Artiphon


ORBA

ORBA

USER MANUAL

USER MANUAL

Update your Orba

After unboxing, please be sure to update Orba's firmware to the latest version. We are always developing new features and improving the Orba experience. Keeping your firmware up-to-date is the best way to ensure you're getting the best this unique instrument has to offer.

Note: Updating firmware can only be done through the Orba desktop app with a USB connection. Software downloads are available here

Welcome!

Congratulations! You are one of the first to take Orba for a spin (quite literally). There are all kinds of things this new instrument does, and we’re excited for you to try them all. You might see how many tiny loops you can make as you ride the bus to work. Or perhaps you’ll use Orba as an gestural synth at your next gig – waving it through the air to control effects as the crowd goes wild. Or maybe you’ll use Orba to play a software synth in that track you’ve been working on in Logic Pro or Ableton Live.

However you plan to Orba, you probably have some questions. You may be wondering why we only put eight pads on Orba. Or maybe you’re wondering what all of those little flashing lights mean. Or maybe you just want to know how to turn up the volume.

 

You’re in the right place. Welcome to the official (and ever-evolving) Orba User Manual.


Product Overview

What's in the box?

  • Orba
  • USB-C Cable
  • Quickstart Guide

Input/Output Panel

Volume

Increase and decrease the volume of Orba's speaker

Power/Bluetooth Pairing

Press and hold to turn Orba on and off

USB-C Port

Charge Orba's built-in battery and connect your external hardware devices

Headphone Output

1/8" audio output for headphones or speakers

Speaker

Rock and roll

Modes Loop

1. DRUM

5. Play / Pause

2. BASS

6. REC - Record your loop

3. CHORD

7. BPM - Adjust tempo

4. LEAD

8. OCT - Change octave

Function Cheat Sheet

Function Combination

Record

A + Pad 6 (Rec)

End a loop

A

Stop recording

A + Pad 6 (Rec)

Pause playback

A + Pad 5 (Play/Pause)

Pause

A + Pad 5 (Play/Pause)

Clear the loop on the current mode

A + shake

Clear everything

A + Pad 6 (Rec), hold for three seconds

Change BPM

A + tap desired tempo on Pad 7 (BPM)

Octave up

A + Pad 8 (Octave) and slide clockwise

Octave down

A + Pad 8 (Octave) and slide counter-clockwise

Next mode

A

Switch to Drum

A + Drum

Switch to Bass

A + Bass

Switch to Chord

A + Chord

Switch to Lead

A + Lead

Hard reset

Hold power + volume down for five second


Power

Charging Orba

Orba can be charged from any power-charging USB port using the included USB-C cable. Either a wall charger for your phone or a computer will work perfectly. Orba remains fully functional while charging, so you can keep playing even while you’re juicing up.

Charging indicators

When you connect Orba to a power source and turn it on, you’ll see a single green LED blinking on pad 8. This indicates that Orba’s battery is charging. If Orba is off you won’t see any lights, but rest assured it’s still charging.

Orba while on and charging

Checking battery levels

Tap the PWR button to check Orba’s battery level. You’ll see a series of green LEDs light up across Orba’s 8 Pads. When all 8 pads are lit, your battery is at full capacity. As the battery level decreases, the number of lit LEDs will decrease from 8 to 1. You’ll also see this display of green LEDs whenever Orba powers on.

Low Battery

If the battery level drops too low, a single, red LED will blink for 5 seconds before Orba automatically powers down. When you try to power up Orba on an empty battery the red LED will blink for 5 seconds before switching off again.


The A Button

You can think of the A button as a function or menu button. Any time you want to change what you’re doing on Orba, you’ll use the A button to make it happen.

 

A single tap of the A button will cycle through each of the four main modes.

Try it:
Start in Drum mode and press the A button once. Now you’re in Bass mode!

Using the A Button to Switch Modes

Press and hold the A button at the same time you press one of Orba’s eight pads to activate that mode.

Try it:
If you don’t want to cycle between modes, you can jump to any playing mode directly by holding A and pressing the pad for that mode.


Modes

DRUM

DRUM mode has nine distinct drum sounds: one per pad, plus an additional one that is triggered by using the Bump gesture. You can also keep triggering the shaker sound by holding pad 8 and using the Shake gesture.

 

Drums are velocity-sensitive and will respond to different intensities of tapping, similar to how a traditional drum changes its tone and volume by hitting it harder or softer. The sounds also respond to how long your finger stays on each pad. Try holding your finger on a cymbal to cut it short, or tap and release quickly on a tom to hear a long decay.

