We set some big challenges for ourselves in making a sequel to the MeeBlip. We wanted a synth that made more and better sounds, with fewer controls. We wanted an instrument that was more hands-on, but took up less space. And we wanted it to have a real personality in a world awash with synth choices.
If we’ve been quiet for a while, it’s because that took a lot of time. Sometimes subtracting is harder than adding; it took lots of mistakes and iterations before we were really happy.
anode is roughly half the size of the original MeeBlip, and has fewer controls. But to create something smaller and simpler, we’ve focused on building an instrument that delivers grungy, dirty, bass-heavy sounds right away, and puts those sounds directly under your fingers. And we fit it all in a rugged, small and simple 4″ x 4″ (100×100 mm) box, focusing on just the controls you really need for sound.
Fyrd Instruments’ MTRX-8, the product of French designer Julien Fayard, is a gorgeous multi-functional sequencer/controller. The first two runs have sold out, but there’s still time to grab it for the intro price of 199 €. (plus shipping, etc.)
We were flattered to see it combined with the (original, silver) MeeBlip SE. Something about using those knobs on the MeeBlip make us like any chance to sequence with hardware, and I’m looking forward to one of these MTRX-8 units making its way to Berlin.
But, as we finish engineering the next generation of MeeBlip, we’re curious to hear from current MeeBlip owners. How are you sequencing? Got a favorite piece of hardware or software, iPad app or groovebox? Let us know.
You can chat in comments, shout to us over on Twitter, visit us on Facebook, or… and this is a relief to say… take advantage of our updated forums. We’ve rid them of spam (partly by changing registration), moved them to a new hosted solution, and are working now on the next steps as far as usability and features. (Though, you’ll find some fun features there already)
In this pile of boards is some of what’s coming from MeeBlip. Note the tighter, surface-mount design: this makes development cycles longer, but lets us pack more functionality on each board.
We’d like to share with you our progress on MeeBlip micro Black, the DIY board you can use as the basis of your own synth projects. It’s evolved in final testing and development since you last saw it. And we’d like to let you know when to expect it and why it’s late.
But first, we can’t be coy any more about why we’ve been so quiet. We’ve been very, very busy with a lot of stuff we weren’t quite ready to talk about. We’re gradually moving to the next generation of MeeBlip instruments, and that has meant stretching ourselves and what we can do. James is quick to tell us that he’s got too many irons in the fire. (Soldering irons afire?) The same has been true in Berlin as Peter works on CDM and MeeBlip’s presence in Europe.
We’ve taken on too much, but we’ve done it because we care passionately about making all these things happen. That means everything from improvig international distribution and the website and community support to unveiling some new designs. Continue reading »
Damien di Fede sports a silver (early 2012) MeeBlip SE. Add it to Reaper, and you can get some serious control. Including, yes, making some acid. Photo courtesy Damien.
Whether you’ve got a MeeBlip micro and are looking for a way of controlling it, or any MeeBlip and want some automation of sounds, some devoted members of our user community have been building solutions. With free tools for Reaper and Ableton Live, you can get some serious control – and make some serious acid techno, too.
Both downloads are free.
Add this for Max for Live and you get a handy MeeBlip Device inside Ableton. micro users will love it, but SE owners may find it useful, too.
Sometimes, focusing on one synth can be a creative booster.
And so we love this work by sonicuprising, among other creations on YouTube. The artist works entirely with MeeBlip. The track is dubbed “dubstep,” but it sounds a little cheery and un-dubsteppy there. Let’s call it Chipstep. Or just enjoy. From the description:
A track made entirely with a DIY meeblip synth. Sounds have not been processed by effects and the track was sequenced in ableton.
Good fun to make and versatile to program. You can get all sorts of sounds out this bad boy!!!
A look at the MeeBlip micro Black board. Click for a bigger version. USB connectivity, easier, knobbier, pre-assembled and ready for your projects. We’ll have the final schematics up on GitHub soon.
We believe in making two kinds of MeeBlips. One is ready to plug in and play, complete with a travel-worthy housing. The other is a DIY model you can customize, so you can make your own case or build your own custom synth projects. That second model is MeeBlip micro, and it’s time to talk about it again, as we get ready to ship the new MeeBlip micro Black.
