MicroDexed Touch is a new fascinating open-source DIY project giving you a multi-engine groovebox incl. 2xDexed FM synths, MI Braids, and more.
Dexed is a fascinating open-source Synthesizer plugin that gives you the 6-operator FM synthesis of the legendary Yamaha DX-7 for free for your DAW. It is particularly beloved by many as an editor for DX-7 patches.
Since the code is open, other developers can use it and integrate it into other projects. Some have even built it into hardware projects. Today a project of a developer/developer team became known where a powerful groovebox is created around this free synth plugin.
MicroDexed Touch is a super portable, open-source groovebox that relies on different engines. It’s an advanced DIY project based on a Teensy 4,1 PCM5102 audio board, 320×240 ILI9341 SPI display with XPT2046 touchscreen, and a serial flash chip.
The developers actually started the project as a hardware adaption of the popular free, open-source Dexed plugin. But they didn’t leave it at that.
In this hardware version, there will be two Dexed instances, each with 16 voices. But that’s not all. It also has two virtual analog monophonic Synthesizers called MicroSynth with a single oscillator, PWM, filter, and noise. So a classic bread and butter bass, lead, and noise synth.
Then, it hosts a sampler engine that allows you to load, play, and edit multi-sampled or layered instruments. You can adjust the sample zones either manually or via the auto-detection functionality. You can play these sampled instruments in a “live” or sequencer mode. Samples management is done from the SD-card and SPI Flash.
According to the developer, they will also be the open-source MDA ePiano virtual instrument onboard with additional parameters.
MicroDexed Touch also comes with another synth engine that is based on the Mutable Instruments Braids oscillator. It gives you an 8-voice polyphonic Synthesizer with filters and envelopes. This has all the core features (25 algorithms + parameters) except the wavetables. That’s a pretty impressive sound engine.
MicroDexed Touch is not only a multi-engine Synthesizer but also a complete groovebox. And to make it groove, you need, of course, a sequencer. It offers an 8-track pattern-based Tracker-style sequencer. It supports 16-step patterns, 16-step pattern chains, and up to 16384 song steps. There is also a handy chord function in the sequencer that stacks up to 7 notes.
Additionally, it has a built-in euclidean arpeggiator with 1/8 – 1/64 Steps and customizable arp patterns. This section support pitched drum- and instrument sample support.
Mixer, Effects, and Connectivity
The instrument channels can easily be mixed together using a mixer section. Besides the basis onboard effects, the mixer also includes a master reverb for both output channels (L/R). You can also use a multiband master compressor with 4 bands.
MicroDexed has deep engines that offer a lot of parameters. You can tweak them directly on the graphical interface of the hardware using touch or the knobs. I think this is going to be a bit fiddly. But I could be wrong. So alternatively, you can map MIDI CC data to external MIDI devices and control them from here.
Connection side, it has a stereo line out, a USB connection, and a MIDI in/out on mini jacks. Rrr, DIN MIDI with adaptors, my best friends… not. Great, the MIDI out allows you to use the two-track sequencer engine as an external MIDI sequencer.
A fabulous open-source DIY project from the developer/developer team positionhigh. I’m glad to see that the Dexed Synthesizer is now available in good-looking hardware with more features as a DIY project.
More information here: CodeBerg
Considering this is also running off of a Teensy 4.2 and has MI Braids as well, I wonder how this compares to Dirtywave’s M8 tracker? Seems suspiciously similar.
The M8 is a full retail product, ours is currently a hobby only project. We might have an advantage in the FM section since we have 6 Operators instead of 4 but most other parts, from what i#ve seen in videos only, M8 is much more mature and polished. Unfortunatly it is not open source, MicroDexed fully is.
how much is the estimated cost to build it yourself?This looks super interesting!!
I hope it is under 80$, but at currently times and availability i am not so sure.
I bought all the stuff last week and spend around 100 euros, including shipping.
Can you write an article about sourcing the various parts? pcb, components, enclosure