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

  • "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."
    You have to! lol, cause when i put "Shruthi" in the search box, there's no result….

    Thanx to point us on this bass monster! 

  • James

    @Guillaume: Oh, c'mon. Peter wrote up a great post on the "Shruti" following its release, shortly before the "h" was added to the product name. 🙂

  • That's wath i said, Shruthi with a 'h' isn't the same little box. More choice of filter, The Programmer, the Sidekick,… Just to say That the marvelous Olivier Gillet's work have to be here, on my favorite blog! If i have to answer who are m'y two star? Peter and Olivier.

  • Thanks for the write up, Peter! Let me know when you're coming out. I'm sure we could find a thing or seven to chat about.

  • Paul

    Indeed, Shruti & Shruthi are not the same. The Shruthi is a superb & very versatile little synth though 🙂

  • Paul

    Oh! And to add.. This Rockit looks pretty nifty too! 

  • Yep clearly! Can't avoid on kickstaryer for now, but sure i will build one!

  • I ended up building the Shruthi-1 mainly because I don't have any way to fabricate a case. With MeeBlip, it seems that you either get a kit that won't fit in the MeeBlip case, or an already-assembled PCB that just needs to be bolted into the case.

    Once built, I was blown away by how powerful the Shruthi is. It wouldn't be completely insane to compare it with a monophonic virus.

    Rockit looks interesting, but I'd like to see some kind of case option.

    My Shruthi-1 assembly video:

  • Peter Kirn

    Yep, the Shruthi (now with an 'h') will belong in that open source hardware round-up, as will the WTPA2 sampler. I wanted to anticipate a couple of questions on the MeeBlip, since we're very, very close to sorting out some concerns about shipping and coding…

    …and, yes, we're integrating the DIY and non-DIY boards, so that will no longer be an issue.

  • I love the way this sounds.  Fits with my aesthetic perfectly.  Gonna invest in the Kickstarter thing.

    – c

  • Don´t forget to mention the great with several awesome projects, including kafeSEQ, sammichFM and sammichSID and so much more!

  • Peter Kirn

    midibox is indeed awesome, but it isn't technically open-source hardware, but that may be just as well — it'll keep the list manageable. 😉 (actually, individual projects may be … depends on how strict we are)

    I actually think we have enough with explicit licenses to make a decent story. Nominees welcome!

    And, of course, this doesn't stop any of us from plugging into proprietary hardware as part of our effects chain — I know I do — just nice to have some of these more hackable options.

  • Re: licenses, latest and future releases from Mutable Instruments (Sidekick, Digital filter/FX board, dual SVF board, "wave 2" products) are cc-by-sa, so licenses flamewars there won't be.
    Re: 8-bits, I think it's very confusing to use it in a product description, since it can mean wildly different things, sometimes going in opposite directions, in the ears of an engineer or of a musician.

  • license

    all this Shruthi talk is making me depressed. I don't think I'll ever get mine working.

  • What's really interesting to me is that the Shruthi and Rockit are both 8-bit synths with analog filters (well, optional on the Shruthi). But they sound completely different.

  • Justin Reed

    Just a quick update on this project – with 34 days to go Rockit synth has been fully funded! KS donations are still coming in adn the project will remain open until 8-27.