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A MIDI Saw/Square/Sub wave Analogue Synthesizer with four additional independent pulse waves.
A MIDI Saw/Square/Sub wave Analogue Synthesizer with four additional independent pulse waves.
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31 backers pledged £7,475 to help bring this project to life.


A MIDI Saw/Square/Sub wave Analogue Synthesizer with four additional independent pulse waves that are adjustable in phase and width.

Five Oscillator Midi Analogue 'Riff & Bass' Synthesizer.



NOTE:  If the rewards are all taken, and you want to back the project, please check the 'reward panel' again later.  Backers often cancel due to understandable reasons.  If the backer number, on the reward panel (not the main page) is less than 30, then units are available!

The 'limited edition' product features:

  • Analogue signal path from the oscillator to the output
  • 1 x Saw or Square wave (selectable)
  • 1 x Synced Square Sub (-1 Octave) - it also divides the Saw frequency by 2
  • 4 x independent Pulse waves with automatic or manual adjustment of the phase, and manual adjustment of the pulse width. (Automatic adjustment of the pulse phase is like a detune of the oscillators)
  • Tune (0 to +60 cents), Major 3rd, Perfect 4th or Perfect 5th
  • MIDI In, MIDI Thru, channel selection 1 to 16
  • Classic Gate mode or Gate and 'Trigger on every note' mode
  • 6 channel mixer
  • Amplifier ADSR
  • Sallen & Key 24dB/Octave Low pass filter with Attack, Peak, Decay, Sustain and Resonance control
  • Set to sine (low frequency filter) switch
  • Filter decay mode switch
  • 482 mm (19") x 132 mm (3U) and ~40 mm from face to base
  • 1 Watt power dissipation
  • Approx. 2 kg

What will it look like?

Below is a 2D non-rendered black, white and grey block type drawing (there may be a few slight changes to the artwork, but nothing major or noticeable).  It may be mounted in a 19" rack (3U), or it may be placed on your table-top (it has 5 rubber feet). Note:  Each end of the lower enclosure is open and the connections are to the left - allowing room for cables when rack mounted (or to look neater when table top mounting).

To see this in more detail (i.e. in 3D) - please visit:



(1) Speakers.

You'll need to listen to these samples through some good monitor speakers, preferably with a sub-woofer.  You will not hear much of the sound using your computer's internal speakers.

(2) WYHIWYG - what you hear is the actual output of the Chicago pre-production prototype as photographed below - apart from: see note 3.

All examples are directly from the Chicago output - NO 'FX' OR 'EQ' IS ADDED (unless stated).


The 'hiss' is from my mixer and PC, not the synth - the synth output is VERY low noise. 

There may also be some distortion in parts due to my PC's sound card limits.

(4) Some examples start a bit slow - but they evolve.


INTRODUCTION 1 - 'Old-school' House remix - Drum sample played from Cubase (TM) and one Chicago synth played by Cubase's MIDI output.  No FX at first, then some 'delay' and 'flange' is added to the last section.

SAMPLE 1 - House Bass Hook - rapidly adjusting the envelope controls - with a slight bit of Flanging added.

SAMPLE 2 - Jack's On Bass - one simple slightly evolving bass example - No FX added.

SAMPLE 3 - Sort of 'clav' like - adjusting the filter sustain control for a 'wha' effect. 

SAMPLE 4 - Slowly Evolving Arp' - going through some extremes of the filter control. Some really useful, some not so useful - but it shows the scope.

SAMPLE 5 - A late 80's type bassline. 

SAMPLE 6 - 'A Riff/Bass theme' with drums and a pad in places. At about 16 secs, two Chicago synths are used - then it reverts back to one.  On the 'outro', a bit of delay is added to the Chicago, which is playing the bass line. 

Note the nice deep root note on the 'outro'.

SAMPLE 7 - Deep Bass 1 (it starts a bit deep at first - I'm not sure how this will sound on a full range system - so take care). 

SAMPLE 8 - Bass 2 - some nice examples of its capability, showing a tight envelope at one point. 

SAMPLE 9!  NUMAN -TECHNO! - First pass it's clean, second pass it's through a stereo chorus, third pass - Steinberg's Reverence 'Metal Master' is added!

SAMPLE 10 - Sort of 'Moogie' - 'Gate' mode switch on.  Pitch bend and glide can be emulated by overlapping notes in the 'piano roll' (it's like sliding you finger over the keys).  The decay mode difference switch is used.  No FX used.

SAMPLE 11 - Delayed Reverb on a filter swept drone.  Reverb FX added.

SAMPLE 12 - Some 'plain' Bass lines - All sync'd oscillators, with nuance control and envelope adjustment.  From Saw to Mixed oscillators.


Purpose for Funding: 

The purpose of the funding is to produce a small limited quantity production run (30 units) and to fund the Metal fabrication and Silk Screen set-up/tooling costs, which are too high at quantities in the range of 1 to 5 units. Costs can be reduced with quantities of 25 units (and above), but restricting the run to 30, will present the least risk, and the best cost break.

A metalwork test sample of 5 will be produced first (which will cost around £200 in total). If these are OK, then 30 will be produced.

