Business-card sized, polyphonic digital synthesizer & looper enclosed in a hand-made wooden boxDesigned by mayojaster in Ireland
What's new? The firmware has been recently updated (more info here). There is no built in MIDI interface in this model, neither external triggers / sync / CV inputs. If you want MIDI, please check th…Read More…
The firmware has been recently updated (more info here).
There is no built in MIDI interface in this model, neither external triggers / sync / CV inputs. If you want MIDI, please check the new v2 model (2019).
Functionality wise, the patches available in either model do overlap to about 90% (although some may sound or behave slightly different). Those that depend on a specific hardware only exist where it is possible.
There is an app to program your own chord progressions and melodies, and update the unit automatically whenever a new firmware is released (unfortunately it only runs in Windows, sorry!).
The synth can be powered from 3x AA batteries (disposable or rechargeable), or USB (external power bank). It will not charge the batteries when plugged to USB, you need to charge them in an external charger.
The magnetic ring is not included. Besides rings, any magnet will work.
The old and new Gecho look similar but under the hood they are completely different circuits - not necessarily meaning that the new one is better, it all depends on what you are looking for. For example, this v1 model works at a lower sampling rate and uses different sound chip, giving it a softer, more "analog(ish)" sound. It actually has analog op-amp at input (for both microphones and line-in), followed by 12-bit ADC, and is easier to set up to work with various external gear, such as electric guitar with magnetic pickups, or devices with piezo-ceramic pickups. In the v2 model you can get higher samplig rates but you'd need to use an external pre-amp if the connected sound source does not transmit at line-level or at least headphone-level voltages.
Digital, polyphonic pocket synthesizer controlled by buttons, infra-red proximity sensors and a magnetic sensor, which you can influence by a "Magician's ring".
Whenever you power it on, it becomes a meditation tool, source of endless music from your environment... or an amusing sound processor reacting to your voice, other instruments and various objects that make sound or noise. You wouldn't believe how interestingly a random thing will sound!
Listen to textures, vibrations, magnetic fields and infra-red light. Connect it to other small synths, DIY projects and gadgets. Let it play chord progressions in the background while you practice, or be an instant inspiration when you get stuck while composing.
There is a lot of demo videos on my channel.
You can find feedback and videos made by other people here (scroll down for v1 model).
While experimenting with the great "Discovery" and "Nucleo" boards from STMicroelectronics, I often ended up building contraptions like this. Spending lunch breaks coding in coffee-shops, I wished to have all the hardware in a more compact format, and it occurred to me that apart from a very handy development platform, it may become an interesting music instrument too. After few iterations, I've showcased the prototype on Kickstarter where it was met with very enthusiastic response and got funded to 204%. Also, after people received it, the feedback was very positive overall.
People who own it, call it "the intriguing, amusing or even unputdownable little gadget". I am still struggling to define what it really is - instead, I'm spending time to push it towards its potential. Can we call it a reverse music instrument, where you don't play the song but everything else around it? You can compose songs in form of chord progressions and melodies, but the real magic happens after you hit "play".
Gecho is a custom designed, business-card sized board, integrating a very popular STM32F4 Cortex-M4 MCU (1MB FLASH, 192kB SRAM, 210DMIPS) with advanced and reliable DAC (CS43L22), two very sensitive (52dB) electret microphones, 4-channel pre-amp (LMV324), four proximity sensors (QRE1113GR), one linear magnetic sensor (SS49E) and 28 colourful LED lights. For your convenience it has two outputs, good for recording or sharing the experience with someone. One input accommodates piezo pickups, electric guitar or any other source. All connectors are 3.5mm stereo jacks, A/D converter and signal lines from sensors are protected against voltage spikes.
The board has ton of hackability potential, various signals are exposed on soldering pads (not highlighted in the picture, there are also four smaller pads to connect small 8 Ohm speakers; CS43L22 integrates a stereo Class D speaker amplifier too).
It is compatible with other development boards so you can easily download and adapt software written by someone else. You will receive all source codes for the "official" software, schematic and diagrams.
This is your opportunity to learn basic DSP coding. Whether you are familiar with 8-bit platforms or not, maybe you feel like exploring the power of 32-bit, and learn something about the ARM architecture too. For example, invent your own guitar effects. Implement tuner, metronome, drum sequencer or colourful VU-meter. Control it remotely via serial line (USART or serial over USB). Drive LED stripes, MIDI gear, even servo motors. Read data from gyros. Code sound and touch triggered games, follow tutorials, learn and have fun!
Since cameras, lighting conditions and monitor calibration have influence on how colours appear on screen, to give you better impression here is a picture showing all three finishes under various conditions (first row is Light Oak, second row Antique Oak and third row Ebony).
Gecho is meant to be a stand-alone device, and everything (1) can be done using buttons - however an app is provided (2) (so far, Windows only) to program your compositions in a more handy way, and to download firmware updates and flash them into your board (3).
usually, new functionality appears in the app first, then is migrated to the firmware
the linked article and demo video is old, app has since significantly evolved
only Windows supported, if you use Mac or Linux, you will need to upload new binaries manually
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Harpreet | Aug. 17, 2020
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