MeeBlip geode is the monosynth we always wanted to make

What we love most about synths is wild, weird, dirty sounds – and getting our hands on them. Our new MeeBlip geode focuses on what we think is the best of our synth line.

The goal, as always: make a box that’s easy to play, and that adds a unique sound and personality that doesn’t exist elsewhere. And then make sure it’s fun to twist knobs and make sounds. That’s geode – coming soon, with an intro price of US$149.95 (plus tax/shipping as applicable).

geode more than ever delivers raw, grimy digital sounds that cut as leads and rattle floors as bass, coupled with our signature, screaming resonant analog filter. Let’s have a listen to the sounds of this little box.

I constructed a whole track out of layered MeeBlip parts – each percussion hit, each synth noise. It’s all dry, apart from some EQ on the kick drum (just filtering out the very low end and some of the treble). I also made use of the LFO as a kind of impromptu pitch envelope.

For some longer timbres, here’s an ambient track made with just two MeeBlip geode parts, also recorded live and completely dry:

And as always, this is all about getting direct, hands-on control of each element of the sound (or sequencing each parameter via MIDI):

geode is the fourth major generation of the MeeBlip line created by engineer James Grahame (Blipsonic), as a collaboration with CDM. We’ve been humbled by the response – the original/SE, anode, and triode have all seen critical acclaim. And users have gotten creative, from mods and hacks (including using open source code and circuits), to musical uses in clubs and experimental shows alike.

MeeBlip geode is the culmination of all of the best features of all those different generations. It’s got the sound features and extra controls from the original (including bringing noise back), the anode/triode filter that remains unlike what’s on other synths, the most cutting waveforms, and all the subtle improvements James has cooked up over the years. It’s still compact, but expands to a palm-sized rectangle with more controls. It’s got great-feeling new knobs and some new tweaks.

And for the first time, we have USB MIDI support, so you can connect and power geode with any computer or compatible mobile device. (MIDI DIN is still there, so your gear from the 80s works, too.)

We think the result is a unique, boutique synth, whether it’s your first hardware or the latest of many. We hope you enjoy it.

To get James’ production line running again in Calgary – yes, your synths are hand-tested by the engineer – we’re starting geode as a preorder, for those who want to be first in line for our latest instrument. Order now and we’ll ship starting May 15-31. Available direct exclusively from us, shipped from Canada. (Taxes and shipping will apply for your area.)

Come visit us at MeeBlip.com – and let me know if you have any questions.

https://meeblip.com/

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deton8 is a little drum machine with loads of soul

Twisted Electrons move on from acid and chip synths to drum machines. And the deton8, for around three hundred bucks, packs a ton of personality and sound possibility in a cute, playable package.

Twisted Electrons made a name for themselves in fun little boxes and boards packed with 8-bit, chip music, and acid sounds. Those instruments all stand out for lots of sequencing features and hands-on playable options. So a drum machine is of course a natural next step.

But what a next step the deton8 is. Mixing samples and synthesis, 8-bit sounds and wavetable synth, custom kits, and a ton of control and performance, it promises to be one of the more fun packages we may see this year. There’s even a simple NES-style synth in there, so even though a compact bassline synth would be an obvious combination with this, you could even do a lot with just the voices in this hardware.

I’m terrifically eager to get my hands on this one. It’s now much clearer what deton8 is about thanks to a new video – and some tantalizing new details:

For live performance, what’s especially appealing is the sound knob, which has different characteristics for different sounds. That’s a lot more fun than menu diving to change sounds, or being limited to tweaking pitch and duration alone.

Oh yeah, even that decay knob is more fun than usual, since decay doubles as glitchy repeat “delay.”

And in keeping with Twisted’s legacy, this thing is packed with downsampling and bit reduction, which is a perfect match for drums. (Again, that’s especially live – there’s a reason those Game Boy parties got so wild. There’s something about squashing dynamic range and making things screaming and digital that can make people go nuts. I guess partying is about reducing bit depth, anyway, right?)

Stutter, reverse, retriggering, granular algorithms – there’s a bunch there to play and record. I imagine you might make this a primary instrument, or some icing on your existing drum machine … that you could use it for relatively subtle stuff, or go totally nuts.

And it’s eminently affordable. The deton8 is 255 EUR (that’s under US$300), or around 300EUR with VAT.

Here’s the full list of features. The big development was, at the last minute, Alex at Electron responded to overwhelming user requests to load your own samples. So that means in addition to multiple kits included in the box, you’ll be able to use a software editor to slice up and upload your own samples, as both loops and 1-shots – see screenshot.

(Dear Roland, please, please add this to the TR-8S, too! And … yeah, I can imagine the TR and Twisted Electrons would make a wonderfully psycho combo.)

