Korg LittleBits Synth Kit Lets You Snap Together A Modular Synthesizer

littlebits-creatorKorg & electronic gadget kit company littleBits have announced a modular Synth Kit that’s designed to let you do music DIY using prebuilt modules.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

littleBits and Korg have taken a traditional analog synthesizer and converted into littleBits modules, making it super easy for novices and experts alike to expand creativity into the world of sound and music. With the Synth Kit, YOU become the star of the show!

littleBits already makes “an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets for prototyping, learning and fun”. Existing modules include things like motors, buzzers, buttons, light sensors, switches and LEDs.

The Synth Kit introduces new modules that expand the platform into audio.

Here’s an unofficial demo:

The kit offers a variety of synth modules:

  • Power
  • Oscillator
  • Random
  • Keyboard
  • Micro Sequencer
  • Envelope
  • Filter (MS-20 style)
  • Delay
  • Mix
  • Split
  • Synth Speaker

The littleBits Korg Synth Kit is expected to be released in Japan in mid-December 2013, with a Korg online shop price ¥ 16,000. You can see more details on the kit at the littleBits site. We will have additional details and US release info on Nov. 8.

Check it out and let us know what you think about the littleBits Korg Synth Kit!

via muffwigglers, korg.jp, littleBits

84 thoughts on “Korg LittleBits Synth Kit Lets You Snap Together A Modular Synthesizer

  1. I have always wanted to get into modular synthesis and the more hardware side of synths. This would be a good way for me to do it!

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  2. Korg are awesome! If I could get my hands on stuff like this in the late 70s early 80s it would have blown my mind! Monotrons, Monotribes, volcas and now these, superb!!

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  3. I love this – maybe not for the hardcore DIY’ers, but it looks friendly and fun. Not sure if this is the target market, but I could see getting this for kids, but also using it as a platform for rapidly prototyping dynth DIY projects.

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  4. Korg is a lot like Nintendo if you think about it…
    Every time they release something, you’re never quite sure what to make of it (at first) and never would have seen it coming…but in the end, it turns out to be both amazingly fun. (and usually very affordable)

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    1. Interesting analogy to Nintendo… except that their last release, the Wii U, has been an absolutely monumental flop in terms of sales. Anyway, this does look cool!

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      1. I actually bought a Wii U and actually think it’s pretty cool.

        But yeah, I remember the day I saw the Nintendo DS and the first thing it reminded me of was a Kaoss Pad. Then there was the first time I got to try KORG DS-10… It was like worlds colliding! 😉

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        1. If you like Nintendo DSi/3DS/2DS music software, you should check out Rhythm Core Alpha 2 in the eShop. It is both a piano roll style sequencer, and a solo instrument. In many ways it is better than the DS-10…

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        1. I didn’t downvote, and I don’t disagree…
          However, sales don’t tell the whole story here. Has Korg sold millions of Kronos Xs? No? Does that make them a failure? On the other hand, they’ve probably sold millions of Monotrons and Kaoss pads. Compare this to Nintendo who sells TONS of portable (low end) gear and moderate amounts of home consoles (high end).

          Some people say that Nintendo is really a toy company at heart, and I just feel like there’s some of that in Korg too. (and I mean ‘toy’ in the most loving, glowingly positive sense possible 😉

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          1. I never said that Korg was a “failure”. I actually commend them for innovating and bringing interesting, affordable products to market . All I said was that I thought it was strange to compare them to a struggling company like Nintendo. And I wouldn’t call the home console market “high end”. It’s certainly much bigger than the handheld market (discounting mobile phone gaming platforms). Nintendo had the low price point of this locked down with the Wii, but the Wii U has been a disaster for them so far – confusing features, high price point… Unlike the Kronos X which is targeted at a very specific audience, the Wii U is aimed at the broadest audience of all – families with kids and a television. Anyway, let’s move on! 🙂

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            1. Nintendo struggling? You’re kidding right?

              They make so much money off of software as well as hardware, and their games are the best out there. The latest device console wasn’t a hit, but if any company can afford a flop and not even feel a slightest pinch from it, it’s Nintendo.

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    2. I have always likened Korg to Nintendo too! They are always thinking about playability and finding incredibly creative ways to differentiate from the competitors, and also finding mind blowingly affordable ways to make really efficient devices at the same time. They are more than just investors; they know their field and are genuinely passionate about their work, and therefore they are the ones who push the industry forward by taking the risks, that the eventual followers don’t have to take anymore.

      And sales don’t necessary mean anything about the product. Wii U, like everything related to Wii, is just amazingly difficult to market, while its competitors are amazingly easy to market. Flop or not, when you take away the launch hype and current popularity of all platforms, the Wii U is the only next gen console that can offer what I want from next gen; something new.

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      1. “sales don’t necessary mean anything about the product”. If by anything you mean a gauge of success, then sure they do. Unfortunately, the Wii U will be nowhere near what the Wii was for Nintendo. The whole premise doesn’t make sense – an extra screen to do what now? But we’re not here to talk about Nintendo anyway, let’s just enjoy this fine piece of kit by Korg!

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        1. By “anything” I don’t mean a gauge of success. By “sales don’t necessary mean anything about the product” I mean that the product can be very good product and fitting for the analogy here despite the sales, just struggling in current media hegemony. It is amazingly difficult to market Wii U, and amazingly easy to market the competitors.

          The whole premise has always made sense, and its something Nintendo has pursued a long time ago. Its a big touch screen, of course it makes sense!!! Before Wii came, the most popular choice in peoples minds was touch screen controller, when they were trying to think what the Wii was going to be.

