PlayStation 5, Tempest 3D AudioTech, and HRTF (Sony PS5 Immersive Audio)

The new PS5 audio engine, Tempest 3D AudioTech, creates 3-dimensional sound on any headset by using HRTFs, head-related transfer functions. So what are HRTFs? How does this work? Will it work for everyone? What does this mean for surround-sound setups? What are the five “Types” in the 3D Audio Profile Settings?

This video is a quick overview of what Tempest 3D AudioTech is reportedly doing now at launch (November 2020), and what possibilities and questions there will be in the future.

Getting Started in Arduino and Audio

I’ve put together some videos on using microcontrollers (like Arduino) for music and sound applications.

In these first few videos I go over how to do some simple synthesis with an Arduino, controlling pitch and timbre with potentiometers and light-dependent resistors (LDRs)–essentially putting together some Arduino chiptunes!

I originally made these instructional videos for my class, but I’m hoping to continue to build on this playlist if there’s interest.

Reaktor 6 Primary Tutorials

I’ve put together a series of beginner tutorials for getting started designing your own synths in Reaktor 6 Primary.

Over the course of this series, we put together a synth with selectable oscillators, filters, and multiple options for modulation. This can serve as a good hands-on introduction to synthesis in Reaktor or any other synthesis environment.

Pure Data Horrors (Generative Halloween Music in Pure Data)

Make a Pure Data patch that generates synth Halloween music–“dissonant music in odd time signatures.”

Horror music offers a great deal of creative license, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to spooky music. In this video I go through a few examples, then talk about how we can make a simple generative music system that creates pulsed, dissonant, repetitive music like John Carpenter’s score to Halloween (1978) or Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (which became the theme to The Exorcist 1973). We start by making a simple sequencer, and then randomize and automate different aspects of it (tempo, roots, sequences).

A quick disclaimer, in retrospect, I realize I played a little fast and loose with the order of how things are processed here (looking especially at how I’m adding things), and I might have done some things in a different way, but everything works for our purposes, and I’ll plan to talk about that more next time.

Lo-Fi Telephone Microphone

Watch me dissect and old phone and repurpose its carbon microphone.

Constructing a lo-fi microphone from an old telephone’s carbon microphone, and seeing what other parts we can make some sounds with.

I got this old phone at Goodwill for a couple bucks, interested in seeing if it had a carbon microphone that I could salvage. It turns out getting that microphone out was a breeze. Then I started seeing what other parts might be interesting–the keypad, the chip that makes DTMF tones. Finally, I put together the circuit for the carbon microphone, and got it back in the handset, adding a new specialty carbon microphone to my mic locker (such as it is).

Sound Synthesis Videos

Since COVID-19 has pushed a great deal of teaching and learning online, I’ve been converting a lot of my synthesis lessons into “micro-lectures”, 5- to 10-minute videos, that can be integrated into online learning.

These videos are all software-agnostic, focusing on principles and fundamental ideas of sound synthesis over any particular synthesis environment.

More instructional playlists are available on my “Teaching” page.

Circuit-Bent, MIDI-Controlled-Glitch Genesis Explanation

I circuit bent a Sega Genesis for MIDI-controlled glitch visuals. I can hook it up to a DAW or MIDI sequencer and then glitch out a game in sync with music.

I put this together a few years ago, but had some questions about it, so I cracked open the game system to show how it works. All I’ve done is set up some places to short out the VRAM, where the Genesis stores the sprites for the graphics. Then I added an Arduino to control when it short them out (triggered by MIDI).

Keep in mind that not all Genesis systems are the same, they have different board revisions, so your Genesis might have things in different places.

Sample output:

Circuit Bending Walkthrough

I’ve put together a three-part series on getting started with circuit-bending, from the initial testing and opening up toys to completed alien instrument.

(Part 3 coming next week)

Circuit-bending is the creative customization of consumer electronics with the goal of inventing new unique devices for sound-making, visuals, or other expressive goals. I’m a composer and sound-designer, not an electrical engineer, so my goal is to find fun sounds that I can use in creative ways (rather than any kind of serious circuit design).

For more of my creative electronics projects, check out here: