"Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

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KSS
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"Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by KSS » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:16 am

It used to be so simple. Only a couple different banana color schemes with fairly clear lines about which to use where. For example, probably not going to change out Buchla jacks to match a BugBrand color scheme.
Serge would use a Serge color scheme, which only had -mostly- an old and a 'newer' version with mostly agreed uses for colors.

That's all changed. The banana world is thankfully growing, but the color schemes are scattered all over the rainbow.

In addition to the three listed above, we've got R*S and Elby's version of Serge, and Kilpatricks modules are yet another take. I'm sure I'm leaving some others out?

If you were making a new format today that includes banana jack patching, how would you decide which color scheme to present?

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by Kattefjaes » Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:20 am

I think I'd be simplistic enough to look at my favourite colour for the most used socket and then use a colour wheel to find complimentary colours, so they'd be distinct.

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by lusoman » Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:00 am

I have red green color-blindness, so I use red and green and hope for the best...
Call me old-fashioned, but I like a dump to be as memorable as it devastating.

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by the bad producer » Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:10 am

There was a thread about this on electro-music (in 2009 LOL) mainly pertaining to Frac:

https://electro-music.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=32779

In the end I went with

Audio in: yellow
Audio out: green
CV in: grey
CV out: blue
Logic in: white
Logic out: red

Like this:
tumblr_8eadc8197960769cc92f4599ac459cd4_fd13dc72_1280.jpg
But generally when building for other people they ask for red/blue/black a la Serge 'classic' look, or the newer *RS* scheme.

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by mdoudoroff » Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:48 am

Setting aside color vision problems, the core problem with color coding jacks (or anything else) is that it is encoding. As the number of colors rises above 2, the less effective it is at communicating (because the viewer is having to run more and more rules through their head like “yellow is for audio in”). Generally speaking, what ends up happening is that the viewer learns the purpose of the jack and its position, and largely disregards the color, because mentally processing spatial relationships is much easier than decoding colors. This is why lots of modular synths (e.g., Eurorack, 5U) get by just fine without color coding.

Color is more effective—used in simple scheme—to visually break up monotonous patterns that are hard to process spatially. For example, if you have a grid of jacks and/or knobs, applying color to a block of them to differentiate their function, or to differentiate the parameter knobs from the attenuators, etc., can lead the user to reach for the right thing, rather than get lost in a sea of sameness. This approach is used commonly (but not uniformly) in Eurorack; for example, the inputs might be black on white, and the outputs might be white on black.

So, if you just like color and you want the synth to be colorful, then I’d suggest that pure aesthetics are as good a basis as any. :mrgreen:

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by drew » Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:44 pm

I’ve always enjoyed the violet and green of this one that was obviously in contention before Serge settled on blue black red:
http://serge.synth.net/gallery/serge/index.html

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by soup » Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:11 pm

I think panel color has to be a consideration.

I built quite a bit using an expanded version of the bugbrand color scheme with 8 colors. While I found I could patch faster some of the more specific ins and outs there are a couple of modules I often mispatch because they are laid out a little different. So I don't think that my brain is always paying attention to the colors.

Lately I've been playing with different panel colors and maybe because I've been working on more sequencery things I'm mostly just using 2 colors for ins and outs. More for aesthetics than anything else but many signals are different things depending on how they are patched anyways. This is what I would choose right now, probably with a 3rd color reserved for special occasions.

0V needs it's own distinct color too of course.

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by BananaPlug » Mon Oct 19, 2020 1:50 pm

I like the Serge approach as seen in 80s and 90s (I stopped keeping track after the left Oakland). Mostly the color told you what kind of signal it is without further complicating by direction. Output jacks tended to be clumped together and surrounded by a line. Black is for AC coupled signals, usually audio, but Red for gates. Blue for DC coupled signals (CV etc.). There were a more (e.g. gray for osc sync) but mostly those three main ones.
(Sounds)--> :eek:

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by BugBrand » Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:11 pm

KSS wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:16 am
If you were making a new format today that includes banana jack patching, how would you decide which color scheme to present?
My route actually came a lot from availability & pricing - I could only get a few colours easily. Black & white never called me (they're not really colours, are they! and black for 0V works for me) so I was left with Yellow/Green/Blue/Red. There's a lot to be said for Keep It Simple Stupid! Though actually there is a lot of blurring. I had initially called Yellow/Green for audio path but reclassified that as 'main' path as that felt a bit wider & I make modules DC-coupled unless there's an absolute preventative reason.

