Interacting With Digital Audio Effects Through a Haptic Knob With Programmable Resistance

Yuri De Pra; Federico Fontana; Stefano Papetti
DAFx-2021 - Vienna (virtual)
Live music performances and music production often involve the manipulation of several parameters during sound generation, processing, and mixing. In hardware layouts, those parameters are usually controlled using knobs, sliders and buttons. When these layouts are virtualized, the use of physical (e.g. MIDI) controllers can make interaction easier and reduce the cognitive load associated to sound manipulation. The addition of haptic feedback can further improve such interaction by facilitating the detection of the nature (continuous / discrete) and value of a parameter. To this end, we have realized an endless-knob controller prototype with programmable resistance to rotation, able to render various haptic effects. Ten subjects assessed the effectiveness of the provided haptic feedback in a target-matching task where either visual-only or visual-haptic feedback was provided; the experiment reported significantly lower errors in presence of haptic feedback. Finally, the knob was configured as a multi-parametric controller for a real-time audio effect software written in Python, simulating the voltage-controlled filter aboard the EMS VCS3. The integration of the sound algorithm and the haptic knob is discussed, together with various haptic feedback effects in response to control actions.