Electronic musical instrument manufacturer 1010music has added two almost impossibly tiny new synthesisers to its product range, the Nanobox Lemondrop granular synth, and the Nanobox Fireball polyphonic wavetable synth. And we mean tiny: The units are just 3.75″ x 3″ x 1.5″ in size.
As is the case with 1010 music’s compact Blackbox sampler/sequencer and Bluebox mixer/recorder, the Nanobox synths come with built-in touchscreens for deep control of their powerful feature sets, including X/Y controls.
And unlike some other tiny synths – for instance the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators – these have Midi built-in (but no batteries – power is via USB-C). All presets are saved on a micro SD card for both synths.
Read this next: Getting Started Making Electronic Music Without A Computer
If you’re building a small home studio, especially a DAW-less studio, or are looking for portable instruments you can take on the road with you as part of a hybrid DJ/live set-up, these units may be just what you’re looking for: Paired with a sequencer and/or small keyboard, you’d have access to a whole range of high-quality sounds – although of two very different types, as we’re about to see.
Of the two, this is the more conventional, but it’s powerful: It’s a polyphonic wavetable synth with eight voices, two wavetables and an oscillator, plus two filters, two envelopes, two LFOs, and a “modulation sequencer” (not to be confused with a Midi sequencer; this is a sound generation feature).
It also has six onboard effects in two slots for up to 12 possible combinations — you can choose from flanger, distortion, chorus, phaser (FX1), and delay and reverb (FX2). In short, you’ll be able to easily generate a whole gamut of sounds, from soft pads to searing leads.
If you’ve ever played with granular synthesiser plugins on a DAW, you’ll know that for drones, pads, and interesting noise layers, granular synthesisers can sound like nothing else. However, they can work fine for leads, too – our tutor James Hype used a granular synth for the lead on his hit track, Say Yeah, for instance.
Granular synthesisers take slices of input sounds as their source, and indeed, the Lemondrop has a line in – basically, these types of synths are samplers at heart. In the case of the Lemondrop, you can then apply all the same steps as detailed above for the Fireball.
Of the two synths this is possibly the most interesting, simply because there’s nothing else like it at this price point, and for some of the features, at any price point – for that reason, this is the one we’ll be reviewing soon.
Prices and availability
Both units retail for $399 and are available now, although at the time of writing, the Lemondrop is already sold out at 1010music. More info on both over on the 1010music website.