Sylphyo user guide
1 The Sylphyo at a glance
It is is the first wireless MIDI controller that reproduces the feeling of an acoustic wind instrument. Like them, it is played by blowing into a mouthpiece and selecting notes using keys on the front of the instrument. However, unlike other wind instruments, the Sylphyo is also sensitive to your movements, as well as the way you touch it, offering novel expressive possibilities.
Three accessories are included along with your Sylphyo:
Connect this device to a computer (via USB) or to a synthesizer (via MIDI) in order to receive a signal from the Sylphyo.
Plug the 5W charger into a mains socket in order to charge the battery of the Sylphyo using the USB cable.
Use the USB cable to connect the receiver device to your computer.
1.3 First steps
The Sylphyo allows you to control a hardware synthesizer or a virtual instrument on your computer. While it is wireless, you still have to connect the receiver device to your computer or synthesizer in order to allow the latter to receive MIDI messages sent by the Sylphyo.
Before using it for the first time, please charge your Sylphyo for a few hours. Once it is fully charged, you can turn it on and off using the power-on switch located near the bell.
1.4 What is it, exactly?
Your Sylphyo is a controller: it processes input from its various sensors (breath, inertial, capacitive…), determines what you are doing, and sends orders (e.g., start playing a soft C note) to a software or hardware synthesizer that processes these orders and produces sounds. These orders are formatted as messages in the MIDI communication protocol, an industry standard for more than 30 years. Most synths understand MIDI, so you can really control almost anything that produces sound using the Sylphyo.
Your Sylphyo is also wireless: MIDI messages are transmitted from the Sylphyo to the receiver device through radio waves (typically in less than a millisecond), and the receiver device passes these messages on to your computer, smartphone, tablet, or hardware synth, which then produces sound. The whole process should take between 5 and 20 milliseconds, depending on the computer, device, or synth at the receiving end.
Finally, your Sylphyo is future-proof: it is designed so that you can benefit from further software and hardware improvements. Updates to the internal software are free, and you can download them on our website. In the future, you will also be able to buy an extension card that turns it into a standalone musical instrument (hence the headphone output), or an active mouthpiece with extra sensors for even more expressiveness.
1.5 What is there to see?
The display of your Sylphyo provides you with three main screens that provide you with all the relevant information to perform and configure it according to your needs.
1.5.1 Performance screen
1.5.2 Quick settings
1.5.3 Settings menu
1.6 What is there to touch?
The following explains the different keys and touchable elements you can interact with.
- The Aodyo key (Aodyo) allows you to enter Quick settings, which you enter as soon as the key is pressed, and leave as soon as it is released.
You can also access the Settings menu by holding Aodyo while sliding your thumb over the slider from bottom to top.
Inside the Settings menu, pressing Aodyo always allows you to go back to the previous screen.
- Note keys allow you to select the played note. The default fingerings are similar to a modern recorder, however they can be changed in the Settings menu.
- Each octave key acts like a recorder thumb hole, but at different octaves (◆ is the base octave, ↑ goes up by 1 octave, and ↓ goes down by 1 octave).
In Quick settings (when you keep pressing the Aodyo key), octave keys allow you to select a quick setting.
In the Settings menu, you can select a menu item using ↑ and ↓, and confirm using ◆.
- Settings keys allow you to increase (+) or decrease (-) some parameters in the Quick settings and the Settings menu.
During your performance, they act as supplementary octave keys, going down by two (+) or three (-) octaves.
- The slider allows you to nuance the played sound by sliding your thumb vertically.
It also allows you to access the Settings menu by sliding from the very bottom to the top while pressing the Aodyo key.
In the Settings menu, you can also use the slider to select and confirm menu items (by sliding and tapping, resp.), and you can go to the previous screen by sliding your thumb from the very top to the bottom.
2 Getting started
2.1 Charging and pairing
Your Sylphyo must be charged from time to time, and it has to be paired with its receiver device in order to work correctly.
2.1.1 Charging the Sylphyo
When your receive your Sylphyo, its battery might not be fully charged. Before turning it on for the first time, please recharge it to 100%. This might take up to 8 hours. You will need to recharge it every now and then, when the charge level indicator visible on the performance screen shows that your battery is low.
