FAQs

KID STUFF

What do kids think of the Blipblox? 

The Blipblox has been tested by hundreds of kids from a variety of backgrounds and ages. Starting with its debut at the NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants), and continuing through Maker’s Faire, as well as many smaller events in between, we’ve witnessed first hand the number of kids who love playing with the Blipblox. Many kids, even those with no music experience, take to the Blipblox quickly and continue a focused play for an extended period of time.

What age group is the Blipblox target market?

While every kid is different, these are our general observations for what aspects of the Blipblox will attract which age groups:

Under 3
The Blipblox is safety certified for kids 3 years and older.  While some children under 3 may enjoy the Blipblox with close parental participation, we have found that the device is a little advanced for them and many tend to lose interest quickly.

3-4 years
Younger kids are attracted to the Blipblox light show and its brightly colored knobs and buttons.  But the most popular controllers are the vibrant red levers.  Many kids love to incorporate the Blipblox into imagination play, so it becomes a spaceship controller or lava flow meter.  We have seen some more musically-oriented kids at this age start to twist the knobs in a more deliberate way and able to get some really cool sounds from the Blipblox.

5-8 years
Kids at this age still like the lights and levers, but many are also starting to understand that they are controlling and creating sound.  As kids start to use the Blipblox more, they develop the skills to follow the signal flow lines and connect them to the sound they are hearing. They also love the kick and snare drum beatbox controls.

9-12 years
While the kids at the older end of this age range may at first think the Blipblox looks like a little kid’s toy, it doesn’t take much for them to realize it is a real musical instrument.  This is also the age where you can think about breathing new life into that old MIDI keyboard so kids can start playing their own melodies.  Kids who already have experience with a DAW will soon realize that the Blipblox is a fully functional synthesizer that can be used for music production.  

13 years-Adult
Teens and adults that are into electronic music or music production are attracted to the Blipblox because it looks fun but they also see it as a legitimate tool.  The Blipblox becomes a studio device used to create new synthesized sounds that can be incorporated into a more layered song.  MIDI In means you can connect the Blipblox to any studio setup.  And Audio Out means kids can record, layer and manipulate the sounds into their next hit track.

Educational opportunities
The Blipblox is currently being reviewed by early childhood development and special needs professionals to see what possible use it could have as a teaching tool.  The Blipblox was the winner of the SBO Best Teaching Tool for Pre-School students. We look forward to partnering with academic and non-profit groups as the Blipblox goes into mass production.

Is the Blipblox really safe for children as young as 3 years old?

The Blipblox is in compliance with toy safety standards set forth by the USA, Canada and the European Union, including: ASTM F963 (USA), EN 71 (EU) and SOR/2011-17 (Canada).

BLIPBLOX BASICS

Why the Blipblox?

Learning a musical instrument is an opportunity that provides a lifetime of enjoyment. While today’s music increasingly relies on synthesizers to create new and exciting sounds, the complexity of these tools makes them hard to get into the hands of children. The Blipblox aims to change that by making synthesizers fun, easy and safe for all ages. We feel that if intrigued and entertained, children have the ability to understand the complexity of synthesis, inspiring them to create the music of tomorrow.

Can I interface the Blipblox with my phone?

The Blipblox was designed to give kids and adults time away from a screen and can be thoroughly enjoyed as a stand alone product. More experienced users will utilize the MIDI interface to connect to a computer for music production.

How long do the batteries last?

The Blipblox is designed to play for at least 12 hours on three fresh AA batteries. The Blipblox automatically powers off if untouched for 30 minutes.

SYNTH STUFF

Can you really make a song with the Blipblox?

Yes! Below you'll find two examples of tracks made with the Blipblox. Both by professional producer Ben Messelbeck.

Blipblox Fun Track
Blipblox Glitch Mix
Is the software upgradable?

Playtime Engineering does not sell development platforms. Our products are full featured and fully tested on the day your receive it. However, it is possible to upgrade the Blipblox firmware over the MIDI port with a sysex file if ever necessary.

Don't synthesizers usually have keyboards?

The Blipblox has a sequencer that plays hundreds of built-in melodies, so the user can focus on exploring the tone and textures of the sound, not just play individual notes. You can use the MIDI Input port to connect an external keyboard.

Why aren’t the buttons or knobs labeled?

The Blipblox was designed to be inviting and accessible to people of all ages. Those interested in learning more can refer to our in-depth Learning Toolbox Instruction Manual that outlines the Blipblox controls and signal flow for each of the buttons, knobs and levers.

Can I program or load my own sequences into the Blipblox?

The Blipblox comes pre-loaded with hundreds of fun melodies. The MIDI input port allows an external sequencer or keyboard to play the sounds instead of the internal sequencer.

Are samples used to make the sounds?

All sounds in the Blipblox come from synthesized algorithms instead of samples. This allows for an unlimited range of sounds to be explored and is the primary difference between the Blipblox and other music toys.

Does the Blipblox time-sync to other MIDI gear?

Yes. The Blipblox responds to MIDI start, stop and time sync commands.

Can I play the drums via MIDI?

Yes. The synthesizer is played using Channel 1, the drums with Channel 2.

Can I control sound parameters via MIDI?

No, only note on/off/pitch and MIDI sync are supported.

Is the Blipblox in tune?  When I play it from a keyboard, are the notes matched to the correct frequency?

Yes. As crazy as some of the sounds can get, they are still frequency matched and in tune. You can incorporate almost any Blipblox sound into a music track.

Where are all the controls for the two envelope generators?  

The Amplifier Envelope has only a Release control knob. The Modulation Envelope has only an Attack control knob. The envelopes automatically adjust some parameters based on tempo and other factors to keep them fun and usable.

How do I select the LFO waveform?​

The two LFO waveforms are automatically randomized.

How does the Blipblox select modes such as Oscillator Sync, or Pulse Width Modulation, or De-tune?  How does it select oscillator waves?

There are 12 Oscillator Modulation Schemes. Each scheme takes two Modulation inputs. Different Modulation schemes automatically assign the Modulation inputs to parameters such as Sync, PWM, Detune, etc. Some modulation inputs use non-traditional sound warping to insure a there is a wide range of sounds to explore. Different waveforms are hard-wired into the different Oscillator Schemes.

How can this work like a real synthesizer with so few buttons?

There are several special modes accessed by pressing multiple combinations of buttons. These include turning off the sequencer, changing the LED mode and editing drum sounds. The manual describes these in detail.

How do the control signals work?

There are 3 modulation sources: LFO1, LFO2 and Modulation Envelope. Any 3 of these can be routed to Oscillator Modulation 1, Oscillator Modulation 2, and Low Pass Filter Modulation. This forms a 3x3 modulation matrix. There is also the Amplifier Envelope dedicated to controlling the release time of each note.

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