About this project
The ST4 is a unique device that combines a powerful hybrid analog/digital synthesizer with a 16-bit style tracker music machine. It has digital oscillators backed up with sampling for versatility, with analogue VCF’s and VCA’s for character. It’s packed with features, yet these are almost all usable hands-on with dedicated knobs and buttons. It’s usable stand-alone for live gigs but also mountable in a standard 19″ rack, and fully MIDI controllable.
As mentioned it's loaded with features like the sampler, built-in mic, and the bit crusher. It has its own stereo mixer. Most of these controls are completely duplicated per channel, allowing instant access, and powerful live experimentation. Think: running your MIDI sequencer and tweaking the channel's LFO influence and VCO, VCF, and VCA envelopes live. Or even, use the on-board tracker for this!
Note that this prototype casing is intentionally over dimensioned for development purposes. The final version will be at least 2 cm lower and at least 6 cm less deep.
You can use the unit as a MIDI controlled synth, at which it performs an admirable job, if we may say so ourselves. But if you plug in a USB keyboard, the thing transforms into a portable music computer! It is capable of 4 track, multi-pattern sequencing, with added support for polyrhythm:
The concept was done by stu.atari.org, a Swiss-based musician who possesses a wealth of chip and synthesizer music experience. Additional concept, hard- and software design and engineering done by Tasty Chips Electronics. The machine is basically an ode to classic synthesis and Atari home computers.
Hi-res trailer on youtube: https://youtu.be/DKnih4exJcA
Videos that demonstrate the tracker:
Some youtube video's of the old breadboard system being played:
ST4 feature demonstrations (filter, bit crusher, sample-driven beats) in musical way:
- 4 Stereo voices
- Analog multi-mode VCF per channel including voltage controlled resonance.
- 4 Stereo VCA’s
- 2 LFO’s with saw, square, sine, noise and sample modes
- Direct LFO modulation matrix: 4 channels x VCO, VCA, VCF
- loopable ADSR envelope for VCO, VCA, VCF per channel
- MIDI IN: Monophonic on ch1..4 and polyphonic on ch5
- MIDI OUT ch1..4 (via tracker)
- Sampler and built-in microphone:
- 8 sample banks
- configurable loop start, end
- wav import/export
- Digital oscillators: saw, square, sine, noise, sample
- 128 instruments (MIDI patches):
- VCO, VCA, VCF env’s settings incl looping
- VCF mode
- oscillator mode
- sample mapping
- instrument chaining
- Direct control of voice pair detuning
- Built-in bit crusher
- 3.2″ high color TFT display
- On-board multi-channel sequencer “16 bit tracker style”, in conjunction with USB keyboard:
- 4 channels 16 steps, panning & volume definable per step
- 1024 positions powerful editor with many block functions
- independent glide per channel
- polyrhythm support, shuffle, tap tempo, BPM display
- Sturdy and Versatile casing usable as desktop or 19″ rack mount.
- 4x 6.35mm channel outputs
- 2x 6.35mm master outputs (stereo)
- 1x 3.5mm line input (for sampler)
- DIN-5 MIDI IN, OUT, THRU
- USB A (for USB keyboard)
- USB B Programming/debugging interface
- SD card, for sample and song I/O
- 3.5mm stereo headphone
- 2.1mm AC power
Why we need your money
The Do It Yourself option
Risks and challenges
The casing needs to be transformed from desktop-only to desktop + 19" mountable form. Preparations have already been taken to make everything fit inside a 19" rack, but we still need to iterate with the factory on the detailed design. This is similar to what was done for the Sawbench synthesizer (www.tastychips.nl/sawbench), so we know what we're doing.
The prototype unit is 100% functionally complete, the performance is ok, but there are some analog cross modulations (somewhat) audible at high pitch. These should be weeded out, but we have had our share of such problems with the Sawbench synthesizer as well, and we overcame them. And if we fail, we have access to experts in the spacecraft engineering business who can help out (no joke ;)).
The inside cabling needs to be improved. This includes, but is not limited to, shielding and adding pin headers. But this shouldn't be too much of a problem.. considering all the other challenges we faced in the recent months ;)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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