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Psyren is a live performance VST host guitar pedal that is state-of-the-art on the inside and old-school on the outside. Read more

Madison, WI Sound
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$1,186
pledged of $35,000 goal

Funding Canceled

Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on September 16, 2014.

Psyren is a live performance VST host guitar pedal that is state-of-the-art on the inside and old-school on the outside.

Madison, WI Sound
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About this project

Good news! This campaign is being canceled!

Wait, what?

This campaign has attracted a LOT of attention and feedback from musicians around the world. They love the core idea of Psyren: studio grade sound processing available on-stage without the complexity of studio grade sound processing.

State-of-the-art on the inside, old-school on the outside.

The guiding principle of this company is to be customer driven. You'll hear this on our August 20 workshop video, for example. Well, we're listening to the experts... you! 

You love our software. In fact you're crazy about it. You love the control surface we've designed. We're keeping these. We're redesigning other aspects of the Psyren to deliver an even better product.  

Keep checking our website, friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date.

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Here's audio from our September 10 Psyren workshop! Thank you to all artists who participated!

Sorry! We're having trouble displaying this audio file because Adobe Flash Player is disabled.

Inside Psyren there is the heart of a high performance audio workstation. But, you will notice in the picture below there are no tiny buttons with lists to scroll through, function selectors, secret handshakes or anything else that wouldn't be at home on an old school pedal.

This is the virtue of Psyren. 

State-of-the-art on the inside. Old school on the outside.

(update 8/20/2014 - Guitarist's Workshop - Hands on with Psyren)

How do you tell it what to do?

Psyren is a VST host. That is, it runs audio processing plugins written to the VST standard. Try a search on "VST plugins" (with quotes). When we wrote this, Google answered:

Compare this to "LV2 plugins" (with quotes), another type of sound processing plugin:

The big difference in the numbers suggests just how dominant the VST standard is.

Great, so really... how do you tell it what to do?

(A video walk through depicting this section is available here)

Psyren creates its own WiFi hot-spot. Using a WiFi enabled device such as an iPad or Android tablet, you connect to the Psyren hot-spot and open a special web page in your browser. You don't need a special "app," just a web browser.

The pedal board you were using last pops up, like in the next image.

This looks like a set of pedals and cables because that's what it is. Psyren turns each VST plugin into a virtual pedal. All your pedals live in a sortable and searchable "closet." Adding a pedal to a board is done simply by dragging the pedal out of the closet. 

Connect pedals together like you do in the real-world. Just drag the output of one pedal into the input of another like in the image below.

Setting up your boards is the only time you need a device other than the Psyren itself. All audio processing is done inside the Psyren box.

Normally, with studio-grade technology comes studio-level complexity. VST plugins might have many settings to control. Psyren lets you pick only the ones you want to see. Notice the pedal below is blank. To its right are the controls available for it.

You can vary these controls directly. Psyren is "live" all the time. You hear the effect of anything you change as you change it.  Or, tap the cross-like icon and that control becomes a knob on the pedal. (click for video example ) We will explain the gear-like icons later on.

Psyren has gig bags to help you organize your boards. Unlike the real-world, your boards can be in more than one gig bag at the same time. Select a gig bag for "Friday Night" with just the boards you want to play at that gig. In the next image the board called Basic Crunch is being added to the Friday Night gig bag.

Two of the ten foot switches on the Psyren box are dedicated to "next" and "previous" boards chosen from your active gig bag.

Another of the ten foot switches is dedicated to a true analog bypass.

The remaining 7 along with 3 physical knobs can be assigned functions using the gear-like icon mentioned above. Tapping the gear icon next to a control and then turning a knob (or depressing a foot switch) on Psyren maps the software control onto the physical control. Anything you change on the physical box is updated on your tablet live (if it happens to be running the Psyren UI). (click for demonstration) (click for switch demonstration)

Psyren also allows two standard expression pedals to be directly connected. This is like adding up to two more physical knobs.

We hope to make Psyboxes in addition to Psyren. Psyboxes are "dumb" pedals that expand the number of mappable controls. MIDI support would be our first stretch goal with your help.

How do you hook up Psyren?

There are many ways to connect the Psyren to your rig. Psyren has two guitar level inputs and two guitar level outputs. The next 3 images show your options.

One or two mono instruments running through the same or different digital effects chains.
One or two mono instruments running through the same or different digital effects chains.
A mono instrument with an effects loop between up to two digital effects chains.
A mono instrument with an effects loop between up to two digital effects chains.
A stereo instrument. Left and right can be the same or different digital effects chains.
A stereo instrument. Left and right can be the same or different digital effects chains.

What is the difference between Psyren and multi-effects pedals?

We see several fundamental differences:

  • Ease-of-use matters: There were a lot of MP3 players around before the iPod. What made that device outshine all others was its user interface. Above we described the Psyren UI. At every step, the user experience mimics real pedals and boards.
  • Psyren software is really upgradable: Multi-effects pedals might add a few more effects but Psyren is based on the most widely used effects standard of all. Thousands of effects, modelers, cabs and other types of VSTs are available.
  • Psyren hardware is really upgradable: Psyren is a general purpose computer with USB ports to which Psyboxes and other devices can be attached. Stay tuned for an update to this page showing a technology demonstration to see what we mean.

