by Robin Vincent | Approximate reading time: 2 Minutes
MicroDexed

MicroDexed  ·  Source: Floyd Steinberg

MicroDexed

MicroDexed  ·  Source: MicroDexed

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Floyd Steinberg who brought us two DX7s on a Raspberry Pi is at it again with MicroDexed. It adds a virtual analogue synth, drum computer, piano, audio tracker and effects in one tiny box.

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MicroDexed

As with the MiniDexed Floyd didn’t invent the MicroDexed but he’s breathed life into the project with his fascinating build and demonstration video. It’s all built on a Teensy 4.1 microcomputer and they manage to cram in a lot of stuff. The project on the open-source site Codeberg includes details of how to 3D print and build an enclosure. Floyd likes to keep it real with just a breadboard and the touchscreen interface dangling off the side.

The video takes you through every step. It gives you a list of things you’ll need, how to download the software and set up the project on the Teensy via the Arduino development tool. The hardware really only consists of the Teensy, Audio Shield and a USB port. All the clever stuff is done inside the Teensy. All the access comes via a small touch screen and a pair of encoders.

Tones

As with MiniDexed, MicroDexed contains two instances of the DEXED FM synthesizer plugin. The larger screen definitely helps with seeing what’s going on although most of the interaction seems to be through the encoders. The first new addition is a paraphonic, dual oscillator virtual analogue synthesizer. Next, we have a sample-based drum kit with acoustic and electronic kits. And finally, there’s the MDA electric piano. The internal effects vary depending on the sound source but all the usual ones are present and useful.

Sequencing

Sequencing is all about chaining patterns into songs in a Tracker style. It has melody, chord and drum track modes and is probably incomprehensible to anyone who’s not used a tracker before. But it just takes a bit of time, thought and patience and before you know it you’ll be sequencing like it’s 1984.

Within this tiny format, you have an enormous amount of potential available to you for just a handful of your local currency. Put it in a box and you have a little mobile studio you can take with you anywhere. It’s great stuff and Floyd’s videos definitely make the sometimes mysterious world of Github/Codeberg and open source projects appear accessible and achievable.

  • MicroDexed Project page.
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4 responses to “MicroDexed: an 80s home studio in a Teensy box”

  1. iixorb says:

    It would be great to see something emerging along the lines of the SM Audio V-Machine, but with enough power to actually run a bunch of VSTs (and not splutter and crackle like the V-Machine did. I owned one for 6 months). Hopefully this is the direction experiments like we see here, are ultimately heading towards.

    The V-Machine concept was a good one, but it was released ahead of it’s time; low cost processors weren’t powerful enough.

    • Robin Vincent says:

      VSTs in hardware has been tried many times now and it never seems to stick unless you go the whole hog with something like the Korg Opsix and Wavestate. I think both hardware and software synths are better at being what they are.

      • Mike Boracci says:

        Hosting VSTs sounds cool but what’s the point. Just build a synth with an fpga and a dip. Same thing in hardware. Otherwise use a mini PC and write a vst host with a dedicated touch screen interface.

        • Robin Vincent says:

          Sounds expensive. I think the point here is how you can do all this for just a few quid.

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