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Meeblip
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glow worm



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:00 am    Post subject: Meeblip
Subject description: anyone tried it out yet
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I'm going through a bit of a 'making things phase' at the moment, while in between jobs and studying.

Being of relatively moderate technical ability, I like to keep things relatively simple. For a while, I was agonising over whether to go for an MFOS or Paia kit; but, wanting something truly portable and frustrated by the lack of practical battery power options for either, I went in search again and found the Meeblip.

No, it probably won't do those phat analogue sounds or swirly, organic, ambient pads; but it looks a huge amount of fun IMO. It's also battery powered and cheap as chips.

I'm tempted. Does anyone else have any experience of this synth?
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EdisonRex
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

How intriguing. The sounds are good too.

Who is Peter Kirn?

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robsol
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

EdisonRex wrote:
How intriguing. The sounds are good too.

Who is Peter Kirn?


He runs http://createdigitalmusic.com/

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v-un-v
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I really must point out here that what is making Meeblip sound so great here isn't really the box itself, but the reverb and fx used to treat it.

It's something I often wonder about many sounds from diy synths etc posted by people here on E~M.com. Almost all uploaded mp3's are dry and lifeless, making it very difficult to gauge what they are really capable of (I think Scott Stites would know exactly where I'm coming from here. Scott always uses reverb and echo, to very good effect). It's easy to get similar types of sound from anything, even a lunetta with some damn good FX going on inside the chain. It really is the post processing which is the much overlooked star.

Vangelis may play a CS80, but he then treats it with an EMT plate reverb and Binson Echorec processors cost several more thousands of bucks in order to get that lush 'Bladerunner' sound. It's also how he plays the instrument of course! Worth also listening to Wendy Carlos' version of Monteverdi's Orfeo or "Domine Ad Adjuvandum". That really out-of-sight cosmic singing isn't a vocoder, but Carlos manipulating loads of controls, manually, then a lot of post processing- reverb etc etc

does that make sense?

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hmm, I think the opposite - that you can really get an idea of what the unit is capable of without the effects applied.

I also imagine that the point of Meeblip is that it is open source hardware and software, so that you can get stuck in there and experiment away. If you want to create a specific sound, there are easier ways to do it.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Really? I actually found the machine rather noisy- but not in a good way. I used to have a SIDstation. It too was noisy as hell, but the colours it made me see were extraordinary. I even used the SID's noise as a background sound! Through FX, the SID became a snarling beast! I wish I could say the same for Meeblip.

But perhaps where the problem lies is that it's not something that you can find in Digital Village. You must buy one online before you can judge its full potential. I think this is an awful shame, because once again, it's only the rich who are able to afford such luxuries.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Rich? What luxuries? If you still are talking about the Meeblip, $138 will get you an easy to assemble kit, no soldering... $79 for a full kit, solder yourself - that's less than £50.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

£50? Whoops! Laughing Sorry, I was getting it confused with the price of another similar device. Embarassed

You're right, £50 aint bad. Embarassed Very Happy

But I still stand by what I said and mean about adding FX. Very Happy

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glow worm



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
I really must point out here that what is making Meeblip sound so great here isn't really the box itself, but the reverb and fx used to treat it...

...does that make sense?

Yes - I understand where you're coming from, but feel you're perhaps being a little harsh. FX of all descriptions have been applied to similarly varied sources, since it was first possible to do so, in order to make them sound more interesting. Where would The Shadows have been without echo, for example? Why is a decent bank of FX considered by many, to be an essential feature of a "good" synth - does it make any difference if FX are applied on board, or at some other point in the chain?

Yes - a lot of mp3 uploads do sound very dry - but maybe that's just a product of the times and/or the relative lack of production experience on the half of people producing them. Then again, there have been a lot of very dry-sounding albums by professional artists - revisit some of Genesis' earlier work and remember that Dave Gilmour once commented, on how Roger Waters originally wanted a very dry sound, with little or no reverb, for Dark Side Of The Moon (can you imagine?).

As it happens, my last two "major" purchases have been FX (Zoom RFX2000 and Line 6 Echo Park). Why did I buy them? Because I wanted to add a further layer to my sound-producing capabilities, especially in terms adding extra depth to otherwise sterile electronic sounds and to degrade and blur their origins - in the way a photographer manipulates an image.

Muied Lumens wrote:
I also imagine that the point of Meeblip is that it is open source hardware and software, so that you can get stuck in there and experiment away.

Yes, very much so. I have few (if any) programming skills, but reckon that this will be a machine I can ultimately learn from in that respect. It strikes me as being very accessible and I feel less intimidated by the prospect of getting "down and dirty" with it, than I do with the Paia / MFOS kits (although that's not to say I'll never attempt them).

v-un-v wrote:
...I actually found the machine rather noisy - but not in a good way. I used to have a SIDstation. It too was noisy as hell, but the colours it made me see were extraordinary.

