Music

Startup disguises feature-packed synthesizer as a kids toy

The Blipblox synth has been created for kids of all ages
The Blipblox synth has been created for kids of all ages
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A toddler gets to grips with the Blipblox synthesizer at the NAMM show in California
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A toddler gets to grips with the Blipblox synthesizer at the NAMM show in California
The Blipblox synth has been created for kids of all ages
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The Blipblox synth has been created for kids of all ages
Blipblox players push buttons, turn knobs and push levers to experiment with sounds
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Blipblox players push buttons, turn knobs and push levers to experiment with sounds
The Blipblox can run on batteries and has its own speaker, but can be AC-powered, be connected to MIDI hardware and cabled to an external speaker or headphones
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The Blipblox can run on batteries and has its own speaker, but can be AC-powered, be connected to MIDI hardware and cabled to an external speaker or headphones
Future electronica pioneers in the making play with their Blipblox synths
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Future electronica pioneers in the making play with their Blipblox synths
The Blipblox synth is designed for kids 3 years old and up
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The Blipblox synth is designed for kids 3 years old and up

Though many may think of large format behemoths at the mention of synthesizers, analog and digital sound laboratories come in many shapes and sizes – ranging from colorful accordion-like wearable models to ring-shaped multi-taskers to desktop blocks. Most of these devices are aimed squarely at adults, but occasionally hardware aimed at young sonic scientists comes along that's capable of satisfying grown ups, too. Such is the case with Blipblox, a music-making toy for kids which looks like so much fun that parents might just end up playing it themselves.

"The Blipblox was made to have fun without fully understanding how it all works," says maker of the playful synth, Playtime Engineering. "You can just turn it on and start playing with the buttons and knobs to see what sort of fun sounds you can get out of it."

That fun starts with a built-in sequencer that randomly selects tunes from hundreds of melodies, with or without accompaniment from the integrated drum machine, to get the party started. A proprietary algorithm produces unique waveforms, and eight oscillator modulation schemes generate common synth mods like pulse width, detune and freq mod, there's a low pass filter, two envelopes and two low frequency oscillators – all at the command of users via buttons and knobs.

A Performance Mode caters for more serious electronica creation and if players want to connect external hardware – such as a keyboard or sequencer – the Blipblox has a MIDI input. A built-in speaker and ability to run the sound machine on AC power or three AA-sized batteries make for up to 8 hours of play-anywhere portability, but there is an audio output jack for sending sounds to an external speaker or headphones.

Future electronica pioneers in the making play with their Blipblox synths
Future electronica pioneers in the making play with their Blipblox synths

As it's primarily aimed at children aged 3 years old and up, the Blipblox sports a colorful collection of knobs and buttons, together with two chunky levers/sliders, while LED lights pulse in time to the sounds being output. Its plastic build should also survive the odd inevitable bump and knock, but it's also drop and splash resistant.

And if young players want to learn more about what makes the Blipblox tick, the makers say that students can explore signal paths, get under the hood of the synthesis engine and more.

The Blipblox made its debut at the NAMM show in California last week, and will go up for sale in late (Northern Hemisphere) spring for a suggested retail price of US$159. The video below shows what's on offer.

Update June 25, 2018: The Blipblox synth has now launched on Indiegogo to fund production.

Source: Playtime Engineering

Blipblox Studio Sessions

1 comment
alan c
Brilliant concept and will drive parents mad on boxing day. I wonder who will be the first well known musician to use one on stage?