The Shruthi-1 is a hybrid digital/analog monosynth. Its hardware design is deceptively simple, but the sonic range is wide: sometimes grungily digital like a PPG-Wave, fat and funky like a SH-101, videogame-y like a Commodore 64, weird and warm like an ESQ-1 ; but more often than not, truly original.
Contrary to the hardware you can purchase at the music shop next door, a Shruthi isn’t designed to be industrially manufactured. Indeed, its assembly doesn’t require any specialized equipment, besides a screwdriver, cutters, a soldering iron and two hands.
Best of both worlds
An 8-bit microcontroller plays the role of the two main oscillators + sub-oscillator. This allows the generation of (aliasing-free) classic analog waveforms, but also wavetable/transwave synthesis and a trove of weird digital algorithms (sinewave bitcrushing, formant synthesis, phase distortion, bit toggling, XOR modulation).
… and Analog
Beyond this point, everything is analog. Most of the Shruthis are built with the SMR-4 mkII filter, a warm 4-pole “modern analogue” low-pass filter (no vintage IC). But you are in no way limited to this! The filter section of the Shruthi is on its own board and can be easily replaced. Many alternative filter boards are available: a mighty dual multimode filter with serial/parallel routing; a whacky and low-fi digital filter with built-in effects; a clone of the aggressive Polivoks filter; a complex 4-pole multimode filter inspired by the Xpander; or a MS-20 style LPF with a built-in low-fi delay. From silky-smooth to squelchy or fat: pick the filter that matches your personal taste best.
The Shruthi has an audio input: external signals can be processed by its analog section, under the control of the digital LFOs, sequencer and arpeggiator for crazy gating and re-enveloping effects. A perfect way of warming up the sound of your favorite VA or cheesy organ!
Before all, a musical instrument
Designed as a tool, not a toy
Getting a microcontroller to make bleeps and bloops is easy, but this is not where we wanted to go. We took the challenge of creating an instrument that could play in the same league as a Waldorf, Ensoniq or DSI synth; and from what Shruthi users can attest, we have succeeded.
Of course, you are free to use the “dirty PWM” or “8-bits” oscillators algorithms if nasty bleeps are what you are looking for!
We have packed the Shruthi firmware with plenty of great features: a complete MIDI implementation (large CC coverage, NRPNs, SysEx data dump including wavetable transfer), a 12-slots modulation matrix, a 16-steps notes/CC sequencer and advanced arpeggiator with some unusual time warping modes, and even a polychaining feature to turn several Shruthis into a monster polysynth!
The Shruthi firmware is GPL. Schematics are released under a CC license which gives you the freedom to build your own synth. We also provide assembly instructions, BOMs with references, case drawings, and some analyses of the filter circuits.
… and low barrier to entry
Posting code and schematics is not all… The Shruthi has other great assets that make it a cool hacking platform:
A readable, well-structured code-base in C++, relying on a freely available toolchain.
Schematics editable with the freeware version of Eagle.
An easy firmware update procedure: just press a button and play a midifile to upgrade your Shruthi.
Solid foundation for developing your own analog filters, modulations and effects circuits. We provide PCB templates and an experimentation board to get you started on the design of the next Shruthi filter board!
So get ready for new filter boards or hardware extensions!