TouchOSC: The Poor Man’s Lemur

01Nov09

TouchOSC ScreensI have always wanted a controller where I can easily map controls for my software and finally came across TouchOSC. TouchOSC is an iPhone/iPod Touch app which allows you to use the touch screen of the device as a controller. TouchOSC, as in the name, uses the Open Sound Control(OSC) protocol which transmits data over WiFi. This information can be used immediately if you have a software with OSC implementation or convert into a more popular format like MIDI with OSCulator.

It comes with 5 non-specific layouts for you to get started, or you can download the TouchOSC Editor from the website to create your own custom layouts which I highly recommend. The editor is very intuitive and easy to use. The only drawback with the editor is the lack of ability to reorder your pages. This means you have to plan your layout well before creating it as you can’t insert a page in between something you have created.

I have been using TouchOSC and OSCulator to trigger clips and control filters in Ableton Live. Working with a layout I have been creating myself, it makes Ableton Live a much better performance tool as I am able to perform multiple functions with one hand on the MacBookPro and the other on my iPod. The best tool in TouchOSC would be the XY pads and the labels. The XY pads allows you to have more creative sonic possibilities by changing two parameters with one control. Some might contest that you can map two parameters to one control but you would not be able to change the ratio between the two parameters without some inconvenience. Labels are great if you need to view visual feedback of control values. I found this out by accident when I mapped a MIDI CC output to my label and the label changed to reflect the current value of the controller. This could be useful to some who would like visual feedback of a particular set of value, with the editor this can be easily displayed on one screen.

With the ability to create a network with the MacBookPro, I can use TouchOSC where ever I choose to go without fear of not having a WiFi network to connect to. Connecting on a busy shared network could also pose problems with transfer rates although I have not attempt anything similar.

I highly recommend this amazing app to anyone who does music or video performances and has an iPhone/iPod Touch. You would definitely find some use for a customizable controller at such low price point. I understand that OSC has implementations outside of audio and video applications like controlling robotics and other interesting fields and this could also prove interesting for such applications.

TouchOSC in iTunes Store

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5 Responses to “TouchOSC: The Poor Man’s Lemur”

  1. 1 ryan

    how does this honestly stack up to the lemur? i was contemplating getting one, then i saw this…let me know

    • personally, i haven’t used a lemur before. But looking from the videos and reviews. I don’t believe that it is going to be far off. An obvious difference is the size which could make it a little tricky to place on a table like a lemur for use. Getting a casing with some grip would help resolve that issue. Its wireless, which makes it much more portable and i keep it in my hand and operate it with my thumb if my other hand is occupied. Works great.
      Programming it to work with specific DAWs could sometimes need googling on complex specifics like getting the clip status on ableton live on TouchOSC but you would be able to find presets for OSCulator online. I’m assuming you’re working with a mac as I have never worked on this with a PC.

  2. 3 Ben

    this was a great and depressing read as i have purchased this amazing app yet cant even connect it to anything . is there any help you could give to a poor man looking for a sweet little mpc sequencer.
    im using a belkin F5d7231-4 router and have tried portforwarding into the puredata “simple” tutorial is this just a macbookpro happy go lucky thing?? its stil worth the money looking at an inoperable dream of yesterday but alas heavily depressing

    • I’m sorry that this didn’t work out for you. I never did try it with a PC so I can’t really comment on it. I created a network with my Macbook for performances and use my house network at home and didn’t face any problems.

      I’m not sure how easy PureData is but using OSCulator on the Mac sure seems really easy. Have you tried out the tutorials on hexler.net to get it working with PureData?

      Are you really looking for an MPC Sequencer? If you are in more for the drum pads, a laptop with something like the AKAI Drum Pad controller or the M-Audio Trigger Finger would be much more flexible. A MPC Sequencer would be useful for portability and sequencing with a computer.

      • 5 Ben

        thanks ill check out that webpage.. i have an mpc 1000 with a hundred gigs hdd i wouldnt trade it for anything as i class it as its own instrument and not just a midi treat for ableton or whatever prog. programming is just as flexable with a mouse and keyboard than buying a pad controller for me as ive been doing it for years. i belive having a simple/modable hands-on/ fingers-on step sequencer will really help my productivity on the mpc as im sick with using the jog wheel or copying the midi over from my computer via syncing it to a pre-programmed cubase track)

        times i wish i had a MBPro for the simplicity but im too used to the windows if theres a will theres eventualy a way.


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