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technoBox Manual

Translations: Japanese, French, Spanish

This manual is a draft. Found a typo or have suggestions on this page? Please let us know. We're also looking for translators to German and other languages.

Introduction

technoBox is an emulation of the classic 303, 808 and 909 boxes rolled into one application for the iPhone and iPod touch.

About this manual

In this manual we begin with the most common usage situation. Further down the details of the controls are described. When a control is referred to by name it will be in italics. You may wish to read Part II first so that you are well aquainted with the controls and then read Part I.  

Definitions

In this manual we refer to a few concepts that is useful to define:

  • Session - A session consists of the bank of patterns (24 in total) and the song sequencing info
  • Pattern - A pattern is made up of 16 steps
  • Step - A step is the smallest unit the technoBox sequencers manage

Part I

Overview

The main GUI in technoBox is split into two parts: The control section which is always in view and a machine editor section, which differs depending on which machine is currently being edited.

Manipulating the controls

  • Knobs - Tap at the center of a knob and drag up or downwards to adjust its value. You can also drag right or left for increased accuracy
  • Buttons - Tap to change state. Certain buttons react to double tapping
  • Digit readouts - Most digit readouts can be changed by tapping and dragging left or right. Certain readouts may react to double tapping.

Playing individual patterns

To play individual patterns, tap the Play button. You can now select patterns on the fly both the synth and drum machine. When you select a new pattern it will begin playing after the current pattern is finished, which makes this mode great for live improvised performances.

Playing back a song

To play the song double tap the Play button. The play button will begin flashing and the Sequencer position display will advance as the song progresses. It is still possible to scroll through the song by swiping the Sequencer position digits or using the rewind/forward buttons.

Sequencing a song

Each sequencer position is exactly one bar long. To sequence a song simply select the sequencer position and then select the patterns for both the synth and drum machine you wish to play back for that position. It is possible to record pattern switching in realtime when in song mode playback, however some editing may be required afterwards.

A song can be a maximum of 1000 bars.

Part II

Control section

The controls from left to right are:

  • Play pattern/song - To play patterns, tap the button once. To play a song, double tap the button. When paying back a song it will begin from the current sequencer position.
  • Rewind - Moves the sequencer back one position
  • Forward - Moves the sequencer forward one position
  • Sequencer Position - The current sequencer position is displayed with the digits. You can scroll through the song by swiping the digits left or right. Double tap the digits to reset the sequencer to position 0 (zero).
  • Tempo - The tempo is given in beats per minute (BPM). To change the tempo swipe the digits right or left.
  • Flip machine - This button flips between the synth and drum machine editor view.
  • Info - The info panel gives you access to the Session manager and the quickstart manual.

Patterns selectors

The pattern selectors are organized into two rows, one for the synth patterns and one for the drum machine patterns. To select a pattern simply tap the pattern you wish to edit or play.

The arrows on the right of the pattern selectors indicate which machine is currently being edited. It is possible to tap these arrows as an alternative way of selecting which machine to edit.

Synth editor view

Each synth pattern is made up of 16 steps. Each step has a pitch and some modifiers such as down, up, accent and slide assigned to it. One step at a time can be edited and the digits in the lower right corner denote which step is currently being edited. The step can be changed by using the left and right arrow buttons.

The synth has 8 knobs that alter the sound in various ways. The synth is modelled after the classic 303, so many of the knobs have the same meaning except waveform which allows a mixture between saw and squarewave.

Synth sound settings

  • Waveform - The waveform can be gradually set between sawtooth and square.
  • Tuning - The overall tuning of the synth can be set to -12..+12 semitones. Double tapping this knob will return it to center tuning.
  • Cutoff - Set the basic cutoff frequency of the filter
  • Resonance - Set the amount of resonance for the filter. A higher level creates a more nasal and squelchy sound.
  • Env mod - Sets the amount of envelope modulation of the filter
  • Decay - Sets the rate of decay of the envelope. Lower settings make the envelope decay faster.
  • Accent - Sets the amount of accent which occures on accented steps
  • Volume - Sets the overall volume of the synth. Note that at higher settings some distortion may be introduced, especially on accented notes.

Synth buttons

The synth buttons have different meaning depending on if shift (the lower left button) is activated or not.

Normal state (no shift):

  • Clear - Clears the current pattern. By default all the gates are set to on when clearing a pattern.
  • Copy - Copy pattern
  • Paste - Paste over pattern
  • Gate - Selects whether the current step will be sounded or not
  • Down - Transposes the current step down one octave
  • Up - Transposes the current step up one octave
  • Accent - Sets the accent state on the current step
  • Slide - When on the current note will slide to the next note, creating a longer overall note
  • Back - Makes the step sequencer go back one position.
  • Next - Makes the step sequencer go forward one position
  • Current step - Displays which of the 16 steps is currently being edited
  • Pitch buttons - Selects the pitch for the current step

Shift state:

  • Back - Shifts the pattern left by one step
  • Next - Shifts the pattern right by one step
  • Clear - Clears the pattern, except now all gates are set to off making a totally silent pattern
  • Gate - Randomize pattern
  • Pitch buttons - The pattern can be transposed 0-12 semitones non-destructible.
  • Down - Alters the pattern by keeping all the steps intact but randomly shuffling the order of all the steps

Drum machine editor view

The drum machine consists two sound sets (808 and 909) and 11 parts (for a total of 22 sounds) with 16 steps per part.

Drum machine controls

The controls from left to right are:

  • Clear - Clears the current pattern. By default all the gates are set to on when clearing a pattern
  • Copy - Copy pattern
  • Paste - Paste over pattern
  • Shuffle - Sets the amount of shuffle for the current pattern
  • Machine select - Selects between the 808 and 909 sound set. When the button is lit the 808 sound set is selected for the pattern.
  • Volume - Sets the basic volume for the drum machine

Instrument part selectors:

  • Bass drum
  • Snare drum
  • Low tom (909) / Low conga (808)
  • Mid tom (909) / Mid conga (808)
  • High tom (909) / High conga (808)
  • Rim shot
  • Clap
  • Crash (808) / Cowbell (909)
  • Cymbal
  • Open hihat
  • Closed hihat

The open and closed hihat parts are mutually exclusive, meaning that the closed hihat will cut-off an open hihat, just like on the original 808 and 909.

The pattern has 16 step triggers, each with three states:

  • Off - no hit is sounded on the step
  • Normal - a hit is sounded on the step with normal volume
  • Accented - a hit is sounded on the step with accented volume

Session manager

In this view you can manage your sessions by loading, saving and deleting them.

  • Saving a session - Tap the Filename field and enter a name for the session. Then tap the Save button.
  • Loading a session - Tap the name of a session you wish to load, then tap Load.
  • Deleting a session - Tap the name of a session you wish to delete, then tap Delete. You will be asked to confirm the deletion of your session.
  • Renaming a session - You can rename a session by loading the session and then saving it under a different name. Then delete the first session.

Tip: It's possible to load sessions on the fly, even when a song is playing. This is a good way to get around the 24 pattern barrier as you can split your song into multiple session and load them live from the session manager.

 

 

 

 

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