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Build-it-yourself mini synth offers sonic hacking on the cheap

Build-it-yourself mini synth o...
The palm-sized Macchiato Mini Synth from Zeppelin Design Labs
The palm-sized Macchiato Mini Synth from Zeppelin Design Labs
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The MAcchitao Mini Synth is available ready-to-play
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The MAcchitao Mini Synth is available ready-to-play
The main board of the Macchiato Mini Synth has an ATMega644pa microcontroller at its heart
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The main board of the Macchiato Mini Synth has an ATMega644pa microcontroller at its heart
Nine knobs to the top of the Macchiato Mini Synth are used to shape the sound
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Nine knobs to the top of the Macchiato Mini Synth are used to shape the sound
The Macchiato Mini Synth has its own 13-not touch keyboard, sound control knobs and a 1-inch speaker
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The Macchiato Mini Synth has its own 13-not touch keyboard, sound control knobs and a 1-inch speaker
The palm-sized Macchiato Mini Synth from Zeppelin Design Labs
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The palm-sized Macchiato Mini Synth from Zeppelin Design Labs
The Macchiato Mini Synth is reported easy to put together and can be up and running in one evening
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The Macchiato Mini Synth is reported easy to put together and can be up and running in one evening
Audio nerds and sound geeks taking on a Macchiato Mini Synth build will need to break out the soldering iron
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Audio nerds and sound geeks taking on a Macchiato Mini Synth build will need to break out the soldering iron

The Macchiato Mini Synth has a similar aesthetic to the recently-revamped Stylophone, but offers audio nerds and sound geeks the chance to get their hands dirty and build their own for under US$40, or buy it fully assembled and ready to play.

The Macchiato is an 8-bit digital synthesizer that's said to be "perfect for bass synth lines, rhythmic and glitchy pulses, or smooth lead synth parts." It has an ATMega644pa microcontroller at its heart and uses a slightly modified Arduino library called Mozzi for its synth sound arsenal.

It's played using a 13-note capacitive touch keyboard backed up by a four octave shift feature and offering two-note polyphony. Synth scientists can choose sine, triangle, saw or square wave shapes, controlled using four knobs up top, with another four to massage the LFO and one more to adjust volume.

Audio nerds and sound geeks taking on a Macchiato Mini Synth build will need to break out the soldering iron
Audio nerds and sound geeks taking on a Macchiato Mini Synth build will need to break out the soldering iron

Though fully operational when assembled, the open source software can also be tweaked for personal preference and then flashed to the synth to output new sounds via its built-in 1-inch speaker, or audio can also be sent to powered speakers through its 3.5 mm jacks. MIDI input gives players the option to control the Mini using external hardware.

Zeppelin reckons that the DIY kit – which is available now priced at $39 if you choose to make your own enclosure using the provided template – is easy to put together and can be up and running in one evening. It can run on a 9 V battery or be plugged into the mains via a DC power supply. Less adventurous players can buy a ready to play Mini for $96.

You can see a timelapse of the synth being put together in the video below.

Source: Zeppelin Design Labs

The Macchiato Mini-Synth Build Time Lapse Video

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