To charge your Sylphyo, please connect it to the mains as described in the following diagram:
You can turn on the Sylphyo if you want to keep an eye on the charging process. If you have a spare mini-USB cable, you can connect it to the receiver device and play the Sylphyo while it is charging.
2.1.2 Pairing the Sylphyo with the receiver device
When the Sylphyo is turned on, it tries to establish a wireless connection with its receiver device. If the connection cannot be made, or if you’d like to pair your Sylphyo with another receiver device, you will have to start the pairing process over. Your Sylphyo has been carefully paired before shipping, but it is important that you know how to perform this operation again.
To begin the pairing process, press the blue button of the receiver device you want to pair to your Sylphyo. The red light next to it will continue blinking until the process completes.
Then, enter the Settings menu1 on the Sylphyo, select , and confirm. After a few seconds, the pairing status will change from (unpaired symbol) to (paired symbol), and the red light on the receiver device will stop blinking, indicating that pairing is complete.
2.2 Quick start with a Windows or macOS computer
The most common way to use the Sylphyo is to have it control a virtual instrument that generates sound on your computer. To do so, you will need the receiver device and the USB cable.
Please connect these elements as shown on the following diagram:
The receiver device is immediately recognized as a standard USB-MIDI peripheral, thus no drivers are required.
To allow you to get playing as quickly as possible, we designed Sylphyo Bench, a small application for Windows and macOS2 with five different sounds that are setup to respond well with the Sylphyo. Even if you already own other virtual instruments, you may want to keep this application handy if you want to quickly test your computer configuration, identify potential problems, or simply show the Sylphyo to a friend.
Go to www.aodyo.com/sylphyobench and click the link corresponding to your operating system (Windows or macOS) to download an archive containing the Sylphyo Bench application. You may then have to unzip the archive before you can open the application. Then, follow the numbered sections on the screen.
First, selectas a MIDI input, assuming the receiver device is already plugged in. Else, plug it to a USB port on your computer, and hit the button before selecting the MIDI input again.
Then, select appropriate audio output settings. The 3: put the same number in both boxes, ideally , , or samples.and should automatically match your default system settings, thus you do not need to change them. However, you may have to tweak
Finally, click the blue speaker button and start playing the Sylphyo. When playing, you should see a light blinking next to the speaker button. You can also adjust the volume control slider underneath if necessary.
2.3 Quick start with an iOS smartphone or tablet
You can also use the Sylphyo to control sounds generated from any iOS application on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad. To do so, you will need the receiver device, the USB cable, and an adapter to connect the USB cable to the port of your smartphone or tablet.
Please connect these elements as shown on the following diagram:
The Garageband app is the simplest way to quickly start playing your Sylphyo on iOS. It is also free if your iOS device is newer than September 1, 2014.
If Garageband is not already installed, download it from the App Store. Once Garageband is open, select a Keyboard track. Then, tap the downwards arrow in the upper left corner of the screen, and select the second item of the menu (in the image below).
Then, go toand select Vintage Lead. There are other interesting sounds in this section, as well as in the , and section. The latter contains brass and woodwind sounds as well.
If the receiver device is connected to your iOS device, you can directly play the Sylphyo.
Besides Garageband, you can find other iOS apps that work out of the box with the Sylphyo, such as Yamaha Synth Book (free, select AN2015 to access 128 synth sounds such as 07 Odyssolo) and bismark bs-16i (paid). In addition, there are many more paid iOS apps that can be quickly setup to accept most MIDI messages sent by the Sylphyo (mainly the one controlled by breath intensity, CC11): Thumbjam, Propellerhead Thor, iProphet and other Arturia synth apps, Korg apps such as iM1, iWavestation, and ODYSSEi, iGear Instruments Laplace… See below for details on how to configure them.
2.4 Setting up virtual instruments and apps to work with the Sylphyo
Through the receiver device, your Sylphyo is automatically recognized as a standard USB-MIDI device by your computer, smartphone, or tablet, hence you can directly use any virtual instrument (VSTi, Audio Unit, app…) that accepts MIDI.
However, many virtual instruments are not made for wind controllers and may not respond to breath intensity and other expressive controls. In this case, you might need to assign some of their parameters to the MIDI messages sent by the Sylphyo.
