A happy marriage of hardware and software

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People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.

— Alan Kay, Turing award winner, futurist, inventor of the e-book & tablets, GUIs, object-oriented programming pioneer

Designing your own hardware gives you an opportunity to fine-tune the hardware architecture to fit the requirements and demands of the software. For example, we can ensure that there is enough memory for sampling and spectral analysis/resynthesis algorithms and that there are no long pipeline delays that could introduce input-to-output latency or sluggish controller response.

Marrying the hardware to the software means you can have intimate knowledge of both the software and the hardware architecture. And, as happens in any good marriage, each partner can adapt to support and magnify the strengths of the other — until the whole is greater than the sum of the parts! Kyma, for example, is designed to automatically split signal flow graphs over the multiple processors of the Pacarana.  You aren’t limited to running one-plugin-per-processor; Kyma automatically splits your algorithm for you and distributes it across several processors behind the scenes, without you having to analyze it or even being aware that it’s happening.

Because the Paca(rana) has a lean, minimal operating system, virtually all of its cycles can be dedicated to computing sound; as a consequence, we don’t have to cut corners in order to get our algorithms run in real time.  People are always asking us why Kyma sounds so good; part of the reason is that we aren’t forced to make the compromises necessary to make the algorithms run on a general purpose computer shared with everything from web browsers to security software.

When you dedicate the Pacarana to computing the real-time audio, you also gain the welcome side-effect of freeing up your main computer to handle other tasks.  Having a computer dedicated to audio is just an extension of the idea of ubiquitous embedded processors; there are so many processors surrounding us that we hardly notice them anymore — processors in audio interfaces, processors in keyboards or other controllers, server processors dedicated to doing nothing but encryption, GPUs running alongside the CPU, devices designed for bitcoin mining, not to mention the processors in your cable box or TV, in your smartphone, in your watch and in your thermostat. It makes perfect sense to distribute computational tasks across multiple processors rather than expecting a single general-purpose computer to do it all.

 

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Bright, warm, and touchable

The warm and friendly orange OLED display on the Pacarana is easy to read under any lighting conditions and from any angle. A light touch or flick of the finger is all it takes to quickly select or scroll through control and status display menus. And it provides an inspiring, often eerily accurate, quote each time you start up or shut down.

Well-connected

On the back of the Pacarana — all the high-speed connectivity you want and need for digital audio production: two FireWire 800 ports, 2 USB ports, 100-base T Ethernet jack, and more…

A DC power plug connects the Pacarana to an external power supply that auto-senses voltage and frequency of the AC power source no matter where in the world you travel.

The Pacarana communicates with the Kyma software running under Mac OS or Windows via FireWire 800 (IEEE1394B) or an 800-to-400 adapter cable.

Audio and MIDI input and output is handled via an external FireWire or USB converter. Connect additional USB MIDI controllers like keyboards or fader boxes via the second USB port.

Infinitely expandable

No matter how powerful and well-matched the hardware and software, an enterprising sound designer can always find some way to exceed the real-time processing capabilities of a system (Kyma’s Replicator module can help you achieve that goal).  So it’s good to know that, yes, the Pacarana is expandable via the built-in A/B Expansion ports on the back.

The composite super-Pacarana (aka Wormhole) shows up in Kyma as a single sound computation engine with extra processors. To the sound designer or musician, the expansion is completely transparent; Kyma automatically takes advantage of the additional real-time processing power and memory.

Audio engineers or sound designers managing complex signal processing and sound design requirements for live shows or theatre productions can assemble a rack of Pacaranas, all controlled and sequenced from a single computer. Supercomputing centers can offer scalable real-time sound computation and data sonification as an adjunct to the computer graphics rendering and dynamic simulation modelling already being offered to researchers and artists. Game design studios can set up a sound-design rendering farm for creating special sound effects for cinematics and voice processing for game characters. And a group of friends can get together for a night of sound-tweaking fun by hooking their Pacaranas together on the kitchen table.

A Wormhole in the studio of Hollywood film composer, Tobias Enhus

May we suggest an entrée?

For those with lighter appetites, might we suggest Pacarana-lite? A Paca comes with the full Kyma sound design software environment making it the perfect entrée into the world of professional sound design in Kyma. It’s half the size of a Pacarana (and can compute half as many sounds or layers in real time). But no worries; if you manage to hit the real-time limits, you can always record the output to disk and bring the sound file back into Kyma for further processing.

Mobile

The Pacarana is small enough and light enough to bring along on tour, to move from your personal studio to a sound stage, to transport between work and home, or to shift from one studio to another. Put it in a padded case or order the optional rack-ears to mount it in a rack case. Use a USB headset to work in hotel rooms, airports, or in the green room just before you take the stage: wherever and whenever inspiration strikes.

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Sarth Calhoun brought two Pacas with him on tour with Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Trio


Compact

How to know when it’s time to get Kyma: You like the flexibility of software but prefer the sound of hardware devices. You like to work with digital modular environments but want to do complex sounds without creating hundreds of wires and modules. You want to mix control and audio rate processing in an easy way. You need a solid low latency system for live performance.

— Christian Schlösser, Musician, Composer, Audio Engineer and Sound Designer

The Pacarana is one rack-unit high and weighs approximately 1.7 kg (about 3.7 lbs). The entry-level Paca is the same width and height as the pro model but is a few inches shorter. The dimensions of the Pacarana and the Paca are:

Model Millimeters Inches
Pacarana 357 X 249 X 45 14 X 10 X 1.77
Paca 281 X 249 X 45 11 X 10 X 1.77

Which Kyma System is right for you?

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