New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

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John Bowen
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by John Bowen » Sun Nov 15, 2015 11:08 pm

OK, I will check...

Scott_V
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by Scott_V » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:51 am

I appreciate the honest description of the current arrangement with the software developer, and the recent discussion on potential solutions to expedite the bug fixes we all require, and the upgrades that some desire. I share a couple of thoughts/suggestions in that regard from my perspective:

1) I would submit for consideration (as I had first suggested on March 6, 2015 in the “Solaris Bug Reports” forum with the thread entitled “Solaris Bug List”), that there should be a single consolidate list of known software bugs, and that be shared here in the forum in a file that we can all reference. This helps us users not “re-discover” known problems, and prevents wasted time trying to troubleshoot something that already has been characterized. This list also should also have any known “workarounds” (which would help the users mitigate some of the problems). A consolidated bug list also would clarify our expectations on what needs to be resolved in future software updates in regards to bug fixes.

2) Utilizing a software developer to maintain a complex instrument such as the Solaris without any compensation is not a business model, it’s a hobby. There may be more to this arrangement than described, but it appears to be unsustainable if it’s on a non-interference basis with him trying to make a living through other paying employment. Yes it could be a labor of love towards the Solaris, and certainly generous of Holger to volunteer his time, but the inevitable consequences are playing out.

Note: In regards to the brief discussion about an open-source code option, I would concur that the complexity of DSP coding (having done some myself) would not be practical at all for this relatively small user community.

3) In my opinion, the bug fixes should be given first and top priority to any work from the developer. The items identified in the bug list (see item #1) should be broken into development cycles, and over the course of a few timely releases the bug list should be methodically worked down. In my opinion bug fixes are the responsibility of the company/developer (to meet advertised/listed instrument performance specifications); although in this case that may be unrealistic based on the arrangement made with the new software developer. As for any fiscal compensation in advance, I defer to what John believes is required to expedite a timely release of fixes.

Note: it has been mentioned previously, and I concur, that the Solaris is currently not a stable enough instrument for live performance.

4) Features, upgrades, and other enhancements should be given second priority, and likewise be captured in a consolidated list within the user forum. John can query the user community on the most desired items for consideration, and with discussions with the software developer can propose upgrade paths (including time & cost estimates).

I’m an owner, user and advocate of the Solaris, and want to see both John and this unique instrument thrive. To do so, in my opinion, requires our limited user numbers to further support this activity, but in return we need to be assured that we are also being supported.

Thank you,
Scott

reno
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by reno » Sat Nov 21, 2015 4:36 pm

koenig wrote:OpenSource is not a silver bullet - it only works when there is enough momentum and general interest. Having just a few hundred users, out of which only a handful are programmers, would make the whole thing moot.
Open Source doesn't imply free of charge and amateur/volunteer programmers.
It's about control not price : it ensures that as a user you can always in theory hire any competent programmer and ask them to work on a fix (if you can't do it yourself) given the source.
With proprietary software, the owner can say "nope, won't happen" for whatever reason, get hit by a bus or close shop, and there's nothing you can do about it.
koenig wrote: I forgot the most serious argument against OpenSource here: this is a DSP solution, not your general Java hack. It is a totally different beast and to come by good DSP programmers is not an easy task.
But the good news is that unless I'm missing something, most of the bugs we're talking about are not in the DSP (sound generation) code, they are in the control logic (MIDI, menus, display...) which is probably very vanilla C or other procedural language, with much lower skills requirements.

I can see very well why SonicCore, Holger or even John wouldn't want to open source the DSP code: it's the secret sauce that makes the Solaris sound so good. This is where all of the R&D value probably is.

Menus, MIDI and other "boring" but essential code ? More of a burden than an asset I think : it would be much easier to make a case for open sourcing those parts (which happen to be where all the bugs are, AFAIK).

ostrovitch
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by ostrovitch » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:42 pm

I don't consider users need to pay to get a synth without bugs.
Anyway I would be ok to pay 100$ to get a Solaris without any bug and without any new
feature, instead of keeping a Solaris "as is" forever.

For now I don't want to consider about any new feature, because I know new features often generate bugs. The most important for me is to get a Solaris debugged.

Once everything would be fixed, I could consider about new features, and of course, I would
be OK to pay for them, but inside the price of the new features it's important to count
they need to be bug free.

inaheartbeat
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by inaheartbeat » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:10 pm

I thought we were going to start receiving some updated software at this point. It has been far far too long and something absolutely should be done about this. There is talk of build 5 and a custom Solaris with a larger keyboard. That is all interesting but we deserve much more mature software. Whatever arrangement was supposed to happen is just not working now.

koenig
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by koenig » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:54 am

inaheartbeat wrote:I thought we were going to start receiving some updated software at this point. It has been far far too long and something absolutely should be done about this. There is talk of build 5 and a custom Solaris with a larger keyboard.
I consider these totally unrelated issues; one is a matter of "business as usual" (cranking out units, which in essence is paying for parts, assembly and transport and matching the income to that) and the other is a development effort with all that such an enterprise entails: fixing bugs (<10% of the time) and then regression testing (90%). None of the bugs have had any impact on the sound or the playability for me.

