KASINA!!! and Procyon 3

This morning there was a knock on the door. Nobody there. But a little box from Eastsound, Washington lay on the doormat. Yay – almost seemed I was going to be the last person on the planet to get a “real” Kasina.Image

A “real” Kasina? Well, yes. I’ve had Kasina for quite a long time. The first incarnation to arrive was nothing more than a circuit board. It had some problems and its feature set was, let’s say, basic. Nevertheless, I fell in love with it and apart from insufferable audio quality it would have already been the best, most sophisticated device available.

My second Kasina was a “Rev 1”. It was fully built but still had awful audio. The feature set was growing. The navigator control was illuminated differently. My love for the device deepened. Again, with audio fixed, I doubt anyone would have been disappointed with it as it was.

In the beginning SpectraStrobe support in MindWorkstation had some problems – one being a fault (almost inexplicable clicks), the other being limited control capability. During this time I turned my attention to other means of generating content – notably MuLab but also some MindWorkStation/Audacity hacks. MindWorkstation has been fixed and upgraded and is now probably the quickest and easiest way to create full audiovisual sessions utilizing almost the full capabilities of the device. There are some functions and session-types for which I favor MuLab.

The Kasina that arrived today is pretty much my idea of the perfect AVS device. This is probably unsurprising as I had some say in its feature set, and the others involved are no slouches in the AVS field either. I doubt there has ever been a device that has been as extensively tested and evolved as the Kasina. Features were being added and refined up until moments before production, and there remains the scope, and intention, to further enhance the Kasina capabilities by means of firmware updates. The Kasina has one seriously grunty little processor with plenty of spare capacity. A notable area where enhancement is underway is the functionality of the integral synthesizer – using KBS files generated with the Kasina Basic Editor.

The Kasina documentation is readily available, so I won’t labor the point over features. The important points are that it provides full 6-channel (left/right RGB) light control, audio from its built-in MP3 player, via the auxiliary in, as a USB audio device and using its own synthesizer. Various combinations of these are possible.

The primary light control protocol is SpectraStrobe, essentially an enhanced AudioStrobe, extending the audio encoded light control to cover the six channels as opposed to AudioStrobe’s two. Naturally, it does AudioStrobe too – with a feature called “ColorSets” to choose which permutation of colors to map the two AudioStrobe channels to – adjustable on the fly so the colors can be easily matched to the session type.

Something long missed from the Sirius days is the ColorOrgan. Fire up some audio by any of the means listed above and the Kasina will do a very nice job of mapping frequency bands from the audio to colors with the experience changed according to any of the six audio response settings. A lot of work went into the mapping algorithm – it is exceptionally good. The hardware/firmware team have blown me away with their talent and persistence.

My early Kasina experience used prototype GanzFrames – substantially similar, but less bright. The new glasses have rocked my world.

Kasina comes with a pretty good collection of sessions. There’s a full set converted from the old Sirius, using KBS. A number of the well known AudioStrobe tracks have been SS encoded. There’s a bunch of functional sessions (ones using “best practice” application of specific frequencies for specific purposes). There’s a good selection of Mind Art, Trance and Meditation content. Users are already posting their sessions on the MindPlace forum and Transparent are upgrading some of their sample MWS sessions to support SS.

For the record, apart from the Sirius conversions, all of the content has been created by Neuroasis or myself. Neuroasis also designed the packaging and LCD graphics. I was largely responsible for the Manual (apart from the German version which provides some additional information and conforms to European declaration requirements). Quite a lot of content that I have submitted has been withheld for subsequent release via the MindPlace SoundCloud – some SS encoded material is already there. Most of that which is to come is of an entirely different character to other material I am aware of.

For serious AVS use I cannot think of another device worth considering. There are many devices that have novel features, consumer bling orientated and/or attempting to get around the one bane of a real AVS device – cable tangle. Cable tangle is a very small price to pay for near unlimited capability. Every other device I know of is handicapped in some obvious way.

It has been a privilege working with Robert Austin, MindPlace and the team of extras.

Procyon

Also in my eagerly awaited package was a Rev 3 Procyon. There are two major distinctions between Rev 2 and Rev 3.

Rev 3 gets rid of that silly proprietary GanzFrame connector in favour of a relatively common 4-contact 3.5mm plug. This provides a more robust connection, both physically and electrically. It also makes it a bit easier for the hacker to play with controlling things other than the standard GanzFrames.

Rev 3 also has new GanzFrames – intense!

Summary

The Procyon and the Kasina are, to my mind, the top two devices in all but obscure and not-useful-to-me features. They are fundamentally different. The Procyon is primarily a standalone synthesizer with very good AudioStrobe decoding – it’s nature tends to lead to very crisp and vivid visuals. The Kasina is that and more. Primarily intended for use with SpectraStrobe encoded content off its internal 8Gb uSD card, it tends to provide more subtle, some say organic, visuals. Using KBS its visual characteristics are at least as good as the Procyon.

Either/or, or better, both.

Cheers,
Craig

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