See the documentation of your virtual instrument or plugin host to learn how to control parameters through MIDI. Usually, a MIDI Learn function will allow you to visually select a parameter, and then to send the MIDI message (usually a MIDI CC) you’d like to assign to this parameter. To facilitate the mapping of a specific control of the Sylphyo through MIDI Learn, go to the Settings menu in the section, select the relevant control using ↑/↓ or the slider, and blow into your Sylphyo to send only the corresponding MIDI message.
Without MIDI Learn, you will have to enter the MIDI message manually. At the end of this section, you will find a summary table of the MIDI messages sent by your Sylphyo that you can map to parameters of your virtual instrument.
We have successfully used the following virtual instruments and audio workstations with the Sylphyo:
- Samplemodeling/SWAM (www.samplemodeling.com, paid)
We highly recommend Samplemodeling/SWAM instruments. They offer very realistic and tremendously expressive control of many classical instruments (saxophones, flutes, clarinets, double reeds, brass instruments, violin and other stringed instruments…). For best effect, setto Express, and set to Fast.
- Garageband (www.apple.com, free, Mac only) and Logic Pro (paid)
Most included virtual instruments work out of the box.
- Massive (www.native-instruments.com, paid, demo available)
Use MIDI Learn to assign breath intensity and other controls to sound parameters.
- Live (www.ableton.com, paid, 30-day trial available)
Many Live instruments can be controlled using the Sylphyo if you use Aftertouch instead of MIDI CC 11 (see the section of the Settings menu). Some instruments, such as Operator, require that you manually map Aftertouch to volume and/or filter frequency, for example.
- Reason (www.propellerheads.se, paid, 30-day trial available)
The Subtractor synth has a Ext. Mod section where you can directly assign breath intensity (select Expr) to variations of sound intensity (Amp) or timbre (F. Freq). To control other synths, use a RPG-8 arpeggiator and route the relevant CV outputs to another device’s inputs (especially Expression CV Out). If needed, split outputs using one or more Spider CV.
2.5 Using the Sylphyo with a hardware synthesizer
You can also use any MIDI-compatible hardware synthesizer with the Sylphyo. In addition, you will need the receiver device, the USB cable, the 5W charger, as well as a MIDI cable (not included). Please connect these items according to the following diagram:
Once these items are connected and powered on, you can start to play.
Note that synthesizers specialized in wind instruments simulations need to receive breath control data on MIDI CC2, in which case you will have to change the MIDI Mapping configuration of the Sylphyo in the section of the Settings menu.
We have successfully used the following synthesizers with the Sylphyo: Dynasample XPression, Waldorf Blofeld, Korg Kronos, Arturia Origin, Mutable Instruments Elements and Shruti1. Axoloti Core, Yamaha VL-70m, and Nord Modular G2. See also the great patches at www.patchmanmusic.com.
2.6 Default MIDI mappings and general recommendations
The following table summarizes the MIDI messages sent by the Sylphyo for each of the parameters you control, with the default mapping (although you may have to enable some of these parameters first). You can always change these messages in the section of the Settings menu.
|Parameter||Default MIDI message to map|
|Breath intensity||CC 11 (Expression)|
|Slider control||CC 1 (Modulation)|
|Slider control (from top edge)||CC 12 (Effect Controller 1)|
|Slider control (from bottom edge)||CC 13 (Effect Controller 2)|
|Elevation angle||CC 75 (Sound Controller 6)|
|Roll angle||CC 76 (Sound Controller 7)|
If you cannot use these mappings (e.g., with a simple Soundfont expander or sample-based synthesizer), you can at least configure the Sylphyo to use dynamic velocity: the velocity of the MIDI notes you play will be commensurate to the intensity of your breath at the beginning of the note. To do so, go to the section of the Settings menu, and set the parameter to Dynamic.
3 Playing the Sylphyo
3.1 Breath control, nuances, and articulation
Blow gently into the mouthpiece of your Sylphyo. You should hear a sound whose intensity is controlled by the intensity of your breath.
Feel how your breath flows through the instrument, from the mouthpiece right to the bell, just like an acoustic instrument. This is what makes the Sylphyo unique.
Now, try making notes in a few different ways and listen to your synthesizer’s response to how you shape notes using your breath:
- try short and long ones, loud and soft ones,
- try increasing (crescendi) or decreasing (diminuendi) in loudness,
- try pronouncing syllables like tu, ku, or du, and make quick successions of them (tukutukutuku, tukudu tukudu),
- try rolling your tongue (flutter-tonguing).
