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GR-1 Firmware 1.4.2

Dear GR-1 users,

Today we’ve released GR-1 firmware version 1.4.2. This is primarily a bugfix release.

New features:
* 6 dB output boost

Bugfixes:
– buffer wrap crackle fixed
– power/cpu usage lowered
– resonance storage bug fixed
– grain window crackles minimized
– internal root directory accessible again when loading performances
– sub-osc balance crackles fixed
– density interfering with grain clock sync fixed

Download the firmware and the latest manual from our GR-1 Downloads page.

In other news, it’s now possible to share your patches and performances to this same page! If you choose to upload, we’ll verify your work and will put it up for download, with due credit, of course.

Firmware 1.5 is scheduled for September. Beta testers are always welcome. Mail us at info@tastychips.nl.

Summer update

It’s been a while since we did an update here. So here it goes.

First off: we’ve now shipped practically all of the GR-1 pre-orders from last year. The last of the December pre-orders are now waiting for their future owners. If you are one of these guys, and haven’t received your unit yet, please check your mail box for our “finalization” email. Inside are payment instructions and a request for your postal address. Once the parcel is sent you’ll receive a track & trace email.

Secondly, and not unimportant… Many of our users have said to be very happy with their new machines, praising the GR-1’s power and ease-of-use! Thank you guys. It’s so good to hear we have lived up to expectations and have correctly realized our vision.

You may have noticed in our schedule, that we’ve got a quiet summer. Indeed we’ve been set back a good month due to one of our suppliers moving their factory to a new address during these summer months, and another supplier suffering their own set of delays. Please rest assured that we are _totally_ committed to the GR-1 project and to improving both this synth itself, and our service. Hence, we are professionalizing and building up as many new supplier relations as we have to, in order to streamline future production. Demand for the GR-1 remains high, and we’ll be busy with fulfilment of preorders for the remainder of 2018. We’ll keep the schedule updated regularly.

In case you haven’t noticed, in the last months we’ve released several GR-1 instruction videos, and a new one today. More will be coming up, we still haven’t explained all the features of the latest 1.4 firmware..

You can subscribe to our Youtube channel if you haven’t already: youtube.com/tastychips.

40 casings in the house – Production continues!

After a long silence, we have some good news and some more good news.

We received 40 sets of casings from our Dutch anodization printing partner. They look absolutely splendid. See the attached picture.

40 sets of casings!

 

As mentioned earlier we have a production schedule up at: https://www.tastychips.nl/?page_id=2514 Please watch this space for any updates on the production and shipping process. As can be seen on that page, we have just shipped out some more Kickstarter units, and will now go on to send out the remaining ones. This will take up to half May. Then, all Kickstarter rewards will be done! 🙂

Casings and the assembled electronics ready to built in.

We’ve also not been sitting still in terms of firmware. Today we’re releasing v1.2.2, which is a bugfix release : https://tastychips.nl//downloads/gr1_firmware_v1.2.2_4e6877b.tgz. But more importantly: v1.3 is coming up!

Version 1.3 features

  • Full support for MIDI Polyphonic Expression (MPE), including mapping of MPE Timbre and aftertouch to the MOD matrix. In practice that means support for controllers like Roli Seabord, Haken Continuum, and the LinnStrument.
  • Record position slider movement to LFO waves.
  • Numerical display for all parameters.
  • LFO DIV/MUL on knobs when synced to MIDI clock.
  • MIDI clock -> density sync.
  • Resampling loaded samples to native 44.1 (can be turned on and off).
  • Shift+Sides, Shift+Curve sliders controls loop start, end.
  • Save path remembered separately per type (sample, patch, performance).
  • LFO -> Delay time sync.
  • Custom scales for voice sliders.

Version 1.3 bugfixes

  • Filter instability solved. (happened at high cutoffs)
  • Pressing shift caused pitch changes when playing MIDI notes.
  • Better note hold.
  • Sub-oscillator crackles fixed.

We’ll be at superbooth 2018, Berlin in two weeks. There we’ll demonstrate the 1.3 beta, along with a Roli Seaboard. After this we’re open for beta testing. Drop us a line at info@tastychips.nl and we’ll send you the beta upgrade.

ST4 pre-final photoshoot

With the first batch of ST4 casings in production, we had time to make a photoshoot of the current, pre-final, model. As you can see, it’s easy to remove the lid and keep it opened up for maintenance.. Almost like a car 😉

The first batch is expected to be delivered to us mid November..

 

Front view, power off.

Front view, power off.

 

The obligatory diagonal angle shot.

The obligatory diagonal angle shot.

