Bitty Pocket Drum Machine & Synthesizer A ‘Gateway Drug’ To Electronic Music Making

Designer Nickolas Peter Chelyapov (Curious Sound Objects) has launched a Kickstarter project to fund production of the Bitty, a pocket drum machine and synthesizer.

Here’s what he has to say about it:

Imagine a gateway drug for people wanting to get into making beats or electronic music. Imagine something deep enough for studio musicians too.

You can play the drums or melodies manually (which is better for playing along with an acoustic instrument), or you can use the left knob to select patterns and change the speed to make dance music or hip hop beats.

The pros will get a kick out of the sonic character. The output is 12 bit and it sounds punchy and crunchy like the early MPC drum machines from the 80s and 90s.

The Bitty is an Arduino-based system, so you can code your own software for it.

Audio Demos:

Pricing and Availability

Production of the Bitty is being funded via a Kickstarter project. The Bitty is available to project backers starting at US $78.

14 thoughts on “Bitty Pocket Drum Machine & Synthesizer A ‘Gateway Drug’ To Electronic Music Making

  1. The demos are pretty fun. It’s not clear if they are overdubbed in a DAW or running from a single instance of the device.

    On one hand it has knobs & buttons– which some (including me) prefer to rubbing glass. OTOH, it’s pretty hard to compete with what can be done in iOS (and even Android)– in terms of various levels of entry into electronic music.

    This might hit the sweet spot for some folks. At that price, it’s not quite at the cool-gift price bracket, though.

    1. Definitely at least a couple dubs. I mention this in the Kickstarter too, he used multiple layers of samples with some sauce on top. But this did give me the idea to put his tracks back into a Bitty for a Hex Eater patch – I think it would be possible to get 80% of that in a single unit. (The reverb is the most computationally heavy, but some delay would be possible).

  2. Wonder if the TE POs are doing well enough to warrant this type of device. I agree it sort of wants to be $39 so i would buy them for friends as gadget gifts.

    1. I think maybe eventually it would be possible to get the price down (which would be nice, because yeah, would make an awesome gift). Right now it’ll basically be a boutique product (i.e. low quantity of units assembled in the US, so we’ll see). Compromising on quality would be a bummer.

  3. Checked out the website, the demos and the info. I have 6 iPads and all my old iPhones, and I would probably buy this as well. Rubbing glass or twisting knobs or pushing keys or menu diving or whatfuckingever lol, the scope of my gear means I do all of it, hell I even pluck, pick and strum strings, and hit real drums.

  4. Hey guys! I’m Nick, and I’d be happy to answer any questions! We’re getting them made in the US and at a short run (like quantity of a thousand) they’re pretty expensive! I think that gadget gift price would be a sweet spot to hit, but might involve some compromises in quality (or scheduling, etc) and just didn’t want to take that risk with this initial launch. One sweet differentiator for this – you’re not locked into one set of software, so you never have to get more than one to get different sounds.

    1. With the ability to load custom software, what possibilities does that open up? The inputs are 4 switches, and two knobs. What is the bit resolution of the knobs? The outputs are a mono speaker, or a headphone out (mono or stereo?). Can the speaker and the headphone be addressed separately? It can load samples. How much space for user samples? Is that into non-volatile memory? Is there an audio input? If so, what does or can that do? Could this be programmed to be an effect processor? For custom software, what can it do, and what can’t it do, in terms of hardware, processing power, etc.

      1. Alright! Let’s go in order – resolution of the knobs is 1024 (0-1023). You’re right, there are four switches and two knobs. But there are also two mini function buttons at the bottom, which opens it up quite a bit – hold it to dial in key, or tempo, etc. Headphone output is double mono post the amplifier. Headphone is clean from microcontroller. Couldn’t address them separately. Memory is 30k, so not very much. About 1.5 seconds of 16kHz audio. Think “one one thousand, two one” (definitely enough for drum samples, and if used in one shot, enough for a guitar phrase).
        If one foregoes fidelity even more, could speed up the sample and then slow it down in software. Embracing the low fidelity 🙂
        Also, single cycle sine/square/saw/triangles/etc wavetables are tiny, so lots of potential there. Could get dozens.

        Input jack yes, but I only mentioned it in a diagram because don’t yet have software. Idea is to use it for syncing or yes, to effect incoming audio. Would need to fully try that out to say anything definitive about what would be possible. Downsampling “bit crush” seem like an easy possible target. Varying that with a knob could be quite fun.

        Let me know if you have any other questions! And thanks for asking all that!

        1. Thanks for answering all that, Nick. That’s all useful info. I paged back on the site to make sure I didn’t miss your response! Good luck with the project. It’s pretty cool, and has a unique set of functions & features.

  5. Sounds cool and seems fun!

    There are better options for “gateway” gear though… this isn’t how I’d introduce someone to making electronic music.

    Also it looks like Mickey Mouse…

  6. I wonder how it compares to the pocket operators? I got a PO and I hardly use it. To much holding shift and function and crap like that. Cant wrap my head around its operation without having the squinty little manual open the whole time for reference. It’s like menu diving without the menus. I think my hands are just too big for Pocket Operators. Not fun at all. This might be better?

    1. Oh man, I’m the guy who designed this thing. And I totally agree, I have plenty of gear, and use multiple DAWs etc, so I’m not new to complicated things, but the PO was oo brainy for me. I found myself playing it mostly with my thumbs anyway, so why not make a thing where that’s the focus. Also swapping the software would be good, so there we have it!

      Let me know if you have any more questions.

  7. Hi Nick. I did add a question above. You might have missed it. (It’s a reply to your first post.) Thanks for chiming in here. Always cool to talk directly to the people making the stuff.

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