Mixtape Alpha – A $42 Polyphonic Synth

Open Music Labs has announced that it plans to create a limited number of the Mixtape Alpha synthesizer. The Mixtape Alpha is a pocket-sized 8-bit synth, complete with four voices, four effects, five-note polyphony, record, playback, and more.

Here’s what they have to say about Mixtape Alpha:

The Mixtape Alpha has a stylophone style input for continuous tone generation, and six buttons for discrete notes. With four voices, four effects, and five-note polyphony there is quite a range of expression. You can even loop a pattern and play a second part on top. But, the best part is, you can record the songs you make, and trade mixtapes with your friends! And it comes in its own cassette case, with instructions.

Mixtape Alpha was done in collaboration with Jie Qi from the High-Low Tech group at the MIT Media Lab. It’s an attempt to break down the barriers between people and electronics: To get them comfortable touching PCBs, and change expectations about how electronics should look. To this end, there are resistive touch pads, and all the trace routing took aesthetics into consideration as well. These are ideas very familiar to circuit benders, and we’re hoping they catch on with other folks as well.

The manufacturing of this Mixtape Alpha release is being crowdfunded, with the synths being available at funding levels starting at $42.

See the project site for more information.

8 thoughts on “Mixtape Alpha – A $42 Polyphonic Synth

    1. Re-release:
      “Mixtape Alpha was a successful experiment for us, so much so, we ran out of our first production run. And, after much soul-searching, we decided to retire the product. But, before we did that, we wanted to give one last chance for music enthusiasts everywhere to get a Mixtape Alpha. As Neil Young said, “it’s better to burn out than fade away”.”

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      1. Yeah, it helps to follow the link sometimes.

        This is neat little toy. One thing to note is that it can behave erratically if it gets connected to earth ground.

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  1. Far more elegant than the standuino s but much the same interface issues. I’d really like to see ths kind of project expanded to be in a small plastic case with midi in or something.

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    1. I was thinking the same thing – technically, MIDI doesn’t need a big, clunky DIN connector – you can fit it on a 1/8in headphone jack with a breakout cable. I’m really surprised I’ve never seen anyone put this on a product – it would be perfect for something like this!

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