Our wooden-buttoned friends are at it again with a super-portable, fun and dynamic synth that’s just appeared on Kickstarter.
201 Musical Synthesizer
This box has a little bit of everything. There are six sound engines squeezed inside, offering a wide range of textures and exploration. You’ve got a bit of chiptune-style waveforms, physical modelling, drum samples, vocal synthesising and analogue-style filters. It’s evidently a digital box running on an ARM Cortex-A7 processor. But it’s also Open Source using Pure Data and Faust programming environment, which you are welcome to fiddle with.
Above the famously wooden button keyboard is a row of five knobs. The left one handles tempo, the right one handles volume and the three in between mess with the sounds. You have envelope and tone control but more interestingly is the “Surprise” knob that could do all sorts of things. Critter & Guitari are keen to push the “fun” angle of this synth, and having no idea what will happen when you turn a knob is certainly a bit of a laugh.
Play or sequence
The button keyboard can, of course, play sounds, but it can also play patterns. It can do all sorts from octave arpeggiations to randomising polyphonic patterns. These work great with the drum sample aspect of the 201 Musical Synthesizer. Or, if you prefer to generate your own tunes then the built-in sequencer will take care of that and can also keep running while you fiddle with patterns and sound engines.
The box itself is made of aluminium, runs on batteries and has a built-in speaker. You really can take it and go and play in the park, on the train, up a tree or wherever your inspiration blossoms. It has MIDI In and Out, USB ports, a microSD port for samples and a single audio output.
There’s a lot going on inside this ARM-based synthesizer box, although it all feels a little plinky-plonky. You don’t get a lot of parameter interaction, but you do get to play with many different sound engines and tone modules. The portability is nice, and it’s perfect for those synth-club jams.
201 is on Kickstarter now for $295, which is a great price for quite a versatile little sound source.
- Critter & Guitari 201 Musical Synthesizer Open Source: Critter & Guitari
- Critter & Guitari 201 Musical Synthesizer: Critter & Guitari