The Snap-Together Studio: What littleBits Can Do Now

For all the power you might imagine of various tools, sometimes it’s combining simple devices that yields the greatest results. Our friend Chris Stack is no stranger to deep synths and powerful modulars. But he’s been doing inspiring things with the littleBits line of snap-together modules made with KORG – particularly now that they’re paired with modules for MIDI and CV. You might have seen some of these videos on (cough) other sites, while I was getting behind in my workload, but Chris has kept making more in the interim. He writes: “I was able to hook LittleBits into my …


Bleep’s Rad-Fi: Hackable, Bendable Synth and Effect on a Breadboard

How much freedom do you want when building things? You want the ability to experiment and make choices, but you also want the process of making to be easy enough that you can play. Bleep Labs last week introduced the first two kits in a series they’re calling Rad-Fi. The idea is, follow the instructions, and you can build a synth and an effect quickly by connecting parts on a breadboard. That makes kit assembly stunningly easy, because there’s no soldering involved. It also means it’s very possible to make modifications by snapping in additional parts, or, if you want …


Put a Radio in Your Modular: Music Thing Radio Music

Once upon a time, musicians made music from the sound content pouring invisibly, inaudibly from the air. The likes of John Cage and Kalrheinz Stockhausen turned the radio into stochastic source and instrument, a means of making music in the now. And now, you can, too, in the latest Eurorack module. Whether you want a modular or not, this is one module you definitely don’t need. You don’t need to act out Cage-ian fantasies and turn your local hit FM station greatest tracks of the 80s and 90s into an experimental noise performance. Nor do you really need to understand …


Watch KORG’s littleBits Transformed into Badass Keytar

Right in the manual, KORG suggests that you might turn their magnetic modular system, the littleBits Synth Kit, into a keytar. But this is a sort of “attach all the modules to a bit of wood” affair. Meanwhile, in Japan… Pantograph is an art/design agency and animation house (site link – Japanese only). And when they got their hands on the Synth Kit, they did it up properly. Think beautiful, multi-colored cases, proper playable ergonomics – and a blinking light-up KORG logo. The results are enchanting: If you want one of your own and you’re passing through Tokyo (superfans, buy …


Moby Opens Up Project Files for Remixing in Ableton, Pro Tools [Exclusive Details, VIP Code]

What do you do when you’ve been one of the biggest impacts on electronic music, outlasting a succession of trends and fads, remaining one of the best-known names in sound? I mean, you can’t just start giving things away, right? Actually, if you’re Moby, that’s exactly what you do. He wants you to collaborate with him – and he’s made it really easy (even if you want to get something out of the result). It’s safe to say Moby is different from many of his peers. At the young age of 48, Moby has managed to be a presence in …


TR-808 DIY: 379€ Lets You Built Your Own Part-by-part Analog Clone, Plus Sequencer

An irony of the 808 is that it began as an everyman’s machine – a disliked relic that no-name musicians could acquire for prices approaching free. It helped that Keyboard infamously likened its sound to “marching anteaters.” (Note to self: idea for DJ name.) Yet now, the quirky Roland original commands high prices that have transformed it into an (often-unreliable) luxury item. The fall and rise of the 808 isn’t just arbitrary, however. There is something distinctive about the sound design and usability of the original beast, the result of a twist of fate and history that compelled Roland engineers …


Lunchbeat is a 1-bit Groovebox You Can Make Yourself

Friends bragging lately about the quality of the sound of their drum machines? Tell them you can make sounds lower fidelity than they can. LUNCHBEAT is a 1-bit groovebox, making impossibly-dirty digital sounds, with a built-in step sequencer. While we await a proper DIY kit, it’s an ideal learning project: it’s nice and simple, has a low part count, everything you need as far as specs is available free to create your own, and it’s a good way to work out the basics of digital sound and sequencing. And, really, if you need more than one bit to make music, …


Wonders of DIY Synths: A New PreenFM, a Polyphonic Oberheim Clone

It’s a new golden age for synth lovers, past meeting the future and so on. At least, we have a stunning number of wonderful toys. And the DIY community is coming up with a number of particularly special creations. Take the terrific open source PreenFM, an original, 6-operator FM synth that’s entirely open source hardware (code and schematics). On Sunday, we learned what creator Xavier Hosxe has in store for the new model:


Star-Studded Music DIY Projects, with Make Magazine’s Maker Camp

Musical instruments remain some of the best ways to learn about the wonders of electronics, physics, and more. Our friends at Make are showing that off with a week of DIY projects at what they’re calling Maker Camp 2013. Staged in Google+ Hangouts, so anyone can participate. Friday’s guests include some of our favorite electronic musicians: Zöe Keating and (CDM 2013 MusicMakers participant) Imogen Heap. Here’s how it works: morning North American time, you see projects and materials, then watch a video hangout to get extra tips and communication. There’s another project for the weekend. Next up: later today is …


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 …