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:
Hey, Europe! Now every MeeBlip SE comes with a power adapter in the box, including tips for both Europlug and UK – so if you travel between the UK and the Continent, you’ll always have power. (Sample unit shown here.)
Now you can buy a MeeBlip SE Limited Edition and have it shipped to most parts of the world. It’s the same open source hardware, the same unique personality, the same black-and-orange paint scheme and retro knobs, 30 patch memories, and onboard MIDI – only we’re shipping it faster to you.
United States and Canada
US$149.95 plus US$9.95 shipping (USA) $11.95 shipping (Canada).
Includes North American power adapter. Buy now.
European Union (€)
€149.95 plus €9.95 shipping. (DHL – ships fast, direct from Berlin)
All VAT and duty included, prepaid – so you don’t have to worry about it.
Includes power supply with Europlug and UK adapter (swappable, perfect for Easyjet tours!) Buy now.
If you’re in Berlin, buy via this link and you can pick up in Berlin Neukölln, near Hermannplatz, at Mainzerstraße 58 EG. (We’ll send pickup details and times Monday – Saturday.)
£119.95 + £7.95 postage (DHL, quickly crossing the Channel from sunny Berlin)
All VAT and duty included.
Includes power supply with Europlug and UK adapter. Buy now.
The rest of the world (as much of it as we can ship to!)
US$149.95, plus shipping.
You supply your own power adapter for wherever you are (and that keeps shipping costs low). (Note, you will be responsible for applicable tax/duty in your country.) Buy now.
We can’t wait to get these MeeBlip SE to you. Shipping now in North America; Berlin shipping to Europe (including the UK) begins 6 December.
The sun sets over LA – perfect moment for tracks like this, from an LA-based MeeBlip owner. Photo (CC-BY) Dominick.
Synthesizers are limited as instruments only by the musicians using them. And so, continuing our survey of the wonderful music coming from the MeeBlip community, here’s our favorite ambient track. “On the Edge” is eerily transcendent, a gorgeous track that will leave you soothed and reflective. (At least, it did me.) And, incredibly, it’s all MeeBlip, using only Ableton Live for mixing and reverb.
Well, except the birds at the end. I’m fairly certain those are not made by MeeBlip, though play music like this, and they may gather at your studio window.
MeeBlip users are constantly reminding us why we love synths. Even beginning with a fairly classical synthesizer design, you constantly make surprising music and sounds, endless in variations.
So, we’re pleased to begin a series featuring some selected tracks from you, the MeeBlip community. You can also drop in on our MeeBlip demo thread on our forum, have a listen, and share your own additions.
To kick things off, let’s have a listen to a terrific, fun-loving track called “Squid Racing” by an act known as MEGA SYNTH (Darren M. Mittermeier). It’s a tune that would be at home on a retro game – but also has a quirky personality all its own.
MeeBlip is a 16-bit synth and is capable of sounds that don’t sound like so-called “chip music.” But if you do want those kind of raw timbres, it can do that, too – and here, MEGA SYNTH makes it sound better doing it than James or I could. Continue reading »
They’re fully-assembled. They have a (North American) power supply in the box. 30 patch memories (up from 16) will store your favorite sounds for quick access in performance and studio work. And now, MeeBlip SE features a retro-style makeover, with black-and-orange livery and nice, new knobs.
MeeBlip SE is a perfect holiday gift to others … or yourself. It’s designed for hands-on control and playability, and works with MIDI. (No keyboard? Add an inexpensive MIDI interface to a computer or keyboard and connect to MeeBlip right out of the box. We like the dirt-cheap, very playable Rock Band 3 keyboard – seriously.) We want it to be a good first synth for newcomers – or a good addition to your studio for experts. It’s an open source hardware synth that isn’t just for hackers.
And, at last, we’re shipping the new models, starting with the United States and Canada. US$149.95 buys you a MeeBlip SE that we’re shipping right away. It’s a perfect way to celebrate Black (and Orange) Friday.
James has been hard at work in Calgary readying these for shipping. Europe (and other international orders) will shortly follow, as Peter starts shipping MeeBlip SE from Berlin. (We’ve reserved units for Europe and pre-reserved customers.) Stay tuned.
We’re pleased to again offer MeeBlip SE for sale – now fully-assembled. MeeBlip has been winning praise from press and users, and we can’t wait to ship more of them out to you. Buy one now from your part of the world.
We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes improving MeeBlip and making it easier to get it in the hands of musicians. That means some not-so-musical stuff like working out how fulfillment operates so we can ship these easily and quickly, including to Europe.
You won’t notice those changes, other than finding that it’ll be easier to buy a MeeBlip when you want. But we have made some other enhancements to MeeBlip SE:
New orange-on-black color scheme, inspired by some of our favorite synths of the past. We like the way it’s looking – and it’s also easier to read.
New retro knobs. (And knobs are important; we still believe in being able to control the synth from the front panel – no menus needed.)
More patch storage. The original SE had 16 slots for storing sounds; you can now use up to 30. We think people who use patches in performance will be especially pleased.
The latest MeeBlip firmware – as always, fully open source and ready to read or hack at GitHub.
Fully assembled. Previous MeeBlips were “quick build”; now you can plug this in and use it right away.
SE owners: you’ll get access to the extra patch storage, too; we’ll post a firmware update soon. We’re swapping the high-pass/low-pass filter switch for this, because you’d almost always want the low-pass filter with our unique digital filter characteristics.Continue reading »