Digital Synth For The Non-chiptune Inclined

Chiptunes are great, and we can’t imagine a world without the Mega Man 2 soundtrack, but sometimes we all like a more 70’s style synth. This is where the Roninsynth steps in. It’s an Arduino shield that puts the basic components of a wall of synth into your pocket.

Unlike the analog oscillators of yore, the Roninsynth is based on a single dsPIC33F chip. It has all the waveforms we would expect from its big brother – sine, saw, triangle, square, and noise – and a couple modulation options.  What’s really interesting is the GUI the Roninsynth team put together. Instead of going with the knobs and buttons approach of the MIDIbox SID, the Roninsynth does everything with software. Think of it as a hardware-based softsynth.

Of course, there isn’t support for looping and phrases like what we saw yesterday, but there’s a ton of neat sounds that can be made and the capability for analog input. If you’ve ever wanted to sound like Radiohead, we can’t think of an easier way to build an Ondes Martenot.

5 thoughts on “Digital Synth For The Non-chiptune Inclined

  1. This should be fun :) I only wish I had known about this two weeks ago before blowing the xmas loot :( I’ll have to finish reading TFA but it sounds like just the thing to keep me tinkering with my Arduino this winter. Not huge on softsynths at this point in my life, but I am interested to learn the ins and outs of how things are done and learn a bit of code to figure out how to handle it all :)

  2. Nice, albeit on the pricey side, considering that it has no filters, which is an enormous limitation. The Korg Monotron itself, which is nearly a toy, has one filter.

    Not an easy addon though, I admit: a serious digital audio filter needs much more juice than a dsPIC or any small controller can offer and an analog filter controlled through the dsPIC but done the right way (poliphonic) would increase complexity and cost a lot.

    Still the product is interesting for being open source.

  3. Wouldn’t the AvecSynth – if they complete that Kickstarter – that was mentioned earlier be a better buy? Cheaper, more built-in instruments, MIDI. I guess the Roninsynth would be more fun to program non-instrument or create new instruments sounds though.

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