Where we've been

When this campaign ends, our team will have been actively working on Psyren for a year. Here are a couple of snaps of our progression. More can be found on our web site.

Our first physical prototype had a separate computer. We thought we might go in this direction initially.
Our first physical prototype had a separate computer. We thought we might go in this direction initially.
This is our second generation prototype. The separate computer has been eliminated in favor of an all-in-one box. During performance you're in the zone - the zone doesn't have room for computers and computer interfaces.
This is our second generation prototype. The separate computer has been eliminated in favor of an all-in-one box. During performance you're in the zone - the zone doesn't have room for computers and computer interfaces.
Our third generation prototype being played while filming our Kickstarter video. The most visible difference from generation 2 to 3 was increasing the vertical gap between the first and second row of buttons to prevent accidentally stepping on two.
Our third generation prototype being played while filming our Kickstarter video. The most visible difference from generation 2 to 3 was increasing the vertical gap between the first and second row of buttons to prevent accidentally stepping on two.
Alejandro showing the difference between the G3 plywood prototype and a 3D printed version. Notice how much smaller the actual product would be. We're currently building generation 4 which replaces the LED segmented displays with dot matrix screens.
Alejandro showing the difference between the G3 plywood prototype and a 3D printed version. Notice how much smaller the actual product would be. We're currently building generation 4 which replaces the LED segmented displays with dot matrix screens.
Here's Peter with one of our developer boxes. You know you want one of these with custom metalwork!
Here's Peter with one of our developer boxes. You know you want one of these with custom metalwork!

Where we're going

We're continuing to add features maintaining a consistent and easy-to-use interface, The VST plugin ecosystem is added to every day. This means 3rd party developers keep pushing the capabilities of Psyren forward. Here's a truly exciting part... the computer nature of Psyren blends seamlessly into being a guitar pedal, that's true. Remember a high performance general purpose computer is still there. This means you are compatible with things and features nobody has thought of yet. In fact, the existence of Psyren might even spur the development of new technologies. The future is wide open!

Who we are

Psyren is a collaboration between Perry and Karu, both from the CS department at UW-Madison; Matt - an audio software veteran; and Mitch, Peter, Alejandro, and Yusef - our four insanely energetic and talented engineers. 

Here is a bit more detail. More can be found on our web site.

- Psyren was conceived by Perry Kivolowitz. He won an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement in 1996. He became interested in audio processing in the late '90s while working on audio for a visual effects product.

- Karu Sankaralingam researches ways to build better microprocessors and has been covered in the New York Times and Wired magazine. He is also a dedicated teacher.

- Matthew Logan has been working with computer audio since the late 70's. Since then he has earned dual degrees in Classical Guitar Performance and Physics, and writen software for game audio, MIDI and Audio/Video editing, and software synthesis.

- Mitchell Lutzke is responsible for bringing intuitive guitar effect control to the browser, optimizing the interface for use on iOS, Android, Mac, and PC. He studies Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

- Peter Procek works on the development of the Psyren hardware and firmware. Studying computer engineering and computer science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, he comes from a background of working with both Atmel and Arm based microcontrollers.

- Alejandro Puente works developing Psyren's hardware and firmware. He has extensive experience working with microcontrollers, including the Arduino and LaunchPad. He is a computer engineering and computer sciences major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

- Yusef Sohail works on the synchronization model between the browser and backend Psybox software, as well as develops a custom DOM renderer for cross-browser support. He is currently enrolled in the Computer Science program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We are advised by working guitarists Thump Jenkins and Bruce Wasserstrom along with music industry legend Roy Elkins.

Specifications (current):

Base computer system:

  • 2.7 GHz dual core "Haswell" Celeron G1820
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 32 GB SSD
  • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi
  • 2 x USB 2.0 (1 used for WiFi - included)
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • HDMI
  • VGA / DVI
  • Gigabit Ethernet

Audio:

  • 24 bits per sample
  • 48 KHz stereo sample rate
  • 106 dB SNR
  • Gain adjustment

Controls:

  • True analog bypass
  • 2 x dedicated foot switches (Next and Previous board)
  • 7 x soft (mappable) foot switches
  • 3 x soft (mappable) knobs
  • 3 x displays

Connections:

  • 2 x 1/4" guitar level inputs
  • 2 x 1/4" guitar level outputs
  • 2 x TRS expression pedal inputs

Software:

  • User interface uses a standard browser such as Chrome®
  • iPad®, Android®, Windows®, MacOS® compatible
  • VST 2.4 / 3.6 both 64 and 32 bit plugins
  • List of included plugins being defined (there will be plenty)
  • For a list of plugin packages we have been using for testing please see here.
  • Our list of bundled plugins has begun here.

Risks and challenges

At the end of this Kickstarter campaign we will have been working on the hardware and software for a year.

We have more work to do in several areas.

First, we have to make it easier for users to install more VST plugins. Plugin suites have their own installers which we must execute on Psyren. The big challenge is we don't want you to be a computer user. We must find a way to hide Windows as much as possible. We are exploring several viable options for overcoming this challenge.