 

ST4 opened up, looking at the bottom plate. VCF board (large PCB in front), IO board for MIDI and USB, power board (with the Traco DC/DC converter).

ST4 opened up, looking at the bottom plate. VCF board (large PCB in front), IO board for MIDI and USB, power board (with the Traco DC/DC converter).

 

Backside of the lid. Control boards, Arduino DUE, part of the LCD display, Mic board (lower left corner).

Backside of the lid. Control boards, Arduino DUE, part of the LCD display, Mic board (lower left corner).

 

Backside of the lid. Control boards, DUE, part of LCD display, SD card board, and headphone wiring.

Backside of the lid. Control boards, DUE, part of LCD display, SD card board, and headphone wiring.

 

Part of bottom and lid. The PCB with all the phono sockets is the VCA board.

Part of bottom and lid. The PCB with all the phono sockets is the VCA board.

 

Opened up the hood.

Opened up the hood.

 

As you can see the lid comes off nicely and can comfortably rest on the table. No cables have to be detached.

As you can see the lid comes off nicely and can comfortably rest on the table. No cables have to be detached.

 

Powered on. Strutting that nice logo.

Powered on. Strutting that nice logo.

ST4 sample casing 2, New Sawbench

This week the new ST4 sample casing arrived. No silk screen yet, but at least everything fits. Yes, this baby is rackmountable too! So, that takes care of the mechanical bits. Everything is as sturdy and tight as it gets.

Rackmounted ST4

Now the only thing left to do are the silk screens. The designs have been finished a long time ago. We’re ordering 10 pieces to inspect the quality. If it suffices, the first ST4’s will be shipped out early November! If not, then it will be late November/early December. In the mean time we got very little to do on the firmware. From time to time we test it and make some songs.

New Sawbench: the new hardware revision is in. This means they are stocked once again: prebuilt, kit. This has built-in protection against reverse polarity (yes, those nasty guitar pedal supplies!). This is done with a miniature fuse. More details to follow.

Sawbench firmware v1.2 has been released. This makes the Sawbench, well, everything it should have been in the first place. 😉

Bugfixes:
– Tolerant to MIDI clock packets. This is quite a big deal since many MIDI devices send these.. also inadvertently.

New Features:
– Really short attacks and releases are now possible. Just a lot better for everything staccato (can you say acid?).
– Exponential envelope mode. Can be switched with CC 94. Allows for really long attacks and releases.

ST4 casing continued

Yet again another ST4 development update.

The casing negotiations are still ongoing. To reassure you: we’re still talking to the same factory. There are just details to be discussed. We expect to have the first proof casing ready late August. When the final casings will arrive we don’t know yet. We expect late September. As mentioned before, the casings take way more time than anticipated. We will try to stick with the current factory when we start producing the next batch.

There’s other news: half of the PCB’s have now been tested. And firmware is reaching a level of maturity where controls work the same in all of the GUI screens. The GUI has become more readable, intuitive, faster and there’s an intro animation. And it looks like we’ll add spanish and french keyboard support soon.

The last firmware development work involves the instrument editor. In the next weeks the firmware will grow to be able to choose from at least 100 samples on SD card. We’re also trying to get LFO settings per instrument, which is very useful to control the timbre. If that succeeds we might still go for a digital chorus per voice.. if there’s still enough CPU time left..

ST4 Electronics complete!

Another post in a long line of ST4 updates.. This is a good one. The current hardware turns out to perform very well. The previously tested CV generator circuit is now embedded on the so-called “expansion” PCB, which functions as the central hub between all other PCBs and the Arduino Due.

We gave the system several listening tests and it sounds very clean indeed! No 50Hz, no whining, and very little white noise (only at very high volumes). The CV’s are now also at 5V, so this should make it a bit more hackable for modular fanatics as well! 😉

The new envelope section with the sliders was implemented in the firmware is very intuitively usable, like was intended. A big step forward!

ST4 Qualification Model hardware.  Highest performance yet! Top left: VCF board. Right of that is the VCA board (through-hole version). Right of that is the IO board for MIDI/USB. Center: expansion board. Center-right: VCA board SMD version. Bottom: all the control boards. The one in the center has the new envelope sliders and led buttons..

ST4 Qualification Model hardware. Highest performance yet! Top left: VCF board. Right of that is the VCA board (through-hole version). Right of that is the IO board for MIDI/USB. Center: expansion board. Center-right: VCA board SMD version. Bottom: all the control boards. The one in the center has the new envelope sliders and led buttons..

We’ve been in discussion with some factories and have worked out a decent price for the casing.