Try it:
Drum velocity and timing allows for some very nuanced playing. For example, you can alternate between open and closed hi-hat sounds on the same pad simply by changing the way you touch it.

BASS

Orba’s Bass mode is monophonic, meaning only the most recent note is played at a given time (this is called “last-note priority” in synthspeak). By default, Bass is tuned to a C major diatonic scale.

Try it:
Bass is a great mode for trying different motion gestures, especially Tilt and Radiate.

CHORD

In Chord mode, each of Orba’s pads triggers multiple notes simultaneously to form a chord in the key of the song. Chords are a fun way to casually explore song structures and create new ideas quickly. Like Bass, Chord responds really well to gestures like Tilt and Radiate.

LEAD

Lead is a polyphonic mode (meaning you can play several different notes simultaneously). In Lead, the pads are tuned to a pentatonic scale. This is a fun scale with five notes per octave, making it easy to find a melody that goes along all that rhythm you just played.

DRUM

DRUM mode has nine distinct drum sounds: one per pad, plus an additional one that is triggered by using the Bump gesture. You can also keep triggering the shaker sound by holding pad 8 and using the Shake gesture.

 

Drums are velocity-sensitive and will respond to different intensities of tapping, similar to how a traditional drum changes its tone and volume by hitting it harder or softer. The sounds also respond to how long your finger stays on each pad. Try holding your finger on a cymbal to cut it short, or tap and release quickly on a tom to hear a long decay.


Try it:

Drum velocity and timing allows for some very nuanced playing. For example, you can alternate between open and closed hi-hat sounds on the same pad simply by changing the way you touch it.

BASS

Orba’s Bass mode is monophonic, meaning only the most recent note is played at a given time (this is called “last-note priority” in synthspeak). By default, Bass is tuned to a C major diatonic scale.


Try it:

Bass is a great mode for trying different motion gestures, especially Tilt and Radiate.

CHORD

In Chord mode, each of Orba’s pads triggers multiple notes simultaneously to form a chord in the key of the song. Chords are a fun way to casually explore song structures and create new ideas quickly. Like Bass, Chord responds really well to gestures like Tilt and Radiate.

LEAD

Lead is a polyphonic mode (meaning you can play several different notes simultaneously). In Lead, the pads are tuned to a pentatonic scale. This is a fun scale with five notes per octave, making it easy to find a melody that goes along all that rhythm you just played.


Looping

Looping is a fun and intuitive way to create a lot of musical ideas very quickly. Orba’s built-in looper lets you record and layer all four modes together, and even overdub to add more notes as you get going.

Starting A Loop

      • To start a loop
          • Choose one of the four instrument modes.
          • Press A + Pad 6 (REC) together. When you release you’ll hear the metronome click—this indicates the tempo of the song and means you’re ready to play your first loop. Although the metronome has started, the loop won’t begin recording until you play your first note.
  • Record a few notes, and then tap the A button when you’re ready to end your loop. The notes you just played will automatically start to play back from the beginning. Note: the song length will always be as long as the first loop you’ve recorded.

Overdubbing

      • While your first loop continues to play, you can begin to layer additional notes and loops on other modes. Orba will stay in overdub mode until you pause or stop playback by pressing A + Pad 5 (Play/Pause) to pause the song, or if you press A + Pad 6 (REC) to disarm recording while the song keeps playing. 

Try it:
Start with a simple Kick + Snare on drum, then press A to start overdubbing. Add in your hi-hats on the second pass, maybe toms on a third. Keep adding drum beats till you notice that your head has been bobbing for a few minutes ;)

Playback/Pause

      • To pause or resume playback, hold the A + Pad 5 - Play/Pause buttons together.

Clearing a loop

      • To clear loops one at a time:

1. Pause playback (A + Pad 5 - Play/Pause)

2. Select the mode that you want to clear

3. Press and hold A + Pad - REC together for two seconds. Alternatively, you can hold A and Shake Orba to clear your current loop

      • Note: You can also clear loops by pressing CLEAR in the Orba app.

      • To clear your Song (all of your loops at once):

      • Press and hold A + Pad 6 (REC) for 5 seconds. Alternatively, you can hold A + Pad 6 (REC) and Shake Orba to clear your song

Adjusting Tempo

      • Orba’s default tempo is 120 beats-per-minute (BPM). There are a few different ways to adjust the tempo of your song.

Adjusting Tempo by Tapping

1. Hold the A button

2. Tap Pad 7 (BPM) at the desired tempo

Adjusting Tempo by Sliding

      • You can also make smaller adjustments to your tempo by using the Slide gesture.

      • Hold A + Pad 7 (BPM) together

      • Slide your finger up or down from the BPM pad

Adjusting Tempo in the app

      • To achieve a specific BPM, you can type the desired BPM in the Song window of the Orba App

      • Open the Orba app

      • Select your Song

      • Select the pencil icon in the transport bar

      • Type in your desired BPM
      • Press save

Transposing Orba

Changing Octaves

      • You can transpose octaves right on Orba itself. To shift octaves:

      • Press and hold A + Pad 8 (OCT)

      • Slide your finger up from the Octave pad to raise the tuning

      • Press and hold A + Pad 8 (OCT)

Changing Keys

      • Orba’s default tuning is in the key of C major. However, Orba can play in any key. The key of your song is changed in the Orba App.

      • To change keys:
      • Open the Orba app and select your Song

      • Select the Pencil icon in the transport bar

      • Select Key, and a dropdown menu will appear with different options

      • Select your key, and press Save


Gestures

Orba’s touch and motion sensors combine to capture even your most subtle gestures. Pick it up and hold it, or just reach over and play a few notes while it’s sitting on your desk. Tap it with one hand or both, with your fingertips or thumbs, or shake and wave it through the air. You can slide around each pad, or go crazy with some vibrato. It’s all up to you! Below, you’ll find a bit more information on each gesture and how exactly it works.

Tap

Tap your finger on a pad. Orba is velocity-sensitive, so the harder you Tap, the louder the sound.

MIDI Message: Note On/Off

Vibrato

Tap and move your finger from side-to-side on a pad. Vibrato produces a change in pitch. the range of pitch can be adjusted with the Pitch Bend Scaling setting in the Orba App.

MIDI Message: Pitch

Press

Tap and hold your finger on a pad with varying degrees of intensity. As opposed to velocity which detects pressure, Press is activated by making your finger take up more (and less) surface area. Think about it like this: the more you spread out your finger, the more Press is activated. Pressing with sustained pressure will modulate effects on Orba's synth.

MIDI Message: Channel Pressure

Radiate

Press and move your finger within a pad, in and out from the center to the edge of Orba. Radiate effects Brightness. When using it with Orba's internal synthesizer it may be affecting volume, envelopes, and others effects. Try it in Bass and Chord modes to start.

MIDI Message: Brightness - CC#74

Tilt

Tilt Orba to the side to play effects. Tilt is Orba's version of the mod wheel on a traditional keyboard controller. As mod wheel is a very common MIDI effect, you'll find Tilt works automatically with most software synths and apps.

MIDI Message: Mod Wheel - CC#1

Spin

Rotate Orba like a knob.

MIDI Message: CC#112

Move

Move Orba in space to modulate sounds and effects.

MIDI Message: CC#113

Shake

In Drum mode, hold the pad 8 and shake Orba. Shaker works best using soft movements in a side-to-side motion.

MIDI Message: MIDI note 69 and CC#2

Bump

Tap Orba on its side. Try to Bump in drum mode: you’ll get a “clap” sound!

MIDI Message: MIDI note 39


The Orba App

The Orba App allows you to customize Orba, share songs, load presets and access songs. You can use the Orba app to update firmware, too, ensuring you’ve got the latest and greatest features enabled on your instrument.

Songs

What is a Song?

A song is a collection of loops and presets that work well together. When you generate a series of loops you can save these in the Orba app together as a song.

Presets

What are presets?

A preset is a sound, tuning, and set of gestures that apply to one of Orba’s four instrument modes. Note: Presets are mode-specific. For example: a Drum preset could only be selected while in Drum mode. Changing a preset on Orba is done within the Orba app.

If you want to change your sound, you do this by selecting a new preset!

Changing your preset

1. Navigate to the Presets folder

2. Select Load and voila!


Using Orba as a MIDI controller

In addition to being a standalone synthesizer, Orba also works as a MIDI controller. You can use Orba to trigger and affect sounds in any MIDI-enabled software or hardware.

There are two ways to connect Orba as MIDI controller:

  • You can use Orba using MIDI over Bluetooth on Mac OS X, iOS, and Android.
  • You connect via USB-C on Mac, iOS, and Windows.

For ease, we've provided instructions below on connecting to MAC OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android.

If you like, disable Orba’s internal synth to make sure you’re not hearing two different sound sources. To do that, open the Settings page in the Orba app and toggle Orba Sounds On/Off.