These are some nuance and articulation techniques you can use to control your musical phrasing.
With Sylphyo Bench
Now that you can shape notes and create rhythm, let’s focus on how you can apply melody.
The default fingering of the Sylphyo is similar to a modern recorder (see the Fingerings section for more details), so most notes require that you touch an octave key in addition to one or more note keys at the same time. To get a feel of the different notes, you will learn a major scale.
First, touch all the note keys except the one under your left little finger, simultaneously with the middle octave key on the back of your Sylphyo. When blowing into the mouthpiece, you will play a C note on the third octave4 (C3).
Then, raise your right little finger and blow into the mouthpiece: you play a D3.
Continue to raise your fingers one by one from bottom to top, blowing into the mouthpiece each time to hear the note you play, until the only keys left touching the Sylphyo are the middle octave key and the topmost note key, which should be under your left index finger. You are now playing a B3.
Finally, stop touching the topmost note key, touch the key under your left middle finger, and blow into the mouthpiece: you just ended the C major scale with a C4 (C note on the fourth octave).
To change the current fingering, check out thesection of the Settings menu.
With the default fingering, adding the little finger of the left hand usually raises the current note by a semitone: for instance, C3 will become Db3. There are other ways to play notes with accidentals (sharps or flats), some of which are inspired from recorder fingerings, but with any of these you can now play any pitch in the chromatic scale.
Beta feature: key-bends
To activate key-bends, go to thesection of the Settings menu.
3.3 Inertial control
Getting a bit winded? You can also make music just by moving your Sylphyo around.
We will soon offer plugs with several sizes of exhaust to adapt air flow.
Activate the inertial mode by gently, but firmly shaking your Sylphyo from top to bottom (shake-to-move), while maintaining contact with the slider using your thumb. You should see a white line with the caption INERTIAL MODE on the bottom edge of the performance screen.
Now, slowly tilt your Sylphyo from the vertical to the horizontal position. You should start hearing sound at a 45° angle, and it should reach its maximum intensity when the Sylphyo is horizontal. In inertial mode, the elevation angle of your Sylphyo always replaces the intensity of your breath in the control of sounds.
Changing the elevation angle is fine for slow variations, but you can also produce fast attacks using the same gesture that activates inertial mode: shaking the Sylphyo from top to bottom. The intensity of the attack will be proportional to the velocity of your movement.
To stop inertial mode, just blow into the Sylphyo.
Aside from inertial mode, you can use the elevation and roll angles of your Sylphyo to modulate any sound parameter. You need to enable these controls in the section of the Settings menu.
With Sylphyo Bench
To do so, enter the MIDI channel Quick settings by holding the Aodyo key together with the ↓ octave key with your left hand, and by pressing the + key or swiping to the top of the slider several times with your right thumb.
With this preset, the elevation angle of your Sylphyo adds an echo effect, and its roll angle applies a slight vibrato.
3.4 The slider
Inertial control is spectacular, and body movements are very nice to add visual expression to your performance, but sometimes you want more intimate ways to control and shape your sound. This is what the slider is for. Usually, your right thumb is placed just below the thumbrest and presses against the top of the slider.
While playing, move your thumb along the surface underneath the thumbrest, and listen how it affects the sound. Stop touching the slider, and the effect immediately ceases.
This is also the case (with other CC numbers) when you move the Sylphyo around, if any of the inertial control options is active (you can see and change the messages in the section of the Settings menu).
If you want the effect to stay until you touch another part of the slider, select Control (latch) as the main slider function in thesection of the Settings menu. If you select Pitch-bend ±, you can instead use the slider like a pitch-bend wheel: start pressing anywhere on the slider, roll your thumb upwards or downwards to continuously change the pitch, and stop pressing the slider to remove the pitch-bend variation.
To control more parameters, you can also have the slider perform a different function depending on whether you start touching it on the Top edge (just below the thumbrest) or on the Bottom edge (see thesection of the Settings menu).
With Sylphyo Bench
Then, select preset 5•Club Chords by switching to MIDI channel 5.
With this preset, controlling the slider starting from the bottom edge will transition between a chord to a solo instrument.
