Eigenharp Pico and Cubase

does anyone play this instrument?

I’m interested.

I have some questions:

  1. the standalone software, the “Eigenbrowser”, generates the sound, so how can I record this sound into cubase? Or is the Eigenbrowser a VST, too?

  2. If it is a VST, is it a VST3, and thus compatible with Cubase 6 VST3 Note Expression?

  3. When in MIDI mode, as a controller for Cubase, which MIDI data is send to cubase? What about all these nuances on single keys?

It seems to be perfectly suited for use with VST3 Note Expression…

So, how can I record my performance on the Pico, audio wise, but also MIDI wise…


I play both the Eigenharp Pico and Alpha. During MusikMesse I demonstrated the use of the Eigenharp Alpha with Cubase 6 note express, you might want to check out the video that was recorded of that (sadly the quality isn’t great): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97Fjj8mBOh8

Here are some answers to your questions:

  1. The standalone software is called EigenD, the EigenBrowser is used to browse for things when you’re configuring your Eigenharp. Currently you can use MIDI outputs from EigenD to send the information to Cubase. Doing that you have two options: you use poly pressure so send a single note-specific expression signal, or you use a different note on a MIDI channel to have access to all CC messages and pitch bend on that channel (which will then be tied to the note). The latter approach gives you a real-time polyphony of 16 notes while playing, which should be enough given we have only 10 fingers :slight_smile:

  2. EigenD can also host VST instruments directly without going over MIDI to Cubase. Currently we don’t support note expression directly for that yet, but it’s planned for a future release. We’re working with Steinberg on adding VST3 Note Expression supported natively inside EigenD with hi resolution and low latency. This will be a very expressive and powerful combination once it’s released.

  3. Seems I already covered this in point 1, but very briefly. If you want more information, don’t hesitate to ask.

Yes, VST3 Note Expression and the Eigenharp are a match made in heaven! :slight_smile:

You can record record the MIDI that comes out of Eigenharp from the Pico directly into Cubase, edit it and play it back again. Recording the audio depends on your system. On the Mac you can install something like SoundFlower which gives you a virtual audio interface that allows you to even take the audio from EigenD and record it into Cubase together with the MIDI output.

Hope this helps,


Thanks a lot!

So, the EigenD is a standalone application.

Regarding MIDI:

  1. EigenD connects directly to the Eigenharp Pico by USB and receives “playing and expression signals” form it (non-MIDI) and drives it’s own audio generators?

  2. EigenD converts the “non-MIDI playing and expression signals” from the pico to either notes, CC and Pitchbend data on different MIDI channels or notes, CC Pitchbend and Poly-AT on ONE MIDI channel. Which CC data is available in both cases? I mean, what playing expressions are possible (like keypress velocity) with the Pico and how do they translate to MIDI (which CC means what and when?)

  3. this MIDI data can be used to drive VSTs (VST2.x) hosted by the EigenD and/or can be send out a MIDI port specified in EigenD’s preferences?

  4. I can receive this MIDI data in cubase from the looped back MIDI port and record and edit it?

  5. Can I send MIDI data out of a MIDI port in cubase and have the EigenD software receive MIDI data from the looped back MIDI port, so that the MIDI data recorded and edited in cubase drives the EigenD’s audio generators/VSTs?

    Regarding Audio:

  6. the EigenD uses a audio interface driver (ASIO) to send audio out. With both apps open at the same time, I might either use a multiclient audio interface and loop audio back in the driver software (if possible) from EigenD into Cubase, use two different audio cards and loop audio back physically.

    Question: In addition to the EigenD standalone, why is the EigenD no VST3 plugin? That would be way better integrated into a DAW (cubase)? Is this planned?

In short, everything you said is correct.

The available MIDI CC messages are all of them, there’s a configuration routing matrix that allows you to map physical controller data streams to the messages that are generated: http://www.eigenlabs.com/wiki/Routing_Matrix/

MIDI in is supported, but you might have to use the Belcanto language to rewire the internal routing of the Eigenharp setup you’re using. Currently it’s only used for control of instruments inside EigenD and for syncing the clock, not for playing the musical notes.

Yes, different audio cards and looping physically is a good solution, I do that also using and ADAT connection between both audio interfaces.

EigenD has to be a standalone application since it needs to be able to fully control the interaction with the USB interface that brings in the Eigenharp data. This is a lot more detailed and at a much faster rate than MIDI. It’s already tricky with the standalone application to not miss any cycles, while hosted within a DAW this is not under the control of the EigenD software and the Eigenharp would not work. A plugin version isn’t planned.

Take care,



edit: sorry misread… MIDI in IS supported… how am I supposed to use the Belcanto language, what ist this???
(no MIDI in currently? That means I CAN NOT record my performance by MIDI in Cubase, edit it and have the EigenD playing back my edited performance???)

Considering EigenD plugin… I understand that the plug has to communicate via USB. There are already solutions, for example Native Instruments Kore2 is available as standalone AND plugin and both apps talk the the Kore2 controller via USB. Ok, the Kore2 controller might generate a lot fewer expression signals, but nevertheless you should think about a solution!

