OP-Z and Orba ( Scales and Chords for the OP-Z)

I am a bad piano player, so i wished the OP-Z had a scale and a chord function. I also own an Artiphon Orba and it works together with the OP-Z like a charm. First i tried to connect them via a usb c to usb c cable, which did not realy work, because the Orba takes Power from the OP-Z and the Connection was gone after a view seconds. Then i tried it via Bluetooth an the midimittr App, which most of the time works fine. What works best for me is a powerbank powered Usb c hub plugged to the OP-Z and the Orba plugged into the hub. I have to connect them 3 - 4 times but when they connect it is stable. I set the Orba to single Channel and no MPE and the OP-Z to Channel 1 to active track. With the Orba beeing very cheap it is a bit like a scale and chord Module for the OP-Z. The Orba alone is fun too, but more for jamming and short loops because of it‘s limitation to 8 Bars. Orba and OP-Z are perfect teammates for me. I love using them together. Everyone who wishes the OP-Z has scales and a Chord function should consider the Orba. You will need a mobile device or a Pc to change the scale on the Orba, but I use my phone as a screen for the OP-Z, so that doesn‘t matter for me. Perhaps it will work fine with the Op 1 too, but I don’t own a Op 1 so I don’t know. The USB c MIDI Interface I use for the OP-Z does not work with the Orba.

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https://teenage.engineering/guides/op-z/master

Look under “chord progressions” for the OP-Z’s automatic chord detection.

My Orba works with my OP-Z USB-C/USB-C, no power bank or adapters are needed. Granted I haven’t tested how long it can last, but I don’t have battery or connection issues.

I was an Orba backer and I have to be honest that it is extremely disappointing for me, although I am happy yours is working so well for you. The Orba is a really well-designed physical tool and the tactile experience is great for drumming/sample triggers, but Artiphon have hindered it so much, lied in their original promises, and their support and communication sucks. I feel like they are 100% in on marketing Orba as a hip, Instagram-impulse musical gadget at this point.

I try to love my Orba as it is, even just as a pocketable drum machine I can tap on in spare moments, but there are a couple of things that are so frustrating about it.

  1. The app sucks and is buggy and they put out almost no content or updates for it.

  2. You cannot load samples or even edit premade packs on the Orba or mix and match premade sounds. You cannot change parameters or effects. Artiphon makes specific, highly limited sound packs which you can then preload into the Orba one at a time through the app. Tedious and opposes creativity.

  3. Bigger issue for MIDI connectivity with things like the OP-Z, you cannot select what notes you want to trigger or even choose from a variety of scales. You can only set the Orba to a major or minor (natural, I think) scale and it auto selects chords for that scale for its chord track.
    For this reason in particular, I don’t think the Orba is a good MIDI controller because it inhibits expression and creativity. You can’t get around these interval limitations modally when playing the Orba (like you could if you only had the white keys on a piano) because changing an octave is designed to be a multiple button press and slide on the playing surface. You only have a 7-note range unless you want to stop playing, press the button combo, choose the octave, etc. Why didn’t they put an octave +/- switch next to the volume +/- switch on the side, who thought this was good design?

  4. Back to the app sucking, the lack of configurable MIDI implementation drives me crazy considering the Orba is supposed to be all about expressive motion/gesture/touch and MPE. You can’t change anything on Orba without the app connected, and the app gives you essentially no control except to make sensitivity higher/lower, MIDI on or off, and to choose major or minor scale mode. Whenever I try to use Orba with my iPad or Orba or whatever I always end up frustrated trying to get it to play what I want it to and just end up using something else.

I’m not chiming in to hate on anyone having fun with the Orba, and for the price is definitely a very cool toy and usable in certain contexts as a MIDI device, but anyone thinking about getting one to use as a controller should be aware of these things and not expect Artiphon to change any of them. They pretty much ignore feedback. Oh yeah, they also advertised it as a Bluetooth controller for Windows, but it doesn’t work. Took me forever to get a developer to respond to me about this and they were like “Yeah it works with Mac but not with Windows, you have to use a cable for Windows.” Maybe it will one day." and they stopped answering my questions about why that feature is still advertised in the marketing.

I sincerely hope they eventually make some improvements. I love it aesthetically and it has so much potential to be a unique musical instrument.

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