MeeBlip micro has been more widely used than we imagined, with applications from talking to plants to winding up in a rack with control voltage inputs for analog connectivity. It allows you to make MeeBlip into what you want. That can mean custom housings and knobs, or something as adventurous as wiring up installations and custom sensors. (Arduino goes great with micro, too, for an open source hardware combination.) And so we’ve redesigned micro around the feedback we got from you. The micro Black does what the old micro did – and retains the MeeBlip sound – but does those things better. New:
A compact, surface-mount design. Keeping micro little is a big goal. We’ve added features without expanding the footprint. As you can see in the image, that has meant squeezing a lot onto the board.
A USB port. MeeBlip micro still has standard DIN MIDI connections, but it adds USB. That means:
MIDI over USB. You can now connect to a computer without the need for a separate interface. (Class-compliant support means the iPad works, too, via a Camera Connection Kit.)
Easier programmability, over USB. The USB port also works for modifying MeeBlip micro’s firmware, so you can hack your micro or use firmware updates from us and other users – no more need for an additional hardware adapter.
Knobbier than ever. 16:1 multiplexing now lets you add more knobs – you can have one for each parameter and still have knobs left over. We have direct switch inputs, too.
No more lost patches. A snapshot save button writes the current patch to memory so that it’s saved when you turn off MeeBlip. You can change the default MIDI receive channel with that button, too.
Us musicians complain about MIDI now and then. But it sure can be useful. Having a simple MIDI input port opens up the MeeBlip to working however you like, and with hardware old and new.
Ashley Elsdon has been writing about mobile music since long before the days of iPhones and iPads. His blog is “Palm Sounds” for a reason – that’s Palm as in the old PDA, as well as the palm of your hand. And so, when Ashley got his MeeBlip SE, he connected it to a “vintage” Palm PDA. miniMusic BeatPad remains a clever little app, controlling parameters with a stylus. Oh, and that old Palm screen should also perform nicely in direct sunlight when your fancy smartphone is a glaring mess. Quick results:
2012 was a really important year for us on MeeBlip. Making new things is exciting, but there’s a special pleasure to refinement, to solving problems and making things better, which is what we got to do. And around the holidays, we got an unexpected gift: MeeBlip SE made a number of appearances in guides to gift buying and the best of 2012.
If you want to give a gift to yourself right now to fight the January blues, your timing is perfect – shipping is free or reduced until the end of the day January 13.
And that’s not to brag: it’s you MeeBlip users who have made this all possible. Here’s the latest:
Not just for synth geeks, DJ sites take notice, too – like Gina at DJZ:
“The MeeBlip SE is an affordable piece of hardware for makers and musicians alike. It’s got a gritty sound that can range in timbre from a conventional analog synth to the Dorito of the chiptunes.”
“The MeeBlip SE has come into its own as a truly unique-sounding piece of kit that delivers either digital grunge or analog-style swagger, depending on how you set up its panel of 16 switches and nine knobs.”
(PS, whatever comments may say, we’re very pleased with the company we’re in – like Wolfgang Palm, a synth hero of ours, Moog, Dave Smith, and Arturia’s lovely Minibrute! Been having fun with the iPolySix this week, too.)
“So what do I do with a MeeBlip – it’s, like, a sound module?”
We actually get this question a lot. MeeBlip is designed to be useful when connected to other tools. It doesn’t take much – even an inexpensive Rock Band “keytar” keyboard controller, now available for not much more than US$50, will let you play. Here, we meet some of Peter’s Berlin neighbors, the fine folks at boutique analog hardware maker Koma Elektronik. Their analog delay in particular sounds terrific with MeeBlip’s own unique sound. And for MIDI, we turn to the brilliant step sequencer for iPad, Phaedra.
This is one example. But any number of MIDI sources and effects will work – iPad owners, all you need is a MIDI connection, typically a supported USB MIDI interface and Apple’s own USB Camera Connection Kit. (iOSMIDI.com will help you find what you need.)
We had a lot of fun jamming with this combination. Here’s what happened: