Meebleeps Freaq is a new two-voice 8-bit FM Synthesizer powered by an algorithmic 2/1.5 track polymetric sequencer with up to 16 steps per track.
The music world always needs new synthesizers. Especially those that offer new ideas, open new doors for sounds… And they don’t have to come from the big players. Small Boutique developers have shown in recent years that they can also craft special instruments that cause a stir.
Yesterday evening I watched the German videocast SequencerTalk, in which they briefly introduced a new FM Synthesizer by an indie developer from Australia. One that I hadn’t had on my radar before. Wait, what, am I sick? Yes, it also happens that I overlook something. But let’s catch up on that now.
From soul-soothing sine waves to multiverse-shredding modulated distortion, slapping bass lines to soaring arp leads, the Freaq FM is a powerhouse of sound design packaged with a melodic and intuitive generative sequencer inspired by the likes of Elektron, Intellijel & Music Thing.
Freaq FM by Meebleeps (not affiliated with MeeBlip, maker of the geode Synthesizer) is based on Arduino Nano which is surrounded by a custom circuit.
On the sheet, the Freaq FM is a relatively simple hardware FM Synthesizer. It consists of two independent 2-operator 8-bit FM engines with multiple waveforms (carrier/modulator), LFO, and exponential modulation envelopes. Meebleeps promises that the engine can generate some old-school Prince of Persia sounds.
The engines can be easily tweaked on the square interface. There are controls for the FM mode (quantized, free-multiple, independent), FM ratio, carrier, modulator, envelope, and more.
Generative Sequencing With An Elektron Touch
More exciting and special s its built-in sequencer. Freaq hosts a 16-step 2/1.5 track polymetric sequencer powered by multiple generative algorithms. You can find (semi)random notes, (semi)random runs, arpeggio, and drone. These are capable of generating endless new melodies by themselves. Both tracks use the same note sequence but can have different step counts for unique polymetric rhythms.
Like in other generative sequencers, the user can mutate the sequences using different parameters, including rate and note destiny. Additionally, there is global tonic & scale support (Ionian (Major), Minor (Dorian), Pentatonic, Phrygian (GOA!), Octaves, Fifths). Then, you can also record up to 16 steps of Elektron-style parameter locks in track 1. There is also a tap-tempo control on the interface.
The dot display in the middle is particularly eye-catching. This can be ordered in red or blue and gives you visual feedback over the generative sequencer. Connection side, you find an audio output (14-bit DAC) and sync input/output (0-5V rising-edge) on the front panel. For power, you have either a 7-12V DC on the back or a USB port.
Freaq covers simple, clear, but also wilder, distorted FM sounds. Fans of 8-bit FM generators will have a lot of fun with these sounds.
A lovely, hands-on FM Synthesizer from far away Australia. We already have a lot of FM synths, but we haven’t one that has a close relationship with a generative sequencer.
The Freaq is not a very deep Synthesizer, honestly, but I’m sure it will be a lot of fun. And thanks to the algorithms, it produces for you endless new melodies, so it never gets boring. MIDI nope, you have to do without, but I would have liked to see it here.
Meebleeps Freaq is available now as a DIY kit for $140 USD or fully assembled + tested for $175 USD plus shipping.
More information here: Meebleeps
This thing is absolutely fantastic!!!
No matter how fantastic (it’s really nice), I almost took it for one of MeeBlip’s designs – and I considered buying it simply because the MeeBlips are gorgeous… Actually, neither of them seems to be registered in WIPO’s brand database.
Since it’s all very nichey and familiar, I’m sure they might find a way. That’s better than at some point having Oberheim and Öberhøim synths. 😉
Ordered the kit, soldered it, made a mistake while building, Andrew from Meebleeps helped me very quickly. No I have big fun with this Freaq! Connect to a delay/reverb it produces fantastic sound scapes which you can adjust easily. And it is even much smaller than a Volca!