August 10, 2005

Tiny Digital Roundup...

by Chris Randall

It's Wednesday, and that means it's time to send in the Rodeo Clowns, because we're having a round-up! This week, we'll have a gander at all the little digital synths that make life worth living.

The first contender for the all-time title of "Shit Chris Really Wants But Can't Seem To Obtain" is the Droid-3, which (like every cool synth these days) hails from Scandanavia. Denmark, to be precise. Those zany Danes have made something that is almost entirely, but not completely, unlike a SidStation. It's black. It has one knob. It sounds like death on a stick, and naturally, there are caveats. Danegeld, to name the first. It'll set you back US$599.00, as if we needed a sign that we Anglo-Saxons are still beholden to the Dane after a millenia. Oh, BTW, that's not including the plane ticket, which brings us to our second issue: if you're not in Denmark, you ain't getting one, because they won't ship over the border.

Next on the agenda, we have the ElectroKraft Space*Synth. This particular item also seems to be made of unobtanium, as the ElectroKraft site has removed all mention of it, despite the fact that they issued a press release announcing it only 6 months ago. Let's just pretend that it is available, for the time being anyways, and say that it is US$189.00, and ostensibly makes sounds just like the engine in the Donkey Kong coin-op. That's reason enough to covet one. I don't want an ApolloAxe at all, which is just another excuse for keyboard players to look like retards (as if we needed that.) So ElectroKraft, please actually release this unit! You can read about it from the original press release, which is available on Harmony Central.

If you read MusicThing, you know all about the Cracklebox. Personally, I find this little guy to be a bit annoying, bordering on Master's Thesis Stupid. (Maybe if someone made a table, upon which was projected an image of a Cracklebox, and you moved little disks of lucite around to Break Down The Barriers Between Performer And Audience, I'd be a bit more impressed.) But we're ecumenical here at Analog Industries, so it gets thrown in the ring with the rest of the toys. Read all about it at, then buy one for 50 Euro plus shipping, and impress all the Emo kids at your local coffee shop.

Our final entry comes from our Tuetonic representatives MFB, in the form of the PolyLITE. This boxen goes one better than the Droid-3 by having no controls at all. It is a four-voice DCO-based synth with analog filter and VCA that can only be controlled from MIDI CC messages or from the front panel of an MFB SynthLITE II. No sound samples that I can find, but NuLoop apparently will have them for sale Real Soon Now at 269 Euros.

Of course, there's the requisite Gameboy offerings like NanoLoop and LSDJ, and various other methods for coaxing badly aliased sounds out of gear singularly unsuited for the task. And there's Dave Smith's excellent Evolver, of which plenty has been said. If there are any synths of this ilk I've missed, feel free to throw a link in the comments section. There's one more scratching at my hind-brain, but I can't remember its name, and thus can't search for it. Maybe I'll remember by morning.



Aug.10.2005 @ 7:46 AM
[Geek boy raises his hand]
Sir, Sir, the Cracklebox isn't digital, it's just an analog oscillator whose circuit is completed by the user's fingers.
Damn, that Droid is cool.

Aug.10.2005 @ 11:28 AM
Chris Randall
Whoops. You'd think I'd actually read about the shit I'm posting on, wouldn't you? Oh, well.

Aug.10.2005 @ 5:23 PM
And, er, according to the DROID-3 order page, "[t]he first batch for export is being prepared". USD560 including shipping.

And while we're gently submitting corrections, I believe it's "Teutonic" rather than "Tuetonic".

I really enjoy your blog, keep up the great work and don't stop the swearing.

Back to soldering up my FatMan...


Aug.10.2005 @ 5:38 PM
Chris Randall
That first batch has been being prepared for about a year and a half, FWIW. I'll accept the fucking correction on the god-damned Teutons, though. Shit.




Aug.11.2005 @ 1:44 AM
the harvestman
link []">link [] is another microcontroller-as-synth along the lines of the Droid and AVR. Looks like a few of them actually made it to the US, with a really nice price and a decent interface.

Aug.11.2005 @ 11:01 AM
Chris Randall
Doh! [slaps forehead] That's the one I was trying to remember. Thanks!



Aug.14.2005 @ 1:46 PM
I've got a Space*Synth AND a Space*Axe (Space*Synth with a fretboardy controller attached). Crazy things. Took a while to get, but Tony at Elektrocraft is a very nice guy. (And I'm Danish too, should check out the Droid...).



Sorry, commenting is closed for this blog entry.