8knobs is a beautifully simple Arduino based drone synth for atmospheric soundscapes that’ll teach you how to solder, code and doubles as a MIDI controller.
It’s all open source and hacker-friendly built on the Arduino platform and could potentially be all sorts of things. Sound Codes designer Akash Sharma is into exploring electroacoustic improvisation, data manipulation and algorithmic composition and that adventure produced this little box as a travelling companion. He views sound in terms of hardware electronics, software coding and acoustic spaces and how that can result in infinite creative expressions.
8knobs is a drone synth with 8 knobs to control various exploratory parts of the sound creation. It has a single audio output, MIDI over USB or TRS and it can be powered by USB, a DC wall adapter or a 9v battery. It comes in a nicely rustic laser cut wood veneer body and hand-stitched jute of raw unbleached cotton.
Although there is a built version the emphasis falls on the DIY kit which includes everything you need to build and code your own custom synthesizer and MIDI controller. And the point is that it encourages you to dig into the coding and start exploring the possibilities of changing it into something else.
While building 8knobs you’ll learn everything from the basics like soldering to the fundamentals of sound synthesis, electronics and computer codes by understanding, engineering and experimenting with signal flow. Learn the art of signal flow by building your own custom synthesiser and controller for more experiments!
It’s a beautiful little project at a quite astonishing price. A built and finished 8knobs will cost you £45. The DIY kit is only £31 during the Indiegogo campaign. This campaign was started before the lockdown was implemented in India and so shipping dates are a bit in flux. There are also only 9 days left and he’s only reached 50% of his funding goal. So if you fancy a simple project that also bags you an Arduino and an 8-knob MIDI controller then this is well worth a punt. I should also point out that this is Indiegogo not Kickstarter and so it’s only at the prototype stage and holds less assurance of delivery or refund if it doesn’t get funded.
The fact that you can re-code it into other things and that it doubles as a MIDI controller is what makes this a useful little box. Even if you tire of the drones or can’t stand coding it’s a simple, compact MIDI controller sitting on your desk. There’s also a Eurorack version which is quite neat although there doesn’t appear to be any CV inputs and so might have limited appeal but with a bit of coding anything could be possible. Check out the video below and you might find it gets really quite interesting.
- Sound Codes 8knob Indiegogo campaign.