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Is Opsix user-friendly for totally blind users?

 
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KingJ
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Joined: 25 Sep 2007
Posts: 188
Location: United States

PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2021 2:30 am    Post subject: Is Opsix user-friendly for totally blind users? Reply with quote

i'm looking at possibly getting an Opsix to complete my keyboard set up. One thing that really peaked my interest about this synthesizer is all the knobs and hands-on controls. I currently own a Sequential Prophet Rev 2, Which is extremely user-friendly for totally blind people like myself. The Prophet Rev 2 has a few menus, but they are only one level deep and easy for me to memorize. is the user interface on the Opsix similarly easy to use for blind people?
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edgraaff



Joined: 20 Mar 2021
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2021 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a tough one, I'll try to answer in the context of: how useful is this synthesizer if the display and all indicator LEDs were broken?

The fun can be split up into two parts I think:

The first part is just playing the instrument. There's a keyboard, a mod wheel, pitch bend, so nothing new here. The sliders and knobs allow you to alterate the patch in some ways. The knobs at the top right for effects (I wish it was assignable to other functions though). All these things you can do without the neccity of vision. Patches can be assigned to the 16 sequencer buttons as shortcuts. So for this part you would be just fine.

The other part is in making patches. This is where it probably gets very difficult. Parameters of the operators (envelopes, wave shapes and such) are 'hidden' under the buttons (which are pretty small by itself already). So could you press the button for Level and adjust the envelope using the knobs? Well yes, but under this button are multiple pages with further settings. By pressing the Level (for example) button again, you cycle through the pages. The page you were on is remembered. So switching from the Pitch settings back to Level settings does not bring you to page 1 of the Level settings. Without a visual aid, I think it would be challenging to know on what page you are, as the result of turning the knobs isn't always clearly audible.
Also, since it has six operators, these settings are per operator. The "OP Select" buttons switch between them, where 6 LEDs indicate which one is active. Once again; without vision hard to tell which one is active. The top-right knobs are just very contextual.

So for the second part, creating patches, I would not recommend this device. I suppose you would find yourself lost in a maze, to find out what affects what.

Considering the above, I think you would have to decide whether it's worth the price tag. Personally, if I would only be able to use patches of others, it would take away a big part of the fun. In exploration, one finds out that FM can be unpredictable and has a lot of possibilities. It does come with complexity, way more than a subtractive synthesizer. Therefore there's not really another way than to put settings under menus, other than having hardware knobs for each (significant) setting.
Okay, the "Look Mum No Computer"s Sega Megadrive controller is an exception here. But that's a museum piece Smile
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KingJ
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Joined: 25 Sep 2007
Posts: 188
Location: United States

PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2021 12:23 am    Post subject: I am disappointed. Reply with quote

that doesn't sound very good at all. I was hoping it would be as easy to use as the Prophet. sounds like it might be as bad as a Montage. I wish companies like Korg and Yamaha would consider blind musicians when making their products. sequential and Moog have done a great job, and Moog has gone as far as making braille overlays for at least one of their products. I wish someone would make an accessible FM synthesizer. if the menus didn't cycle or wrap around I wouldn't have a problem navigating them. both the Montage and Opsix have this problem with wraparound menus. there isn't a single menu that wraps around on my Prophet Rev 2 and that one can be a pretty complex synthesizer with all the modulation slots, yet I can still use it.
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edgraaff



Joined: 20 Mar 2021
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2021 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear that. I'm not trying to spoil fun, rather trying to be as honest as possible to give some usable advice. It's actually my job to build software, where I'm quite picky about usability. I can understand why the Prophet Rev2 would be very usable and - hate to say it - an opsix or Digitone or Montage is not.

For manufacturers, I could imagine that paying attention to accessibility in product development is addressing a small percentage of the (potentional) customers you'll eventually have. I'd like to praise that other manufacturers actually DO spend time to make instruments accessible. I wasn't aware of that, pretty awesome!

Would it be more useful if the menu page isn't remembered? So for example switching from Level to Pitch settings always puts you on page 1? Even I think (for users with vision) that sounds like a good idea. It increases predictability. 1 tap = page 1, 2 taps = page 2, yeah why not? Doubleclicks were new for some of us 3 decades ago, but not anymore today Smile . It sounds very doable and would be something for Korg customer support to take into consideration.

But you're not there yet. FM comes with algorithms that determine which operators generate sound (carriers) and which ones affect frequencies of others (modulators). How these are setup or chained together, is the algorithm selection. There are 32 setups built in (and a way to customize it completely).
This isn't opsix related and just how FM synthesis works. The interface however, is by turning a knob. This is a rotary encoder, so it has no start or end you can feel. Also it is very smooth and has no sensible steps.

Have you considered a MEGAfm? It appears it has much more knobs, at least for everything that defines the sound. It has only 8 algorithms, which is much more doable. Although it seems pretty small.
There are tradeoffs though. You'll have to bring your own keyboard and reverb/delay. It seems to be more usable to achieve game-like sounds. Depends on what you're searching for whether this is for you. The sound it makes is totally different and wouldn't be for me, but it is FM after all.
Or settle for browsing presets only. Hey, isn't that what most actually did with the DX7?
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KingJ
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Joined: 25 Sep 2007
Posts: 188
Location: United States

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2021 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The algorithms are not an issue for me because I can memorize them or have details about them on an audio recording. The page button is the problem. if it didn't wraparound this synthesizer would probably be A whole lot more usable for me. also, Prophet Rev 2 style shortcuts in the modulation matrix would make it so much easier for me. I don't mind the encoders without stops on a synthesizer. my Prophet Rev 2 has a few of them and I don't have any trouble operating them. also I just programmed a Yamaha YC-61 for a friend and it has encoders without stops and they didn't cause me any problems. The only time that would be a problem is on a mixer. The live set pages on the YC-61 do wraparound, but there are only 20 of them so it's not a problem for me. it would be nice if Korg would add a mode where all menus would always start on page one instead of the page being remembered.
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