This weekend, I decided to focus one my second idea “Extended Guitar Performance”.
The first, practical challenge of this project is to develop a first working setup that is reliable and allows for further practical research regarding suitable movements, playability and performability.
The first decision to be made is, of course, the make or buy decision. Both possibilities come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Making a setup from scratch is less expensive, grants higher control over specifications/features and the setup can be better tailored to the individual needs of the project. Additionally, more learning is involved. On the downside, developing such a setup is quite complex and potentially less powerful than a professional setup.
Buying the setup or at least some parts of it comes with the advantage of less complexity and potentially better functionality. However, a ready-made setup is not as flexible and, of course, comes with a much higher price tag.
I will divide this blog series into two parts: the first part will focus on commercially available products and the second on plans for a custom-made solution.
Commercially available products
In order to decide on make or buy, it makes sense to research and evaluate products that are already commercially available. Such products include:
Roland/ Enhancia NEOVA Expressive MIDI Ring Controller
A MIDI ring controller that allows to assign parameters to the four gestures vibrato, tilt, pitch, bend and roll. According to the website, the ring comes with low latency, an 8-hour battery life, and it is DAW-compatible. However, with 399$ it is quite expensive – especially for a study project. Just by analyzing the website, the NEOVA ring seems to be very synth focused and it would be interesting how adept it is at controlling parameters for a guitar or in a guitar-context. Availability is good – you can order it through the company website as well as on Thomann.
Genki Wave MIDI Ring
This MIDI ring is very similar to the NEOVA product, as far as its specifications are concerned. It costs 250$ and thus somewhat cheaper than the NEOVA ring (however, still rather expensive). Additionally, it can be used not only for music but also in the working environment (controlling conferences, calls, etc.). Available only through company website.
Source Audio Hot Hand 3 Universal Wireless Controller
Priced at 50$, it is the cheapest option by far, however, its suitability for the purposes of the project is questionable. For instance, the Hot Hand ring can only be used to control parameters of hardware effect pedals only and has no DAW integration. Additionally, it is not compatible with all hardware effect pedals. Instead, it is made especially for Source Audio products that feature a special Sensor Output and for third-party pedals that are equipped with an expression input. Another shortcoming is the availability: the online shop does not ship to Austria and local dealers are sparse and may not have the Ring itself but other Source Audio products (this however needs confirmation).
The analysis of current products shows that there are possible solutions that can be used for the setup. Especially the first two options, the NEOVA and the Wave ring seem to be suitable for the project at a first glance. Unfortunately, they also come with a relatively high price tag. Here, consultation with my supervisor will be necessary to determine if such costs are appropriate for such a project.
In the second part of this blog series, I will focus on the custom-made setup.