It seems as the best solution currently would be to use a dedicated PC with a dedicated audio interface for the eigenharp pico, which makes the instrument way more expensive as it already is, and cumbersome to integrate it in a (home) studio setup… :frowning:


When you record your performance in Cubase you can use all the instruments inside Cubase, no need to tinker with Belcanto. It will play back even if the Eigenharp isn’t connected.

Belcanto is a language you can use to rewire all the connections of the different components inside EigenD, a bit like Max/MSP, Eigenlabs is working on a visual application for it also. This allows you to connect any component to anything else, including the MIDI inputs. The whole of EigenD is constructor with these components, so you can basically redesign the whole instrument, which a lot of users are already doing.

I know about plugins that communicate with USB, but they use much lower data rates, which is where the difficulty lies. You should just look at EigenD as being part of the Eigenharp itself but allowing you to host it on any computer of your choice alongside other applications. The other option for Eigenlabs was to create a dedicated box with this, requiring you to pay money for it and only allowing physical connections. The Eigenharp really generates a lot of data and at very high rates, there’s no other electronic instrument in production that even comes close. It’s a complexity that can’t just be solved like that, it’s constrained by the actual limitations of technology.

I never use it with a dedicated computer and just connect it with virtual MIDI ports between different applications if I need to. However for performing, I just use EigenD directly and have it generate sound.

I hear your concern though, I had similar ones when I started playing the Eigenharp 1,5 years ago. Honestly though, once you start using it you see that it’s just a totally different world, it doesn’t fit into the old model of DAWs and MIDI but you can integrate it into it. In time new technology will emerge (Eigenlabs is collaborating with other companies for that) that might set a new standard for the next generation of DAWs and hosts. In the meantime, it’s great to have such an amazingly expressive electronic instrument but still be able to tie it into existing software.

again, thank you so much!

I studied the Routing Matrix thing…: So, the pico sends A LOT of signals over USB to EigenD.
The EigenD hosts

  1. “factory Sound Generators” that receive signals directly from the pico and generate sound
  2. MIDI out. In this case, you use the Routing Matrix to convert the pico signals into MIDI data which is send out the MIDI port
  3. VST2.x plugins. In this case, you use the Routing Matrix to convert the pico signals into MIDI and/or VST2.x parameter (?) data, which then is send to the VST2.x plugin
  4. VST3 plugins (not yet). In this case, you use the Routing Matrix to convert the pico signals into MIDI, VST2 parameter and VST3 Note Expression data (?), which then is send to the VST3 plugin


I’m no performer. I have little musical theory skills and as little keyboard playing skills, and I am constantly seeking ways of expressing myself better in my homestudio. I will use the pico integrated into my DAW only. And of course I want to use the EigenD factory sounds MIDI wise, record and edit my performances, as well as use the pico to drive my VSTs inside my DAW.

So, in case 1) above:
a) what internal factory sound generators are or will be availabe, besides the piano, the cello and the clarinet? Trumpet/Brass?
b) (How) can I record my performance on a factory sound, (the clarinet for example) MIDI wise in cubase and have it played back by the EigenD software? What are the steps to achieve this? I have not yet understand the Belcanto Language thing in this situation… :wink:

Edit: Can you explain which expressions are possible? In the FAQ/Wiki Routing Matrix, I saw “Strip Position”, “Breath” which are self explanatory.
“Key pressure” means, the pico measures the pressure on a key constantly, like Aftertouch. Does it measure the initial key press velocity, too? Do the keys of the pico move, similar to a piano key?
What ist “Key roll”? the position of my finger on the key?
What is “Key Yaw”, and how does “Absolute Strip” differ from “Strip Position”? Does the strip meassure, how hard I press it, or position only?

Correct about the EigenD hosting capabilities, it’s indeed able to control VST parameters directly, but also to send MIDI CC to the hosted VST. In a next version VST3 Note Expression will be supported directly, through an extension of the routing matrix.

EigenD is able to play and control any soundfont sampler instrument natively in EigenD (the piano, bass, electric piano, …) as well as the native cello, clarinet and synth which are physical models developed specifically for the Eigenharp. Since EigenD is now open-source there’s in increasing interest in the development of additional instruments that are natively supported, mostly in academic circles like the Stanford and Berkeley universities.

Sadly I have to disappoint you, but MIDI is not capable to describe the nuances of how the natively developed instruments are being played. The nuances are so great and the musical data model by far exceed the note on/off MIDI model. This is part of the cross-vendor effort that I mentioned before. In time it will come, for now the natively played instruments have to be regarded as traditional instruments that are recorded as audio in a DAW since there’s no standard data format nor visual model actual describe the information. EigenD is able to record what you play as data and not audio, but you’re not able to edit that information after the fact, only modulate it in real time … that part has really been developed for live performances as the creation of an entire DAW or editing environment is a huge undertaking.

About the keys, the Eigenharp has 3D keys. This means they move in all directions up-down (roll), left-right (yaw) and in-out (pressure) and this is sent independently for each individual key! The Eigenharp’s keys are what makes the instrument so outstanding, it’s difficult to describe and to understand how they feel without touching them. They took more than 3 years to design and you really notice that in how good they feel.

