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A8Manager v2.0: Interview On Making the Rossum Electro-Music Assimil8or Easier to Handle

Sample management isn’t fun. Especially, sample management on complex Eurorack modules with minimal screen real estate. Chris Roberts of Om Ohm Productions felt that pain and coded an open source, cross-platform app to handle samples and preset files on the Rossum Electro-Music Assimil8or.

Let’s get to know A8Manager v2.0 and talk to Chris about the software!

Rossum Electro-Music Assimil8or

First, let’s start with the basics: What is the Rossum Electro-Music Assimil8or Multi-Timbral Phase Modulation Sampler?

It’s a sampling powerhouse. Eight tracks of multi-timbral sampling operation, CV control over everything, configurable outputs (e.g., 8 mono, 4 stereo, etc.), 24-bit A/D and D/A conversion, mono or stereo sampling, and the list goes on and on and on.

The Assimil8or is so feature rich that Johno Wells of Modular World fame released an entire 23-episode YouTube deep dive series. Check it out.

Assimil8or Deep Dive Series

Now that we know the bottomless pit of functionality underneath the Assimil8or, let’s talk to Chris Roberts about his path to developing A8Manager and working within the Eurorack format.

Chris Roberts Interview

Modular Bias: Hey Chris, thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions about the release of A8Manager v2.

First, can you give me any brief on your modular background, how you got into the space originally and eventually to a place where you’ve developed a full blown preset application for a powerful sampler module?

Chris Roberts: In late 2019, after relying on computers for 30 years of making music, I was looking for a non-computer based [approach] and had settled on the Octatrack as a framework. Part of my setup was an external effects chain, to which I thought I might add a small eurorack case as part of the effects chain.

And well, we all know how that goes! By January I had filled two Doepfer 2×84 cases. Now I have 1596hp! I actually picked up the Assimil8or in the middle of the January, but my usage of it has been low. I started giving it some attention at the start of this year, and remembered some of the issues I had run into when preparing samples for it, on the computer.

Since my day job is writing software, I decided to write a tool to scan for, and fix, all the common issues. This is the component I refer to as the ‘Validator’ in the app.

One of Chris’ earlier Eurorack setups.

MB: How did you come about with the idea for the preset editor and how long has it taken you to build?

CR: Once I started looking at the contents of the SD card I saw the preset files, and then I decided to write the editor as well. Since 1990 most of my work has been in the audio/music software/hardware market, so I already had the knowledge base and experience to knock this out.

Professionally and personally I write software in C++ and use a toolkit called JUCE, which allows me to write code that compiles for multiple OS’s, and has strong support for audio. I started the project on July 15th, released 5 updates of the Validator by August 5th, and released the Editor on September 27th, so a little over 2 months total.

I am most excited to start adding/updating features, now that the basics are all in place.

I want to add some graphical based controls for editing the envelope and loop points, with an eventual overhaul of the entire UI. Along with the graphical waveform based loop editor, I’ll be adding audio playback for loop tuning.

Of course I am not (nor could I) reverse engineering the modules DSP, so playback will just be the raw audio. Suffice to say I have a long list of things to add, and I welcome any ideas that people have. To that end, it is open source, so others could contribute.

Chris’ current Eurorack setup. It’s grown just slightly.

MB: What are some of your favorite use cases of the preset editor?

CR: I think the Validator is really great, even though it’s simple. The module doesn’t really tell you when things are wrong, so it can be a real time saver.

And while the Assimil8or interface is really fast (kudos Rossum!) having a full screen editor offers even faster work. Being able to type in a value is always going to be quicker then turning a knob. 🙂 Having said that, the UI update will also have knobs/sliders/etc, offering both.

Finally, I think my favorite use cases are still to come, in the form of things like the ability to ‘bulk edit’, by selecting multiple controls and editing them all at once. Or applying an algorithm across the values of a set of controls. Or dragging and dropping multiple audio files, auto assigning them to channels or zones, depending where you drop them.

A8Manager Info

Version 2.0 is officially live with an improved UI. You can download the application at the Om Ohms Productions site or get more technical info on their Github repository.

Thanks for the chat Chris and for making such a fantastic resource for the Assimil8or and Eurorack communties.

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