OP-Z and Artiphon Orba

I haven’t seen posts about Orbas yet and mine just showed up, so if anyone has been considering ordering one I can confirm that an Orba can be used as a controller for the OP-Z. Velocity and pitch bend work, and the tilting function on the Orba can be used as well. Tapping on the Orba is a lot easier to use than the OP-Z keys, especially for drums/samples. I haven’t tinkered around enough with the MIDI to see if any other Orba controls (spin, shake, swirl, etc.) can be used with the OP-Z, but I imagine some mapping is possible.

The connection is direct USB-C to USB-C, no adapters needed. I am planning to experiment with bluetooth/iPad/AUM possibilities next and I will try connecting an OP-1 to the Orba with an iPad as a MIDI host as well.

The Orba has been finicky to work with so far and the Orba app/onboard sounds feel very limited and slow. It isn’t possible to switch between kits/synths on the Orba (or change how they sound), you have to load/unload one static preset at the time through the app and it has been tedious. Hopefully, Artiphon will focus all their energy into improving the app options next as the Orba definitely has serious potential as a pocketable music maker, but the nature of the static presets, limited scales, and app loading make it less flexible than something like a 33 K.O. for making unique music without any other gear/effects involved.

That said, 90% of my interest in the Orba was in having a small, wireless MPE controller for other gear and software. If it was only a controller without any onboard sounds or looping, then I would still say that Artiphon did a pretty amazing job for $100. If you would pay $100 to have it as just a controller, then I would recommend it.

I might make a video this weekend demonstrating what it is like to use the Orba with the OP-Z if I can find the time. If I do I will post a link in this thread for anyone curious.


Thanks for sharing!

Been waiting 8 weeks since i oaid for my orba. Have you used the bluetooth to controll ipad/iphone ?

I was in the 7000s for the reserve list. I planned to be a backer but something went wrong with that so I had to wait until they opened up orders, late July I think? I am on the west coast of the U.S. I feel bad that I got one before a lot of backers (judging from the Kickstarter comments), and I was pretty surprised when it arrived given the current efforts by the White House to annihilate the Postal Service.

I have tested it with a few iPad apps (Garageband, Koala, Model D, Synthscaper, a few others). Some connected in the app, but everything was routable through AUM. I will give Artiphon props for the Bluetooth accuracy, once it connects everything is very quick and responsive.
The Orba app has been really glitchy. I frequently change settings in the app but it doesn’t change settings on the Orba and sometimes when I connect to other apps the Orba app disconnects and I have to restart it to get it to recognize the Orba. This wouldn’t be too big of an issue except that you can only change scales in the Orba app (so far just Major/Minor, you can also select the key). It would be so, so much better if the app would let you custom map notes and switch between scales with a button combination on the Orba (like A + 1 + 2). The issue with scales and mapping is especially noticeable with drumming/sampling apps.

MIDI mapping the MPE gestures to CC#s has worked fine for me in terms of assigning values, but there are sensitivity issues that most gestures pretty pointless. Like a slight wiggle or press will either set a filter at 0 or at 100. This might be more dependent on the apps being used rather than on the Orba, and I might be able to improve it by adjusting more settings somewhere, but I have encountered the same issues across several apps. If the Orba app had a sensitivity slider for the various gestures and allowed for a latch/unlatch message it would be way more usable.

I haven’t had time to test it out in Ableton where I assume things will be a lot smoother because I can customize mappings and range values more precisely. Despite the issues I listed, I do still think it is pretty amazing for $100 and it is growing on me as its own little device. Their design team did a brilliant job and I feel fine walking around with it in my pocket and casually tapping out beats, unlike my OP-Z/OP-1 which I treat like faberge eggs because they cost as much as my car. It has the ability to be a serious musical tool if Artiphon allows it to be a little more customizable.

1 Like

Thanks for sharing. I video would be dope! If you get a chance. ◉‿◉