Nanoloop has been a Gameboy cartridge and an iOS app and now it’s making its way into its own chunk of hardware. It’s a small, handheld device with gamepad style buttons, 5 LED digits and an 8×4 bi-colour LED matrix. I’m tempted to say it’s an OP-1 killer but it’s probably more comparable to something like the Pocket Operator but with more space to play.
It looks a bit homemade in the video but very quickly the power of the sounds and the sequencer win you over. It has 4 channels of sound consisting of a dual square wave oscillator with an analogue filter, a 4-voice polyphonic FM synth, a monophonic FM synth and then a channel of noise and clicks for percussion.
The sequencer is based on a 4×4 matrix – I’m not exactly sure how that relates to the 8×4 LED matrix. Each step can record all parameters and everything can be transposed. Each channel can have its own length and tempo, you can randomise and shift the patterns in both directions. You can playback normally or reverse, ping-pong or randomly. There’s a “meta step” function that plays a note every 2nd or 4th loop which is an interesting idea.
The interface gives you a D-Pad and 4 buttons plus a volume dial. There’s a minijack output for sound, there doesn’t appear to be a speaker but you do get MIDI or CV in and out. The case will be bent acrylic glass and available in a couple of colours.
The software engine and sequencer has already proven itself on the Gameboy and iOS and so this is quite a mature device being put in the sweaty hands of bus riding music makers. It looks like a whole load of fun and for €97 it seems like a complete bargain.
The Kickstarter has already raised 4 times the goal and so it’s going to be made. There were no interesting stretch goals or anything. Delivery is expected in August.