After an initial period when I couldn’t put it down, I soon found myself disappointed that the volume of the device was too low for any kind of performance without additional amplification. There was also the fact that the Orange version could only be powered from a mains adapter, lacking the White’s battery compartment. (I believe this was purely to justify the price difference between the White and Orange – aside from the cosmetics and the lack of battery power, the two are identical in function and sound).
But it was mainly the volume issue that did it for me – I found that even playing it at home, any attempt to play alongside other instruments just ended up being frustrating.
Recently, I had cause to unbox my Tenori-On to generate a quick and dirty music sequence, and it’s been on my desk all weekend. With a bit of googling, and delving deeper into the menus, I uncovered the following:
1) The “hardware volume” is set by default to 96 out of 127. I already knew this, and had set it to 127, and managed to make that setting stick.
2) The song layer volume is also set to 96 out of 127. I was aware of this, and knew how to change it, but it cannot be permanently set – when you switch the Tenori-On of, it will revert to 96. Also, setting it to 127, while making it louder, still wasn’t particularly loud.
3) However, as well as the song layer volume, each layer has its own individual volume, also set to 96 out of 127. As before, changes are not permanent. This bit, I didn’t realise.
4) All three volume controls are cumulative in effect. If you think about it, this means that the volume of a layer was – by default – set to 42% of maximum volume (96/127)x(96/127)x(96/127). (Yes, that is assuming a linear volume profile, but you get what I mean).
Setting all 3 volumes to 127 gives a clear beautiful sound that can be heard over a 12-string guitar, and is fine for acoustic performance. Obviously, having achieved a max volume, it is easy to tweak it downwards, as appropriate.
Furthermore, although setting (2) & (3) cannot be made permanent, I have learned a push and swipe menu combination at can set the thing to maximum with minimum effort, and without having to work through the menus.
So I have just ordered a 3rd party battery pack, for the princely sum of £3.50, which will finally make this into a useful portable tool. Others have done the same, and say they can get 6-8 hours play out of a set of 8 AA batteries. The pack will be velcro’d to the back – not pretty, but practical, and the pack can be removed when not in use.
I won’t be bringing this along to any music event soon, as I still have a lot to learn about how to use it creatively. But now I can actually hear it, I might play with it a bit more.