Personally I think clearly distinguishing between In & Out is vital - I never got my head round Serge (lack of experience) but have been confused looking as to whether some sockets are ins or outs.

I also colour code knobs in a similar manner.
A bit more here: https://www.bugbrand.co.uk/technical-in ... rstanding/

So, yeah, basically I'm basic in approaches! And definitely feel like an interloper amongst Buchla & Serge!

Now, off to read the 2009 history Charlie posted!

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by mritenburg » Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:16 pm

I personally like the Buchla banana jack color scheme, but I’m biased.

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by architexture » Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:58 pm

Ciat Lonbarde is pretty cool.

Warm colors are outputs, cool colors are inputs, with features divided by colors.

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by ear ear » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:47 pm

BugBrand wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:11 pm
Personally I think clearly distinguishing between In & Out is vital - I never got my head round Serge (lack of experience) but have been confused looking as to whether some sockets are ins or outs.
Panel graphics tell you that. Usually. Box at top is outputs. Bottom-to-top signal flow. Kind-of.
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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by the bad producer » Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:43 pm

Ken had a good one ‘add yellow for outputs’, so for example blue in for cv, green for out, red in for logic, orange for out etc!

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by BananaPlug » Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:01 pm

So what it comes down to is, whatever floats your boat! :boat:
(Sounds)--> :eek:

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by the bad producer » Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:08 pm

:yay:

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by pugix » Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:18 pm

BananaPlug wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:01 pm
So what it comes down to is, whatever floats your boat! :boat:
I think so, too. Problem is, there's no really good, consistent way to map jacks to colors. AC doesn't always mean bipolar, nor DC unipolar; the concepts are orthogonal. In/out, control/signal, AC/DC, unipolar/bipolar, continuous/discontinuous, it gets too complicated. If you have the opportunity to choose your own, after surveying existing schemes, conjure up what works for you.

A similar problem infects knob colors and cable colors. We've had endless discussions.
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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by batchas » Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:40 am

mritenburg wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:16 pm
I personally like the Buchla banana jack color scheme, but I’m biased.
+1

As I use different systems, I'd go buchla scheme + yellow audio in, green audio out, not adding a new colour combo.
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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by Kent » Tue Oct 20, 2020 2:12 am

The Buchla scheme is ingrained in my head and makes sense.

If you want to do audio over banana, then just choose something complementary. Batchas also suggested something logical.

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by BugBrand » Tue Oct 20, 2020 3:18 am

Kent wrote:
Tue Oct 20, 2020 2:12 am
The Buchla scheme is ingrained in my head and makes sense.

If you want to do audio over banana, then just choose something complementary. Batchas also suggested something logical.
But but but... tinijax isn't a colour! ;)

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by teleport » Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:34 am

mdoudoroff wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:48 am
Setting aside color vision problems, the core problem with color coding jacks (or anything else) is that it is encoding. As the number of colors rises above 2, the less effective it is at communicating (because the viewer is having to run more and more rules through their head like “yellow is for audio in”). Generally speaking, what ends up happening is that the viewer learns the purpose of the jack and its position, and largely disregards the color, because mentally processing spatial relationships is much easier than decoding colors. This is why lots of modular synths (e.g., Eurorack, 5U) get by just fine without color coding.