The larger keyboard is a bespoke model and is payed for by one specific customer. Even if this was to be offered in the future is is more of a manufacturing issue than a development effort; point being that whatever you choose to do with the case around the synth, the sound will not be affected as you can reuse all the electronics unchanged.


It has been rather obvious from the start that the Solaris project is a work of love from John, not a way to financial independence. It is also very obvious that he is more than aware of the bugs and also trying to find a way to get them fixed for us. I strongly suspect that whatever we pay, will be well matched by him.

One has to remember that this is also basically a one man effort which means that there can not be the financial muscles as you would find from a multinational. This is quite obvious since you can only buy the Solaris by pre-payment.


Bottom line is that at least I am very happy with what I have. It is the single most competent synth on the market, bar none. A Nord G2X might in a sense be a match, as any modular, but neither of these are playable in the sense that the Solaris is. There are bugs, agreed, and it costs an arm and a leg, that is true, but just the knowledge that I have one of the coolest synths on the planet gives me a warm, cuddly feeling inside. Call me a snob... :lol:

There will eventually be a new version of the OS and I will happily pay for it. Give the man a break and perhaps even some encouragement; he deserves it.

chowderdoof
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by chowderdoof » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:20 am

New User here and Im still exploring the solaris but as an Alesis Andromeda User Im keen to pay for stable OS updates and to continue to support this amazing Synth with future feature updates.

I think a couple of hundred dollars is not unreasonable to continue to iron out bugs and another couple to implement feature requests and better to do it sooner than later!

Any chance we can have an update on the beta and maybe start the investment process?

Kaching!

chowderdoof
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by chowderdoof » Sat Mar 19, 2016 10:43 am

I dont understand my Paypal donations for Solaris updates keep bouncing back - please take my money and release the beta update ;)

stratocraig
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by stratocraig » Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:33 am

I'm wondering whether some transparency about the business model might alleviate the discomfort felt by many here. is John Bowen Synth Design intended to be a part-time, run from home business or a sustainable, long-term enterprise designed to grow to a larger scale? I ask because the resourcing chain seems so utterly fragile.

Moog can't provide transparent wheels? That sets back things by many months. The last developer left? Holger has other things he has to work on? Given the immense hit-by-a-bus business risk entailed by dependency on a single individual in Germany, is no one else competent to write the code? Are we dependent on the good will of one overtaxed individual who isn't getting paid? Now we're into much longer delays, as the OS 2.0 feature set appears to be. If Sonic Core isn't making money, does that threaten any future development of Solaris?

Is the cash flow so small that any disruption threatens the viability of the business? Has there been any effort to find partners or investors who could provide the resources, industry support, strategic planning or other assets that would make Solaris a more widely available product? Is that even considered a desirable outcome?

This post is not intended as an attack on John's integrity. I don't think the fact that dates come and go over years (or are not available even in any kind of timeframe estimate) is something he desires, but powerlessness seems like a theme that often recurs. If John is somewhat powerless, then the owners are entirely.

I still believe that the Solaris is the most powerful polyphonic all-in-one hardware synthesizer yet invented. If OS 2.0 is delivered, it has a potential future to become truly transformative and upend assumptions about hardware synthesizers for many years to come. This is particularly true in an era that seems to be dominated by recreations of instruments from 30 or 40 years ago. Solaris 2.0 is in the best possible position to show what a hardware synthesizer is truly capable of in the hands of a visionary.

I'm completely happy to front the $200 or whatever it is to get this pony across the finish line. Perhaps my comments will be overtaken tomorrow by the announcement of the OS 2.0 release. Maybe it's in final beta testing right now. I definitely think that the owners of a $4000 product exhibit extraordinary patience and good will. I'm really trying to be one of them.

Craig

niversen
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by niversen » Mon Jul 04, 2016 6:55 pm

A slightly different perspective.... If you power the synth on, program it to your heart's content, and then play the resulting sounds from the Solaris's keyboard, you will likely not experience much in the way of bugs or needed features. It outputs glorious sound from its digital IO or the analog IO. Run it into a mixer or record it in your DAW.

I don't make EDM with it, so it may have many MIDI shortcomings that don't work for that crowd. I use Cubase for a massive orchestral template, and have never messed with a single NRPN. It might be fun to do that, but I haven't time to mess with that, and I haven't lost any sleep over it. The audio from the Bowen records GREAT.

I think of the Solaris as a primarily a performance instrument. As a self-contained box of sonic goodness, ready to accept keyboard performances, you will be hard pressed to beat it. I messed with all the MIDI stuff in the beginning, figured out where the guard rails were, and then set to playing it. Used this way, multi-timbrality and such things are really not that important. With software like Mainstage, Max, etc, you can easily fit the Bowen into a live rig in a way that makes sense.

