Open Source 01 – A New Print Journal For Synthesists

Open Source 01 is a new journal of synthesizer culture, art and technology.

The publication was created by Distortion Productions, along with collaborators around the world. It combines a print magazine with music, software and more on digital media.

Here’s what Distortion Productions’ Danny Kim told us about the new journal:

“Open Source is a collectible, limited edition art catalogue rather than a traditional magazine.

We’re interested in balancing the artistic and creative aspects of music production with technical discussion. Other mediums such as modular visual art and music history are also of interest.

From the start, it was important to keep Open Source only in physical print. I’d like people to be able to hold it in their hands and see the artwork on the highest quality printed material available. The included 4GB microSD card is loaded with two full-length albums, music videos and five original modular patches.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to do a print-only magazine in 2019, but so far, there has been almost universally positive responses to people who have seen the magazine in person.

We tried to make the content timeless, so that an issue could be read years from now and still feel relevant.”

Kim plans on publishing future editions on a flexible schedule:

“I’m tentatively planning the second issue for a fall/winter 2019 release. There are no deadlines, we will publish when there’s enough quality articles and content for readers. I’m exploring different topics and talking to a couple designers for the next magazine right now. We may also put on an accompanying show for the 2nd edition.”

Issue 01 features:

  • A conversation with ambient artist Robert Rich about the virtual vs. sensual artistic process.
  • A year-long development journal on the Endorphin.es BLCK_NOIR percussion module written by designer Andreas Zhukovsky
  • Interview with visual artist, Bill Wiatroski discussing “Manifestation”, his analog video installation in Alameda, CA
  • Creating electroacoustic instruments using contact mics by Nathan Moody
  • Guide to Granular Modular Synthesis by Austin Cairns
  • Decibel levels in Eurorack Synthesis by Kurt Kurasaki
  • And James Cigler’s perspectives on moving beyond East Coast vs. West Coast synthesis
  • Original Artwork by Zach Johnsen (Tank Theory, zenvironments.com)
  • Photography and m.0 album cover by Lisa Teng

The 4GB microSD card contains:

  • Open Source Records presents “Rituals:in:Time”, an exclusive album by m.0 aka Maurice Jackson including the “Passage” music video directed by Danny Kim
  • “Blck Noir”, an album from Principal Uno (Julia Bondar and Andreas from Endorphin.es) including a bonus track named, “Le Fleur du Mal” and a behind-the-scenes video from the photoshoot
  • An exclusive preview of r beny’s untitled album
  • Five original patches from James Cigler, m.0, r beny, Distco and Qorser demoing the Endorphin.es BLCK_NOIR
  • Darkwaves effects firmware for the BLCK_NOIR

Open Source 01 is being printed in a limited run of 200 issues. It will only be available in physical print at retail/online locations for $30 USD/28 Euro.

You can find Open Source now at:

  • Control Voltage (Portland)
  • Schneidersladen (Berlin)
  • Endorphin.es (Spain)
  • Analogue Haven (LA)
  • Robotspeak (SF)
  • Control (NYC)
  • Modular8 (Portland)

31 thoughts on “Open Source 01 – A New Print Journal For Synthesists

    1. It would have to be, leaving that much money on the table by not having mail order distribution. Too bad, I would have bought it just to support moving the state of the art forward. Open source has done nothing for advancing the state of operating systems – instead it’s largely mired in that 60’s based throw back Unix.

      1. A couple of the listed retailers have it on their web store, but Control Voltage, for example, wants over $10 shipping. That is pretty steep for just a magazine.

        1. I tried to order it at Control Voltage, but as I filled out the form, the payment option disappeared, and it wouldn’t let me submit an order without it. I tried twice and just gave up when it happened a second time

      2. Bizarre comment about open source operating systems. Pretty much every modern operating system development has come from open source. The internet runs on open source.

        And bringing it back to topic, Mutable Instruments are open source, which has had a pretty big effect on synthesis.

  1. Limited edition, no mail order, no digital, and “flexible publishing schedule” all = FAIL. Too bad you don’t want to really publish this and be successful with it, because it would be really cool to a lot of people.

    1. Thank you for your post. It is actually available for mail order online. I already feel like it has been successful, based on the positive response from people who have tracked it down since its release little over a week ago. Originally, this was supposed to be a quarterly magazine. It ended up taking six months to get things started and put the first issue together. While putting this out digitally would be practical, there is already so much quality content online from sites such as Synthtopia and publications like Sound on Sound, etc. Ellison will be releasing Waveform Magazine online soon enough, and I wish him the best of luck.

      I worked very closely with all of the subjects involved to produce each article. Robert Rich generously allowed me to include his paintings, Andreas from Endorphin.es sent over a ton of early PCB designs. Furthermore, this is just the first edition and there have been plenty of lessons learned.

      I wasn’t sure how the magazine would be received upon release. Ultimately, I just made something physical that I thought the synth community would really enjoy, even though I lost a bit of money and a lot of sleep trying to make it. A lot of amazing and talented people have supported this project along the way. Open Source wouldn’t exist without them. We are already focused on the articles for the next edition. It will take as long as it needs to take to thoroughly research each subject and produce something memorable. For now, I hope people who are interested are able to track it down and enjoy it.

      1. Shout out to Danny Kim for doing this, this looks super rad! Aside from the vocal minority who can only complain (for what reason who knows? personal unhappiness?), I think the majority of the synth community would love to have something physical and tactile to engage with and go back to over time.

    1. People were saying the same thing about hardware and analog synths 15-20 years ago when software synths exploded. There’s an increasing demand to experience things that are tactile and present rather than streamed on-demand and virtual.

