Reviews Weigh in on Our MeeBlip anode Synth; Here’s What They Said

MeeBlip anode, our ready-to-play bass synth with an analog filter, is now shipping and in dealers worldwide. We knew we wanted to make something that was accessible to those new to hardware synths, but had enough personality to surprise advanced users, too – even in a small box, for US$139.95 list. And we also now know what the critics think. It’s always easy to explain what you wanted a creation to be. It’s a different, if exciting, experience when you read someone else’s take on what resulted. But that makes me all the more pleased to share a round-up of …


littleBits Adds “User-Generated” Hardware, Launches Store with Oscilloscope, Bleep Drum

littleBits, the snap-together magnetic hardware module system for easy DIY hardware mash-ups, has a unique take on how to add new hardware. Previously, modules came from littleBits; the popular Synth Kit collaboration with KORG being a significant exception. littleBits has certainly offered a lot of options, including the recent Cloud Kit for adding Internet connectivity. But now, it’s opening up hardware development to anyone with an idea. While littleBits calls itself “open source hardware” – founder Ayah Bdeir even co-founding the Open Hardware Summit — that openness has always been restricted when it comes to the magnetic connectors. Those are …


aleph Soundcomputer: Interview with monome creator Brian Crabtree and Ezra Buchla

aleph is something of a curiosity: it’s a dedicated box uniquely designed for sonic exploration that isn’t a conventional computer. It comes from the creator of the monome, but while dynamic mapping is part of the notion, it is the first monome creation capable of making sound on its own. The monome is a controller that uses a grid for whatever you want; aleph is a self-contained instrument that makes any sound you want. In review: aleph, from monome: Programmable Sound Computer That Does Anything But this isn’t only a story about some specialist, boutique device. It’s a chance to …


Bhoreal: RGB Grid as Open Source Hardware – Kit or Ready-Made, Wired or Wireless

We are Bhoreal from MID New Media Design on Vimeo. Grids are suddenly everywhere – in music control, but also in visuals and art. And they’re lighting up in RGB. But Bhoreal promises to do some things other grids aren’t. Whereas the monome is a truly beautiful, handmade and rare object, its rarity – by design – means it’s hard to get. And readily-available commercial products aren’t open source, and while they fit certain needs elegantly, they’re designed to stick to those needs rather than allow easy modification. Bhoreal is this kind of blank-slate, do-anything colored grid you can turn …


When Plants Jam with Synths: Leslie Garcia’s Open Project Lets Plants Talk with Sound

Pulsu(m) Plantae _ project presentation from LessNullVoid on Vimeo. You may have seen a plant used as a musical instrument before, by measuring capacitance across the leafy life form and turning it into a touch sensor. This is something different: it’s letting the plant itself express communication through sound, using biofeedback to turn the living systems on the plant into something audible. It is a synth jam, made by a plant, that tells you something about what the plant is sensing about the world around it. From Tijuana, México, media artist and musician Leslie Garcia shares the latest iteration of …


Shine: An LED Wall Looks Great, Tours Easily, And You Can Build It [Open Source Hardware]

Brilliant in more ways than one, this LED wall is affordable, practical, beautiful, and completely open source, from physical design to software. Hans Lindauer of Portland, Oregon sends us his project, constructed with collaborator Alex Norman for the band STRFKR, on tour with it now. Check it out in action: It defies the idea that LED wall tech has to be pricey, the domain only of big, commercial acts and specialized makers. There are a number of clever features engineered into this DIY wall:


Radio in an Online Age, Made Tangible: Skube Are Smart, + Spotify Speakers

Computers give you sophisticated ways of connecting to online music. But do you ever miss that physical object of the radio? Or wish that a speaker could be just as smart when, with a sigh of relief, you’ve pressed the laptop lid shut? Skube is a design experiment from Copenhagen focused on making portable devices more connected and communal sharing easier. They’re speakers that you might consider members of the Internet of Things, using Arduino and Xbee wireless networking to make the device mobile while piping sounds from Spotify and Here’s some demo footage of the speakers in action: …


The Era of Hardware Mixing for Laptops Cometh: SPARK D-FUSER Available

*spark d-fuser: demo from toby*spark on Vimeo. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s nearly here. The first hardware mixing for laptops that’s practical and affordable for the visual community has arrived. And it should be just the tip of the iceberg. Back in 2009, we celebrated Toby Spark’s community-led video mixing, and bravely (perhaps bravely and prematurely) declared that the era of high-quality hardware mixing was at hand. It is, of course, a simple premise. You’ve got one laptop, and you want to crossfade to another. And you don’t want to use an analog signal – least of …


MIDIpal is an Open Box for Doing Stuff with Notes and Sequences and Things [Gallery, Interview]

Musically, compositionally, we think in notes and rhythms and patterns. MIDI may be a simple way of describing those elements, but it can be surprisingly expressive. And so, just as we have all sorts of boxes for adding effects to sound, there’s clear appeal to boxes that do stuff with musical patterns and information – a bit like a MIDI stompbox. We saw one example last week in the form of the MCP. Here’s another appealing “magical MIDI box” – and it’s also open source hardware. Created by Olivier Gillet, maker of the open source Shruthi-1 synth, it’s an affordable …


MIDI Control Platform: One Open Box, Any Notes, Harmonies, and Rhythms [Gallery]

What if you just had a box that crunched MIDI data? In the realm of DIY hardware, ideas tossed aside by the bigger music tech market thrive. And so, we have the MIDI Control Platform, a poplar wood and lasercut-aluminum box with basic controls and a graphic display. It’s a box that does … well, stuff. Via software modules and that screen, it can turn into any MIDI-processing tool you desire. This idea has been seen in boutique hardware before – I loved the Ruin & Wesen MiniCommand, but sadly that device and its MidiDuino library never caught on. The …