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Play, patch, and hack this palmtop analog modular synth: NS1nanosynth

Synths: they’re fun to tweak and play. Modulars: they’re fun to patch. Arduinos: they’re fun to hack. Small things: they’re fun to carry around. Now, what if you got all of those things at the same time? That’s the thought behind the NS1nanosynth analog synthesizer. It’s either vying for the prize of tiniest modular synth ever, or most hackable tiny synth ever. If you saw one from across the room, you might just assume this was just another little project synth. And lately, that category, while generating lots of decent oddities, hasn’t had something that could stick as a hit. …

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Here are two new ways of combining a synth with Arduino

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten not just one, but two new synthesizers that piggy-back on the Arduino electronics platform. The result, then, is instruments that you can modify via Arduino code. You’ll need an Arduino for each of these to work, so figure on adding some bucks to the purchase price. (I also recommend only using a real Arduino or Genuino; the clones I’ve found are often unreliable, and it’s better to support the developers of the platform.)

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Launchpad Pro Grid Controller: Hands-on Comprehensive Guide

Novation’s Launchpad Pro is here. It shares the same compact footprint as earlier Launchpads, but adds full color, pressure-sensitive pads, and MIDI inputs and outputs, plus the ability to operate without a computer. So, with other grids to choose from, where does this one fit? The Launchpad line of controllers has always been about simplicity. Even when the original Launchpad was introduced, it did less than its nearest rival, the AKAI APC. But it was popular partly thanks to being simple, light, small, and affordable. That fits many users’ needs, and can be nicely combined with other hardware. The Launchpad …

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Lo-Fi SES Looks Like a Game Controller, Plays Like a Chip Instrument

What if there were a hacky, hackable handheld game platform – just for making noises? That’s what the Arduino-powered, Lo-Fi SES is all about. It’s basically a little 8-bit music toy, with a control layout borrowed from Nintendo of the past, but expandable, hackable, and open. The sound is very grungy and digital, but it all appears easy to play. The cutest touch: you expand the board with “cartridges,” add-ons that connect to the top to add functionality. “One”Final Sound Adventure” adds more sounds. “USB: A Link to the Hack” lets you program the board from your computer, using Arduino …

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Wu Tang Debuts Song in Hackable Form: New Track on Blend First

If the album business model is collapsing, the frantic rush to everything else is at least interesting. Hip hop as a genre, of course, came from a deconstruction and reconstruction of the album, from the early evolution of DJ techniques and sampling. So, the fact that Wu Tang is skipping the conventional release altogether is new, but it’s also connected to history. Sure, plenty of artists have gone for remix contests and the like. What’s different in Wu Tang’s case is that this time, the debut track “So Many Detailz” from their Parent Advisory will head straight to Blend as …

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Wacky, Wooden Shnth Makes Eerie Sounds, Colors Outside the Lines [Documentary]

Shnth is a digital synth in a wooden box with a surprisingly open-ended programming language. It’s like a lo-fi sonic computer, touched with your fingers via a handmade interface, and with sonic capabilities that can be re-programmed over USB. And there’s a coloring book to go with it, too, with pictures of Max Mathews and microsound for you to sketch in. The drawings there, like the sounds that come out of its outputs, full of rough, digital edges and unexpected swoops and swirls of timbre, seem to encourage coloring outside the lines. Peter Blasser of Baltimore is the synth’s creator …

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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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New Open Grid Gear: A Hackable, Touchable, Light-up Array – BlipBox

Light-up grids of buttons are nearly commonplace, but the BlipBox is something different: its array of lights is also a sensor, making it both X/Y controller and light-up grid. And it’s designed to be completely open — firmware, hardware, schematics and documentation are all fully GPL-licensed and open source. For those of us who aren’t ninja coders, it’s also easy to customize, thanks to friendly software (pictured below) .k for making nifty interactive animations on its display and support for the artist-friendly Processing code environment. As the creators describe it, it’s three (three!) pieces of hardware in one: a creative …

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Amazing MeeBlip Users, Making MeeBlips, Playing MeeBlips, and Other News From Our $140 Synth

What happens when you unleash a $140 or less, open source, monophonic, hackable synth with a funny name into the world? We’ve found out, and thanks to inventive users, it’s quite nice. Photo by Iain Browne, who also has a hilarious Tumblr. We introduced the MeeBlip, an open source, hackable synthesizer, back in early November. Designed by James Grahame of Reflex Audio (and blog Retro Thing) and co-produced with CDM, we placed the hardware and software of the MeeBlip under an open source hardware license, and it was something of an experiment for us. Affordability was paramount – you can …

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