The strip only measures the position, you can get access to the absolute position where you press down or to a relative position based on where you first started using the strip.

Hope this helps,


perfectly! Thanks!

This all is very interesting! :slight_smile:

If you’re interested in this sort of thing you might find these YouTube videos interesting. They were recorded during a tour in San Francisco where I presented the Eigenharp together with other novel electronic instruments, with a prototype of an new instrument that Roger Linn is working on:




Enjoy! :slight_smile:

So I waited some months, followed the development, sucked in all news and infos, and decided against eigenlabs all of a sudden, when I read about their subscription payment model.

I always thought that I was limited to express myself with a keyboard/mod/pitchwheel and was very interested in windcontrollers and new, more expressive “electronic” instruments and headed to buy the eigenharp pico, but, to me, development has been too “slow” and the direction, to me, have been too “proprietary”, less integrated with my electronic environment, but this subscription model really drew me off completely.

Instead, I looked elsewhere and decided to buy an AKAI EWI USB a week ago, plus samplemodelings Mr. Sax T. And I was blown away instantly hoe expressive I got within minutes playing the EWI with Mr Sax. I am totally new to wind instrumenst and I’m learning the fingering and the playing methods and everything from scratch. But after one week of practicing already, I jammed along a playback (listen to this…)and felt like “THIS IS IT!!!”. I think I never was, and never will be as expressive with a keyboard as I am with the EWI.

It’s so much fun, it’s easily integrated into my environment and I do in no way regret waiting, making up my mind.

So what is their payment model?

"…From EigenD 2.0 onwards we will be introducing an annual subscription model for
EigenD which will cover all software updates to the base system, which includes
the Stage application. This will be charged at £90/yr or £49 for 6 months
(including VAT at 20%) and covers email suppport as well as software downloads
of the latest version of EigenD…

…From 2.0 onwards we will also be introducing a new product, EigenD Pro, for
power users who wish to build and edit their own setups more easily. This
features EigenD, Stage and our new Workbench graphical application that allows
a user to build and customise their own setups quickly and easily. This will be
available by subscription in a similar way to the base EigenD and will cost
£249 a year or £139 for six months (including VAT at 20%)…"

as I understand it, you pay without knowledge what they’ll deliver, if ever. And as I am the type of guy who like to fiddle with his setups and customize his stuff, 249 a year is simply to much.

I am aware that the eigeharp is not only a controller, but an instrument that wants to be taken seriously as such, but I take things seriously at way lower costs already and prefer to pay only for things that I get immediately, with knowledge about WHAT I get then. A subscription model is nothing I’d go for just using an instrument, as the eigenharp package (including the software) wants to be seen, which again ist too proprietary, for me at least…

Bummer, cause I like the idea. But then I got my beloved EWI, payed once and jam as I like to, fully integrated into my environment, playing each and every vst/sound I already payed for, too.

Hmmm, you shouldn’t quote just an excerpt, here’s the full announcement:

Some things are very important in there, notably that the largest chunk of the software is available as open-source and that this continues to be accessible to anyone. Basically, the payment model is that you know how much a software upgrade will cost and you get free upgrades for a year after that.

What I don’t get is that you’re totally happy with the EWI as just a MIDI controller, so what’s the big deal? The MIDI controller functionality of the Eigenharp has been stable for a long time and is in the open-source release. You can just not use any of the advanced features if you want, many of which though are in the open-source release also and in the currently shipping releases.

Well, Bevin, thanks for all your help on my way to a decision. I know you love your Eigenharp and it surely is a great instrument. The way it works, how its handled softwarewise and how much it will cost to use it simply is nothing for me anymore.

I am so happy with EWI and all the VSTs I already own, I bought mainly for use with the EWI (I LOVE playing Mr. Sax T with the EWI, it’s so incredibly expressive and playable) and plan to buy to be played with the EWI (WIVI Band), and I can record and edit everything MIDI wise, integrated into my DAW, along with my tracks…

You can’t do this with the sounds developed specifically for the eigenharp, and of course, you can’t do this with “real non-midi” instruments, but with real non-midi instruments you usually don’t subscribe using them, it simply isn’t meant to be made for me.

No doubt the eigenharp is a great instrument! But no instrument for me then, at least.

TabSel, I think you’ve got a very wrong picture about the Eigenharp. As well as offering low-latency high resolution sounds and performances, you can also use AUs and VSTs both inside and outside EigenD. Inside you get much higher resolution and less latency, but nothing prevents you from using your DAW, your existing VSTs, edit MIDI if you want to drop down to that level, …

Above I simply corrected your excerpt since you don’t have to pay for the software! Everything that makes your Eigenharp run is free and open-source, only additional functionalities that are honestly getting into the realm of Max/MSP and Touchable require money for upgrades after a year. You don’t have to pay to continue using the software you already own.

I’m glad you’re happy with your EWI, it’s great you found something that fits you, but please don’t spread wrong information about the Eigenharp.