Today, at last, we’re building and shipping MeeBlip SE. Whatever the “SE” stands for – seconda edizione, or a meaning of your own choosing – the MeeBlip SE is the original MeeBlip, but better. Building on the first version of our open source synthesizer, we’ve worked with feedback from users to make the MeeBlip more usable and more sonically versatile. New in this version:
- A more intuitive, playable control layout. The changes are subtle, but after lots of conversations with users, we worked to make each knob and switch the choice we liked best. (Of course, you can still modify those choices via our open source firmware, if you like.)
- Patch storage. Sure, it was a bit more “pure” never being able to store patches, but this is a digital synth, after all. Now, you can save and recall up to 16 patches right on the MeeBlip, using dedicated front panel load and save buttons. It’s especially nice for live performance.
- Variable pulse width. Instead of a fixed square wave, you can now use the dedicated PWM knob to adjust the timbre of the first oscillator. There’s also a “pwm sweep” switch for enabling an automated PWM envelope, of which we’ve grown rather fond. Hello, thick synth leads.
- Anti-aliasing. You can now use more pristine anti-aliased waveforms, or turn this off for other timbral effects. It gives you another option for coloring the MeeBlip’s sound.
- Control everything with MIDI. It’s simple: if there’s a sound parameter in the MeeBlip, there’s a switch or knob to play with it. And now, the reverse is true, too: if you see a switch or knob, you can control it via MIDI. At last, you can use a tracker or sequencer to program detailed MeeBlip sounds.
Which MeeBlip do you want?
Meeblip SE is available in two versions—one that’s ready to play in a few minutes, and one for hard-core soldering ninjas who’d rather put it together themselves.
Quick Build kit, US$149.95. comes with assembled and tested circuit boards. All you need is a screwdriver and a few minutes to assemble your synth. (On sale now, for a limited time, for US$139.95.)
Build Everything kit, US$129.95. For die-hard DIYers, there’s a completely from-scratch kit that requires an evening or two of soldering and assembly. Check out our step-by-step assembly guide to see exactly what’s involved. (On sale now, for a limited time, for US$119.95.)
What if you’ve got an original MeeBlip? Well, the preset storage won’t work – you need the buttons – but you can take advantage of everything else by updating to the new firmware, as many of you have already done.
MeeBlips are available to ship now from the MeeBlip store, with shipping to most countries available. (We’ll have some recommendations on European power adapters shortly, as Peter hates those little dongles you put on the end of North American power tips.)
Shipping and Availability
We’re sorry: this took longer than we hoped. We didn’t live up to our own expectations last year, and we know it – and we’re sorry. We didn’t finish the SE as quickly as we had planned, and we were disappointed when we couldn’t ship MeeBlips quickly to those who wanted them. We learned the hard way both about how to get our manufacturing supply chain and shipping in order, and what squeezing an ambitious feature set onto a tiny chip was going to mean. (We’ll be sharing some of what we’ve learned soon; we don’t want to repeat our mistakes, and now those of you making your own music products don’t have to, either.)
We really appreciate the patience of our customers. We spoke to a lot of you over the course of last year, and we hear you. (We were able to get product to those who wanted it, and when we did faces delays, offered refunds to those who didn’t want to wait.)
By adjusting how we source and build the MeeBlip, working with our suppliers, and adjusting how we ship, we now can be confident in what we’re shipping to users.
We’ve now got real ship dates. We’ve already shipped a couple of dozen synths to some very patient customers who pre-ordered months ago, but the first official production batch will ship on March 16th. This time around, we’re taking things a bit slower to ensure that we don’t end up with an order backlog.
Thanks to Our Community
We’ve been stunned by what the MeeBlip users have done with this synth. You’ve made some amazing music, incredible sounds we didn’t expect, and incredible mods and cases that exceeded our imagination. We’ll be sharing some of your work, and not just ours, in the coming weeks. And in the midst of it all, you took a lot of time to share your ideas, which helped us decide what to improve on the SE firmware and new SE hardware.
We spent hours reworking the front panel layout to find an arrangement that minimized the need to toggle between knob parameter settings, and we received lots of excellent advice from users and synth aficionados.
Special thanks go to Keyboard Contributing Editor Francis Preve—who offered up some invaluable feedback when we were tweaking the front panel— and German programmer Axel Werner, who diligently swatted bugs in the earliest versions of the SE firmware and significantly improved the anti-aliased waveforms.
Now, we’re on to the next step for the MeeBlip: getting the MeeBlip SE in your hands, and sharing more about how to get the most out of this synth. Stay tuned here for the latest updates, and keep on bleeping.
James Grahame, Calgary, Canada, Reflex Audio
Peter Kirn, Berlin, Germany, Create Digital Music