If your reference is a Kronos or something, then yes, the Solaris is missing a lot. But there's a wonderful thing about the Solaris..... It doesn't sound like a Kronos, and isn't meant to. It sounds like a Solaris. And that is very special and valuable. I can't imagine that this is an "only" synth for many owners, and it easily fits into a live or studio rig. Not the same way as a Virus or something, but does it need to? Use it for what it is great at, and use other things for what they are great at.

My Solaris is for playing - it has a lovely 61 note keyboard - it isn't a module. You put a silky, awesome mod wheel, a joystick, and a full ribbon on something that is for live keyboard playing. I think the design speaks to the intended use in the same way as the little tabletop mono synths speak to theirs - sure, you can play them from another keyboard, but most use them for live manipulation of sequenced data. I like them both, but "horses for courses" and all.

I'll happily take a firmware update - I've noted several irregularities in this forum myself. But despite all those, the Solaris still makes awesome noises every time I play it. And if I don't ever get an update, it still makes rich, wonderful sounds, and is a keyboard player's dream from a sound and control perspective. The Solaris is a boutique, bespoke, limited production instrument, made by a player for other players. In exchange for accepting the limitations that may imply, we all get something of much greater value - a unique and special voice. That may not be for everyone, or a set of trade offs that make sense in other musical contexts. But played from its own keyboard, the Bowen is very special indeed.

stratocraig
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by stratocraig » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:22 am

No disagreement at all that the Solaris is an amazing instrument, and by no means is it attempting to compete with sample-based workstations. I certainly have not regretted the purchase. Almost any feature I can think of (including multi-timbrality) that I have raised appears to be on the 2.0 feature list, and I like lots of other people are crossing their fingers. I do stand by my comment that having one guy in Germany writing the code on a part-time volunteer basis (I am basing that solely on John's prior comments) is a big risk to schedule and completion, as someone who has written a lot of code.

I think there is enormous potential for widespread adoption with an updated, stable OS. Only John can decide whether a low-volume boutique business model is what he wants, of course.

John Bowen
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by John Bowen » Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:09 pm

Hi Everyone,

Just back from vacation - I’ve been ‘offline’, so I haven’t been on the forum until just now.

Craig makes some very good observations, and I could write a lot of specific answers (for example - yes, I’ve had several interested parties contact me over the years who wanted to take the Solaris to a bigger level, shall we say)...but the overall feeling of powerlessness was fairly accurate - until about February of this year (2016). At that time, Holger and I reached a new agreement wherein I now have all of the source code needed to make changes independently of any Sonic Core work. Coincidently (or as fate would have it), a Solaris owner who is very experienced in coding contacted me to see if he could be of help to address the numerous items on the bug list. He is now working on the Blackfin code, and I expect there will be a number of releases over the next several months as he addresses things in a priority list we have.

In addition, efforts are currently in progress to move production to California, where I will have a more reliable and stable situation, less dependent on the variances of multiple sub-contractors.

To sum up - I am now in a vastly improved situation regarding the updating and improvement of Solaris, and, though it will still take time to get to the v2.0 level you seek, I am quite confident this will be achieved.

Cheers,
john Bowen

chowderdoof
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by chowderdoof » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:40 pm

John Bowen wrote: To sum up - I am now in a vastly improved situation regarding the updating and improvement of Solaris, and, though it will still take time to get to the v2.0 level you seek, I am quite confident this will be achieved.
Good to hear things are looking up John - it sounds like a lot of challanges, frustration and setbacks have been overcome to even to get to the stage that you can work toward bug fixes and a new os so your latest update is very positive news.

I think people have a great love for the Solaris and want to continually support you and your work with your amazing synth!

You questioned financial support in this thread for future updates and many people agreed to this and dont think its unreasonable. With the new agreement and access to modify the source code and a passionate coder keen to fix bugs wouldn't this be an ideal time to reconsider fiancial support from your clients for a service their will to pay for?

John Bowen
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by John Bowen » Thu Jul 14, 2016 4:16 pm

I think that bug fixes shouldn’t be something the customer has to pay for - when we start to focus on v2.0 features, I’ll revisit the “financial support” idea.

scope4live
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Re: New version of the OS ? Soon or not ?

Post by scope4live » Sun Jul 17, 2016 10:21 am

I have total confidence in future OS revision and would be happy to pay.

Most important is how the synth performs.
5 years now I've been beating this synth up.

Already wearing the paint off.... :roll:

But the constant quality sound has improved slightly as the synth gets a TC Fireworx and Scope DSP Plug ins.
You'd be proud of the Zawinul (Barbary Coat) Rind Modulation sounds I get.

Weather Report never knew this tune was a crossfit/dance favorite.
Folks seem to love to dance while clubbing now more than ever.


Cheerz Jon

Solaris RULES
Magnus C350 on a TV Dinner Tray Stand with 2 x PigNose Amps for stereo


https://soundcloud.com/jimmyvee/wormhole

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