Elk Audio's Blackboard breakout box bridges the gap between code and control

(Image credit: ELK Audio)

The ELK Audio OS is a way to turn small computer devices into dedicated VST plugin hosts. It’s been used by Elk Audio (formerly Mind Music Labs) to make a hardware version of Steinberg’s Retrologue and to put an Arturia Prophet V into Matt Bellamy’s guitar. Beyond the PR gold, the idea is to let anyone hardware-ise a VST plugin.

The open-source version of Elk Audio OS – the one that anyone can use with a free license – runs on Raspberry Pi 3 and 4, with the Elk Pi dev kit allowing developers to build VST plugins specifically for the platform, running at a reported latency down to 1ms.

The Blackboard acts as a more user-friendly interface for the entire setup, allowing standard audio connections to be made in and out, and parameters to be changed using faders, buttons and even a small screen.

Specs (via ELK Audio)

  • 6 audio in (2 switchable between audio / cv)
  • 6 audio out (2 switchable between audio / cv)
  • 2 fixed cv out
  • 4 gate out
  • 2 gate in
  • 4 faders with LEDs on top
  • 9 buttons with LEDs above each
  • 1 potentiometer
  • 1 encoder with push button
  • 128x64 monochrome OLED display

Find out more about the Blackboard, Elk Audio OS and the Elk Pi developer kit at the Elk Audio website.