It’s that time of year again, where we take a look back at the best of the best of new products from our incredibly talented Tindie sellers in 2021! We bring you the finest in sound and musical devices across the board, giving them each a custom handmade, yet fictional award for their ingenuity, design, and overall greatness! Here are some things we can all celebrate from this year – pray silence please, as we announce the Tindie Sound Gear Of The Year 2021…
Lightspeed Synth Award: Lumanoise V4 Trautonium
We’ve all made music playing keyboards, twiddling knobs and waggling sliders – and it’s great fun, but how about making some noise with light? In the early part of this year, the Lumanoise V4 Trautonium was released, based on the Oskar Sala Trautonium from the 1940s which used light to generate synth sounds.
This modern incarnation has 4 oscillators to control, each with pitch and volume attenuation – and a low-pass filter with controls for cutoff and resonance to sculpt and subtract from the sounds. This superb unit comes from the makers of the extraordinary LEPLOOP so you know you’re getting something truly unique, reliable, and imaginative!
Magnetic Fields Award: Electromagnetic Wavesniffer
Sound is everywhere, and while we as humans are adept at filtering out or focusing on many of the audible sounds around us, there are still sounds beyond our perception – which some special devices like the Electromagnetic Wavesniffer allow us to listen to and capture.
This neat unit comes as a DIY kit or as a finished product allows you to discover the electro magnetic waves emitted from all manner of devices, which may be within the home, on the street, or in a supermarket. Simply plug a battery and some headphones in and begin a world of discovery previously beyond your perception!
Superstar Mixer Award: Summing Mixer for POs
Sometimes the universe aligns and a maker comes up with a product so ingenious we’re left wondering just how we lived without it! That’s the case for many owners of the superb Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators, which link together to share tempo but become a little restrictive if you want to mix things up like a ‘proper’ musician.
This Summing Mixer takes the inputs from 5 Pocket Operators and spreads them onto a lovingly designed board which distributes the timing signal and adds controls for volume and muting for each indivudual unit! It’s no surprise this gained plaudits when it was released, and the level of detail they’ve gone to to replicate the design of the POs themselves is very admirable.
Syntom Reborn Award: drumBs PCB’s & panel
Given that we’re not yet selling any time machines on Tindie, rekindled projects from the past are a great opportunity to get your hands on lost relics of early analogue synthesis without remortgaging your home. The drumBs is a modern incarnation of the E&MM Syntom II – an electronic drum module from 1983, originally made available from Electronics & Music Maker Magazine.
It’s primarily designed for modular setups but can be housed as a tabletop unit as well – with jumpers to set for each, as detailed in the accompanying build guide. The module has numerous controls to alter the analoge sound including decay, pitch bend, pitch, mix, pulse, roll, cutoff, and resonance. We interviewed the maker for the Tindie Blog in a rare interview, if you’d like to know more about their excellent work!
Analogue Kicks Award: BD-606 Bass Drum Module
There are some sounds which have become synonymous with not only genres of electronic music, but entire movements. Take for example the Roland drum machines; the 808 and 909 which have been immortalized by modern generations and artists like Kanye West. Well, the 606 is becoming just as sought after, and the BD-606 Bass Drum Module seeks to house one of it’s elements in your modular rack for a fraction of the price of it’s forefather.
This dinky 2HP unit comes with features beyond the original’s capabilities – with an accent CV input, tone control, and an internal gate to trigger conversion. With three options to buy, you can source your own parts with just the PCB, get the PCB and all the components, or simply buy a finished unit off the bat. A comprehensive build guide and audio demos are available on the product page.
Machine Learning Award: Assembled NSynth Super
As far as modern synthesis and sampling techniques go, this is pretty much the cat’s proverbial pajamas! The NSynth Super has been designed by Google’s Magenta Lab, and is a completely open-source project capable of mixing and merging between four sounds seamlessly! This gorgeous NSynth Super comes fully assembled and puts the power of machine learning at your fingertips – with everything set up and ready to play.
A touch screen X-Y controller allows you to mix between four sounds of your choosing, in their original, unaltered form at each corner of the space. Moving your finger between these four points outputs a sound which uses AI to sonically stitch them together – from the sound of a dog barking to the sound of a bassoon, from a high pitched piccolo to a piston engine, almost anything is possible. The future is here!
8-Bit LoFi FX Award: Complete DIY Bit Crusher Kit!
Making your own pedals and effects is a highly satisfying process, not only giving you the skills to learn how these magical devices work, but putting the ability to make and mend other devices – as and when you need to. Step up then the Complete DIY Bit Crusher Kit, a superb effect for a range of processing opportunities, inspired by the MPCs and Akai Samplers of the 1990s.
It comes as a PCB with a pre-programmed chip, as a partial kit and a full kit – all of which present the opportunity to build a bit crusher! Once it’s complete, there are controls to select between 3 Bit rates, and knobs to control the overall tone, wet/dry mix, and sample rate – for some chunky vintage CRONCH! See what DIVKID thought about it below:
That’s it for another year! We sincerely hope that 2022 brings you joy, happiness, and inspiration given the testing times we’ve all faced over the last year. We will get through it together, and we hope that these small nuggets of joy are able to bring you some escapism, as they have very much done for us. Look after each other and look forward to more Tindie goodies in 2022!