Paper Bits – A Modular Analog Synthesizer

Paper Bits is a small voltage controlled modular synthesizer system, created by Berlin based artist Wolfgang Spahn. Its simple design, accessible interface as well as low price offer a powerful sound tool dedicated to learning, experimenting and playing.

Analog synthesizers are known for their warm, rich, organic, and completely continuous sound, that arises from its analog waveform. Today, musicians, sound artists and DJ's are attracted by the opportunities that come with the sound-shaping functions of the analog synthesizer, such as sound producing circuitry and voltage control. While digital synthesizers are based on binary representations of various sound and instrument waveform that are stored in read only memory (ROM), the analog waveform allows for performatively generated sounds that exist only in the moment. Thus, it is possible to create finely nuanced tones, noises, and interference, or to generate imprecise and delayed sounds.

In contrast to the analog synths of the 60's, the modular analog synthesizers of today are less complex for standardized components, separable access and plug-and-socket connections (instead of patch cables) make for an easy set-up. Thus, using the instrument is just cool. Wolfgang Spahn's modular synthesizer system is based on Paper PCB and also comes with plug-and-socket connections. Therefore there is no need to fabricate circuit boards, because a simple color printer will do. It's rapid prototyping: each component can be created in an instant, and it's also possible to design them specifically.

Obviously, Paper-bits are very resourceful as they can be created and further developed without needing too many resources such as time, budget, space or weight. Newcomers may want to experiment with analog sounds, whereas professionals will appreciate how easily one can create new modules or develop special effects. However, Paper-bits are an amazing experimental platform for creating analog sounds that are digitally controlled by an Arduino.

In the two day workshop we will build two modules as the core of our Paper Bits. We learn the basics about analog oscillators and how to control them digitally, and also patching and playing Paper Bits.
All participants can choose two out of these modules:

  • PB101 Sync VCO (two synced VCO)
  • PB109 VCO II (a sine wave VCO)
  • PB201 Step Sequencer (a 8 step sequencer)
  • PB401 Echo (delay and echo)
  • PB702 Midi Synth (a MIDI controlled polyphonic synthesizer)
  • PB701 Electric Intonarumori (a noise and FX module).

3. -4. March 2018
3pm to 8pm
Radian - Zagreb Makerspace