Touché by Expressive E (good for composers?)

Hello Composers, Mike here! :smiley:
So I have been checking out this expression controller for a while now, but I still am not sure it will be good for me as a composer. I can totally see the value for EDM and synthesizers. But I would love to add this amount of expression and emotion to cinematic and orchestral instruments! :slight_smile:

Do any of you have experience or at least tried this expression controller? Especially for adding emotion and movement to cinematic sounds and instruments.

Please share your opinion, thoughts and experience on this device. :slight_smile:

Sincerely,
Mikael “Mike” Baggström
Founder of professionalcomposers.com

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Just started researching it, actually, and might grab one one of these days.

Kind of looks like the best of wheels, sticks, and breath controllers rolled into one. Most importantly, unlike wheels etc, it can do percussive stuff, much like you can do with tongue technique with a breath controller - but maybe even more agile than that, since you have multiple fingers.

A bit like the bow of bowed strings instruments, turning the keyboard into a fingerboard… And on that note, it would seem more intuitive to me to use it with the right hand, but OTOH, I’m not great at playing melodies and chords on keyboards with my left hand… Easy enough to switch as needed, though. :smiley:

My first thought was to use a Touché together with the BBC2 (since I’m no big fan of the tilt and bite features), as an upgrade from the old wheels + aftertouch, but given the expressive capabilities of the Touché alone, I’d probably use the BBC2 only for actual wind instrument style playing, or if I really need multiple simultaneous dimensions of… extreme expression. :slight_smile:

The only downside I can think of is that a rig like this is going to be almost as difficult to play properly as “real” instruments… :slight_smile: I mean, once you’re past the basics on the cello, controlling bow speed, weight, or position is not impossibly difficult, nor is shifting with expressive slides, or vibrato - but to actually play well, you need to do all those things together in an accurate and expressive manner.

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It does seem very capable, and I actually like the idea of playing it like an instrument. Downside I see right now is that it can not send out standard CC but has to be connected to that plugin, which will then serve as a wrapper for other plugins. I do not like that.

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I am using it a lot and not only for my synths. I prefer using the Touché as alternative to the modwheel control for cc1 as for me it feels much more natural and I get more in the “flow” when using it. For my orchestral works I have setup also the expression and vibrato control for Cinematic Studio Strings to it.

You don’t have to work with the Lié software in order to use it as controller. You can also make profiles and assign midi cc to the controller and use it as a everyday controller.

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What?! I can assign CC output per “expression parameter” on Touché. This changes it for me, now I am seriously interested. :smiley:

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Apparently, it serves as a class compliant USB MIDI device when not using Lié, and CCs are configurable, so it should work with anything, just like the BBC controllers.
https://expressivee.happyfox.com/kb/article/70-what-are-the-standalone-capabilities-of-touch-se-and-touch/
The classic version has more options there, though; up to 8 CCs etc - but since it’s a 4-axis controller, I suppose that’s mostly relevant for directly controlling hardware synths, with no CC routing/transformation tools in between.

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It’s on my wish list now, the SE version that is. I think it will be a nice addition to my studio. Especially since I hate “programming expression” into my music and much rather perform it. :slight_smile:

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Right…! Just ordered one. :slight_smile:

Looking for demos, but most people are basically using it as a traditional MIDI controller, rather than playing it like an instrument. I get what’s going on, and see the potential, but I’m just not blown away by the resulting output for the most part.

Arthur’s own demos are among the best I’ve found so far, like this one:

BTW, there are some worrying comments suggesting that the Windows software has issues and is practically unsupported, but I don’t know the full story… Either way, not particularly important to me, as I just want those CCs.

Japanese review, showcasing various features:

Meanwhile, this guy decided to use the SE for everything it’s specifically designed NOT to do (vs the classic edition), in particular, CV. :smiley:

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I have a shopping cart waiting on Thomann, with this product, some mallets, sticks, brushes etc. that I intend to use for my own sound design recordings etc. :slight_smile:

PS. I usually just let a shopping cart with these kinds of products sit and wait for weeks…so I don’t impulse buy :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yeah… Had a tiny shopping cart there as well - so, I’m finally getting a dedicated violin tuner as well. :smiley: Impulse filter dropped the Warchal Brilliant strings, though, as I already have a Timbre set to try out. (Intro deal. Very expensive normally - but if they’re anything like Evah Pirazzi Golds, and last longer than two months, it might still be a win!)

Anyway, one should definitely keep a wishlist for sample libraries and other software! Regular massive sales on most of it, and of course, chances are items get dropped, or replaced by better options, while waiting for the right price.

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OT, but on the topic of expression. I have been thinking about choir libraries, and the best one in terms of “dynamic range” and expressivity is by my research East Wests latest one. Not talking rhythmic choirs here, but beautiful big chord type choirs. Your thoughts?