There’s also some bad news, however. The original AC/AC supply was killed off by European rules and regulations. Don’t ask! It has something to do with bogus safety or environment bs. So, that’s us over there, redesigning that power supply! What we have chosen now is an external regulated AC/DC (mains -> 12V DC) supply, with an internal switching DC converter (12V -> -12V). Don’t worry. It will be filtered, and the external supply will be region independent!

ST4 Qualification Model control boards. Note the left one with the envelope slilders and led buttons (to select channels and vco/vca/vcf/aux)

ST4 Qualification Model control boards. Note the left one with the envelope slilders and led buttons (to select channels and vco/vca/vcf/aux)

Another thing is the analog audio PCB’s. SMD is cheaper, and also saves space. We’ve already made the VCA board into SMD, but it still needs an extra development cycle. Same for the VCF.

What still needs to be done:

  • Final PCB development
    • Final silkscreen adjustments for the DIYers!
    • SMD version of VCF and VCA
  • PSU redesign
  • Casing design and production
    • Silkscreen designs
    • Styrofoam and box design
    • Fabrication
  • Completion of firmware v1.0

Estimate we’re still on track, except for the PSU business. But early summer still sounds feasible..

 

ST4 / Post-kickstarter update

First of all, 20 Sawbench rewards have now shipped out. That means all except the ones in the combined (ST4+Sawbench) rewards. The combined rewards will be sent out as soon as the ST4 is ready. This saves work and postage costs (which are very high). The webshop will start selling Sawbenches again at some point. But we’re running out of stock we’ll probably make a follow-up.

The ST4 development has reached another milestone as earlier on this week the new PCB’s arrived. See the picture below:

– top: IO board (MIDI/USB)
– center left: expansion board (power distribution, DAC’s, SRAM, display, connection with all other boards)
– center right: SD board
– bottom left: mod+env board
– bottom right: vcf/vca controls board

The new ST4 PCB's

The new ST4 PCB’s

Note that the mod board has got sliders for ADSR and ledbuttons to quickly select channel and function (VCO/VCA/VCF/AUX).

Assembly and test will start today. As mentioned before the SMD will be 0805 and SOIC, so relatively big and hence suited for DIY. We like the SMD because it’s cheaper, smaller, and we feel easier to solder than through-hole. However, all control and interface components (pots, sliders, sockets) will remain through-hole, since this is much sturdier!

Furthermore, we’ve contacted the factory for PCBA (PCB Assembly by machine).. Especially for the VCA (~100 components) and VCF boards (200+ components).

Some work on the software has been done. The most glaring bugs were fixed and it seems there are no more crashes now.. But a lot of features need to be implemented, still. After some deliberation it was decided to go ahead with MIDI OUT stuff like unlimited polyphony and cc’s. However, they won’t be there in the first release. More like v1.1 or 1.2. The GUI needs to be completely redesigned (piano roll for the poly stuff and some crazy stacks for the cc’s).

In recent days we also contacted a new designer to do the front plate  and back panel graphics. We’re thinking of a multi-color scheme, if the budget will allow. We’ve also contacted the casing factory about this..

In closing, a lot of activities. But it looks like it’s all coming together.

 

Rewards and ST4 development

For all the Kickstarter backers and people interested in the ST4.

Last week we sent the first rewards to the backers (first-come first-served): 5 Sawbench kits and 5 assembled ones. This week we made a similar amount and they will hopefully be tested and shipped over the weekend.

Also, for the DIYers, the manual has been enhanced with pictures and tables, which can be used (also by us) to verify if all components are in the bags! Just overlay your stuff to check!

Sawbench_D_R_mech_

Some good news about the ST4: the noise issues seem solved! The numbers: SNR is now better than 80 dB, in some cases better than 90 (but it should not be more than that, bleh! :)). Even better, the periodic noise issues are completely gone! The entire guts needed to be replaced (going from PWM CV to a multi-channel DAC), but it was worth it.

The envelope section has been redesigned and the new components are already in-house. The new design for the control PCB’s (with envelope controls and such) is almost ready to be taped out. We hope to send those off to the factory in the next week. The new multi-channel CV DAC design will also be taped out at the same time.

When the new control board design is finalized we can also start redesign of the new front plate and contact the factory. We’re currently in discussion with a potential US distributor.

Overall, things seem to be ahead of schedule. We expect to send out all the rewards early summer.

ST4 Kickstarter Campaign & Webshop

Hi guys, I guess you know we’re hella busy with the ST4 Kickstarter. The Sawbench is also a reward for this Kickstarter.. For this reason we temporarily removed the Sawbench (assembled and full kit) from the webshop.

If you want to buy a Sawbench please consider buying it via the Kickstarter.

Sales will restart 17 Feb. Thanks for your understanding.

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