Features:

USB-MIDI
Hardware MIDI
SYNC IN
SYNC OUT
16 patterns of 1-16 steps each
Chain up to 16 patterns in a row to make a song
8 Voices (Kick, Snare, Metal (hats), Clap, Can (tinny sounds), Tom, Nut (woody sounds), SYNTH (NES inspired triangle wavetable synthesizer, with arp that can be shaped to a square).
Two modes: Loop Mode (for breaks and melodic content, decay and tune is global) & Kit mode (individual tuning and decay per part)
Pitch and decay modulation per step on every voice
8 hands on Stutter modes: Beat repeat (with variable rate), Forward granular, Reverse granular, Pendulum granular (scratch), buzz/texture , random granular (noise generation), spin up, spin down
Forward & Reverse sample playback per track
Delay with variable delay time and pitch decay (upwards and downwards)
Ring mod effect with variable frequency
Global pitch shift
Copy/Paste patterns
Real time pattern recording with optional metronome
Tap tempo
Swing
Mute/Solo a track
Drive any voice into distortion
Sound variation knob for Kick (add sub), Snare (add noise/snappy), Hats (change texture) and Synth (arpeggiate)
Pump aka sidechain compression emulation (any track can “duck” the others for the pumping/breathing effect)
Pattern clean and randomize for accidental magical beats

It sounds like we should see a review unit in April. See you then.

Promo video for some more sounds:

https://twisted-electrons.com/product/deton8/

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Two twisted desktop grooveboxes: hapiNES L, Acid8 MKIII

Now the Nintendo NES inspires a new groovebox, with the desktop hapiNES. And not to be outdone, Twisted Electrons’ acid line is back with a MKIII model, too.

Twisted Electrons have been making acid- and chip music-flavored groovemakers of various sorts. That started with enclosed desktop boxes like the Acid8. But lately, we’d gotten some tiny models on exposed circuit boards, inspired by the Pocket Operator line from Teenage Engineering (and combining well with those Swedish devices, too).

Well, if you liked that Nintendo-flavored chip music sound but longer for a finished case and finger-friendly proper knobs and buttons, you’re in luck. The hapiNES L is here in preorder now, and shipping next month. It’s a groovebox with a 303-style sequencer and tons of parameter controls, but with a sound engine inspired by the RP2A07 chip.

“RP2A07” is not something that likely brings you back to your childhood (uh, unless you spent your childhood on a Famicom assembly line in Japan for some reason – very cool). Think to the Nintendo Entertainment System and that unique, strident sound from the video games of the era – here with controls you can sequence and tweak rather than having to hard-code.

You get a huge range of features here:

Hardware MIDI input (sync, notes and parameter modulation)
Analog trigger sync in and out
USB-MIDI input (sync, notes and parameter modulation)
Dedicated VST/AU plugin for full DAW integration
4 tracks for real-time composing
Authentic triangle bass
2 squares with variable pulsewidth
59 synthesized preset drum sounds + 1 self-evolving drum sound
16 arpeggiator modes with variable speed
Vibrato with variable depth and speed
18 Buttons
32 Leds
6 high quality potentiometers
16 pattern memory
3 levels of LED brightness (Beach, Studio, Club)
Live recording, key change and pattern chaining (up to 16 patterns/ 256 steps)
Pattern copy/pasting
Ratcheting (up to 4 hits per step)
Reset on any step (1-16 step patterns)

If you want to revisit the bare board version, here you go:

255EUR before VAT.

https://twisted-electrons.com/product/hapines-l/

Okay, so that’s all well and good. But if you want an original 8-bit synth, the Acid8 is still worth a look. It’s got plenty of sound features all its own, and the MKIII release loads in a ton of new digital goodies – very possibly enough to break the Nintendo spell and woo you away from the NES device.

In the MKIII, there’s a new digital filter, new real-time effects (transposition automation, filter wobble, stutter, vinyl spin-down, and more), and dual oscillators.

Dual oscillators alone are interesting, and the digital filter gives this some of the edge you presumably crave if drawn to this device.

And if you are upgrading from the baby uAcid8 board, you add hardware MIDI, analog sync in and out, and of course proper controls and a metal case.

Specs:

USB-MIDI input (sync, notes and parameter modulation)
Hardware MIDI input (sync, notes and parameter modulation)
Analog sync trigger input and output
Dedicated VST/AU plugin for full DAW integration
18 Buttons
32 Leds
6 high quality potentiometers
Arp Fx with variable depth and decay time
Filter Wobble with variable speed and depth
Crush Fx with variable depth
Pattern Copy/Pasting
Variable VCA decay (note length)
Tap tempo, variable Swing
Patterns can reset at any step (1-16 step pattern lengths)
Variable pulse-width (for square waveforms)
12 sounds: Square, Saw and Triangle each in 4 flavors (Normal, Distorted, Fat/Detuned, Harmonized/Techno).
3 levels of LED brightness (Beach, Studio, Club)
Live recording, key change and pattern chaining

Again, we have just the video of the board, but it gives you idea. Quite clever, really, putting out these devices first as the inexpensive bare boards and then offering the full desktop releases.

