anodewithmixer

We have reached a wonderful place. It’s a world where we no longer treat digital and analog as simplistically better or worse, but as techniques, as colors, a spectrum of tools for exploring sound.

Or to put it another way, we now make wild noises however we want.

And that’s very much how I feel about the direction we’ve gone with MeeBlip anode, combining digital waveforms with analog filtering, which is why I’m keen to share it here on CDM and not just via the MeeBlip site. The new 2.0 firmware comes with a selection of 16 wavetables, covering a range from glitchy to rich and sonorous – and raunchy and dirty, for sure.

I finally got to spend the weekend recording some new music with this, having played with it live, and made a little demo sequence in a free moment. (Thanks to online tool Splice for providing their office as a studio on the road here in New York.) I got to use the terrific standalone step sequencer in the Faderfox SC4. Add a USB dongle for that, and you have a terrifically-compact and mobile rig, by the way.

In the selection: single-cycle, fixed waveforms in 16-bit, covering blended saw, granular, FM, and some bit-reduced and distorted sounds.

The full list:

Wave Bank 1: Sawtooth, blended sawtooth, FM 1, distorted 1, granular 1, voice 1, voice 2
Wave Bank 2: Bit reduced 1, bit reduced 2, bit reduced 3, distorted 2, distorted 3, FM 2, FM 3, more granular.

To get at them, you now hold down the MIDI Select button on the back of the unit as you power it on. Then, instead of having the usual width and sweep controls for a rectangle wave, you turn the Width knob to select different wavetables, each with its own timbre. To access the full 16, you change bank using the Sweep switch.

I wanted to use UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT RIGHT LEFT RIGHT B A, but that would be slightly impossible. Maybe on that 8-bit instrument we saw earlier today, huh?

All anodes shipping now have the new firmware; all existing anodes can be upgraded.

The new firmware is now up on our GitHub site and as always is open source, so you can look at how this is done. If you already own anode, we’ll have instructions on how to update your model. (I’m also hoping to organize some anode owner parties!) If you don’t, you have today to take advantage of a North American holiday sale online, or you can go to fine dealers worldwide:
http://meeblip.com/get-one/

  • Andy Cartridge

    am looking forward to upgrading my MeeBlip with the new wavetables! 🙂

  • Andy Cartridge

    am looking forward to upgrading my MeeBlip with the new wavetables! 🙂

  • Jason

    A bit OT, but Peter, have you been using Splice? Would love to hear about your experience if you have.

    • Joseph Perkins

      Yeah, i’m surprised there hasn’t been a feature on splice. For this this is a game changer. Maybe Peter know something we don’t…. A return of Ableton share.

      • I’m working on some real-world tests on Splice and Gobbler. That for me was the important question. If you just need backup or firing files back and forth, just about anything will work. These cover specific use cases so I wanted to try them hands-on. And each platform has been actively in development… so round about now is a good time to go into greater depth.

  • Jason

    A bit OT, but Peter, have you been using Splice? Would love to hear about your experience if you have.

    • Joseph Perkins

      Yeah, i’m surprised there hasn’t been a feature on splice. For this this is a game changer. Maybe Peter know something we don’t…. A return of Ableton share.

      • I’m working on some real-world tests on Splice and Gobbler. That for me was the important question. If you just need backup or firing files back and forth, just about anything will work. These cover specific use cases so I wanted to try them hands-on. And each platform has been actively in development… so round about now is a good time to go into greater depth.

  • june

    So if this is open source does that mean there might be a way to open up the code and add custom waveforms?

    • just passing

      As I understand it, the complicated bit is getting the code back into the anode – there’s no reflashing code in the OS, and it doesn’t expose ICSP pins anywhere. Not allowing firmware updates over MIDI is surely a missed opportunity, given that the Shruthi-1 has them; but then the Shruthi-1 imposes a condition of ownership that you have to be familiar with the right end of a soldering iron, and I can see that not offering a convenient upgrade path would be preferable for James & Peter to being compelled to forever fend off owner-assassinated anodes.