Color is more effective—used in simple scheme—to visually break up monotonous patterns that are hard to process spatially. For example, if you have a grid of jacks and/or knobs, applying color to a block of them to differentiate their function, or to differentiate the parameter knobs from the attenuators, etc., can lead the user to reach for the right thing, rather than get lost in a sea of sameness. This approach is used commonly (but not uniformly) in Eurorack; for example, the inputs might be black on white, and the outputs might be white on black.
Totally agree with the above thoughts. Colors are helpful for grouping like elements and aiding in spatial differentiation, but it's tough to imagine anyone approaching a synth in a way that based understanding of functions by the jack color rather than a functional grasp of the purpose of the port in context of the modules functions. The AC or DC coupled indicator does kind of make sense, but breaks down in cases like in Jon Peter's panels where there are switch selectors for coupling caps to a given banana, (a super useful addition).

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by ear ear » Wed Oct 21, 2020 5:35 am

mdoudoroff wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:48 am
Generally speaking, what ends up happening is that the viewer learns the purpose of the jack and its position, and largely disregards the color, because mentally processing spatial relationships is much easier than decoding colors. This is why lots of modular synths (e.g., Eurorack, 5U) get by just fine without color coding.
teleport wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 12:34 am
[...] but it's tough to imagine anyone approaching a synth in a way that based understanding of functions by the jack color rather than a functional grasp of the purpose of the port in context of the modules functions.
You both seem to be conflating the experience of, on the one hand, learning a system and, on the other hand, using a system as an experienced or fluent user who does what they want without consciously thinking it through. In the former case the user has to learn somehow, whether that be by looking at symbols, colours, text on the panel, asking questions on the internet, a cheat sheet printed out and placed near the system where it can be viewed easily, or reading the manual -- obviously all modular systems have manuals... err, cough.

Personally, I find Serge-style colours useful and aesthetically pleasing, but I also have a grid-and-nothing-but-the-grid Hordijk system that I also get along with just fine. Designers have very varied aesthetic preferences -- I suppose that's what it comes down to once any obligation to provide some workable means for new users to learn the system has been taken care of. I think Tom Bugs stands-out as a designer making systems that can be navigated using colour, who gives his modules a regular general physical arrangement, but isn't afraid to mix those arrangements up to make his systems easier to navigate using spatial relationships.
He throws the ink first and works out what it is later. "I've got to turn that into parrots." - Ralph Steadman

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by mdoudoroff » Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:52 am

ear ear wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 5:35 am
You both seem to be conflating the experience of, on the one hand, learning a system and, on the other hand, using a system as an experienced or fluent user who does what they want without consciously thinking it through.
Nah. My whole point is that color coding offers only limited value for learning, and zero value once you learn the device. Once you learn your way around, you’re no longer looking at the colors in terms of their encoded meaning (you don’t think “yellow means CV input”). Rather, to the extent you “see” the color at all when you’re using the familiar device, it’s just a spatial reference relative to other colors and contrasts. You already know perfectly well what that jack does—colors and contrasts just help you jump (navigate) from one crowded part of the panel to another. That’s just how the brain works. So, hand wringing over complex color coding schemes falls more into “cute” than “useful”, but colorful and fun is :sb:

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by KSS » Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:54 am

I'm enjoying watching the replies and appreciate them all. Learning

Wasn't going to reply until later but want to interject for now only on this idea that colors only encode and lose value over time to position.
@mdoudoroff, teleport
I couldn't agree less. Your idea and assertion that colors only work to encode areas and not specific points in that area is faulty. at best. Or that once position is learned colors no longer help. That's silly. Take a walk through a field of some blooming flowers and think about it.

You're quite right that the brain uses colors and contrast to identify. Why you believe this doesn't include colored points is beyond my comprehension.

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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by ear ear » Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:37 am

mdoudoroff wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:52 am
Nah.
But, but, but... :)

I broadly agree with you about spatial relationships having priority, but the record of the last 40 years shows that there is a broad palette of visual techniques, including colour, that can and have been used to help users navigate sometimes crowded and complicated user interfaces (and perhaps, cough, more importantly, cough, to make the exteriors of systems as beautiful, fascinating, and compelling as their interiors). I agree that universally-applied colour schemes can be more 'cute' than 'useful', but my contention is that if in specific cases, e.g. AC- or DC-coupling of Serge Wave Multipliers inputs and outputs or Serge Oscillator outputs, indication by colour is judged necessary, or merely likely to sometimes be of use, then I don't think there is a simpler and more effective way of achieving this objective -- and I suspect(!) that it is even, on rare ocassions, necessary for experienced but ocassionally forgetful users. :eek: :help: Having judged colour to be useful in one or a few specific cases, would it not be... awkward(?) not to extend the use of colour system-wide? I'm never going to fail to correctly differentiate the three outputs of my Serge '73 Filter, but if it happens to be useful elsewhere in the system to make bipolar outputs black then the outputs of that filter are going to be black to fit with that even though they don't particularly need to be.

As has been said elsewhere, designers might have a wide variety of different indications they wish or feel obliged to give the user -- so wide that it seems in some cases to be quite a challenge to make everything look part of a universally valid and perfectly-conceived scheme. Take the Modcan 61A Quad LFO: can users be expected to memorise the 16 waveforms in the correct order -- hell no! Solution: write the whole lot out in a honking great list directly onto the panel. Just as well Modcan A panels are so large... :confused: :party:
Last edited by ear ear on Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:42 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: "Best" Banana Color Scheme for New Format?

Post by mdoudoroff » Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:37 am

KSS wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:54 am
@mdoudoroff, teleport
Your idea and assertion that colors only work to encode areas and not specific points in that area is faulty. at best.
Not what I wrote. A colored point can be an excellent spatial reference (landmark).
ear ear wrote:
Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:37 am
I broadly agree with you about spatial relationships having priority, but the record of the last 40 years shows that there is a broad palette of visual techniques, including colour, that can and have been used to help users navigate sometimes crowded and complicated user interfaces (and perhaps, cough, more importantly, cough, to make the exteriors of systems as beautiful, fascinating, and compelling as their interiors). I agree that universally-applied colour schemes can be more 'cute' than 'useful', but my contention is that if in specific cases, e.g. AC- or DC-coupling of Serge Wave Multipliers inputs and outputs or Serge Oscillator outputs, indication by colour is judged necessary, or merely likely to sometimes be of use, then I don't think there is a simpler and more effective way of achieving this objective -- and I suspect(!) that it is even, on rare ocassions, necessary for experienced but ocassionally forgetful users. :eek: :help: Having judged colour to be useful in one or a few specific cases, would it not be... awkward(?) not to extend the use of colour system-wide? I'm never going to fail to correctly differentiate the three outputs of my Serge '73 Filter, but if it happens to be useful elsewhere in the system to make bipolar outputs black then the outputs of that filter are going to be black to fit with that even though they don't particularly need to be.

As has been said elsewhere, designers might have a wide variety of different indications they wish or feel obliged to give the user -- so wide that it seems in some cases to be quite a challenge to make everything look part of a universally valid and perfectly-conceived scheme. Take the Modcan 61A Quad LFO: can users be expected to memorise the 16 waveforms in the correct order -- hell no! Solution: write the whole lot out in a honking great list directly onto the panel. Just as well Modcan A panels are so large...
Yeah, you used the word “navigate” up there… that’s the spatial thing again. Our brains are extremely well developed at spatial navigation—perhaps better at that than anything else, so we’ll employ any spatial queues we can get. For example, the colorful panels on the Moog Grandmother and Moog Matriarch get a big thumbs up from me. But that’s not color coding. (Green doesn’t really mean “filter”, blue doesn’t really mean “oscillator”, but the space is broken up nicely.)

Color coding is trying to encode arbitrary meaning: that creates a visual puzzle to solve. Stop lights successfully employ color coding, but there are only three colors, and their meaning is universally accepted. Notice how, when you encounter an unusually complex traffic light at some big intersection that has 4-5 lamps, you suddenly have to do an order of magnitude more *thinking* than normal, even without any new colors being introduced. The more you diverge from a few universal cases, the bigger, more challenging a puzzle you create. Obviously, assigning each waveform on the Modern Quad LFO a unique color would be a disaster. ;)

Alas, we’re already getting there. Some module designers (Make Noise, cough cough) have been trying to use RGB LEDs to assign a whole rainbow of colors to different operational or parametric modes. :doh:

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