microGranny – pocket-sized handmade granular sampler from standuino on Vimeo.

The Czech team of Standuino have been cooking up lots of wonderfully-geeky sonic electronics lately, but the latest might be my favorite. microGranny reads samples from a microSD card (hello, field recorder), and crunches them into granular bits. It’s the musical equivalent of one of those inexpensive compact blenders/juicers. If electronic music had late-night informercials, I’d be telling you what you could do with sound – with this.

And just in case you think all this open source hardware stuff is just for the cool kids to use buzzwords, here’s an example of the concept in action: Standuino have built on the WaveHC library, built for adafruit’s open source Wave Shield, built for the open source Arduino hardware. Open source isn’t necessarily the right solution for everything, but that’s precisely the idea: standing on each other’s shoulders instead of each other’s toes.

In the case of microGranny, what you’ll get is an all-in-one board, and it looks like it’ll be lots of fun once it’s finished. I hope to catch up with the Standuino team again as they make their way through Berlin on tour, but in the meantime, we get specs, a demo video above, and a more exploratory little musical jam video below.

microGranny + frauAngelico + ^[xor] synth prototype from standuino on Vimeo.

It does things with sound. It reads from an SD card. It uses physical controls. It has MIDI. These are the things we like to hear. Specs look good:

basic parameters of sound: pitch, crush, volume, start, cut, repeat
micro sampling parameters of sound: shift speed, loop length, shift direction (forward,backward,random1,random2)
lfo parameters of sound: rate, amount, destination (pitch, crush)
instant loop feature
micro SD card slot (plays monophonic wav samples)
8 presets (15 sounds each)
MIDI input (MIDI through by special connector)
intuitive interface
3 digit 7-segment display to keep track of editing
2 pots to tweak the parameters
mode switching buttons
4 perfect response trigger buttons
hold button
3.5mm jack output
volume trim-pot
size: 11 x 7 x 4 cm
input voltage 9-12 V

€90, or €140 assembled.

Now, I’m actually a bit unsure of whether this will be released as open source hardware. The code, it seems, will at least be released under such a license. For now, the team says only “coming soon, still debugging.” At the risk of offending people, I think that’s reasonable; it seems the appropriate time to determine whether something is open source or not is when it is actually released. And there are many cases in which it’s better for all involved if you debug something yourself, then release when it’s ready for others to see and modify.

Expect an update as this project is completed.