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GR-1 Production and ECR-1 final prototype.

Just a quick newsletter, since we’ve been silent the last months.

GR-1 production

As you may know, the GR-1 has been on direct order since October. We initially shipped them within the week, but due to high demand the production time has now increased to two weeks. We’ll also be taking some days off between Christmas and New year. Early next year we hope to return to near-direct shipping.

ECR-1 final prototype

We’ve sorted the noise problems, added a final feature, and made a new, prettier, front plate design. We’re also optimizing the engine to have as long reverbs as possible, and perfecting the timing to overcome all possible glitches. We hope to have the first test models out with the beta testers in January. Series production should commence in February.

The latest front plate (without the display)

The overdue newsletter: featuring ECR-1, FM-Bison, and GR-1.

It’s been a long time since we’ve written our last newsletter. We’ve not been sitting still. Hold on, this is going to be a long one!

GR-1 Dust covers

First of, a lot of GR-1 users have been asking us for custom dust covers. Initially there were no options, since for instance Decksaver supplies covers for the most popular devices, but not for the more niche and experimental devices like the GR-1. Recently, a GR-1 user showed us these covers. Nice find: https://lecover.com/proddetail.php?prod=11060.00

The dust cover and the GR-1.

GR-1 Production schedule update

Unfortunately, this summer was a bumpy one. We’ve had setbacks with a couple of our suppliers. Right now dozens of units are already finished and ready to go, but their knobs are still missing. They should finally arrive the coming week, after which we’ll send out finalization mails in bulk! All-in-all the preorder wait has grown from 2 to 3 months because of this. Keep an eye on tastychips.nl/gr1schedule for the exact time table.

FM-Bison synthesizer

Yes, we’re pushing into FM territory and making it more usable in the process. The engine is now as good as finished and supports 6-operator voices a la DX7, of course with dozens of voices of polyphony. We’ve also added proper monophonic and unison modes. Last but not least the user interface offers a better overview than any other FM-based synth available.

FM-Bison UI

ECR-1 [Eurorack convolver] Development

Our new Eurorack module is true-stereo convolution reverb, allowing you to use recorded real-life reverbs of many places like tunnels, caves, churches, basements, and resonators like bells, glasses, etc. While this is a first only in Eurorack format, it offers features to manipulate the reverbs smoothly and in real-time, which is actually a world first. It can also record responses on the spot and save them to usb stick. But we’ll not dive any further into the details here. We’ll reveal them at Dutch Modular Fest later on this month. https://www.dutchmodularfest.com/

Of course the model we’ll show there won’t be production ready, but it’ll be functionally complete, at least. The last stages of development have now begun: we’re ironing out the bugs and trying to boost the performance (signal-to-noise ratio, power usage and temperature, max length of reverbs, etc)

GR-1 Firmware

For those of you that missed it, already a couple of months ago, firmware 2.1 was released. This brought a vastly more usable multitimbral mode. Numerous small additions and bugfixes were also added. After we’ve demonstrated the ECR-1, we’ll get back to the GR-1 firmware updates, starting with the most demanded bugfixes.

That’s about it for this newsletter. We’ll probably write the next one in two months or so. See you!

New GR-1 Sound pack, New videos, ECR-1 progress

Dear all,

We’ve not been sitting still. For our GR-1 customers we decided to make video’s: a tutorial and a new teaser for 2019. The tutorial covers some of the more in-depth features that weren’t covered before, including the new multi-timbral mode. Enjoy, and watch and learn šŸ˜‰

We also produced a brand spanking new set of patches for the GR-1, 32 to be specific. We designed these patches to show how versatile the machine really is. Anything from field recordings to samples of classic bass synthesizers are usable for many musical applications. There are very lush sounding ambient tracks and pads in there, and just as many glitchy and noisy drumtracks. You can check some excerpts from this pack on Soundcloud:

The new sound pack is completely free and ready to go from our GR-1 downloads page: GR-1 downloads.

In terms of actual product development we’ve not been sitting still. We’re still updating the GR-1 firmware every month or two. And our new Eurorack Convolution Reverb module, the ECR-1, has now reached the stage where it is actually usable by a non-developer. It has a small full-color display mounted and has all the buttons, pots and audio/CV in and outs it needs.

The current prototype of our Eurorack Convolution Reverb module, the ECR-1.

You can also look at the convolution reverb thread on Muff Wiggler if you like to know more. Cheers!

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:Ā https://www.tastychips.nl/?page_id=2514Ā 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! šŸ™‚

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 šŸ˜‰

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 sampleĀ 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. šŸ˜‰

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 testedĀ 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!Ā šŸ˜‰

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 someĀ 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 EuropeanĀ 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 converterĀ (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 thingĀ 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
  • CompletionĀ of firmware v1.0

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

 

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