Chicago-based hacker and synthesist Matt Heins is working on an open source synth kit. As a co-creator of the MeeBlip open source-synth hardware, I’m biased — I want more open synth hardware! So this is looking like some great company. The instrument is 8-bit, with analog filter circuitry, coded in C. The specs:

Fully Open Source Hardware and Well-Commented C Software Design
Digital Analog Hybrid Circuitry
2 Digital Oscillators with 16 waveshapes, updateable to more
2 Low Frequency Modulation Oscillators with 10 destinations
Innovative Digitally-Controlled Analog Filter with Low-Pass, Band-Pass, and High-Pass with Envelope Control and External Audio Input
Analog Voltage-Controlled Amplifier with Envelope Control
Drone/Loop Mode for Playing by Itself
19 Knobs to Twiddle and 8 Switches
Full MIDI Input and Output
Sound Patch Save and Recall

I think the self-playing mode is particularly clever, and of course having presets is nice. There’s already a PCB and lots of interesting discussion of the design and sound on the blog:

And, as seen in the video, this is a Kickstarter project – invest early, and down the road you’ll be at the top of the list to get a synth.

Since this is likely to raise some comparisons to the MeeBlip, I can summarize: for now, the MeeBlip uses a digital rather than an analog filter, it’s a 16-bit synth rather than 8-bit, and it comes in a case if you like. We’ll have more of an update on the MeeBlip soon, but it will be available for sale again this month, alongside an updated Special Edition and reworked workflow. Also, by the beginning of August, I’ll have tutorials on how to code for it very quickly without any previous experience with programming (yes, even in Assembly).

But I’m excited that there’s a range now of open source music hardware; I will try to do a full write-up soon. And in the meantime, Matt, I hope I make it to Chicago in the next couple of months and we can say hi — the synth is sounding great, and I look forward to trying it! The dream of an open music-making hardware rig is now very close to fruition.

If you do want to get onboard on Kickstarter:
Rockit 8-bit Synth Kit