8-bit MIDI synthesizer

[Derek Enos'] toils are starting to yield results. He’s been working on an 8-bit synthesizer that is MIDI controlled which he calls the deMIDulator. As he demonstrates after the break, the device has sine and square wave functions that produce quite a pleasing sound. But it also offers the option to record your own samples which are then modified based on the MIDI commands coming in from your device of choice. In this case he’s using a Rock Band 3 keyboard (or keytar if you will) in a much more creative way than its originally intended purpose.

For now we’ll have to be content with the demo video and a list of features as there are no other details. But open sourcing the code and hardware information are on his to-do list.


  1. walt says:

    loooove synth hacks. :)

  2. vespine says:

    the real winner in this video is the beard.

    But i love the hack too:)

  3. raith says:

    what did you use to convert it to 8bit?

  4. someone says:

    In case you were wondering, the right audio channel is used for voice and the left one for the synthesizer’s output

  5. zool says:

    pretty cool

  6. Scott says:

    Nice job! Just one comment on the video… it’s mixed badly in that your voice is channel R and the audio is channel L.

    It’s awkward with headphones… and the range goes from very low to “yank the headphones off” loud.

    In the scheme of things, the video is almost unimportant, but just FYI. :-)

  7. Drew says:

    I love how he’s using the Rock Band keytar as a MIDI controller.

  8. Derek says:

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Raith: The PIC18 microcontroller architecture is natively 8-bit so it’s easy to synthesize sound in this resolution. With the PIC’s ADC I can sample audio with up to 10-bit resolution but am just ignoring the two least significant bits.

    Scott: Yeah, sorry about the channel separation. I agree that headphones are a bit awkward.

  9. aztraph says:

    love the deer in the headlight look

  10. Matt Boch says:

    FYI, Derek used to work with me at Harmonix and is the guy responsible for the MIDI implementation on the Rock Band keytar used in the demo video.

  11. addidis says:

    Awesome work ! Looking forward to looking at the source for this .

  12. RENO says:

    Nice T-Shirt..!! :)
    are you in Ecuador..¿?

  13. Derek says:

    This project is live on Kickstarter until Sept 18 2011.

  14. sam says:

    this is my sample this is my gun,
    this is for music this is for fun.

    loving the racing theme. would love to get hold of one if you decide to mass produce them.

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