A new way to play, with Ableton Live
A new way to play, with Ableton Live
As seen in
Envision Sound, Technologies is a musician-producer-tech startup formed to bring to the public its first product, called Strata, a next-generation control system for Ableton Live 9 & 10.
The goal of this campaign is to raise the funds needed for the first run of manufacturing.
These first edition's of the Strata hardware units are the reward. We have working prototypes, and manufacturing-ready designs. What we're seeking to do is pre-sell the hardware before it's made.
A More In-Depth Introduction
Strata is made for Pros, but any one could learn it. It's far more than a MIDI controller. It's a system. It's a method.
Perhaps a bold move, with Ableton already having its Push 2, and with the legacy of Novation and Akai gear, such as the launch pads and APCs, following in the footsteps of equipment like the Monome and MPCs, but Envision Sound asserts that Strata’s unique approach improves the fluidity and possibilities of music creation and performance in ways otherwise not currently available.
Envision Sound calls Strata a control system, as opposed to a MIDI controller, because it is comprised of two parts: the purpose-designed MIDI controller, and the control surface script which handles MIDI data between the controller and Live- which is where the magic happens.
The control surface script is built on custom nativeKONTROL scripting and the ClyphX Pro Library, by the developer Sam “Stray” Hurley, but offers a functional approach and many functional details not found elsewhere.
Strata, and Envision Sound, are the sole endeavor of Galen Farrel, a longtime music and technology enthusiast, whom designed and built the system and the prototypes largely independently, self-funded, and self-taught.
“This product is the result of approaching 15 years of passion and dedication to the love of all things music, and I’m thrilled to have taken it this far of my own accord and perseverance, to the point of a working prototype, the manufacture-ready design, and the custom software script”. – Galen Farrel, Envision Sound, Technologies
Neither the Ableton Live nor ClyphX Pro softwares are included with Strata, but both are REQUIRED for Strata to function.
Max for Live is required for a few of Strata's functionalities; specifically, tempo, reverse, and the uni-polar one-knob bus filter. The main features of Strata can, however, still be used without Max for Live.
The necessary USB cable for connecting Strata to the computer will be included with each order.
See Strata in Action: Sessions, and Tutorials
These videos are in playlists. Use the navigation arrows to the right and left of the play button to skip through them. Click YouTube to open and see the full playlist.
Sessions: This playlist has two live demos of Strata put to use.
Tutorials: This playlist is the full tutorial series, which walks through Strata's features and functions.
More demos: The very first set recorded.
The following images are linked to the post on our website. Click to open.
How Strata Stacks up Against other Products
This article compares the feature sets of these two devices to help illustrate how Strata differs.
Try Before You Buy
Strata looks familiar, but, really, it's different. We set out to make it so anyone interested can get a feel for what it's like and what is can do, so we made a virtual version. With out the tactility of the real thing, it doesn't measure up, but nonetheless, it does include the full feature set, and can allow you to give it a try before you buy.
The complete User Guide
Parallels the tutorials, and covers all functionally, included system requirements and installation instructions for Windows and OSX, in an indexed and internally-hyperlinked document, available online, and for download as PDF.
Strata's Development History
Details and Photos of Strata being designed, and made (the long version)
Prototype dimensions only
- 16 x 13.5 x 2 inches (counting the knobs)
- 40.64 x 34.29 x 5.08 centimeters
The Basis of Our Funding Goal
Our funding goal is based on an exhaustive cost analysis of the absolute minimum amount required to produce Strata. The primary costs are the materials and components Strata is made of, the biggest expense being the circuit board, and the tools required to make those components. Secondary costs include the shipping and handling of those materials and tools, and the packaging materials for shipping to the completed product to you, the customer.
Strata's price is set as an approximate 100% markup from the cost of materials to make it. In the case of our low-volume production, this markup excludes the cost of tooling, meaning that we're not passing the costs of the tools and equipment required to make Strata on to you in your purchase price. You can read about our low-volume production plan down this page.
The cost analysis excludes upfront earnings to Envision Sound, except only for a slight buffer to aid us in paying for potentially unaccounted-for miscellany. After costs and taxes, the goal is only enough for us to break even, and this excludes the personally-financed cost of development.
The cost analysis does, however, include enough to manufacture 56% more units needed then need. This is necessary to account for potential defective units, as well as provides us some inventory with which we can begin to grow our business by continuing sales. These sales will also be what allows us, in time, to recover the remainder of productions costs not covered by the initial funds from the goal. This remainder is accounted for a tooling costs at the bottom of the very bottom of this budget summary.
The approximate numbers of how our Funding Goal breaks down.
Shipping counts towards the funding goal. With the goal of $18,000, using the European price (which is about the average price between USA and elsewhere) of $600, including shipping, $18,000 / $600 = 30 units sold. If $100 per unit goes to shipping, then 30 units * $100 = $3,000. The Kickstarter & Payment Processing fee is 8%, so that's $18,000 * 8% = $1,440 ; for ease, round up to $1,500. Total cost for quantity of 50 units = $12,011 ; round down to $12,000. Minus $1000 for first 10 - Early-Bird Sales.