      On the other hand, of the 16KB currently used by the anode firmware, 11KB is wavetable data (3KB for antialiased sawteeth, 8KB for the new waveforms), so you could add code to update the wavetables and the OS separately – load the OS into a new bit of Flash, have the bootloader test to see if it’s there and checksums, and if it doesn’t, revert back to the old OS. There’s 16KB of unused space there, so it’s possible.

      • just passing

        Oops, my bad – the anode DOES expose ICSP pins (at least, they’re brought out to a connector on the circuit board). So you need a programmer, but if you have that you probably know what you’re doing to the point where you can recover from it going wrong – and if you don’t, then presumably anode upgrade parties will have resident ohhh-shit helpers.

        • Actually, by requiring a programmer, we make sure that you can’t really screw things up – whether you know what you’re doing or not. So that was the first rule: do no harm.

          We’ll have a full tutorial on this, just coming in a few days. Arduino works, too, as a programmer.

          I’m perfectly happy for people to use anode right out of the box and never hack anything. I really want to have open source hardware that comes in a case, that you can throw in a bag, that you can use without thinking about it being hackable.

          But then, I also want it to be hackable for those who want to go there – even if it’s their first time. So we have a bit of documentation work ahead of us. But anode’s firmware is simple enough that it is something people can use to learn hacking.

      • James Grahame

        There isn’t enough room on the chip for two copies of the firmware + waveforms + a bootloader, unfortunately. MIDI Sysex firmware updates would be relatively easy if anode had a MIDI out for handshaking and checksumming, too. There simply wasn’t room in the case for an extra DIN MIDI jack.

    • James Grahame

      Yes, the waveform include file contains the waveforms in 256 x 16-bit signed integer format. The waves were resampled from the open source AKWF sample collection which contains thousands more.

      Reprogramming anode requires an inexpensive AVR pocket programmer, a copy of the avrdude programming utility and the firmware hex file. If you take the back cover off the synth, there’s a 6-pin ISP programming header on the bottom of the board.

      I’ll explain more in a post on the Meeblip site later this week.

  • june

    So if this is open source does that mean there might be a way to open up the code and add custom waveforms?

    • just passing

      As I understand it, the complicated bit is getting the code back into the anode – there’s no reflashing code in the OS, and it doesn’t expose ICSP pins anywhere. Not allowing firmware updates over MIDI is surely a missed opportunity, given that the Shruthi-1 has them; but then the Shruthi-1 imposes a condition of ownership that you have to be familiar with the right end of a soldering iron, and I can see that not offering a convenient upgrade path would be preferable for James & Peter to being compelled to forever fend off owner-assassinated anodes.

      On the other hand, of the 16KB currently used by the anode firmware, 11KB is wavetable data (3KB for antialiased sawteeth, 8KB for the new waveforms), so you could add code to update the wavetables and the OS separately – load the OS into a new bit of Flash, have the bootloader test to see if it’s there and checksums, and if it doesn’t, revert back to the old OS. There’s 16KB of unused space there, so it’s possible.

      • just passing

        Oops, my bad – the anode DOES expose ICSP pins (at least, they’re brought out to a connector on the circuit board). So you need a programmer, but if you have that you probably know what you’re doing to the point where you can recover from it going wrong – and if you don’t, then presumably anode upgrade parties will have resident ohhh-shit helpers.

        • Actually, by requiring a programmer, we make sure that you can’t really screw things up – whether you know what you’re doing or not. So that was the first rule: do no harm.

          We’ll have a full tutorial on this, just coming in a few days. Arduino works, too, as a programmer.

          I’m perfectly happy for people to use anode right out of the box and never hack anything. I really want to have open source hardware that comes in a case, that you can throw in a bag, that you can use without thinking about it being hackable.