          There are numerous applications for the extra screen in the Nintendo Land alone…its just a kind of hidden gem, as people were tired of “mini games”. Even I just recently got to play it and understood some of the less obvious niceties of having separate screen with motion controls. There’s one thing, that the tablet controller absolutely revolutionizes and that is local multiplayer. By offering separate screens for two different factions you can make completely new rules for games. Even the bare minimum, a map and touchscreen inventory is also at least very nice plus compared to not having them. Gyroscope for aiming in Wind Waker is just stunning. And that’s just the tablet. Then there is also the Wiimote, that the competitors have not been able to reach either. Thus Wii U is absolute powerhouse of new input methods.

          PS3 was phenomenally “bad” according its initial sales, but Sony was able to overcome its struggling start with the console.

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  5. Girlfriend just looked over my shoulder and said, “It’s synth lego!” And yea, lego it was; and the lego was good. Paradigm shifter or just a MIDI-less gimmick, this has got me very excited. Thank you, Korg!

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    1. midi less? arduino here we come hehe

      midi with korgs is absolutely no problem an arduino nano a few resistors and optocouplers and you dont even have to care about different masses/voltages and can use their dedicated powersupply.

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    1. You want to use modular synthesis, yet you can’t even use google to find exchange rates or even read in above comments where I stated ¥16,000 =$162 or where the other guy said it comes out to £100? How did you even find Synthopia?

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    1. check youtube for Ayah Bdeir
      there are tons of stuff on littleBits —

      The starter kit includes 10 bits and 9V battery and screwdriver.
      The extended kit includes 14 bits and micro USB cable.

      korg has 12 modules

      if they are compatible this could be way more cool than i thought

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      1. All Bits modules from littleBits are compatible with one another and easily snap together with magnets.

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    1. I swear this is the only site I post to where I REGULARLY screw up spelling, grammar and just generally fail at constructing a proper thought or sentence. Sorry for this post and any that might follow. 😉

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    2. It’s open source, so couldn’t anybody make compatible modules?

      These May not be electrically compatible with other modules, though.

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      1. No. The connectors are not open source – quite the contrary, they’re patented and proprietary.

        The circuits are open source. And it may be that you can buy the connectors from littleBits and connect those to your own boards; I’m investigating that.

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        1. Peter – if you find any more info, let us know. It would be very interesting if third parties could introduce compatible modules.

          Here’s what littleBits says about it on their site:


          “Yes, indeed — littleBits are Open Source Hardware. We publish the design files for our products right here on github. Sharing this stuff is really important to us because littleBits are an educational tool. Since the designs are available, students can learn how they work, right down to a circuit level. This means that children can play with littleBits to learn basic circuits, and then come back to them later in their education for a deeper understanding of electronics or engineering.

          Our founder, Ayah Bdeir, was also one of the founders of the Open Hardware Summit, a major proponent of Open Source Hardware.”

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  6. I’d like to mod my monotribe with delay & possibly add other things to the beast, still one of the meanest little mono’s I’ve owned. Its been modded with usb which is a must. This & the Arturia Microbrute are the most interesting things out at the mo. Nice work Korg:)

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  7. My dream has come true! This is exactly what I asked for on Synthtopia when they were doing a reader poll!!!

    and to think I was going to get an OP-1 LOL

    i still might but now I know what to get first!

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    1. These modules are exactly the sort of thing that would complement the sampler engine on the OP-1. There’s no reason you can’t have both. 😉

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  8. I would love to see new modules over the years. Perhaps a ribbon, midi, new filters and oscillators in gotta catch em all fashion.

    Can you FM these oscillators?

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  9. Check out the other modules this company has. Light up synths anyone? God I feel like a child looking at legos, but its totally cool.

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  10. Not only is this a great ‘toy’ for me, but for my grandsons! Can’t wait to get my hands on it — preferably several kits. 🙂

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  11. Korg’s Katoh-san has long told his employees NOT to emulate things released elsewhere, but to instead go for creative or even risky leaps. I think the last year alone bears out that its a great formula. I’ve owned a wad of goodies that had varying degrees of value and longevity, but Korg gear has generally been the most fun. Releasing the MS-20 in a modern form is brilliant. I’m ready to buy some Korg stock.

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  12. Does the sequencer module/keyboard module send Hz/V or CV/Gate? If the former, I can see this working beautifully with existing Korg boxxxen. If the latter, I’m sure there’s a cable!

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  13. Also, pretty sure a big prize goes to anyone who can build a pedal sized device for signal mixing/CV sync for this format and other synths. One possibly already exists?

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  14. Cool gadget. Terrible demo vid though. The usual geeks making the usual sound…or isn’t it a musical instrument?

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    1. I thought the demo of the three guys was pretty good. Had rhythm, melody, and experimental noise. All great things for some little “toy” modulars. Most the time when you see a modular video online it’s just crap that is only fun if you’re the one doing it…

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  15. I emailed the LittleBits company awhile back about expanding their module library to include synthesis elements aaaaand look what happened! They must’ve really liked the idea.

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    1. LittleBits is an American company, and the official announcement and launch party is scheduled for Friday in NYC. There’s a press embargo in effect until then, which is why sites like Create Digital Music, Engadget and Gizmodo haven’t mentioned it.

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  16. After months of waiting I’ve finally got my Volca Bass… and now they drop this on me! Damnit KORG, you just keep making me want to part with my money.

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  17. where is the VCA? quite probably integrated into the AD module i assume…
    also its missing a ringmod, a Sample and Hold, a dedicated LFO, an audio input and a second (full this time) ADSR module. i guess these will come in a second korg littlebits package later…?


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    1. Good ideas, you should mention these to KORG and littleBits… LittleBits has a request section on their website 🙂

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