For many, Nintendo’s original Game Boy is the ultimate chiptune production tool. One of the best tools for exploring its music-making potential has always been Oliver Wittchow’s Nanoloop - which has also gone on to be released for Android and iOS - but now it’s making the jump from slot-in cartridge to standalone device and being launched as a pocket-sized hardware synth.
In keeping with the original Nanoloop, this has a videogame-style interface that comprises a D-pad and four buttons. Combined with the LED dots and digits in the centre of the unit, these can be used to make music.
The synth gives you four channels to (literally) play with: a dual square wave with true analogue filter (mono); 4-voice polyphonic FM (stereo); monophonic FM (stereo); and noise & clicks (stereo). The sequencer, meanwhile, is a 4x4 matrix affair that offers per-step control and pattern transpose for all parameters.
As well as the 3.5mm mini-jack stereo headphone/line out, you also get 3.5mm mini-jack CV and MIDI sync inputs and outputs. The unit can be powered by two AAA batteries or micro USB, and patterns can be stored on microSD card or backed-up/restored via audio cable.
It might only be in prototype at the moment, but we’d say that Nanoloop is already looking like one of the must-have pocket synths of 2019, especially when you consider the pedigree of the person making it. It might not be able to play games, but it does look like a whole lot of fun.
What’s more, it’s affordable: pledge €97 on Kickstarter and you should get one in August (the funding target has already been reached).