          But then, I also want it to be hackable for those who want to go there – even if it’s their first time. So we have a bit of documentation work ahead of us. But anode’s firmware is simple enough that it is something people can use to learn hacking.

      • James Grahame

        There isn’t enough room on the chip for two copies of the firmware + waveforms + a bootloader, unfortunately. MIDI Sysex firmware updates would be relatively easy if anode had a MIDI out for handshaking and checksumming, too. There simply wasn’t room in the case for an extra DIN MIDI jack.

    • James Grahame

      Yes, the waveform include file contains the waveforms in 256 x 16-bit signed integer format. The waves were resampled from the open source AKWF sample collection which contains thousands more.

      Reprogramming anode requires an inexpensive AVR pocket programmer, a copy of the avrdude programming utility and the firmware hex file. If you take the back cover off the synth, there’s a 6-pin ISP programming header on the bottom of the board.

      I’ll explain more in a post on the Meeblip site later this week.

  • Sleepy

    Is there a MIDI commands to switch waveforms? would be really cool if you could switch them from external midi controller

  • Эдуард Станиславский

    Is there a MIDI commands to switch waveforms? would be really cool if you could switch them from external midi controller

  • Newgreyarea

    Hey Peter, I’d love to hear a bit more about the SC4!! I’ve been considering getting one to sequence my Moog Sub Phatty. Can it run standalone or does it require a computer? That’s the deal breaker for me.

    • Newgreyarea

      Hmmm. . . . . Did I say Sub Phatty? I meant MeeBlip.

  • Newgreyarea

    Hey Peter, I’d love to hear a bit more about the SC4!! I’ve been considering getting one to sequence my Moog Sub Phatty. Can it run standalone or does it require a computer? That’s the deal breaker for me.

    • Newgreyarea

      Hmmm. . . . . Did I say Sub Phatty? I meant MeeBlip.

  • Will

    Congrats on the 2.0 Peter, James and team. Been on the fence about picking one up and this just pushed me over.

    Looking forward to that hacking guide. Just snooped some of the stuff @ataweg has added in their github fork and, um, wow! Arpeggiator? 2x ADSR?? Predefined patches? https://github.com/ataweg/meeblip-synth/commits/master Is that stuff for the actual hardware?

    • James Grahame

      The official MeeBlip SE firmware had 2 ADSR envelopes and 16 patch memories. MeeBlip anode doesn’t have enough controls on the front panel for that (I added a couple of pushbuttons on the SE to allow patch loading and saving; anode doesn’t have them).

      • Will

        Ah, that ataweg fork is for the SE? I thought there was perhaps some MIDI only tomfoolery going on!

  • Will

    Congrats on the 2.0 Peter, James and team. Been on the fence about picking one up and this just pushed me over.

    Looking forward to that hacking guide. Just snooped some of the stuff @ataweg has added in their github fork and, um, wow! Arpeggiator? 2x ADSR?? Predefined patches? https://github.com/ataweg/meeblip-synth/commits/master Is that stuff for the actual hardware?

    • James Grahame

      The official MeeBlip SE firmware had 2 ADSR envelopes and 16 patch memories. MeeBlip anode doesn’t have enough controls on the front panel for that (I added a couple of pushbuttons on the SE to allow patch loading and saving; anode doesn’t have them).

      • Will

        Ah, that ataweg fork is for the SE? I thought there was perhaps some MIDI only tomfoolery going on!

  • WetBoy

    What did you mean by “Add a USB dongle for that….” ?

    • Robin Parmar

      I think he means that a USB digital audio interface is a great way of getting sounds out of this device and into a portable device like a phone or tablet. That’s my guess, anyway.

  • WetBoy

    What did you mean by “Add a USB dongle for that….” ?

    • Robin Parmar

      I think he means that a USB digital audio interface is a great way of getting sounds out of this device and into a portable device like a phone or tablet. That’s my guess, anyway.