GetLoFi has found a real gem in the form of the Flame talking MIDI synth. Hacking Speak ‘n Spell’s? Totally last year. This synth is homebrewed from the ground up, using an IC (integrated circuit) that specializes in speech synthesis. GetLoFi says that chip is permanently on backorder … why am I not surprised? The chip offers “2 speech elements (allophones), 43 sound effects, and 12 DTM touch tones.”

Flame-The MIDI Talking Synth [GetLoFi]
MIDI Talking Synth [Analogue Haven sale page]
Flame on Analog Damage months ago, while I wasn’t paying attention (sorry, Chris — still interested in tips on using this IC, though!)

There’s a microcontroller in there, as well, translating joystick and MIDI inputs to serial for the speech ICs (dual SpeakJets, in this case). This is already a great achievement. But is anyone else imagining an open sourced version of this, particularly given the possibility of features?

And might the current circuit bending trend ultimately give way to a bigger “build your own music hardware” trend? Part of what I admire about bending is its interest in chance and re-appropriating existing hardware. But I see potential for the growth of instrument construction culture, as well.

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  • Chris Randall

    I beat Get LoFi to the punch on that one by some four months, sorry to say:


  • Adrian Anders

    $550!?!?! Jeez I guess coolness has a serious price. Wake me when someone releases a freeware Synthedit version 😉


  • Peter Kirn

    Actually, as it happens I was looking for freely-available synthesis software libraries … there is some stuff out there, in C++, Java, and C#, so it could be written into a plug-in. (The Java one could be adapted to a Processing library, which would be awfully nice!)

  • David Anderson

    Check out the Soundgin too; same price as the Speakjet but actually available. And better synth features. Both chips are inspired by the original General Instruments SPO-256 allophone speech synth chip.

    As for open source? Hmm. Maybe the guy behind the Soundgin will help out there…