Controlling the slider starting from anywhere but the edges allows you to transition between a major 7th chord (top), a dominant 7th chord (middle), and a minor 7th chord (bottom).
We designed the Sylphyo so that settings can be quickly accessed using the Aodyo key (Aodyo), which you can find in the upper part of the front of the instrument.
From the playing position, you can easily reach the Aodyo key with your left index finger. Position your left thumb near the octave keys, and position your right thumb near the slider or the settings keys.
There are two places from which you can setup the Sylphyo in various ways:
- Quick settings allow you to quickly change the base key, the MIDI channel, and other parameters.
- the Settings menu offers other, more specific but less often used parameters.
4.1 Quick settings
We designed Quick settings so that once you have learned how to operate them, you can quickly change a setting in the middle of your performance, without even having to look at the display.
Each octave key allows you to access a different Quick setting. In addition, there are two additional settings that are accessed differently.
To enter Quick settings, hold the Aodyo key, as well as the octave key corresponding to the quick setting you’d like to change (see below). To get out of Quick settings, simply stop touching the Aodyo key. When inside a Quick setting, you can adjust the value either by pressing settings keys + or -, or by sliding upwards or downwards on the slider.
|Octave key||Icon||Quick setting and meaning|
|↑||(base key symbol)||Base key
Change the base pitch of the Sylphyo (C3 by default).
|◆||(preset symbol)||MIDI Program Change
Set the MIDI program (or preset) for the current MIDI channel.
|↓||(MIDI symbol)||MIDI Channel
Change the MIDI channel the Sylphyo sends its messages to (Channel 1 by default).
To access the additional parameters (MIDI Volume and Breath intensity CC), just hold the Aodyo key and tap the slider. Perform more taps to access the other additional parameters, and adjust their value just like other quick settings.
4.2 Settings menu
The Settings menu allows you to change many parameters that are less often tuned.
To enter the Settings menu, hold the Aodyo key and swipe your thumb all the way from the very bottom to the top of the slider5.
Once in the menu, to select a menu item, tap the ↑ and ↓ octave keys, or slide upwards or downwards on the slider. To confirm the menu item, execute its action, or start modifying its value, press the ◆ octave key, or tap the slider.
To go back a page, tap the Aodyo key, or swipe the slider from top to bottom. To exit the Settings menu, repeatedly tap the Aodyo key, or swipe the slider from top to bottom while holding the Aodyo key.
The following will recapitulate the different sections of the Settings menu.
4.2.1 MIDI Mappings
This is where you review or select which MIDI messages (e.g., MIDI CC) are sent by the Sylphyo for every gesture you can make while playing.
Set the MIDI message (CC or Aftertouch) sent in response to the intensity of your breath.
Default: CC 11 (Expression)
Set the velocity value sent with every note. You can select any fixed velocity value from 1 to 127, or select Dynamic if you want the Sylphyo to set velocity based on the intensity of your breath.
- Pitch-bend range
The Sylphyo assumes the pitch-bend range is ±2 semitones. You can not change this value on the Sylphyo, but many virtual instruments and synthesizers allow a custom range.
- Slider ctrl.
Set the MIDI CC sent when moving the thumb across the slider.
Default: CC 1
- Top slider ctrl.
Set the MIDI CC sent when moving the thumb across the slider, if the slide has begun on the top edge of the slider and a Top edge slider function is set in thesection.
Default: CC 12
- Btm. slider ctrl.
Set the MIDI CC sent when moving the thumb across the slider, if the slide has begun on the bottom edge of the slider and a Bottom edge slider function is set in thesection.
Default: CC 13
- Elevation ctrl.
Set the MIDI CC sent when varying the elevation angle of the Sylphyo if the Elevation control option is set in the section.
Default: CC 75
- Roll ctrl.
Set the MIDI CC sent when varying the elevation angle of the Sylphyo if the Roll control option is set in the section.
Default: CC 76
This section allows you to setup the breath sensor of the Sylphyo.
Set the frequency of the breath sensor. This affects the response time of the Sylphyo, but also the effectiveness of advanced breathing techniques. You usually want the highest frequency possible, but some virtual instruments, apps, or synthesizers may not be able to handle higher frequencies.
Default: Medium (250 Hz)
Set the minimum amount of breath intensity (in arbitrary units, between 0 and 2000) that will trigger a note start. Usually, you might want to decrease the minimum to get the fastest response, or to increase it to avoid spurious notes.