- $18,000 funding goal raised by approximately 30 sales at $600 each
- -$12,000 for 50 units at $240 each
- -$3,000 for shipping of 30 units at $100 each
- -$1,500 in Kickstarter & Payment Processing fees
- -$1000.00 for first 10 - Early-Bird Sales
- =$500 pre-tax
- $500 * approximately 10% California State Income Tax (Our income tax) =$50
- =$450 buffer, with approximately 20 units remaining as inventory available for sale.
- 20 units * $225 profit per unit post-10% Income Tax
- = $4,500 future profit potential, which would be used to recover tooling costs.
Plans for final improvements to the design
Planned updates to final controller layout. Full documentation coming soon, plus a few more additions.
Design for manufacture-ability and meeting costs has been validated at two scales of production, using two distinct approaches.
Our low-volume production method allows tooling costs to be kept way down. Tooling cost, the upfront costs of manufacturing the custom tools need to produce a products, such as injection molds, for example, can be huge, and so prevent many projects from ever getting off the ground.
During prototyping, Galen developed a system where he achieved near-success at a factory-quality product. Post-prototyping, he researched and tested methods of molding plastic that have proved effective, and uncovered the correct method of screen printing to use that, he is confident, will resolve the issues he had in prototyping.can
In this low-volume method, Galen is convinced,based on his past trial and error, and degrees of success, that he can effectively manufacture the factory-finish quality product- Strata- to you, making the funds necessary to get Envision Sound, Technologies into production to be hardly more than the cost of materials and parts.
This method will used CNC milled aluminium molds to cast exterior plastic parts of Strata out of polyurethane resin, the same material used to make the prototype. It will likewise use an aluminum mold to cast the keypad. This differs from how the prototypes were made in that they were made using soft, silicone rubber molds, which can make it challenging to achieve accurate results when casting large parts. Rigid aluminum molds will create consistent, pristine parts. To achieve hi-resolution screen printing of the text on Strata, a photosensitive polymer film will be used, and the exposure of the film, as well as the screen printing will be conducted under the most stringent control. This differs from the prototype which was screen printed with a t-shirt-grade, low-resolution photo emulsion screen, exposed under sunlight, in a non-controlled environment, i.e., Galen's driveway. These combinations of improvements can create the highest-quality of product.
This low-volume approach will be used for a minimum volume of 30 units, up to a maximum of 200, and as so, is how we will almost certainly manufacture Strata, as it aligns more closely with our potential number of backers.
Our funding goal covers costs for us to deliver 30 individual units of Strata.
In the circumstances that our production demands exceed our expectations, we are prepared. For volumes greater than 200, we can accommodate handing the entire production over to a contract manufacturer. In this scenario, we would work with RSP Inc., a reputable company who offers all of the needed processes in house, which has the benefit of efficiency when compared to working with multiple companies- one for the circuit board, one for the plastic parts, and so on. We chose RSP Inc because of their long-standing history in the industry, their competitive pricing, and clear and responsive communication, crucial to getting the job done right, and delivered to you.
About the Project's Creator
Galen Farrel is a music production enthusiast and lover of musical instruments, arrangement, sound design, and technology to advance the state of the art. He's been a practitioner of these arts for the past 15 years, and driven by the desire to fuse aspects of music technologies, he committed to creating what has become Strata, teaching himself the required skills as he went, including the engineering design of Strata's molded plastic case, and design for manufacturing processes. Galen's background in and desire to dynamically perform eclectic electronic and multi-instrumental music is at the heart of this project. You can read more about some of his publicly-available works in music here.
Working under the direction of, and in collaboration with Envision Sound.
Sam Hurley - nativeKONTROL (company) - ClyphX Pro (product) - Software Developer, Python & Ableton Live Specialist: Developer of Strata software control surface script, and consultant on the technical limitations of Ableton Live API.
George Reusser, computer engineer: Developer of Strata's electrical schematic, electrical components selection, circuit board layout design, and firmware, as well as consultant on circuit board manufacturer selection.
Find us on Social Media
Links to Strata in the Press (In no particular order)
Risks and challenges
Extensive measures have been taken to validate Strata's design and manufacturing processes, and confirm the supply chain, from parts and materials right down to packaging and delivery. Envision Sound is confident that risks and challenges are mitigated. The technology and manufacturing processes are proven, and Envision Sound (Galen) is confident her can deliver.
There are risks though, no doubt about it. The processes described in the low-volume production method section, haven't entirely been tested. Galen has not yet cast polyurethane in aluminum molds, he's only molded thermoplastics in aluminum (injection molding), and cast polyurethane (resin casting) in silicone molds. Likewise, he hasn't tested the photosensitive polymer screen printing, but only confirmed with industry professionals that it is indeed the correct means for this application. Galen has secured sources for all the necessary materials, but there is the very real chance that things could go array. Non-the-less, Galen believes the risk is minimal to the extent that he feels comfortable putting himself in a position off liability to have the opportunity to bring you the product, made at a high quality.
From the perspective of you, the potential backer, we understand there is a lot to consider. We anticipate that the biggest hurtle between us is trust. We want to earn yours. We say trust for a few reasons. Alongside the manufacturing challenges, Strata offers a complex and unique set of features that can be difficult to understand. On top of this, it looks familiar, but functions differently than similar looking systems. We understand. Trust us. The Strata prototype isn't perfect. Mistakes we're made learning the processes. Trust that the things that went wrong are sorted. What we will deliver is a factory-quality product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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- (30 days)