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 …


Learn to Jam with Just One Synth Voice: MeeBlip + Ableton Push vs. Gustavo Bravetti [Video]

Ableton Live and Ableton Push afford new ways of working, allowing you to put loads of parameters beneath your fingertips. Of course, the means of doing that may not be immediately obvious, behind the dance between grid, encoders, and automation envelopes. Leave it to Montevideo-born, virtuoso dance music maestro Gustavo Bravetti to show us how it’s done. Gustavo pairs the MeeBlip SE, the enhanced “digital freak” original version of our synth, with Live and Push. To connect the hardware with automation of the external synth, he uses a Max for Live patch for the MeeBlip (which you’re free to download …


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 …


Will Your Next Controller Be 3D Printed? Meet Adafruit’s Open Source Grid

The original monome project did more than just create a novel piece of hardware for music. It established a design language for what essential digital interfaces might be, in the deceptively simple form of its light up grid of buttons. It’s not so interesting to just copy that hardware, then. More compelling are efforts to extract the elements of the design in ways that can be turned into new things. Adafruit has been slowly building up a nice set of building blocks clearly inspired by monome. Trellis is a system for making the grids component work – lighting the buttons …


Transform Sounds for Free, with Tools Made with MeeBlip anode by Diego Stocco

The technique is called convolution, and it uses the power of digital audio theory to combine sounds, as if one is heard “inside” another. And if you’ve heard of it before, you probably associate it with reverb – rightfully so, as you can produce highly detailed, realistic reverberation with the technique. But as celebrated film and TV composer Diego Stocco has shown us previously, you can use that same potential to create sounds that would be otherwise impossible. And it means you can fuse the sounds of a synthesizer with totally unrelated sounds to create something unlike you’ve ever heard …


There’s an Unofficial Eurorack Version of MeeBlip anode

You can’t buy it – it’s a one-of-a-kind model – but someone was enough in love with the sound of MeeBlip anode that they built their own modular version.


littleBits Synth Kit Will Add USB Audio, CV, and MIDI; See Snap-Together Modular Live in NYC

littleBits has already won over some synth enthusiasts with snap-together modules you can combine via magnets, and a collaboration with KORG. But until now, the open source gizmos have been largely a world unto themselves. You could route audio in and out, but that’s it; any expansion was dependent on buying more littleBits modules. Over the course of this year, that will change. Already, there’s a US$36 Arduino module, opening up custom-coded functionality and computer connectivity. And by the end of the year, littleBits will add three modules that make the Synth Kit into more of a synth (or controller, …


Quick Jam: Digital Warrior, Open Source Step Sequencer, Plus KORG volca beats and Bitwig

Don’t call it a comeback. Hardware step sequencing is becoming the must-have accessory for even computer users. And the boutique Digital Warrior controller, which neatly combines knobs with colored pads, is a great solution. I’ve been messing about with the Arturia BeatStep, as well – review coming – but the Digital Warrior has some tricks of its own. It integrates nicely with Traktor, like the still-forthcoming MIDI Fighter Twist from DJ TechTools. But the reason I wouldn’t buy or recommend the DJTT piece is – no MIDI┬áDIN connector. And that spoils the fun. Here, the Digital Warrior is comfortable not …


microGranny 2.0 is a New Handmade Granular Sampler from the Czech Republic

“Bastl” is Czech slang that’s roughly equivalent to the maker culture or DIY. And now, from the makers of the glitchy, odd, and wonderful world of Standuino, comes a new granular sampler, a follow-up to a terrific earlier kit. The Bastl crew are showing off the microGranny 2.0 among lots of other new gear here at Musikmesse. They’ve added some functionality to the instrument (copy/paste, more presets), and put it in a very attractive housing. But as before, you get a hackable, happily lo-fi sample mangler. Load up your sounds on SD card, then manipulate them with hands-on controls or …


The DIY Display: OSCAR is an Open, Ultra-high-res Screen Controller

It’s about time the maker movement tackled display technology. Enter OSCAR (Open SCreen AdapteR). It’s the sort of super high-resolution 9.7″ LCD panel you’d expect trapped inside something like an iPad, but you can connect it directly to a computer via Arduino. Now, the actual “DIY” bit here is pretty simple: it’s just the interface. But even just having the interface is fairly useful. The display tech itself remains mass-market, mass-produced, but by adding that raw display part to the interface, you can build your own projects – and there are clearly some installation and other DIY projects just waiting …