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Part monster synthesizer, part computer: The ST4 is a unique product, loaded with features, that combines the best of both worlds.
Part monster synthesizer, part computer: The ST4 is a unique product, loaded with features, that combines the best of both worlds.
Part monster synthesizer, part computer: The ST4 is a unique product, loaded with features, that combines the best of both worlds.
76 backers pledged €31,533 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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ST4 Hybrid Synthesizer/Tracker

€31,533

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Introduction

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.

The ST4 front plate and controls: the signal path for all four channels runs completely from left to right.
The ST4 front plate and controls: the signal path for all four channels runs completely from left to right.

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!

The ST4 rear side. From left to right: master output, channel output, USB programming, MIDI, AC power.
The ST4 rear side. From left to right: master output, channel output, USB programming, MIDI, AC power.

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 ST4’s polyrhythmic tracker in action.
The ST4’s polyrhythmic tracker in action.

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:

https://soundcloud.com/pieter-van-der-meer/sets/st4-demos

Pricing

The ST4's pricing is very competitive. We're offering it at a full 100 below retail (as it will be sold in the webshop). This Kickstarter campaign is the final chance to get it for this price.

Specifications

  • 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 
  • tuning 
  • 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. 
  • Interfaces: 
  • 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

Pretty

Depth of field..
Depth of field..

More information



Why we need your money

Fabrication of this machine is expensive. Especially the casing needs a large number of pieces to be ordered, if we're to make it affordable. Additionally, Kickstarter is a great platform for a small company to get known to the public..  

The Do It Yourself option

We're very much charmed by the synth DIY community and would like to keep contributing. We've decided to go for it and we're offering 2 versions of kits: one with and one without metal casing!


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 ;)

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge €100 or more About $109

    Sawbench synth DIY kit, including metal casing. This analog monosynth resulted from a successful Kickstarter campaign. Check tastychips.nl/sawbench

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge €150 or more About $163

    Sawbench synth, fully assembled. This analog monosynth resulted from a successful Kickstarter campaign. Very limited stock! Check tastychips.nl/sawbench

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge €400 or more About $436

    ST4 Electronics DIY kit. Includes all PCBs and components to make your own. Pots are high quality metal ones by Alps, all passives guaranteed to be within specced tolerances. Does not include casing.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge €500 or more About $545

    ST4 Full DIY kit. Includes durable aluminium casing. Includes all PCBs and components to make your own. Pots are high quality metal ones by Alps, all passives guaranteed to be within specced tolerances.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge €600 or more About $654

    ST4 Full DIY kit _and_ a Sawbench kit. Includes durable aluminium casings. Special reward for the real DIY enthousiast! ;)

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge €800 or more About $871

    Fully assembled ST4, early bird edition!

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  7. Reward no longer available

    Pledge €950 or more About $1,035

    Fully assembled ST4 + fully assembled Sawbench. They form a great team as the 'bench can be sequenced by the ST4! :) Very few sawbenches left!

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    Reward no longer available 3 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge €1,500 or more About $1,634

    Two fully assembled ST4s.. cheaper than 2x1 ;)

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge €2,200 or more About $2,397

    Three fully assembled ST4s.. cheaper than 3x1, or 2x1.5, lol ;)

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Funding period

- (28 days)