Tap anywhere in the big circle to add a node. Each node represents a sound or a MIDI note, with the color of the node controlling which sampler / channel the node uses.
The closer a node is to the middle, the faster it will repeat.
Swipe up and down on a color to mute / solo all the nodes of that color. This differs from the mixers mute / solo functions in that it allows currently playing notes to finish, rather than immediately turning off all sound from that color.
Double tap on a color to lock / unlock all nodes of that color. If any nodes are locked then, the remaining ones will become locked. If all nodes are locked, then they will all become unlocked.
Double tap a node to lock it in place. This will prevent it from being moved, rotated or randomised.
The buttons around the big circle represent different parameters that can be applied to each node. Each half of the big circle is a slider that is used to change these node parameters.
Double tap a parameter button to reset that parameter for all nodes. Long pressing a button will reset that parameter for the selected colors nodes only.
The quick reference button (the question mark button in the menu bar) will show what each parameter is called.
Right Hand Parameters
The parameters on the right hand side, such as Velocity and Pan, are self explanatory.
Left Hand Parameters
Velocity, Pan, Length and Sample Offset Random all randomise the named setting. The amount of randomisation is controlled by this parameter and the start point for the randomisation is controlled by the matching parameter on the right hand side. In the case of Sample Offset, the start point is controlled by the samplers start offset setting.
Pitch Repeat will cause a node to repeat the last pitch that it played before it selects a new one. Pitches are generated by the keyboard screen. This parameter works especially well with the keyboards sequence mode.
Beat Skip causes a node to skip playing a specific number of times, with an optional offset. For example, a skip setting of 2-0 will cause the node to play once, then skip the next time it should play. A setting of 2-1 will cause the node to skip the first time it should play, then play on the second. This parameter is useful for creating longer patterns, as essentially it expands the size of the grid by up to 4x.
Probability will cause the nodes playback to be based chance. So a setting of 50% will mean the node has a 1 in 2 chance of playing each time.
The controls to the right of the node screen can dramatically affect the the sound of Poly. These controls can randomise the position and color of the nodes, as well as randomising the selected parameter for each node. Tapping and holding the randomise parameter button will apply the effect to the selected colors nodes only.
When the position and color of the nodes is in a randomised state a plus icon will appear to the left of the button. Sliding your finger over to this button will copy the randomised nodes to a new pattern.
The playback position of each node is determined by its position on the grid. Each subdivision starts from 12 o'clock and works clockwise.
For instance, the 4th ring from the middle has 4 positions and the first position to play starts at 12 o'clock. This node will play again after 4 pulses, with the length of a pulse being determined by the patterns quantise settings.
You can have more than one node on a single position.
Use the Grid Icon on the left of the node screen to turn the grid on and off.
The pattern menu can be found by toggling the Pattern Button in the bottom right corner of the node view. These patterns represent different configurations of nodes.
You can have up to 16 different patterns for any project.
On the left you can find the controls for each pattern, whilst on the right you can find the controls for selecting different patterns. There is a Quick Copy button above the pattern selectors which will copy the current pattern to the next available pattern, without stopping playback.
To remove the quantise for the grid, use the Unlock Icons on the left side of the screen. These icons represent unlocking the quantise for gaps between rings, as well as spacing around the same ring.
Patterns can be copied and pasted between each other using the buttons on the left of the pattern menu. There is also a clear button for removing all the nodes from a pattern.
It is also possible to paste and clear only the selected colors nodes. This is achieved the same way as randomising / resetting the selected colors node parameters, by long pressing the paste and clear buttons. The copy button will always copy the whole pattern. This allows you to perform edits to specific colors of nodes without having to alter a whole pattern.
There are 4 FX configurations available for each pattern to choose from. These FX slots can be populated from the FX page. Each pattern can store an FX slot and upon changing to that pattern, the corresponding FX configuration will be selected.
Each node will select its pitch based on the keyboard. There are three modes a keyboard can be set to: Random, Sequence and MIDI.
Each node will select a pitch from the selected keys at random everytime it plays.
Each node will select the next pitch in the sequence. Once a pitch has been selected, the sequence moves on to the next step and the next time a node plays it will select that pitch.
