Kit electronics have come a long way…
Remember Dick Smith’s Electronics sets? Remember how you had to screw wires into a breadboard to make basic circuits? There are plenty of new-age versions of that these days, and is one of the most premium.
Each ‘bit’ is a solidly-built chunk of electronics with a specific function, colour-coded, and connectible to other bits via magnets. It works really well.
Now, most of the kits are aimed at kids (“build a secret treasure box!”) but this one has some real chops. Co-branded with synthesiser legends KORG, it is what it says on the tin: a basic analogue synth.
With keyboard, sequencer, two oscillators, an envelope, delay and filter, it has all the important elements of an analogue synth, and thanks to KORG’s design guidance it produces a surprisingly vast range of chunky sounds. We’re talking old-school 80s analogue sounds like the kids used to dance to. From sub-sonic burr to ultrasonic squeal. Sine-wave clean or random noise dirty. Whatever your fingers can twiddle.
Don’t let the bright colours fool you: musicians love this kit. Add in a few extra bits - a MIDI interface here, a CV controller there - and you can hook it up to real synths. Into making low-fi electronica? This is a worthy addition to the studio.
Yes, it’s a little pricey compared to more versatile boxes from KORG like the Volca series ($250 each) but if you want to get your head around what makes a synth work, while actually being able to produce semi-serious music, this kit is a good choice.
Made of money? Throw in littleBit’s $189 Arduino kit and a few other bits, and things get pretty flexible. Other synth wonks have Gone Before and written arpeggiator sketches among other things. There is also a (so far disappointingly small) collection of projects on the website, also accessible via app. Our favourite? The laser-cut Perspex mount that turns the kit into an honest-to-goodness deep 80s keytar.
Rock on makers, rock on.