NAMM Show Preview: Numberz Digital Audio Lab

2011 NAMM Show: Tiptop Audio is introducing Numberz – a USB device that communicates with a software front-end (for PC) and can be used to download DSP programs and display text to blank, non-volatile cartridges for use with the Z-DSP.

Here’s what Tiptop Audio has to say about Numberz:

This is designed to let you use a wide variety of DSP programs that are freely available on the Web, examples of which are available from the Spin Semi website. There are even more on the Spin Semi forum where FV-1 users were kind enough to share their creations.

Some of those programs are very cool and some are not, it really depend on what you are looking for. I really like some of the Reverbs, but not everything appeals to my personal sonic tastes.

How does it work? Before using it for the first time you will have to install drivers, but then just connect the USB cable, place Numberz in front of you, and insert a blank or used cartridge into the Numberz’s cartridge socket. Then, with a few mouse clicks and the help of SpinAsm and Pickit2 software, you can ‘burn’ a cartridge. You can burn a single program or a complete project with up to eight programs and write your own text that will appear on the Z-DSP display.

(The downloads currently available on the Spin Semi website do not contain the text file for the display, but users can write their own and we’ll talk more about it as Numberz becomes available.)

Numberz can also act as a real-time programmer for the Z-DSP. Just connect the USB cable, insert a cartridge into the Numberz’s cartridge socket, flip the Numberz unit over so the cartridge is facing down and insert Numberz into the cartridge socket of your Z-DSP. The Z-DSP will ‘see’ Numberz and communicate with it.

This will let you use Numberz to write, test, and debug programs and hear the results in real-time. No need to power cycle, just write your code, click ‘Download’ and Numberz will do it all for you. The Z-DSP will load the new program and you will hear your changes instantly.

Numberz is intended to be an open source development environment, so anyone out there interested in developing new DSP programs, or even tools for Numberz is invited and encouraged to do so. You are free to do whatever you want: share, sell, no restrictions.

Numberz will be sold with three blank cartridges that are good for approximately 10,000 “burns”.

Additional blank cartridges will be available from our distributors.

I also wanted to talk a little bit about the FV-1 DSP chip and its capabilities and limitations. This is important to me because I want to make sure people know what to expect to avoid any frustration or disappointment.

The FV-1 DSP processor is not intended to match the processing power of your computer or high-end multi-effect boxes, so don’t expect intensive DSP vocoder or heavy granular effects like you might find in your plug-ins.

The Z-DSP as a whole is built to do something very different with DSP code. It has CV inputs, program-execution/sample rate clock input, stereo analog VC-Feedbacks, analog VC-Mix, and VC/Gate program switching; all these were made so that digital audio can be bent/stretched/deformed/distorted by interacting with your modules. So, all of a sudden, a digital delay does not sound like a delay but something completely different. That is the concept.

Numberz is designed to help to push this concept to the next level by providing the tools for the talented minds in our vibrant and some time crazy little community to come up and further extend the library of these digital audio algorithms.

Numberz will probably be in the range of $150 and blank cartridges should run for a couple of bucks.

Sorry it took so long and I really appreciate those who were patient and supportive! At the same time, I fully understand those who didn’t want to wait any longer. This was a complex project that went through a lot of ups and downs, not the least of which was the sudden death of Keith Barr, the designer of the FV-1 DSP chip and the owner of Spin Semi.

Numberz is dedicated to the memory of Keith Barr.

via Gur

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