The keyboards selected pitches are controlled via external MIDI. Note on messages cause a pitch to be selected, whilst note off messages remove that pitch. The keyboard is locked to 6 octaves, from C1 to C7.
You can optionally choose to apply the note ons velocity to the node as well, although this will override the velocity settings that come from Poly.
Latch mode will cause the notes to stay on despite any following note off messages. To turn the note off, send another note on message.
This is where you can control the sound that is produced by each color. All samplers have 8 voices of polyphony, but can be set to mono mode for sounds with lots of bass.
Sounds can be loaded into the sampler by tapping on the waveform. This will display the sound selection menu. From here you can load a new sample into the sampler, or you can load a collection of sounds (a kit) into all samplers.
Custom kits can be saved from within the Kits menu.
The LFO is a constant rate from the moment the sequencer starts. This means it does not retrigger with each sound.
Each samples start and end points can be adjusted by using the markers on the waveform. These end points also determine the loop points for that sample.
Copy and Paste
Samplers can be copied and pasted between each other. It's possible to paste just a samplers settings, without pasting the audio file.
Looping samples can have a crossfade effect applied to them. This is useful for smoothing out any clicks that can be caused by having a loop point on a non zero crossing. It also allows you to create pad sounds out of any audio sample.
The envelope lengths (attack, sustain, release) are displayed as a maximum value. However, a node can alter this using it's own length parameter. For example, if a node has a length of 50%, all the envelopes settings will be halved.
These are the global FX settings for each project. The delay and reverb are send effects, whilst the distortion and EQ are global effects. The four configurations can be assigned to individual patterns.
The FX chain is Sends > Distortion > EQ
These are the mixer settings for each sampler. There is a limiter at the very end of the processing chain to prevent overloading. A small red dot will appear next to the master level knob to show when the limiter is taking effect. The master level can be used as the input gain for the limiter.
Poly supports external, network and virtual MIDI. Note, velocity and CC events can be both sent and received, whilst clock messages can only be received.
Each color can be configured to send events to a specific MIDI destination and channel. CC message and notes can be enabled or disabled here. If you want a color to only send MIDI, you can disable audio processing from here too.
The length of a MIDI note is set to it's maximum here. The actual length can be adjusted on a per node basis, using the length parameter of that node.
Node MIDI CC Out
Nodes can be configured to send CC out messages. Each node parameter can be assigned a MIDI CC number and will send an event between 0 - 127, depending on the parameter value for that node.
For assigning external controls to Poly's CC out messages, you can activate MIDI Learn mode from the transport and then double tap the node parameter button. This will send a CC message to any connected receivers. Use the Track Out menu to configure the destination for CC messages.
Some controls in Poly can be assigned to receive MIDI CC messages. Activate MIDI learn mode from the transport bar and all assignable controls will now show a plus icon. When the icon is red, that means a control is ready to be assigned, when it is green it means it has already been assigned. A white icon means the control is in a neutral state. MIDI learn is only available on the Pattern, Sampler, FX and Mixer screens.
Importing MIDI Configurations
MIDI settings in Poly are saved on a per project basis. However, a projects settings can be imported to any new project using the Import button in the MIDI menu.
Managing Files and Importing Audio
The Files menu can be used to import audio from either the iOS Files app or the browser based WIFI transfer. WIFI transfer is great for getting files from your desktop into Poly.
You can change some of the apps behaviour from here.
Use Pattern FX
Using the pattern FX will mean that when a pattern is selected, the patterns FX configuraton will also be selected. Otherwise, the configuration remains the same when the pattern is changed.
Quantise Note Lengths
A nodes length will be quantised to a multiple of 8. So 12.5%, 25%, 37.5% etc. This is good for creating exact multiples of length and works very well with tempo synced MIDI note lengths.
The mixers volume, solo and mute functions will affect outgoing MIDI. The volume affects MIDI velocity, scaling the outgoing values based on the mixer setting.
Poly will automatically detect if audio needs to remain playing in the background. The rules for this are as follows:
- The app is connected Audiobus or Inter App audio
- The app has Ableton Link connections
- MIDI clock is enabled
- The sequencer is playing and the currently selected pattern is populated with nodes