It’s been another storming year for synth releases, and here at Tindie we like to celebrate our talented creators by bringing you a list of the best gear they released in 2019. From head melting synths to audio effects units, we’re proud to have so many independent creators, beating the big manufacturers at their own game from their homes, garden sheds, and workshops.
Join us as we run down what took our fancy this year in the Tindie Sound: Gear Of The Year 2019!
Drum Synth by Rakit
Rakit are a superb little company based in Cambridge, England. Their audio boxes and synth goodies are wonderfully made, designed, and packaged with the Rakit Drum Synth being their flagship unit. Based on the super-rare Amdek PCK-100 with added modifications, this Drum Synth gives you a VCO which can be modulated, swept, pitched and triggered to your heart’s content.
The Drum Synth is available fully constructed or as a kit, and will deliver those 80s synth drum effects which are synonymous with electronic music.
DFAM FM Synthesizer by Kasser
The DFAM (not to be confused with the Moog DFAM) represents the dawning of a new era in re-living classic video game synth sounds. It houses legendary FM sound chips (YM2612/YM3438) used in the Sega Megadrive/Genesis and SoundBlaster Cards – making it a hugely playable MIDI unit destined for use way beyond 2020.
With its sleek design, tough build quality and touch-sensitive keypad, the DFAM really does look and sound the part – with two chip options, depending on the lo-fi flavour you need.
Super Smash Button by midierror
Hailed as a `genius` device by SonicState, the Super Smash Button is based on a simple yet highly effective concept – plug something into one side, and it comes out the other when you press (or smash) the arcade button!
Perfect for synths, guitars, drums, drones, vocals, and foley sounds, it excels at giving sporadic rhythm to any sound, while evoking memories of nostalgic arcade button bashing at the same time. It also comes with options to have a gorgeous customised finish!
Noise-X by Madlab
Looking and sounding like a device from another planet, the Noise-X packs 6 oscillators of undulating waveforms into one compact PCB module. It has built-in FX and a myriad of modulation possibilities and modes, making some of the strangest and most expressive drones you can imagine.
You don’t often get sliders on synths, and the superb idea which resulted in Noise-X is a wonderfully ergonomic way to control sound. The Noise-X is available as a kit and a completed unit, and sounds like nothing else you’ve ever heard… on this planet!
ROT8x MIDI Controller by Velorum Project
As MIDI controllers go, the Rot8.x MIDI Controller has it all – with 32 assignable control knobs to create tactile control changes, parameter changes, pitch bends, and effects sends! It’s USB powered and ideal for controlling your DAW, VSTs and outboard gear from one convenient place. The difference between clicking with a mouse and tweaking real-world controls is unparallelled. And now it’s affordable for all. It comes in a glorious matte black aluminium case, suitable for gigging and is re-programmable through the onboard Arduino.
Pocket Operator Adapter by Hanz
Pocket Operators are some of the most compact and characterful devices we’ve ever seen – but what if you could control them via MIDI? Well, the Pocket Operator MIDI Adapter does exactly that – simulating button presses from an on-board Teensy microcontroller for full MIDI control over all buttons.
This indie magic allows you to make chord progressions, FX sequences, and sound selection super quick and automatable. This device is like nothing else on Tindie, or elsewhere!
CVTab for ARPIE by SixtyFourPixels
The ARPIE should need no introduction; the hardware MIDI Arpeggiator housed in the studios of the biggest names in the industry got an add on in 2019! The CV Tab adds CV Gate. Pitch and Clock to the already formidable machine, opening up numerous possibilities for use with classic analogue gear from pre-MIDI days.
Hook it up to your modular synth for a host of continually updated Arpeggiation modes, it’s now on Firmware Version 6, which is shown in full in the video.
Stage Bro 2000 by Krystal State
For live musicians and singer/songwriters, a high-fidelity backing track is essential for playing fully produced sets without having to take the London Sympohony Orchestra on the road with you. The Stage Bro 2000 allows you to playback high-quality WAV or MP3 recordings everywhere you go and trigger them using just your feet.
Load the sounds from a USB flash drive, and select your track using the simple interface. Originally built to perform a function for the inventor, the Stage Bro 2000 is happily now available to everyone!
Quadtech 101 by CCTV
With a myriad of modular panels and kits to choose from, it’s sometimes difficult to see why products like the QuadTech 101 stand out. Simple! This eurorack module goes beyond the standard mono/stereo outputs, to offer FOUR assignable outs for what the makers call QUAD PANNING!
This mystical technique allows for movement between outputs, as well as steady simultaneous output at the turn of a knob – from 2 on-board digital VCOs. The Qudtech 101 could be used to simulate the Leslie speaker effect of Hammond organs, or a host of other creative sonic crazyness.
Headmelter by Mindburner
Any product with a name like Headmelter is guaranteed to evoke a certain amount of enigma, interest, and let’s be honest, terror! Don’t be afraid, this PCB synth has 2 oscillators intent on making electric drones, spaced out sweeps and angular sync’d sounds you’ll drool over. With robotic sounds and odd controls entitled Confusion, Relapse, Hyper Boost and Medicate, you’ll be in for a sonic adventure beyond the boundaries of your imagination.
Cheers to the Year that Was 2019!
We think you’ll agree, it’s been a very good year for gear at Tindie! With new products on the proverbial horizon, let’s hope that 2020 brings even more sonic joy, synthesized landscapes, and otherworldly effects to our tabletops. A sincere congratulations to everyone who made the list this year, let’s raise a glass to the independent makers of the past, present, and future!