    2. Those are cases of different levels, the tactility of interacting with a book or magazine is far less important than that of hardware instrument.

      1. I don’t agree. When it comes to diving into a good read, I find that looking at a page is infinitely more pleasant than a LCD screen.

  2. Hi everyone, we really appreciate all the interest in Open Source. The response has been very positive thusfar. Just wanted to clear things up as it seems there is a misunderstanding about its availability. There are several online locations, but we do encourage people to grab copies in person. Due to the limited quantity, I recommend calling the shops ahead of time.

    Available in-store:
    Schneidersladen (Berlin)
    Analogue Haven (LA)
    Robotspeak (SF)
    Modular8 (Portland)

    Available in-store and online:
    Control Voltage (Portland) https://www.controlvoltage.net
    Endorphin.es (Spain) https://endorphines.myshopify.com
    Control (NYC) https://www.ctrl-mod.com

    1. Yes, that is great and I’m really interested in getting one. I don’t live anywhere near where I could get one in person so I was about to order one this morning until I saw they are charging over $10 to mail the thing. That’s pretty high for a magazine.

      1. Sorry to hear the shipping cost is high. Unfortunately, I don’t have any control over that. The dimensions are an unconventional 10”x10”, so it’s a bit tricky to ship. Try taking a look at other shops.

        1. Yeah I know you don’t have control over it. It’s just a shame. I checked all the stores in the US. All over $10 shipping.

      2. But if you order a module with the magazine, then the shipping price is OK because the box sizes are for the modules…

        And of course you need more modules for your eurorack! 😉

  3. hi, I’ve tried to simulate an order in europe where I live: same result: 10€ for shipping outside the land of the sender! it’s pretty high……

  4. Having a “print only” mindset seems like elitist gatekeeping at this point in time and the relatively high price per issue doesn’t help. It’s a shame because the content looks interesting. Also the title seems a bit ironic given that the phrase “Open Source” is widely associated with sharing, transparency, and easy access.

    If someone is proud of their work and feels that they have something important to say, you’d think that they would want to disseminate it as widely as possible. As it stands, what will happen here is that we’ll end up with low-res JPGs being posted online by a third party for free instead of high-res PDFs that the creator could sell for $5 each. Missed opportunity. Maybe it’s more art than business, but artists without a business plan don’t get very far.

    1. While I understand your perspective, it doesn’t apply to my motivation behind creating Open Source. The high price is the result of sparing no expense on print and material costs: maximum paper thickness available, foil stamping, sourcing 4GB microSD cards, clear 10″ vinyl sleeves, shipping, etc. I commissioned a professional painter to do the cover. The shops distributing OS01 also didn’t quite understand how to market or sell it because there were the premium 80 dollar Push Turn Move-type hardcover books and free marketing materials from synth companies. I held my breath and tried my best to explain to them that this would appeal to people who want to sit down with a printed collectible that was meticulously crafted.

      Honestly, I wasn’t sure how the synth community would respond but I stuck to keeping everything in print because I found that there was a destructive cycle of readers’ instant consumption and disposability discouraging content producers from spending extra time to research memorable articles and establish visual themes. In my opinion, constant news cycles can snuff out quality content. At some point, people are just re-releasing press releases instead of reflecting and developing any meaningful opinions. Our intention wasn’t about making things elite. There is already so much daily content presented to us via sites such as Synthtopia, Matrixsynth, and many more. They do what they do very well, and there’s no need for Open Source to enter that space.

      I am a business manager in the tech industry by profession. I understand what it would take to turn this into a business. The quickest and easiest route to doing that would have been advertising. I already have many relationships with synth companies such as Dave Smith, Make Noise and Control Voltage through the sponsoring of my Binary Society events that could have been utilized to reduce the overhead cost to publish. I made a conscious decision not to include advertising because it could delude the articles and it also would conflict with the intention of creating timeless content and the visual themes. Once you accept advertising, you have little to no influence on the graphic design of paying sponsors. It’s like putting patches on soccer jerseys and race cars. Secondly, volume would have brought down the per issue cost. We printed exactly 200 copies, and yesterday I just sent out the last 10x copies to a shop that sold out a few days ago.

      Lastly, the concept of Open Source began as a live music and visual performance collective. Several months before the idea of doing a print project came into existence, I brought together a group of musicians, visual artists and event promoters. After 3 years of putting on events, I was a bit frustrated by seeing events thrown together last minute with muddy sound systems and no visuals to accompany the performers. By pooling our resources together such as live PA equipment, projectors, lasers, hardware controllers, specialists, audio engineers…into a toolset similar to open source software toolkits, we could provide a springboard for people who have great ideas but minimal resources to pull off events with high production value. The only requirement is that people would need to submit a proposal to the group, so that there was a structured filter akin to art galleries, who require proposals and sufficient planning. I hope that you get a chance to take a look at the magazine sometime. Open Source is a well-intentioned project from many passionate artists who spent many hours to bring this vision into reality. I’m very excited about the new articles and direction of the next issue.

      1. Hi Danny, I really enjoyed the first issue. Could you put a mailing list together to inform your collectors when the next issue is available? I would hate to miss an issue!

        1. Hi John, glad to hear you enjoyed OS01! I will look into starting something like a mailing list or pre-order for the next issue. Endorphin.es had a pre-order of 16x copies going before I was able to ship out 40x copies to them in Spain. With as much work as it took to finish the first issue, we’re trying to raise the bar considerably for the next one with deeper and more creative articles. Thanks for your support!

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