The following is a Quick Start guide for the original MeeBlip – before the addition of the SE firmware brought new MIDI control and an improved control layout, and the SE hardware added preset storage. Use it if you just can’t be without your “classic” original MeeBlip, or to muse about … well, not the most notable part of synthesizer history, but one moment in time, at least.
We will regularly add tips and techniques for sound design with the MeeBlip – particularly as the community adds ideas and modifications – including a guide to synthesis for those who are just learning for the first time.
In the meantime, though, let’s have a look at the basics of playing a MeeBlip.
Connecting and Playing
At its simplest, simply:
1. Connect a MeeBlip to a power source. The red MIDI LED should light. (On early models, the power connection is via a USB port. Most MeeBlips now use a 9VDC connection. DIY boards have different power options.)
2. Connect then use a computer, MIDI keyboard, or other device connected to its MIDI in port to trigger notes. The MIDI light will blink as MIDI events are received.
3. Connect the Audio Out jack, a mono 1/4″ output, to amplification.
4. Play! Double-check settings of the switches and knobs, as short envelopes or certain filter settings will naturally result in little or no sound!
What MIDI Controls
Right now, MIDI input maps MIDI note events, pitch, and modulation. Control change mappings are a likely next step – and a good project if you want to try your hand modifying the MeeBlip code.
With the DCF KEY TRACK control engaged, pitch is also mapped to the filter.
A Tour of the Controls
While we work on full documentation of using the MeeBlip, here are a few controls to try out:
- You have two oscillators, A and B, each set to a triangle or square wave. Oscillator B can be toggled on and off.
- Try adjusting the tuning of the two oscillators, using the DCO DETUNE knob and DCO B octave.
- Want some glitchy, blippy sounds? Try engaging the DCO A NOISE and DISTORTION toggles; the NOISE in particular will give the MeeBlip a vintage chip sound. (Distortion can produce all kinds of sounds, depending on what the source is like.)
- When you’re first adjusting LFO, switch LFO RANDOM off for a clearer sense of what it’s modulating. Try routing to the oscillator and filter for different vibrato-style effects. Switch KNOB SHIFT to its lower position, and adjust LFO DEPTH AND LFO SPEED. Then engage LFO RANDOM for more effects.
- Remember, not all settings will produce sounds! You can wind up muting the sound with the filter or envelope. When in doubt, tweak!
MIDI Jumper Settings
There are four small switches on the MeeBlip that determine MIDI receive modes; they can be found to the right of the MIDI receive light, accessible through a rectangular hole in the case. With all four switches down, the MeeBlip is in “omni” mode and will respond to note events on any MIDI channel. (That makes a good choice if you’re troubleshooting!) Otherwise, you can read the four switches in binary to determine the MIDI channel, as follows:
Hipster Preset Storage
Modern synths have preset storage. Vintage synths didn’t. But as a result, “saving” a preset took a little thought and effort. So, we proudly offer a patch sheet with a PDF of the MeeBlip top panel line art. Print out a few, bind or paperclip them together, and there’s your Hipster Preset Storage. Just use a pencil to mark settings to remember where you put knobs to get a particular sound. And don’t forget to record some audio while you’re playing, in case you stumble upon something in the heat of the moment that might otherwise be lost forever.
Here are a couple of sounds to try out. The first is a generic bass sound that can serve as a jumping off point for your own personalized patches. The second is an ominous bass drone that uses the LFO (low frequency oscillator) to pulse the filter hypnotically:
Front panel illustrations by Nathanael Jeanneret
* See Hipster PDA. It was all the rage in 2004, before the iPhone, when a fledgling site called Create Digital Music was getting started.