2021 will be exciting for OTTO. We will hopefully get it into the hands of beta testers, get a lot of feedback, and turn this great dream into reality. In the meantime, we want to let you in on our feature-plans for the foreseeable future.
This is the roadmap we will initially be working from. It contains the features we hope to implement, in the order we currently think it makes sense. It is a plan that might be subject to change – we are not promising any of these features, and we are not promising that they will be prioritized like this. We may also run into technical limitations, that make some of this infeasible. But it should give you an idea of our priorities, and what we hope to be able to do in the following years.
Phase 0: The Foundation
The phase we are currently working on. This is the bare minimum, and the beta will ship with this phase completed – and then the following phases will come through software updates.
In this phase, OTTO is a desktop FM synth. It has a synthesizer FM engine, and a very capable arpeggiator. All hardware drivers are fully implemented, meaning TRS midi in/out, USB midi host, and USB midi device mode. Also, of course the system is fully set up for receiving software updates, probably transferred over USB.
Phase 1: Effects, Presets & More Synth Engines
In this phase, we extend the functionality by adding one or two more synthesizer engines. The current plans are a Rhodes sim and an analog-style subtractive synth. We will also reintegrate several audio effects that are already developed. These include a stereo chorus, a shimmer reverb, and a delay. In this phase, we might also introduce another MIDI effect, alongside the arpeggiator from phase 1. The MIDI effect, synthesizer, and audio effects will all be switchable, and allow for saving and loading presets. We also have an idea for a feature called sound slots, which we would like to develop in this phase.
Phase 2: Sampling & Resampling
Now we get to a whole other kind of fun. We will turn our attention to sampling and resampling – focusing on developing a workflow that works with the way you interact with OTTO. Here we plan to focus heavily on sound design using resampling, of sounds created using one of the synth engines, as well as sounds created by running the sampler through effects.
The OTTO will feature 8 to 10 sampler channels running in parallel to the synth engine. Each sampler can, like the synth, be sent individually to the two FX busses. We deliberately plan to not develop the sequencer as a part of this phase, so these samplers will have to be sequenced externally over midi.
Phase 3: Sequencing
The sequencer will be tightly integrated with the samplers, allowing you to motion sequence/parameter lock most settings of the sampler channels. We don’t have a lot of concrete plans for the sequencer yet, since this is one of the places where we really want to involve the community, and plan to experiment with various designs.
We don’t plan for the sequencer to allow melodic sequencing of the internal synth, at least not at this stage. This is mainly to ensure we can optimize the sequencer workflow for the sampler, without having to also work in this very different use-case.
Phase 4: Modulation
With sampling and sequencing in, we take a step back to the synth and effect engines and look at modulation. Once again, we don’ have concrete plans of exactly how this will look, but think something in the lines of generally mappable LFOs, MIDI CC mapping, punch-in effects, etc. If we get the hardware for it, this could also contain CV inputs as modulation.
Phase 5: Audio Looper
This last phase is of a more tentative nature: We have a long-standing goal of integrating an audio looper, to get the most out of the synth engines, and allow for sweet DAW-less jams. The exact form of this is not yet decided, as we want to see how it will fit with all the other elements, but we’re hoping for multiple tracks, syncing/integration with the drum sequencer, sending tracks to effects, etc.
As you may notice, this is purely the roadmap for big software features. In between and during these phases we will of course be working on refining features from the earlier phases, making sure that everything stays perfectly integrated, as well as developing more engines, core settings, and general compatibility features. For example, we hope to get some MPE integration at some point, but where in the process this would be, depends on how our scheduling works out.
Also, we do not yet know when the proper, post-beta, hardware release will be. This depends on a lot of things, like funding, etc, and is obviously something we will be working on concurrently with the software.
Another thing you can probably tell is that the phases get less defined over time – and this is exactly where beta testers come in. The faster you get your hands on an OTTO, the faster you can start influencing how these features end up looking! We want OTTO to be an instrument defined by its community, as much as our own vision for the product, and currently, we are working hard to make this early beta testing a reality!
As always, if you have any questions, stop by our Discord. If you want to make sure to get all future updates, follow us on Instagram, and if you want to help us make all of this a reality, consider supporting us on Patreon.