About this project
OP·A is a multitimbral FM synthesizer shield that’s bursting with character.
Inspired by the classic sound-chips found in 90's video game consoles, keyboards and sound cards, OP·A gives your next project retro flavored sounds and music, all through a simple serial interface.
We wanted OP·A to be:
- Simple to integrate into any Arduino based project
- Able to play great sounds right out of the box
- Easy to program
How to use it?
How does it sound?
Acoustic drums are not produced by the OP·A shield. All instruments are simultaneously played. No effect, no reverb and no equalizers have been applied to the OP·A sound.
Our hardware design is versatile and it produces high quality audio. It has been developed to tightly integrate with Arduino projects. Here are the specifications:
- 4-operator voice structure
- 14 different algorithms
- 10 voice polyphony
- 8 simultaneous instruments
- 90 internal program memory
- 16-bit high-quality stereo output
- Powered with +5V from Arduino
- 3.5mm jack line-level connector
- Based on a dsPic33EP256MC202 16bit micro-controller
The OP·A shield is controlled using the Arduino serial port and few additional lines.
Our Kickstarter campaign:
We hope to raise enough funds to industrially produce and deliver our first batch of shields. We’d also like to see a community grow around OP·A as these Arduino shields are a great way to get started designing sounds, making music and prototyping all sorts of audio projects.
This is why we need your support.
In order to minimize the shield cost, and get the best for your money, we tried to avoid all unnecessary expenses in the development process. This where the collected the funds go:
As we are concerned with production quality and controls, the complete process of manufacturing and handling will be done in Germany.
Development and quality
We made four hardware revisions of the OP·A to obtain the shield we really wanted.
Each iteration has been carefully measured to ensure it matches our expectations.
In addition to the reference manual, the OP·A shield schematics will be available to download as a reference for your future designs.
Dedicated Arduino library:
To get quick results and minimize programming, we provide a full OP·A library for the Arduino IDE.
The Arduino library is already available to download on github:
Sound program editor:
To craft new sound programs, we have developed a capable, multi-platform editor which allows users editing any of the OP·A internal parameters. The OP·A shield can also be turned into an external MIDI module when using the editor as a MIDI bridge. OP·A can be controlled by any MIDI music software or controller.
The OP·A sound editor is already available to download on github:
For the most adventurous hackers, every technical aspect of the shield is documented in our reference manual:
What is FM synthesis?
The sound of FM synthesis has had a profound influence on more than a generation of musicians and music lovers. It’s also played an important role in the history of video game music. The development of dedicated circuits like the OPL series allowed PC and console gamers to enjoy high quality sound while not taxing the CPU. For more than a decade, the sound of FM was the sound of gaming. Popularized by Yamaha during the 80s, FM synthesis was at the heart of many famous instruments such as the DX7 and consoles such as the Megadrive and Genesis.
Risks and challenges
Having successfully delivered many commercial music products, we know that hardware projects involve significant risks. We’ve done our best to minimize these risks in the following ways:
Risk 1: Faulty design
By having produced, manually assembled and tested three prototype revisions, the chances of a faulty design have been greatly reduced. We’ve also been getting these prototypes into the hands of makers and musicians who’ve been providing their feedback to ensure the final product is the best it can be.
Risk 2: Production costs
To help ensure that we can deliver all rewards, and remain on-budget, we already have detailed quotations from all the companies involved in the production process. The company manufacturing the shields is local and one we've worked with before.
Risk 3: Production delays
Delays can happen but we've worked hard to ensure we can deliver on time. We've agreed a production schedule with all our suppliers, taking into consideration all time needed by the different companies to deliver.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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