by Adam Douglas | 4,0 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 2 Minutes
Wee Noise Makers PGB-1

Wee Noise Makers PGB-1  ·  Source: Wee Noise Makers

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New kids on the block Wee Noise Makers want to put their beginner-friendly and very hackable PGB-1 groovebox into your hands. The device has 19 sound engines, a flexible sequencer and open-source code, and is crowd-sourcing now.

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Wee Noise Makers PGB-1

French boutique outfit Wee Noise Makers has identified a hole in the market: an all-in-one music-making device aimed at beginners. “Often … instruments can feel limited, tying users to a specific sound or ecosystem,” they said on their Crowd Supply funding page. To address this need, they’re attempting to release the PGB-1, a pocket-sized and open-source groovebox.

Wee Noise Makers PGB-1
Wee Noise Makers PGB-1 · Source: Wee Noise Makers

At the heart of the PGB-1 is a Raspberry Pi RP2040 processor. Raspberry Pi-based synthesizers are popping up more and more. This is the latest in what is sure to become a more common thing.

19 Sound Engines

Wee Noise Makers weren’t kidding when they said the PGB-1 isn’t limited in sound. It has 19 sound engines, with more possibly coming. This includes a synthesizer, drum machine and sampler, plus effects and a global mixer. It can play up to eight monophonic voices at a time, and the synthesizer features parameters like a filter and LFO.

Wee Noise Makers PGB-1
Wee Noise Makers PGB-1 · Source: Wee Noise Makers

The onboard sampler has piqued my interest. It has 62 seconds of sampling time (that’s 22 more than the old-school Teenage Engineering PO-33 K.O!). You can sample via the onboard microphone or line-in jack

Effects include algorithms like reverb, bitcrusher and overdrive, with four effects slots on the global mixer as well.

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Sequencer

Any groovebox lives and dies by its sequencer, and the PGB-1 seems to have this covered. The onboard sequencer features conditional steps, repeats/ratcheting, pattern chaining, chord sequencing, song mode, live sequencing effects and more. You can also control external hardware with it with up to 16 MIDI tracks.

Hack It

The PGB-1 is more than just a mini-groovebox though. Wee Noise Makers have designed it with customization in mind, using open-source firmware. It’s also compatible with several programming languages, including Python.

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Connectivity and Controls

On the hardware side, the 10 x 6.6 x 1.5 cm device features 30 tactile switches, 24 RGB LEDs, an OLED screen and a capacitive touch strip. Around the back, there are MIDI ins and outs (TRS type-A), mini audio in and out plus a USB-C port for data and power. It also sports a rechargeable battery for use on the go.

Thoughts and Price

The PGB-1 looks to be a fun all-in-one instrument. I like the portability – just having a sampler that fits in your pocket could be cool.

If you’re interested in the Wee Noise Makers PGB-1, you can preorder one at their Crowd Supply campaign page. There are two price options: $249 for the regular and $299 for the limited edition with golden aluminum case.

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Wee Noise Makers PGB-1

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