Connecting to MacOS

Via USB-C

Simply connect the included USB-C to USB-A cable to your computer. Macs with USB-C inputs will require a USB-C to USB-C cable or an adapter.

Via MIDI over Bluetooth

1. Open Audio MIDI Setup on your Mac. This is found in the Utilities folder. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Command + Space. Type “Audio MIDI Setup” to find the program.

2. Open the Window drop-down in Audio MIDI Setup and select Show MIDI Studio, or use the keyboard shortcut Command+2.

3. Select the Configure Bluetooth icon from the header window

4. Select Orba from the list of available devices. If you don’t see Orba on the list, make sure you have it turned on and in range.

Connecting to Windows

Via USB-C

Windows is easy! Just connect the included USB-C-to-USB-A cable to your computer. Unfortunately, Windows does not currently support MIDI over Bluetooth.

Connecting to iOS

With the Orba App

Bluetooth

  • In the Orba app, navigate to the Orba icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  • Select Orba from the list of Bluetooth MIDI Devices
  • Note: If you don’t see Orba as an option in this list, make sure the instrument is powered on and within range.

With Third-party apps

There are hundreds of MIDI-enabled iOS apps available. When pairing Orba with an iOS app, connecting over Bluetooth is done in the app itself. As an example, we’ll walk through the steps of connecting Orba with GarageBand for iOS.

Connecting to GarageBand

1. In GarageBand for iOS tap the Settings button (Gear Icon) in the control bar. On iPhone 8, iPhone 7, or iPhone 6s, tap the Settings button and then tap Song Settings.

2. Tap Advanced, then tap Bluetooth MIDI Devices.

3. Tap the name of the device you want to connect, then toggle the Connect switch on.

4. Load a software instrument such as Keyboard or Guitar.

5. Start playing! It’s as simple as that!

Connecting to Android

With the Orba App

  • In the Orba app, navigate to the Orba icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  • Select Orba from the list of Bluetooth MIDI Devices
  • Note: If you don’t see Orba as an option in this list, make sure the instrument is powered on and within range.

With Third Party Apps

Orba will work with any MIDI-enabled software. Unlike iOS, when connecting with Android devices, the connection is done through the Orba app.

Connecting to FL Studio Mobile

1. In an open project, tap the umbrella icon in the upper right corner of the screen

2. Toggle the ‘Enable MIDI over Bluetooth’ switch on.

3. Tap the MIDI Device selection button and select Artiphon Orba from the list. If you don’t see Orba as an available device, make sure that Orba is on and not connected to any other device.


Settings

Updating Firmware

We are always adding features and improving the Orba experience. Keeping your firmware up-to-date is the best way to ensure you’re getting the best this unique instrument has to offer.

Note: Updating firmware can only be done through the Orba desktop app with a USB-C connection. These downloads are available here:
Mac OS X | Windows

To update firmware, follow these steps:

1. Connect Orba to your computer using the included USB-C cable

2. In the Orba app, open the Settings panel by clicking the A icon in the upper-right corner of the screen.

3. In the settings panel, click the cloud icon next to the text Firmware Update. Note that this icon will be greyed out and unselectable if you are already running the most current version of the firmware.

4. Let the app take care of the rest!

Orba Sounds On/Off

When you use Orba as a MIDI controller to trigger sounds in external software or hardware, you may want to temporarily disable Orba’s internal synth to prevent it from interfering with the sounds in your external gear. Otherwise, you’ll hear two sounds every time you play (which could be awesome!). Do this by toggling the Orba Sounds On/Off setting.

Pitch Bend Scale

Adjusts Orba’s Pitch Bend Scaling settings by ranges (0% - 25% - 50% - 100%). This affects the rate of change in pitch shifts when performing Vibrato.

MIDI Modes

Orba can be configured to send MIDI messages in 3 different ways: MPE, Single Channel, and Channel-Per-Part.


Single Channel

All notes are sent on MIDI channel 1. Only the MIDI notes for the currently active mode are sent. For example when drum mode is selected only the drum notes are sent out on MIDI.

Channel-per-part

Channel 10

Drum

Channel 1

Bass

Channel 16

Chord

Channel 9

Lead

MPE

MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) is a method that allows players to control multiple parameters (pitch bend, aftertouch, and vibrato) independently per note. On a traditional MIDI keyboard, for example, the Pitch Bend wheel affects all notes at once. An MPE compatible controller will allow these notes to be affected independently from one another.            


All notes are sent as MPE MIDI with every note having its own channel so that per-note controllers can be used. In this mode, only the MIDI notes for the currently active mode are sent out on MIDI. For example, when Bass mode is selected only the MIDI out for Bass is sent.


