Inside Todd Terje’s Oslo Studio

Todd Terje InterviewTo my sheer delight, I opened this month’s pages of Future Music magazine (or…whatever the iPad equivalent of that action is?!) to discover an interview and studio tour with one of my absolute favorite producers, Todd Terje! Even if you don’t have a subscription, you can take the tour online on FM’s web site – look, It’s the ARPs!



Papilio FPGA RetroCade MegaWing Synth

The RetroCade Synth began as a Kickstarter project by self-taught OSHW designer Jack Gassett. I was one of its very first backers, having learned about the project from Jack during an extremely positive customer service experience with my Papilio Arcade order last spring, which was my first foray into FPGA. Since my interest was based on modeling retro hardware, and due to the obvious overlaps with my music production interests, the RetroCade seemed to be a giant shortcut toward much of what I was attempting to do anyway, and I leapt at the opportunity to back as well as promote the project in any way I could. The Kickstarter experience was one of the best I have had, with excellent communication and transparency from Jack, and even a very generous upgrade when it proved that the Papilio Pro would be required for full functionality, with the 500K (which I was intending to use) only supporting a “Lite” version.

My RetroCade MegaWing arrived on New Year’s Eve, and I was anxious to get it running, but ran into trouble attempting to load the firmware. I posted my problems to the RetroCade Synth Forums, and got a reply from Jack within a day, and an updated bitfile for use with the 500K after just one more day. I still intend to upgrade to the Pro in order to take full advantage of the hardware, Read More…

Bleep Labs Pico Paso Kit

The Pico Paso kit allows even novice makers to build their own functional synth, with oscillators and knobs and cute little photocell antennae that control pitch (for a crude Theremin-like effect!).

Assembly is a doddle, despite the somewhat hastily-written instructions – I was up and running within about 20 minutes. The only slight scare was when it initially failed to make any sound upon plugging into an old guitar amp after assembly – turns out that the Shape knob was just too far in one direction to make any noise – as soon as I realized this, all kinds of exciting buzzes and screeches started reverberating throughout the house!

My small disappointment with the kit was that it only accomplished one of my two goals: I had hoped for a synth kit that was simple enough for me to assemble and understand. It was very simple to build, but the “educational” aspect was a little lacking – even with the inclusion of schematics and PCB layout, I didn’t feel as though there was adequate explanation of how it was that all these little components were making these cool sounds, especially for a kit aimed at beginners, who are unlikely to be able to interpret schematics and such. Regardless, I’m very pleased with the kit, and plan on checking out more kits from Bleep Labs!

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