmeapill » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:00 am

CrocoDuck wrote:Check out what bass players think of it. In my experience they are often more open to innovations too with respect guitar players.


That's an understatement ;-)

The Prog / Djent scene folks are a bit more open to technological evolution though. Just look at the Axe FX, Kemper and Helix success in semi pro circles (not to mention the Yamaha THXes). Digital modelling is no longer considered a beginner toy - and there's a good reason for that: convenience. Hell, even my old work colleague that swore only by NOS tubes and custom wired pickups eventually moved to a THR head (he wouldn't go as far as trying Guitarix though, he still loves his "pro" brands).

This "pro" stuff is however still ridiculously priced (I guess that goes with the hype) and on the cheaper side, you need a computer + decent audio interface - which is an extra pain when you just want to play some guitar on the couch or rehearse (I'm excluding mobile devices on purpose, as I don't think they're really there yet when it comes to quality).

If you remove the deal breakers for the average guitarist: computer, linux (or both) and provide a reasonably good enough solution in a compact form factor, I'm sure there's some market niche to be carved there, in the mid range...

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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby Fiwe » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:13 pm

Hello, sorry for the late show-up today :)
Let me first answer gimmeapill's first message of the day:

- any word yet on the SOC / chipset and operating system?

Yes, we are using a Cortex M7 at 400 MHz (STM32H7). This enables us to keep power consumption low and is sufficient for most presets, from our tests. In the cases where presets are too demanding (e.g. some guitarix ones), the user can either choose to decimate by M=2 (i.e. an effective 24kHz sampling rate) for this particular preset, or to connect a raspberry pi to the box (there is a dedicated raspi extension connector on the PCB). The CortexM7 recognizes this and offloads processing to the raspi's (single or quad) cores.

We are not using any operating system for latency reasons. We program the CortexM7 (and the raspi) bare-metal, with guaranteed real-time constraints. Which takes me to your next question:

- on the audio side, what are you (ideally) targeting when it comes to sampling frequency and round trip latency?
I saw mention somewhere on the site that there's the potential to go down to 1ms and that indeed picked my curiosity...

The sampling frequency is fixed at 48kHz, but we may make it configurable in the future if needed.
The buffer size is configurable in the code and can be as low as 4 samples (0.1 ms), so we pretty much control the latency. There is little CPU overhead in the audio routing and effects' processing time is generally proportional to the number of samples (bare loop unrolling etc), so that we are rather flexible with latency.
We need to do more testing to find the optimal buffer size vs effects' CPU consumption but 32/64 samples feels like a good value for now.

So latency over cable (jack/xlr combos) should not be a problem, but then Linux-based solutions don't have a problem with this either nowadays. Now, another reason why we went bare-metal is for wireless communications. In this case (only), we need to add 10ms buffering for over-the-air packet loss concealment, so that we get pretty close to the dreaded 15-20ms limit :) We have a good trade-off at the moment with unnoticeable latency in our prototype tests, but we need more testing in real time conditions, with the real antenna inside the hardware's enclosure, external WiFi interference, line-of-sight obstacles, etc.

- "3W amplifier" -> do I understand that this could easily be modded into a mini combo?

Yes indeed, the (class D) amplifier is exposed through a screw terminal block to which you may connect a 3W - 4 ohm speaker. One may additionally connect a few physical knobs that the system may exploit. For the DYI-minded :)

Another use-case we tested for the amplifier is to feed its output to a surface exciter fixed to the back of your (classical) guitar. This turns the box into a sort of ToneWoodAmp for an extra 5~10€.

... if this all makes sense? :)
Wireless audio effects - https://fiwe.studio

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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby Fiwe » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:22 pm

On the control aspect, I totally agree that adjusting parameters on a belt-box is not practical. This is why we propose the "beacon" companion hardware, which is basically a smart wireless guitar knob that you may fix on your guitar, or on your feet for wahwah, or on the floor for a foot switch.
There is more detail here: https://fiwe.studio/hardware-details/#beacon
Wireless audio effects - https://fiwe.studio

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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby gimmeapill » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:31 pm

All crystal clear, thanks :-)

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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby Fiwe » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:34 pm

Good idea to market this to bass players! One of my bass-player friend went "meh, I don't really use effects" but the other one went crazy to try to reverse-engineer Muse's sound.
Also, one of the reason why we have a combo jack/xlr as I/O is for microphones. Singers/rappers are naturally moving more on stage and may enjoy the mobility offered, combined with custom effects on their voice at key moments of a particular song :)
Wireless audio effects - https://fiwe.studio

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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby CrocoDuck » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:43 pm

Fiwe wrote:On the control aspect, I totally agree that adjusting parameters on a belt-box is not practical. This is why we propose the "beacon" companion hardware, which is basically a smart wireless guitar knob that you may fix on your guitar, or on your feet for wahwah, or on the floor for a foot switch.
There is more detail here: https://fiwe.studio/hardware-details/#beacon


Uh sorry, I glimpsed over the beacon. Good stuff!
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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby CrocoDuck » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:47 pm

Fiwe wrote:Good idea to market this to bass players! One of my bass-player friend went "meh, I don't really use effects" but the other one went crazy to try to reverse-engineer Muse's sound.
Also, one of the reason why we have a combo jack/xlr as I/O is for microphones. Singers/rappers are naturally moving more on stage and may enjoy the mobility offered, combined with custom effects on their voice at key moments of a particular song :)


Yep! I think it would appeal many more if the keywords in the main page did not addressed only guitarists directly, but musicians in general.
Check my Linux audio experiments on my SoundCloud.
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gimmeapill
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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby gimmeapill » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:53 pm

OK, I finally got a chance to try the Linux binary: The UI, while still a bit rough looking doesn't seem too different from what I saw in the Mod screenshots, which is probably a good thing.
...but I couldn't get the thing to generate a single sound, it only says:

Code: Select all

25/06/2018 19:22:59   WARNING   :0   Oooops Jack nframes is not a multiple of AUDIO_BLOCK_SIZE: 0 !!!


Tried with bpth jack1 and jack2:
"/usr/bin/jackd -P89 -p128 -t2000 -dalsa -r48000 -p32 -n3 -Xseq -D -Chw:USB -Phw:USB -i2 -o2"

no luck with pulse either (this is on Arch Linux btw)

Just one thing I don't like about the UI: the workflow is left to right, which wouldn't be even possible if this was a real pedal board. So I guess a virtual version should follow what guitarists are used to (and also the primary input should be mono, not stereo).

LX

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Re: Fiwe - wireless audio effects

Postby tramp » Tue Jun 26, 2018 10:42 am

Hi

I've give it a whirl.
It's indeed a bit raw, but after some tries I get it to work with jack here on debian/sid.
I notice some problems here and there:
the knobs, (they look really known to me :lol: ) beehive strange, means they move (value change), depent on were I click on them, when I click on them to set a value. Also, they create clicks in the sound when moved fast. I know that they are smothed in the plug-implementation I tried on fiwe, as I've wrote them.
So either you've re-wrote them, or, your host UI knob implementation needs a general rework.

Beside that, I notice that moving the focus away and back to the fiwe UI, create clicks and xruns. That is something which I haven't seen for long time now, may I ask which UI toolkit you use?

regards
hermann


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