littleBits Open Source Synth Kit on GitHub; KORG Filter Secrets Revealed, Music Projects

Open source music hardware has gone from promising concept to practical reality. It incorporates not just hacker-friendly kits, but end user products, from synths to controllers to effects. And now, for the first time, you can find one of the biggest names in the musical instrument industry on GitHub. KORG and littleBits promised they’d release their collaboration under the same open source license as the other magnetic, snap-together modules from littleBits. This week, they’ve delivered. It’s a little tricky to find, so let’s walk you through it. The good stuff is in the EAGLE files – the circuit diagrams, here …

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Digital Warrior Goes Open Source, DJ-friendly Step Sequencer Hardware Gets Better

A USB-connected step sequencer with controller is now improved, and open source. The Digital Warrior is a boutique hardware controller hailing from Cyprus, combining a 16-voice, 32-step sequencer with four pots and two three-color endless encoders, all attached via a driverless USB connection. It’s capable of acting as a step sequencer/controller with any tools you like, but out of the box includes support for Traktor remix decks and Ableton Live control. The remix deck functionality with Traktor is a particular draw; developer and producer/DJ Tomash GHz pioneered this particular way of combining step sequencers and Traktor’s Remix Decks. (Check out …

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anodetop

MeeBlip anode: Compact Bass Synth with Analog Filter, A CDM Collaboration

The challenge: fit everything you really want from a bass synth into a 4″ x 4″ square. Make every parameter hands-on, with full-sized knobs and switches. Give it an analog filter that can be angry, not just nice. Our solution: MeeBlip anode. It’s the new collaboration between CDM and instrument designer James Grahame. Together with James’ engineering work, we’ve cooked up a little package that focuses on packing personality: Digital oscillators meet an original analog filter Grungy, bass-heavy sounds Compact, 4” x 4” case (approx. 100 x 100 mm) Modulation, envelope, tuning, and pulse width controls MIDI input for compatibility …

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pMic is a 3D-Printed A-B Stereo Mic You Can Make Yourself; Hear It

Now, the next time you want a stereo microphone, you can hit print. Well, okay – that’s not entirely correct. But a combination of last-century DIY (circuits for making the mic) with this-century DIY (3D printing for making a convenient housing) means a custom microphone you can build that’s exactly suited to your needs. And, oh yeah – it’s both cheap and fun. Frank Piesik shares this project via Google+ and his blog. The plans are open-sourced and available on GitHub, so you can try making your own if you like; you’ll just need a 3D printer or 3D printing …

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littleBits Synth Kit, First Hands-on: What They Sound Like, Reviews, Videos

Imagine if you could take apart your favorite recent KORG analog creations, chop it up into little blocks, and then snap them together with magnetic ease? In other words, imagine if you could put together a KORG synth as easily as you did LEGO? It’s every bit as much fun as you’d imagine. I’ve been testing the littleBits Synth Kit for a few days now. I’ve got some sounds for you here so you can hear some of what’s possible. (They’re Creative Commons-licensed, if anyone wants to try to sample them in a track; I know I’ll be working on …

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littleBits and KORG: Snap Together A Synth with Magnets, $159; Module-by-Module Details, Q&A, Gallery

New York startup littleBits and founder Ayah Bdeir helped pioneer the modern definition of open source hardware. But they also put it into action, getting even young kids snapping together their own hardware ideas. The process is addictively simple: whereas platforms like Arduino require breadboards and wires, littleBits’ tiny circuits are already pre-made and snap together with magnets. It’s an idea that screams out for sound applications. And now – in a collaboration that leaked earlier this week – that’s happened. The surprise is, the collaborator is none other than KORG. The price: US$159 (direct, and at some retailers). Shipping: …

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midipal1

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 …

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syitcases

SJS-ONE: Open, Arduino-Based Synth, with Crazy Cases and Web Troubleshooting

SJS-ONE is an 8-bit synth that you add to an Arduino board, making it ideal for hardware and firmware tinkerers and lovers of unique monosynths. But we’ll give it bonus points for two other reasons. First, it has some really bizarre cases available as add-ons, which look a bit like punk birdhouses. (Birdhouse squats? Hot rodded bird tenant buildings?) Second, in a really clever move, they help you troubleshoot hardware issues with a Flash animation. It could make it clear even to a complete beginner how to use a multimeter (a measuring device that checks electrical connections). The Arduino design …

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Bio-interfacing Meets Music: Journal, Berlin Opening, and Get Started with Open Hardware Right Now

To understand the relationship between computer and musician, you have to first understand the relationship between computer and human. For many years, that interaction has primarily involved some gesture – the click of a mouse, the swipe of a finger – and an accompanying interface abstraction. But now, from phones to desktops, computers are not only data acquisition gadgets for photos and text and various hand gestures. They’re increasingly looking inward at their human masters, connecting to the biological feedback systems our bodies themselves use. And music is a perfect window into that world. It’s a big moment for bio-interfacing …

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3-way-rand-seq

A New Sequencer Module, Open Hardware from Music Thing, Crowd-sources Manufacture

Sometimes, when you want something, you have to make it yourself – literally. The blog Music Thing, back in the day, was a favorite reason for any music tech lover to fire up the browser. Now, Tom Whitwell – whose day job at The Times of London keeps him plenty busy – is back, with open source modular hardware. The Music Thing Random Sequencer is an analog module you can examine and modify, one with completely open source licensing, inspired by classics like Don Buchla’s 266 Source of Uncertainty module. If you want one for yourself, though, the process is …

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