At Winter NAMM 2017, we visited the Modal Electronics booth and took a closer look at their budget-priced DIY synthesizer called the CRAFTsynth ($99 kit price).
The idea of putting together my own synthesizer always seemed daunting to me personally, since I know very little about soldering and circuit boards. However, according to Modal Electronics, the CRAFTsynth kit can be put together in about 10 minutes, and you need little to no equipment at all to assemble it. I think I can handle that.
Despite its miniature size, this monophonic synthesizer can be used to create everything from a simple sine wave lead to massive sounding sawtooth bass patches thanks to its eight oscillators that can be individually spread and detuned. There are also eight knobs that can be used to control any of the adjustable parameters such as pitch, LFOs, filter cutoff, OSC mix, etc.
Once you actually build the CRAFTsynth, it’s ready to play instantly since no external gear is required. The unit features five touch pads that can trigger notes in major, minor, or blues scales. Power can be provided by either AA batteries or via the included USB port. It’s unclear if there are multiple USB ports for users wanting to use an external MIDI controller and also provide power to the device. Modal Electronics also mentioned that an iOS app that can be used to store presets and further adjust the sound engine parameters. The app will be available for both Windows and iOS systems in early 2017
Listening to the demo of the CRAFTsynth, I was impressed by the amount and variety of sounds. This thing can nail percussive, bass, and lead tones. Being a monophonic synth, chords are out of the picture, naturally. But even so, the demos do a good job highlighting how sonically versatile it is, especially considering the unit’s small size.
More info: CRAFTsynth