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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Wonders of DIY Synths: A New PreenFM, a Polyphonic Oberheim Clone

It’s a new golden age for synth lovers, past meeting the future and so on. At least, we have a stunning number of wonderful toys. And the DIY community is coming up with a number of particularly special creations. Take the terrific open source PreenFM, an original, 6-operator FM synth that’s entirely open source hardware (code and schematics). On Sunday, we learned what creator Xavier Hosxe has in store for the new model:

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Video Explains Why Difference Between Analog, Digital Isn’t What Most People Think

“Analog versus digital” – the discussion, it seems, is everywhere. The problem is, many people simply don’t understand what these terms mean. In one 25-minute video – engaging and entertaining to watch straight to the end – the biggest myths all get busted. In short: 1. 16-bit, 44.1 kHz really is okay for many tasks. (You’re saving that data for the computer and processing rather than your own ears. Hope to talk about this question in more detail soon.) 2. Digital audio doesn’t involve stairstepping. 3. Digital signals can store and be used to reproduce sound that’s identical to what’s …

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Inside Strange Sounds, Gear, Made in America: Richard Devine, Make Noise [Videos]

The lust for new sounds can take many forms. It leads some to reduce, forcing themselves to stick to minimal choices to channel their creativity. It leads some to reuse and recycle, repurposing old gear. But it leads some into a quest for arcane racks of gear, spaghetti tangles of wires and flashing screens alike, a buzzing laboratory of choices and possibilities. For this chapter in the story, we take a peek at the modular obsessed and toy-packed studios, with Richard Devine, Make Noise, and friends. The southeastern USA is a pretty summery place now, the day before the Fourth …

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Transcendental Glitchy Drones, as the Standuino Crew Assemble an Ensemble of Electronics [Videos, Gallery]

Standuino π [pi] synced with frauAngelico + microGranny from standuino on Vimeo. Once the stuff of noise art oddity — isolated electronic experiments staying mostly on the test table — the DIY instrument is starting to find friends and form ensembles. And so it is that Czech instrument design mad scientists Standuino have assembled a clever little suite of open boards, happily chirping and glitching and droning together in musical harmony. So, before we start delving into the esoteric number theory of the new “π” drone synth, behold as their three creations play together in the video at top. There’s …

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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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meeblipkoma2

Hands-On Jam: MeeBlip SE with Koma Elektronik Delay, Filter [Gallery, Video]

A wintry afternoon sometimes calls for putting the work on hold and spending some time jamming. So, this week (in approximate celebration of Sinterklaas), I headed around the corner to the offices of Koma Elektronik, the boutique all-analog gear producer. Here’s a few minutes of combining digital with analog, each with its own timbres and applications. In the digital corner: the iOS step sequencer Phaedra (watch for an update on that soon), and our open source MeeBlip SE synth. On the analog side: Koma’s BD101 delay/gate and FT201 filter/sequencer. In the digital world, we get the flexibility of MIDI sequencing …

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MeeBlip SE's new limited edition features retro color scheme and knobs, plus 30 patch memores - and now ships fully-assembled worldwide.

An Open Synth for Anyone: MeeBlip SE, €/$150, Making Music and Shipping – Fall Limited Edition

“Open source hardware” has generally come to mean something for hobbyists, something involving soldering irons and code. MeeBlip is about something different: it’s about making a musical instrument anyone can play, right away – with or without soldering. It’s about making music. And that’s why I’ve been glad to have CDM involved in this project: we get to build something that embodies what we believe in. Now, you can get a Limited Edition, retro-styled MeeBlip SE for US$149.95 / €149.95 (incl VAT) / £119.95 (incl VAT), shipped just about anywhere worldwide, fully-assembled. Order page | International info | SE Limited …

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anushri

Mutable’s Anushri Bundles Sequencing, Drums, Synthesis, CV in One Hobbyist-, Modular-Friendly Kit

Call it the Mutable Fun Pack. The Synth Happy Meal. The Family Variety Bucket. The Anushri doesn’t have quite the sound design depth that Mutable’s Shruthi-1 does, but in its place, you get a whole mess of different features. It’s an analog synth, with an additional digital oscillator. It’s got its own step sequencer/arpeggiator. It’s got an 8-bit, bit-crushed drum machine. And it has analog connections for modulars in addition to MIDI, so modular lovers can put it into a Eurorack if they like. In fact, it seems to bring some of the compact, lovable features of Roland’s 101 and …

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The Hive synth. Photo: Q.Smith, Yes Dear Ltd.

Of Bees and Oscillators: Bioni Samp’s EP Full of Eco-Influences, Homebrewed Gear [Listen, Gallery]

If electronic music sometimes seems to contain the secret dance language of insects, mysterious coded rhythms and swarms of sound, an EP released this summer by an English producer makes the connection explicit. Bioni Samp sends us his strange and wonderful sonic journey into the colony. In tunes alternately atmospheric and danceable, at least of the sort to which you might wiggle your thorax in a deep, dark hive, The Island uses every possible sonic resource. Artist Bioni Samp is a producer and video artist from Leeds, Yorkshire now living in London. He points CDM not only to these wonderful …

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