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Deep sampled and phase aligned, that is… Not easy to do well, but there are some good ones. I’ll have to look through the ones I have to refresh my memory on this…

IIRC, EastWest Hollywood Choirs is pretty agile in that respect as well. (And of course, actual, realistic sounding lyrics as well, if you put in the work.)

8Dio also has some choirs that respond incredibly well. Insolidus has some amazing recorded arcs, as well as vowel legato with modwheel expression that sounds pretty good already.

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Btw, I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts after you played with the Touché and experimented with different use cases. :slight_smile:

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[placeholder] A package has been delivered… :slight_smile:

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Arrg man, such a teaser! :stuck_out_tongue:
Now I expect a full review from you!

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Hardware!

Setup
Lié takes a very, very, VERY long time to scan plugins! Orders of magnitude slower than Cubase or Cantabile. (OK, I may have a few plugins installed…)

After that, it works… Sort of. I see what they mean by the Windows softare being broken. Lié/Windows seems half finished, has some “flat designitis” issues, and showing the plugin GUI just doesn’t seem to work at all, so there will be no synth editing inside Lié. Not cool. Of course, installing firmware and configuring MIDI CCs on the device seems to work, and that’s all I wanted anyway.

First impressions
Yes, this is a musical “instrument” that one needs to learn to play, and yes, having played cello, violin or similar might help a bit. To make proper use of this device, you’ll need to come up with some different finger/hand/arm techniques, in order to play smooth swells, tremolos, percussive envelopes and whatnot, in a consistent, controlled, and expressive fashion.

Playing technique
Smooth swells and sustained notes can (obviously) be played with the whole hand on the pad, and the sensitivity set to low. This is where it basically works as a (very good, but still) two-axis modwheel.

However, you can still create smooth output with higher sensitivity settings, if you use your relaxed fingers a soft suspension buffer, and do the actual work with the weight of your arm - very much like violin bow technique! The upside of that technique is that you can now combine these smooth swells with percussive finger tapping techniques for very sharp transients, or “multi-finger” taps for more rounded “thuds.”

Another upside of the “soft fingers” approach is that you can now apply something a bit like cello vibrato, or violin arm vibrato, to create smooth tremolo effects. Large, easy to control motions of the arm are transformed into controlled pressure variations at the fingertip(s), which allows you to “overlay” tapping, sliding etc while doing this.

Another trick for smooth swells is to slide your fingers along the pad, instead of varying the weight/pressure. Since the pad has one axis in each end, that will “crossfade” between the two. Combined with thumb/finger tapping, I can see some serious live dubstep wubbage happening this way. Or maybe overblown jazz flute.

Initial conclusion
This thing will require some experimentation and training to come up with practical playing techniques, but the expressive potential is HUGE - probably way beyond that of breath controllers. It’s perfectly possible to just disable the envelopes and LFOs of a synth and play anything from smooth swells through rhythmic patterns with 32nd notes directly instead. It’s tricky and unforgiving at first, but I believe that’s where the true potential of the Touché begins, and I’ve just barely scratched the surface.

Sidenote
I want all of UVI’s stuff! Naturally, Falcon 2 for the occasional advanced sound design adventure, but Whoosh FX is THE tool I would have wanted for The Captain, and Relayer looks like my next go-to delay. I’ve been using STA Delay for that progressive tube warmup of the feedback, but it doesn’t really do much more than that. Relayer does everything, and then some.

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Great review David, I heard the same from other comments on this device. It’s not like a MOD-wheel as it is way more versatile and expressive and demands practice.

Btw if you use Omnisphere (I recall you do not yet?) I would love to hear some results you get with touche.

Also, do you mean you got some UVI stuff with this device? You mentioned whoosh fx and relayer, did you get trial versions of those, or was this a complete sidetracked sidenote? :slight_smile:

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Thanks! :slight_smile:

No Omnisphere yet, and I’ve only done some basic experiments with various other “naked” synths. Basically, if you have MIDI learn, it’s trivial to just hook things up the way you like it, but how playable it is (without proper custom synth programming) depends on the synth features. The aforementioned VA-3 has a MIDI learn feature that lets you set min and max values and whatnot, so that’s actually very easy to hook up in useful ways!

If you have no proper MIDI learn, it might be easier to reprogram the Touché to send different CCs (defaults to CC16-19, IIRC), but it would be cumbersome to change that all the time. Better option would be to remap the CCs as needed in the DAW, if possible.

I had loads of fun with kHs Phase Plant! I wired the first four macro knobs to the Touché CCs, and then wired the macro knobs to various parameters. Dubstep wubs happened (obviously…), some swells+rhythm pads, and also brushed snare…! It’s actually creepy how life-like it sounds and feels.

Somewhat sidetracked (I’ve checked out their stuff before, but almost forgot about Whoosh FX etc), but you do get a $50 voucher for Falcon - which also appears to be on an intro sale for version 2 currently, where you get two expansions of your choice as a bonus as well. The Lié installer also installs UVI Workstation (free), which is sort of the default synth.

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