MIDI Implementation Chart

Gestures are associated with specific MIDI assignments. Below are the default MIDI assignments. Note: These may vary depending on the preset you load.

Gestures MIDI

Tap

Note On

Press

Channel Pressure

Vibrato

Pitch Bend

Radiate

CC 74 (Brightness)

Bump

MIDI note 39

Shake

MIDI note 69 and CC2

Move

CC 113

Spin

CC 112

Tilt

CC 1 (Modwheel)

Press "A"
button to change
mode

Program Change 1-4

Default Note Mapping

Each pad and each Mode sends its own MIDI messages. Below are the default MIDI assignments.

Note: These may vary depending on the preset you load.

Drum Note MIDI Number

Pad 1 (Kick)

C1

36

Pad 2 (Snare)

D1

38

Pad 3 (Closed Hi-hat)

F#1

42

Pad 4 (Open Hi-hat/Crash)

C#2

49

Pad 5 (High Tom)

G1

43

Pad 6 (Low Tom)

A1

45

Pad 7 (Ride Cymbal)

D#2

51

Pad 8 (Shaker)

A#3

70

Bump (Clap)

A3

39

Bass Note MIDI Number

Pad 1

C2

48

Pad 2

D2

50

Pad 3

E2

52

Pad 4

F2

53

Pad 5

G2

55

Pad 6

A2

57

Pad 7

B2

59

Pad 8

C3

60

Chord Notes MIDI Number

Pad 1

C2, G2, C3, E3

  • 48, 55, 60, 64

Pad 2

D2, A2, D3, F3

50, 57, 62, 65

Pad 3

E2, B2, E3, G3

52, 59, 64, 67

Pad 4

F2, A2, C3, A3

53, 57, 60, 69

Pad 5

G2, B2, D3, G3

55, 59, 62, 67

Pad 6

A2, C3, E3, A3

57, 60, 64, 69

Pad 7

G2, B2, D3, B3

59, 62, 71, 55

Pad 8

G2, C3, E3, C4

60, 64, 72, 55

Lead Note MIDI Number

Pad 1

C3

60

Pad 2

D3

62

Pad 3

E3

64

Pad 4

G3

67

Pad 5

A3

69

Pad 6

C4

72

Pad 7

D4

74

Pad 8

E4

76


Specifications

Product Name

Orba

What's in the box

Orba, USB-C to USB-A Cable, Quick Start Guide

I/O

USB-C (USB 2.0 Class Compliant Audio/Midi)
3.5mm (1/8") TRS Analog Headphone Stereo Out)

Bluetooth

Bluetooth LE MIDI

Speaker System

3W built-in active speaker system

Battery

Lithium Polymer Battery
1250 mAH
4h average operating time
80% capacity after 300 charging cycles

Operating Temperature

0 Degrees Celsius - 45 Degrees Celsius

Capacitive Touch Sensitive Pads

8 Pads can be used with different gestures. Tap, Press, Vibrato, Radiate, Hover, Slide, Hold, Palm, Hold

IMU - Accelerometer

Modulation and controllers:
Tilt, Spin, Lift, Shake, Bump, Move, Wave

Haptic Engine

Tactile feedback with sounds and metronome

Looper

Four track MIDI looper

Modes

Four on-board modes:
Drum, Bass, Chord, Lead

Sound Engine

4 part polyphonic synthesizer with subtractive and physical modeling synths

9 voices + drums

Companion App

iOS, Android, Mac, Windows

KEEP EXPLORING

Visit our downloads page to get all of the apps you need and even download ready-made sessions for your favorite DAW.

Your path to Orba greatness starts here. Our free online video course will teach you all the tips and tricks to become an Orba ninja.

Check out how musicians all over the world are using their Orba.

Got questions? We've got answers. Check out our FAQ to find answers to the most common Orba questions.

We're here for you. Get access to the community forum, downloads, FAQ, and more.

Connect with Orba players around the world by joining us on our Community Forum.

KEEP EXPLORING

Visit our downloads page to get all of the apps you need and even download ready-made sessions for your favorite DAW.

Your path to Orba greatness starts here. Our free online video course will teach you all of the tips and trips to become an Orba ninja.

Check out how musicians all over the world are using their Orba.

Got questions? We've got answers. Check out our FAQ to find answers to the most common Orba questions.

We're here for you. Get access to the community forum, downloads, FAQ, and more.

Connect with Orba players around the world by joining us on our Community Forum.