Different strokes for different folks; perhaps I should explain my overall plans further...

It'll probably be a couple of months before I get one, as I'm going to build a MIDI ribbon controller first. Assuming that works out OK, I'll then purchase a second ribbon controller kit, to combine with a Meeblip full board kit ($79, no case) into a cigar box - type instrument that can just be picked up and jammed with through a practice amp (and some FX Wink ) - at parties, festivals and pub sessions. It's not really intended as a piece of "studio" kit.

To increase its flexibility, I'm planning to add a 4PDT switch (centre off); so that the Meeblip can be controlled from an external MIDI source, with the output from the ribbon diverted to an Out socket. That way I'll be able to hook it up between the MPC500 and X-Station 25; to create a completely portable, battery powered setup, with production capabilities.

Historical note: The quest for / obsession with batteries and portability goes back some 25 years, to when I first met my other half - a keen folkie and morris dancer. Whenever I waxed lyrical about electronic instruments, she would smile sweetly and reply, "But can you just take them out and play them in a field, or in a pub - like I can with my melodion?"

I had to admit she had a point... back then WinkWinkWink

All in all, I believe that the Meeblip, Gakken SX-150, Korg Monotron (also hackable), Bliptronic, etc. continue in the tradition begun by the TB-303, combining it with the more recent trends for circuit bending and open-sourcing, to create products which will encourage more people to make electronic music at a grass roots level. IMO this can only be a good thing Smile
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robsol
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
£50? Whoops! Laughing Sorry, I was getting it confused with the price of another similar device. Embarassed

You're right, £50 aint bad. Embarassed Very Happy

But I still stand by what I said and mean about adding FX. Very Happy


I don't really like the demos that i have heard so far that much myself to be honest, but less to the point - that was your 7777th post!!! Cool cheers

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reflex



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

v-un-v wrote:
Really? I actually found the machine rather noisy- but not in a good way. I used to have a SIDstation. It too was noisy as hell, but the colours it made me see were extraordinary. I even used the SID's noise as a background sound! Through FX, the SID became a snarling beast! I wish I could say the same for Meeblip.


Our initial decision to use USB to power MeeBlip was unfortunate. My thinking was that it was a great way to avoid adding yet another power adapter to everyone's rig, and also a nice way to sidestep plug incompatibilities (quite literally, one plug to rule them all).

We quickly discovered that most USB power sources are extremely noisy. The latest version includes a 9V power socket and a regulated wall wart. Existing users can retrofit the 9V power board for $15. Oh, and the $79 DIY kit now includes both 9V and USB power jacks.

The whole idea of the platform was to turn a generic microcontroller into an affordable music platform, so it was released with a streamlined signal path and lots of opportunities for software modding. It surprised me that people tended to view it as a finished product -- comments about its sound quality and personality always make me grin a bit, because it's only been about a month since we added a PWM wave to fatten one of the oscillators.

It's actually a pretty decent bass synth if you detune the oscillators slightly and use the filter to clamp down on the high end. I used dual weighted 8-bit DACs for the output, and they differ a bit from a typical CODEC -- the result is an aggressive bottom end.

I've got a few upgrades up my sleeve, including bandlimited oscillators (the current ones are literal software versions of a DDS ramp oscillator, with aliasing color and all sorts of stuff). I know that Peter Kirn will be taking a crack at extending the MIDI CC functionality, too.

The long and the short of it: We'll keep developing the software, and there are some cool MeeBlip-related hardware surprises on the horizon.
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v-un-v
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hey Reflex!

welcome to electro-music.com! Very Happy

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glow worm



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Welcome indeed, please do keep us updated Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

welcome Reflex! I think the Meeblip looks really cool - I like the prospect of having something with knobs that's easy to hack.
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reflex



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hey guys. Thanks for the welcome - I'll drop by whenever I can.

I'm actually pretty amazed with the sound we were able to squeeze out of an 8-bit microcontroller. The biggest challenge was the filter, because it has to be calculated within 16 bits -- there are only 400 clock cycles in each audio sample loop and that doesn't give enough time for 24 or 32 bit math routines.
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reflex



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

FYI, MeeBlip SE just received a Keyboard Magazine Key Buy Award in the May 2012 issue. Reviewer Francis Preve writes, "The newest version, MeeBlip SE, is ready for prime time - even if you don't want any aspect of your musical life to involve holding a soldering iron or writing code. [...] the MeeBlip is capable of binary grime that dubstep and IDM producers will absolutely love."

Here's a video that features a couple of Meeblips - both V1 and V2: http://www.analogindustries.com/blog/entry.php?blogid=1333261479848

We've been steadily improving the firmware since its initial release. Version 2.0X adds 16 patch memories, switchable waveform anti-aliasing (leave it on for additional bass bite), sweepable PWM, variable pulse waveform, triangle wave, dual envelopes and full MIDI CC control of all voice parameters.
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