Second, we must navigate the process of certification, manufacturing and packaging. Each of these represent significant challenges to be overcome. We will be augmenting our staff with experts to help in these areas.

Third, the work of continuing to expand Psyren's feature set is an ongoing challenge. Our plan is to widen consultation with working musicians and to partner with VST plugin manufacturers where ever we can. More features, greater ease of use and reliable operation are our goals.

The above are real challenges. Our group includes industry veterans who have guided other hardware / software systems to market. We are very confident we are up to the task of bringing this innovative technology all the way home.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

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    About $10 USD

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    Booster - Stay informed! For a pledge of $10 we will add your name to our web site with our thanks. We will add your email address to our list for exciting updates.

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    About $35 USD

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    Clothed Booster - Receive a Psyren logo quality T-shirt. We keep you up-to-date on new developments. You will have our thanks on our web site.

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    Caffeinated Booster - Receive a Psyren coffee mug to contain your rocket fuel. We'll keep you updated on our ongoing development and express our thanks on our site as a Caffeinated Booster.

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    1 backer

    Clothed and Caffeinated Backer - Receive both a Psyren T-shirt and coffee mug. You'll get a place of honor on our website as a Clothed and Caffeinated Backer and of course will be kept up-to-date.

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    Hooded Backer - Receive a Psyren logo hoodie. You'll get a place of honor on our website as a Hooded Backer and will get our exciting updates.

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    Caffeinated Hooded Backer - You get the hoodie and a Psyren coffee mug. You'll get our updates and a place of honor on our web site.

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    About $200 USD

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    Mini Backer - You will receive a miniature 3D printed version of the Psyren with desk stand. Show your Psyren love with this unique reward. We will send you exciting updates and give you a place of honor on our site.

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    Pledge $325 or more
    About $325 USD

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    Jacket Backer - Receive a Team Psyren Varsity Jacket. The Psyren logo will be embroidered on the back and your first name or initials embroidered on the front. Send us a photo of you in the jacket and we'll post it online! We will add your email address to our list for exciting updates and of course give you a place of honor on our web site.

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    Pledge $400 or more
    About $400 USD

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    The Well Met Jacketed Backer - We add a private half hour gotomeeting with our founders and chief engineer to your varsity jacket. Use it for Q and A or explain to your spouse why you made a leap of faith in helping to bring about the Psyren revolution. You'll get a place of honor on our site and our updates.

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    Pledge $900 or more
    About $900 USD

    1 backer

    Early Adopter - Receive a Psyren to be shipped after our Silver, Gold, Platinum and Benefactor models. We will add your email address to our list for exciting updates. Why not push to the next level and get a customized background screen?

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    About $1,000 USD

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    Custom Early Adopter - We'll add a customized backdrop to your Psyren stage (where you set up your virtual pedal boards) making your Psyren unique. Your unit will be shipped after our Benefactor, Platinum, Gold and Silver sponsors. Get updates via email and a place of honor on our web site.

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    About $1,800 USD

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    Twofer Custom Backer - We add a second Psyren and customize both background screens. Share the joy of a Psyren with a friend! Your unit will be shipped after our Benefactor, Platinum, Gold and Silver sponsors. Get updates and a place of honor on our web site.

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    About $2,500 USD

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    Silver Sponsor - In addition to two Psyrens with a customized background screens, we add a custom designed foot controller (Psybox). Pick a small number of switches, knobs, displays and expression pedals for your own custom configuration. We'll bend the metal just for your design. Get updates, a place of honor on our web site and priority shipping. You'll also be one of only 30 people (besides us) to be on a private forum where your input on future directions will flow directly to us.

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    About $3,500 USD

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    Gold Sponsor - Own a Psyren with a serial number from 6 through 20 (by date of pledge) along with a Team Psyren jacket. We'll engrave your name into your Psyren.
    Get our updates and your name will figure prominently on the Psyren website as one of our Gold Sponsors! You will get priority shipping. You'll also be one of only 30 people (besides us) to be on a private forum where your input on future directions will flow directly to us.

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    About $4,000 USD

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    Platinum Sponsor - Serial Numbers 2 through 5.. A coveted super low serial number from two through five (by date of pledge) with your name engraved into your Psyren. You will figure prominently on the Psyren website as one of our Platinum Sponsors! *** You will also receive one of the hand-made Psyren prototypes because you were instrumental in helping us come to market. *** You will get priority shipping and of course, updates on progress. You'll also be one of only 30 people (besides us) to be on a private forum where your input on future directions will flow directly to us.

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    Benefactor - Serial Number 1..

    There is only one serial number 1. Your name will be engraved into your Psyren. A member of the Psyren Team will fly to you with your system and formally present it to you along with a varsity jacket at a modest party for you and up to 12 friends.

    Your name will get THE top billing on Psyren website as our one and only benefactor!

    *** You will also receive one of the hand-made Psyren prototypes because you were instrumental in helping us come to market. *** You'll also be one of only 30 people (besides us) to be on a private forum where your input on future directions will flow directly to us.

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Funding period

- (53 days)