Set the dynamic range of breath intensity (in arbitrary units, between 0 and 3000). A lower value allows you to reach the maximum note intensity with less air, while a higher value allows you more precise control of the breath response.
Set the curve of the breath response, between Linear (more realistic), Logarithmic (faster response with less breath), and Lin-log (intermediate curve).
This section allows you to change the fingerings of the Sylphyo, as well as several parameters and functions pertaining to the note keys.
If you are used to a particular wind instrument, you can select the corresponding fingering in this list.
- Replay same note
When performing two consecutive fingerings that lead to the same note, whether to play the same note twice.
- Reaction time
Set the time taken to react to changes in fingering (in milliseconds, between 0ms and 75ms). Increase reaction time if you hear unintended notes when playing legato: if so, the Sylphyo reacts too fast to your finger movements. Conversely, decrease reaction time if you’d like to make faster trills and other effects.
- More sensitive
Increase the sensitivity of the octave and note keys. Activate this option if you feel that the Sylphyo seems to “forget” that some fingers are touching the keys (typically, on the octave keys). Some users need this option for the capacitive technology of the Sylphyo to perform reliably with their body.
- Key-bend (BETA)
Allow note keys to behave like recorder tone holes with respect to pitch-bend: the amount of skin in contact with the bottommost key determines whether the note is bend upwards, and by which amount (to do so, you can either slide your finger on the key, or raise it slightly).
- Key noise (BETA)
Generate MIDI note-on/note-off messages even without breathing into the Sylphyo. This is used to hear key noise with the Samplemodeling/SWAM virtual instruments.
In this section, you will be able to configure the various functions of the slider.
Select the main function of the slider, between None, Control (issue the control CC defined in thesection during contact, and return to 0 as soon as there is no contact), Control (latch) (same, but do not return to 0), or Pitch-bend ± (use the slider like a pitch-bend wheel).
- Top edge
Select the function of the slider if you start sliding by touching its top edge (just below the thumbrest).
You can choose between Nothing, Ignore slides, Control (issue the control CC defined in thesection during contact, and return to 0 as soon as there is no contact), Pitch-bend + (bend upwards, and return to 0 as soon as there is no contact), or Pitch-bend - (same, but bend downwards).
- Bottom edge
Select the function of the slider if you start sliding by touching its bottom edge (at the end of the sliding surface). See above for a list of functions.
- Thumb size
Adjust the size of the top and bottom slider edges to the size of your thumb (in arbitrary units, between 1 and 50, with 12 representing the thumb of a median adult).
In this menu, you can activate different features of the Sylphyo related to movement and inertial control.
- Shake to move
Allow the activation of the inertial mode by shaking the Sylphyo once in a downwards movement, while touching the slider surface using the thumb. To exit inertial mode, just blow into the mouthpiece.
- Elevation control
Allow the Sylphyo to send MIDI CC messages (defined in the section) corresponding to the elevation angle of the Sylphyo (altitude of the bell). Does not work when inertial mode is active.
- Roll control
Allow the Sylphyo to send MIDI CC messages (defined in the section) corresponding to the roll angle of the Sylphyo (around its axis).
4.2.6 Other main menu items
- Base key
Change the reference note of the Sylphyo.
Select the MIDI channel to which the Sylphyo sends its MIDI messages.
Default: MIDI Channel 1
- Receiver device
Select this item to pair the Sylphyo with a wireless receiver device.
- En français
Select this item to switch the Sylphyo to the French language.
Perform a factory reset. This changes all the settings of your Sylphyo to the default ones.
Display some information (such as the version of the internal software and various sensor values) that our technical support might want to get in order to troubleshoot your Sylphyo.
You can enter this menu anytime by swiping the slider from bottom to top while holding the Aodyo key.↩
Sylphyo Bench supports Windows 7 and onwards, as well as macOS 10.8 and onwards.↩
There is always a tradeoff with audio buffer sizes: they should not be too high (or else there will be a delay between your breath and the sound), but they should not be too low either (or else you will hear cracking noises).↩
You might play another note if your base key setting is different from C3.↩
Old timers will appreciate that the settings menu can also be accessed by pressing the Aodyo, the ↑ and the ↓ keys simultaneously, just like the first versions.↩