WHICH BLIPBLOX IS RIGHT FOR ME?
The original Blipblox features a white background and colorful controls. It’s designed for younger kids (ages 3-10) because it features playful graphics and a synchronized LED light show that plays along with the music. It’s designed to provide an approachable introduction to synthesis without having to learn complicated steps or terminology.
The Blipblox After Dark has a mature labeled interface that is more suited to older kids and synthesizer enthusiasts. Advanced features such as the resonant multi-mode filter, wavetable synthesis and a stereo multi-tap delay expand the sound design possibilities. Check out our side-by-side features comparison graphic for all of the technical details.
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 (Original version) or at least 8 hours (After Dark version) on three fresh AA batteries. The Blipblox automatically powers off if untouched for 30 minutes. The Blipblox can also be used with the included USB-DC power cable for unlimited play.
What do kids think of the Blipblox?
The Blipblox has been tested by hundreds of kids from a variety of backgrounds and ages. At dozens of live events, we’ve witnessed first hand the numerous 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Blipblox has been proven as an effective learning tool for early childhood development. The Blipblox quickly engages kids and teaches them to how they can control sounds and create music. The Blipblox has also been effective in helping special needs kids express themselves in an innovative, non-verbal way. The Blipblox was the winner of the SBO Best Teaching Tool for Pre-School students.
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: FCC, CE, ASTM F963-17, CPSC 16, EN62115, REACH, RohS and CA Prop 65 for toys. All control components are securely locked into the design, so it is impossible to remove any knobs or controls. The Blipblox is free of any sharp edges, and the batteries are secured inside a screw-down compartment.
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.
Is the software upgradable?
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. The After Dark model does feature pitch-shifting drum samples, while the original Blipblox drums are synthesized.
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. On the original Blipblox, synthesizer is played using Channel 1, the drums with Channel 2. The After Dark can set to respond to any of the 16 MIDI channels.
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 in the Original Blipblox, 16 in the After Dark. 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.
Is the Blipblox portable?
AFTER DARK STUFF
The After Dark has an enhanced synthesis engine. This section describes features that are specific to the After Dark model, and not the original white version.
What is an oscillator scheme?
The After Dark has sixteen different oscillator algorithms for generating sound. Synthesis techniques such as pulse width, frequency, detune and sync are modulated using the two control inputs. Five of the schemes use wavetables, and the control inputs modulate the wavetable scanning and morphing. Some schemes have up to eight oscillator waveforms, creating classic “super-saw” effects, and other really big sounds.