Lunchbeat is a 1-bit Groovebox You Can Make Yourself

Friends bragging lately about the quality of the sound of their drum machines? Tell them you can make sounds lower fidelity than they can. LUNCHBEAT is a 1-bit groovebox, making impossibly-dirty digital sounds, with a built-in step sequencer. While we await a proper DIY kit, it’s an ideal learning project: it’s nice and simple, has a low part count, everything you need as far as specs is available free to create your own, and it’s a good way to work out the basics of digital sound and sequencing. And, really, if you need more than one bit to make music, …

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Bleep Drum Machine Gets MIDI, $110 Assembled, Glories of “Rad-Fi” Digital [Gallery]

In the box, inside the world of the computer, sound has few limits. It’s clean, it’s pristine; mimicking perfectly-miked drum kits or high-fidelity sounds is as easy as dialing in the gigs of samples you’ve assembled. But … wait a minute. It’s too clean. There’s something beautiful about a digital circuit, screaming and crunching as it cranks out every last bit. Those bits … hurt. There’s some personality to a peculiar machine that seems like it crawled out of a heap of circuit boards, staring back at you, blinking – winking? And in that world of anthropomorphic alien sound machines, …

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Hacking a TV, Remote Control into Music Tracker – And It Prints

It shows up on a standard (Teletext) television. It turns your remote control into a music interface. It makes glitching rhythmic music from sounds – even re-sampling bits of your TV. And then it prints your musical patterns. That’s the wild, far-out project concocted by chip artist goto80. The result is a “tracker, artificial intelligence, speech synthesis rap, stats sucker, printer, video feedback,” and music studio for your remote control, thanks to goto80, aided by the hackery of Peter Kwan and Raquel Meyers. Teletext may not be familiar to you depending on which part of the world you live in …

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Mixtape Alpha: An 8-bit Stylophone Synth in a Cassette Tape, $42

Electronic instruments really are becoming like folk instruments. US$42 now buys you a small board that you can touch directly, one that’s immediate and from which anyone can coax sounds. You can jam with it, pocket it; it’s affordable and direct and playable. And it all fits in a plastic cassette tape box. The re-released Mixtape Alpha (the first run sold out) looks like a real gem. It’s a crowd-funded run this time – eschewing Kickstarter for the Portland-based Crowd Supply. An ATmega328p-powered 8-bit synth (that is, using the chip that’s also in the Arduino, among others), Mixtape Alpha has …

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Playable 8-bit Game as Promo, and Okkervil River’s Nostalgia-Drenched Wonderlands

The standards for advance promotion of an album may be getting a little … intense. Photos? Track listing? Advance music video? Streaming preview? How about a complete, playable adventure video game in your Web browser, free, with charming graphics and an original chip music soundtrack adapting the songs from the record in 8-bit form? Due out Tuesday, September 3, Okkervil River’s LP “The Silver Gymnasium” isn’t shy about its nostalgia factor. The whole record is a re-imagining of frontman Will Sheff’s 80s childhood. That might be a bit much were the browser game not so beautifully executed. Sheff created the …

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Full-On Music Geekout: Schneiders Buero and RoughTrade, for Musical Delights [Videos]

If someone were to buy you a shopping spree, letting you roam free to stash anything you wanted in your cart, you could do worse than winding up with Schneiders Buero, the Berlin-based music gear boutique. And for records, the wonderful RoughTrade in London would easily be a top pick. Let’s combine them. That’s what happens in a new series of Schneiders Buero videos, as the man Mr. Schneider himself takes to the aisles of one of the world’s best-known record shops – and his own in-store corner full of musical creations. Getting on to some specific gear demos, we …

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Video: Hands-on with the M01D for Nintendo 3DS (Cooler Than You Thought M1 Was?)

Following our preview of Korg’s upcoming Nintendo eShop synth, here’s the one and only, incomparable CardiacTrance all the way from Japan to show it off. Trying to tell someone there’s a Korg M1 for the Nintendo handheld doesn’t really do this justice – or even make intuitive sense. But it is actually good news. Somehow, the combination of sequencing features, transforming the game system into a workstation, with the silly-small design makes the result more than the sum of its parts. And in the hands of a producer/musician, they become a lot more. Modern gaming, game music aesthetics, and some …

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Bleep Drum, $60 Hackable Drum Machine Based on Arduino, On Sale

Don’t call it “lo-fi.” Call it “rad-fi.” At least, that’s what Austin, Texas-based creator Dr. Bleep says about his latest, the Bleep Drum. We saw the Stone’s Throw Records / Dam-Funk commission Dam-Drum 2.0 last month, but it sold out almost as soon as we mentioned it. The Bleep Drum is a sibling to that drum machine. There are some adjustments to the design, but most significantly, this one isn’t a limited edition – you might actually be able to get one of your own. It’s simple, hackable (with pins onboard), Arduino-based, and grungy enough to be fun. And as …

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The Monster: DIY Project Looks, And Sounds, Like Alien Spacecraft Control Panel

Leave it to the DIYer. Alex Pleninger’s name isn’t just marketing. This is one monster of a synth creation, looking and sounding like it was ripped, circuits still humming, from a wrecked UFO. Retro trackball, keyboard? Check. In-built computer display? Check. Makes … a mind-boggling array of sounds? Oh, yes. It’s retro-future goodness, powered by the legendary SID, Robert “Bob” Yannes’ synth-on-a-chip that powered the Commodore 64. (In fact, get Bob and Wolfgang together, and you have a fair amount of digital synthesis history – with Ensoniq and PPG represented. See today’s other story.) Thanks to Marc Resibois for the …

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This holiday, take a holiday to another world, chip music style. An imagined NES dimension, here envisioned (CC-BY-SA) torley.

Cool Yule: Toy Company’s Free 8-bit/Lo-Fi Christmas Album, from Montreal

Whether you’re unwrapping presents or not, we’re spending these twenty four hours unwrapping some beautiful musical gifts: have a Yule that’s cool with fine, free/donationware releases. First in the queue… If unimaginative holiday music on endless repeat has given you the winter blues, the fine folks of Toy Company have the cure. The Montreal-based collective and 8-bit/lo-fi techno party series have brought together a number of friends with original tunes and noise and digital-fuzz-laden covers of tunes like “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night.” Meticulously-rendered, quirky music is free to hear, or thank the artists by naming your own …

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