More; also shipping next month with preorders now:

https://twisted-electrons.com/product/acid8-mkiii/

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Cute little €99 NES, acid music toys: coming soon, totally connected

Twisted Electrons’ small, fun-looking boards with acid and Nintendo chip sounds are one of the sound toys we’re most eagerly anticipating this year. And now they’re adding some connectivity: clock, USB MIDI, and an editor.

Here’s the story so far: Twisted Electrons have already been making some pretty powerful desktop synths and sequencers. But then they were inspired by Teenage Engineering’s dirt-cheap, impulse-buy tiny boards, the Pocket Operators. (It’s okay to say that; they’re open about the inspiration and it sounds like those crazy kids up in Sweden are more than happy about it.) So, they took the 8-bit acid bass wavetable sounds and step sequencer out of their acid8 synth, and added a new synth inspired by the chip from the classic Nintendo Entertainment System console.

We saw these boards first at Superbooth in Berlin. They look like fun little gadgets, especially if you’re after some chip sounds.

And oh wow does the NES board sound great. Plus, I like that this takes a hands-on approach to sound and step sequencing – nothing against trackers and the program-the-sound approach, but it’s nice to have the same sound set with a different approach:

The “acid” uacid8 instrument is sexy, too – love child of a TB-303’s squelch and the grittier sounds of chip music:

If you were already waiting for them, there was a manufacturing delay as they moved manufacturing into Europe. But now we get extra features:

1. MIDI clock compatibility

2. USB MIDI support

3. VST editor for desktop

Ah-ha! So now, instead of having some fun toys you play around with for an evening that then collect dust, you can be sure you’ll be able to wire these into your existing setup, sync them up, and be productive actually adding them to projects and make some finished songs.

DAW integration looks like so:

The soundtrack for that video game you dreamed of as a kid can now be a reality. Get making and become the chip composer legend you never were.

Or, at least, get ready to do that around October when these ship. We’ll be waiting. That’s €99 for the world that isn’t in the Eurozone, plus a little more with VAT if you’re on the inside of the Fortress Europe walls.

Preorder product pages:

https://twisted-electrons.com/product/hapines-pre-order/

https://twisted-electrons.com/product/uacid8-pre-order/

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8BitMixtapeNEO is a glitchy hackable synth the size of a cassette tape

It’s the size of a cassette tape, has buttons and pots so you can play it as a handheld instrument, it’s open and hackable – and it sounds like 8-bit mayhem.

8BitMixtapeNEO is very, very lo-fi synth built around the Arduino-compatible ATTINY85 chip. But what’s interesting about it is that all that hackable, programmable mayhem is accessible to anyone curious, not just coders.

It sounds mental:

And it’s got some weird and clever features:

Pocket mods: Just like the KORG volca sample, an audio protocol works for upload. So you can send firmware code just by playing a sound file from an audio playback device. Flash with your phone on the fly. (They also suggest a SONY Cassette WALKMAN, of course.)

Lite-Brite: Eight RGB LEDs work as a sort of 8-pixel screen / feedback / Knight Rider display.

Upcycle: Since the PCB is the shape and size of a cassette tape, a re-purposed cassette shape shell works as a case.

Arduino-compatible chip.

Visual programming. There’s a visual, drag-and-drop programming interface you can use as an alternative to uploading code. Have a look:

User mixtapes. They’ve built their own custom community for user-generated tools, including visual effects, sequencers, sounds, and other hacks. It’s here – http://neo.8bitmixtape.cc/mixtape – and since audio playback upload is easy, you can just flash from any computer or phone or tablet with speakers!

Pricing stars at 65EUR (with that beautiful, artsy PCB). There are various ways to buy, including getting it in person in Berlin – and workshops from Hong Kong to Zagreb to Taoyuan. Check it out:

http://wiki.8bitmixtape.cc/#/XXX-Shop

http://neo.8bitmixtape.cc/

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Bastl’s tiny, patchable Kastle now more durable, sounds better

The tiny, 80 Euro, 8-bit Kastle synth from Bastl just got better. A 1.5 revision updates the case, sound, and features.

First off, in addition to batteries, you can now run on micro USB power.

The case is updated, too. It’s fiberglass instead of acrylic for added durability, and has a slick black matte finish, plus better patch points.

And then there’s sound. Bastl Instruments say they’ve done a total rework on the sound engine, improving smoothness, ranges, and anti-aliasing performance.

Two sound engines running in parallel deliver three new modes: formant synthesis, noise mode, and tonal mode. Plus there are the existing phase modulation, phase distortion, and track & hold modulation, each with new improvements.

Formants: Inspired by the 1865 Helmholz synthesizer, you get combinations of harmonics / vowel sounds.

Noise: This glitchy mode comes from granular playback of a piece of code that’s run from the sound chip – basically an edgy ultra-digital glitched-out wavetable/granular source.

Demo here:

More:

http://www.bastl-instruments.com/instruments/kastle/kastle-v1-5/

I’ll be in Brno, CZ Friday and Saturday this week and catching up with team Bastl, if you’ve got questions for them.

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