The PCB test samples (5 of them) has already been funded - and the design works perfectly.  These can be repeat-ordered.

If the project runs smoothly, which it should do, then the funding can be used to 'shrink' the product design (with reduced controls, and surface-mount components) and ultimately sell these through distributors, who will of course, add their mark-up (but that's life).

What is the status of the project at this point?

The PCB is designed and the Gerber (CAM) files are complete.  A batch of 6 PCBs were made, and two of them populated.  They worked perfectly - first time.  The PCB quality is good, so this PCB Manufacturer is selected.

The Bill Of Materials (BOM) is complete with alternative options for components along with alternative suppliers.  These suppliers are: RS, Farnell, Mouser, TME and Digikey.  No Far-Eastern companies have been chosen due to component counterfeit possibilities, and due to lack of knowledge of these companies.

The metalwork fabricator, working from IGS and DXF files, has supplied a well written quotation (they are ISO9001 certified).  All costing is for metalwork, flat-black powder-coating and white Silk-Screen.

Nothing really much more to do apart from build them - which is the easy part.

What does the pledge give you?

You get a 'limited edition', hand built, fully functional Chicago Riff & Bass Synthesizer, in a metal case, as shown in the 2D illustration above (and on the website) - with knobs fitted.

Connection Spec.:

1 x 5-pin DIN MIDI INPUT and 1 x 5-pin DIN MIDI THROUGH.  MIDI channel is selected via 4 toggle switches, which can select channels 1 to 16 (in binary).

1 x 2.1 mm x 5.5 mm Barrel Power connector for a 9 VDC power supply (not polarity sensitive - i.e. any polarity).  The supply must be capable of supplying at least 250 mA.  12 VDC is OK to use, but nothing should be used above this voltage.

1 x 6 mm Mono-Jack Audio Output.

What isn't supplied:

A 9 VDC power supply:

Power supplies come under the low voltage directive, and require different supply voltages for different countries.  Plus, you may prefer long leads, short leads, 'wall-warts' or 'desk-top' supplies - you may also have one already.  If not, and you need a recommendation, these are really easy to get hold of, and my preference, for safety and reliability, is something like part number: VER12US090-JA  for about £9.50, sold through Farnell/Element 14 (for genuine XP parts). 

Any other 9 V or 12 V DC (250 mA or higher) supply will be fine, as long as it has a 2.1 mm x 5.5 mm DC connector.  ANY POLARITY WILL WORK.  DO NOT POWER WITH MORE THAN 12 V DC (it may rupture the internal fuse, which is a required safety feature).  USE ONLY ISOLATED POWER SUPPLIES (which most good power supplies are).

5-pin DIN midi lead/s and a 6 mm mono Jack lead:

Again, you may well have these, and what's the point of paying twice? Or you may have a preference for cable length and quality - but these are so easy to get hold of from any music store.

These small bits bulk out the packing, so packaging and transportation gets that little more expensive.

Chicago Synthesizer limitations:

When I owned a Moog Prodigy, back in the mid 80's, I used it in a band to play Bass, and to record with.  I generally used one setting that sounded good, and never really used pitch bend or glide (it sounds great in a solo - but in the mix, it's not too good when used on bass lines).  So the idea behind Chicago is to restrict the features and focus on 'house' type bass sounds. 

The Chicago does not have MIDI parameter adjustability, Velocity/After-touch key control, glide, pitch-bend, modulation (LFOs), delay, reverb, keyboard tracking, white/pink noise, CV inputs or outputs and it's mono and monophonic (single notes only, as per many classic analogue synthesizers).

This is not a programmable 'machine' - it is just a static-pitch sound source for bass and riff type hooks.  It's not meant to compete with the feature-rich Moog, Korg or Roland Synthesizers (TM), or to emulate them. But it does have a usable, concise sound portfolio with a fair degree of adjustability that can be very subtle at times - none the less, I do hope that you agree it's a good sounding synth with it's own character - as you can hear. 


Risks and challenges

Component shortages are the main risk for every manufacturer - but given the component lead times, and a world-wide supply, the target time should be met, albeit having to a pay a little more for some components. The metalwork and/or PCB's, form China, can take up to 2 weeks, then get stuck at customs. Other than that, there is little risk in completing the project by November (or before). Everything is assembled in the UK.

Safety, the environment and function:

The product is ELV (extra low voltage) rated. All components, PCB and Metalwork is Lead-Free and Cadmium-Free. ESD protection is designed into each Input and output, and there are no switching (switch-mode) circuits employed that can create EMI or RFI transmission. All Micro Controllers are decoupled with 10uF and 100nF capacitors, and filters will block out Data frequencies. The Power input is fuse protected (500 mA), and the PCB is FR4 material. Over voltages will rupture the fuse. One component may operate at an elevated temperature, but this is shielded and would not rise above 50 Deg. C under the most onerous conditions. Great care has been taken to design this to be a safe and a reliable product.

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    Midi Analogue Riff & Bass Synthesizer

    Complete ‘ready to go’ hand-assembled and fully tested 'limited edition' Chicago 'Riff and Bass' Synthesizer, with silk-screened metalwork as illustrated in the project description.

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Funding period

- (32 days)