May 14, 2021

Tindie Sound: Gear Of The Year Awards 2020!

5 min read
2020 has been a year to remember, right? As it comes to a close, let’s...

2020 has been a year to remember, right? As it comes to a close, let’s erase it from our collective memories with a look at what the talented Tindie creators came up with in the realms¬† of sound and music. This year, we’ll be awarding the ingenuity, skill and professionalism of our sellers with a prestigious ceremony covering the spectrum of music making devices, from pocket toys to production powerhouses. So, look sharp, shine your shoes, and don the finest attire your wardrobe has to offer for the Tindie Gear of the year awards 2020!

Tiny Pocket Critter Award: The Scuttlebut by Madlab

The Scuttlebut is a miniature noise machine capable of wondrous melodies and expansive drones controlled in innovative ways, such is the penchant of its talented creator. Coming in kit form, even a beginner will enjoy its construction – then revel in its on-board sequencer and marvel at it’s record function! On the panel you’ll find buttons and knobs to control your sound, but the showcase feature has to be the light sensor used in conjunction with the metallic touch plate. It’s very expressive and full of audio critters waiting to escape!

The Scuttlebut has a cheeky character and devious soul of its own, hear its murmurings in the video below:

Gunstar Hero Award: Opera Rotas by

The Opera Rotas is one for the retro gaming fraternity, utilizing an OPL2 FM audio chip from the SEGA Genesis (or Megadrive) housed inside a drum machine! It comes in kit form, as a fully made unit or the PCB alone – with the maker suggesting there will be firmware updates to turn it into a polyphonic synth! For now, it’s a mutant FM drum machine which will inspire journeys to create ‘Sonic Chaos’ in an ‘Alien Storm’ – is anyone getting these game references?!

It certainly sounds like no other drum machine we’ve encountered, hear it in action here:

Lofi Aesthetic Award: 8BitM8 by midierror

The 8BitM8 was released in July and is ideal for those looking for a lofi sound inspired by classic samplers and MPCs. It comes in a hand-crafted aluminium enclosure, with a custom paint job in two forms – one with an arcade button and another with a guitar stomp switch. It’s an effects processor that reduces the bit rate of any incoming signal from 4-8 Bit, with controls for mix, sample rate, and low pass filter. It also looks pretty snazzy!

The 8BitM8 was featured on DIVKID’s youtube channel, showing an array of musical applications, with synths, drum machines and guitars.

Micro MIDI Modification Award: MIDI Input for Volca by Yethiel

The MIDI Input for Volca is a small modification with a big impact; allowing for MIDI control from an external source via conventional 5-Pin connections! It’s been known for some time that if you open up a Volca you’ll see the connections for MIDI input, but the device doesn’t offer it out of the box. Therefore, this mini mod will require some soldering skills, even if you buy the completed unit, but full instructions are provided. The small change will expand the capabilities significantly, for seasoned musicians and tabletop noodlers alike.

See the exciting little MIDI mod up close here with some glorious arpeggiation:

Back To The Future Award: Phonic Taxidermist by Circuitbenders

The Phonic Taxidermist is a PCB ready to house a grungy effects unit from the past, based around a rare and hard to find classic: the Maplin (UK Radio Shack) Voice Vandal. Using an on-board delay and audio chopper, you’ll be exhuming sounds from another dimension, both figuratively and literally as this was originally released in the 1980s! For fans of sci-fi or early 90s Warp records electronica, the Phonic Taxidermist is a unique, essential, and ethereal unit to re-animate any incoming sound.

See the voice vandal clone in action with some TB-303 acid replication courtesy of the x0xBox!

Serious Serendipity Award: NoodleBox Sequencer by SixtyFourPixels

The NoodleBox Serendipity Sequencer came out in September, bridging the gap between modular, tabletop and studio sequencing with a chunky pixel display, superb build quality, and intuitive controls. From one box you can utilize CV and MIDI, trigger note sequences from multiple layers, and automate numerous parameter changes! It’ll support a host of musical keys, with variable sequence lengths for polymeters and a myriad of cross modulation features. In a big year for external sequencers, this proved to be hugely successful for good reason.

It’s been spotted in numerous Red Means Recording videos, including his overview of the new Moog Werskatt!

Big Red Synth Award: TSynth by

The TSynth is a Teensy-powered synth which comes in kit form to solder and source parts for yourself. It’s absolutely loaded with features including 12 note polyphony, 24 oscillators, pulse width modulation, LFOs, unison and some epic cross-modulation! It has connections for MIDI through conventional means as well as USB – and will even allow you to save and recall presets. It’s a big red beauty and you’ll find options for US orders and bulk orders too.

See the self professed ‘Worlds Best Value Desktop Synthesizer’ in action:

Chiptune Sound Blast Award: Blasterboard by LABS

The Blasterboard is a modern sound card aimed at vintage gaming enthusiasts and ideal for chiptune music makers (and listeners) looking for authentic sound playback!¬† It’s a superbly designed unit which caters for DSP sound, Line Out, CD Audio, PC Speaker and OPL2 volumes from the panel. It’s been lovingly crafted to be a low noise solution for the modern era, coming in fully assembled form and now as a kit. Play the sound of the late 80s and early 90s as it was originally intended with the reliability and build quality of today.

Superstylin’ Award: The Hanan Cumbia by

Finally, the delightful Hanan Cumbia hales from Mexico and celebrates the artistic skill of three talented makers for the ultimate Tindie product collaboration of 2020. Not only is it a drum machine (based on the Bleep Labs Bleep Drum) but it’s been gloriously adorned by Yeffry Ruta Mareand and screen printed by Los Laberintos to make an utterly eye-catching and stunningly vibrant enclosure. As a drum machine, it’ll play four sounds, each with their own 32 step sequencers, capable of being synced to external clock signals – we love it for the sheer visual joy it brings as well as the sounds!

So, there we have it, a glittering ceremony to showcase the talents of the Tindie community in the last 12 months. We hope you thoroughly enjoy the festive season safely and look forward to a brighter future for all of us in 2021. There are plenty of things to look forward to!

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