Introducing tbDSP from Analog Bytes

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Introducing tbDSP from Analog Bytes

Post by skrasms » Sun May 18, 2014 11:38 pm

Several years ago, I started down a path of making a reprogrammable DSP module. I wanted a hardware platform loaded with DSP horsepower so that I could quickly develop ideas and share them with modular users. A person could buy hardware once then upgrade the code over time to run different synths. It was not an original idea; one of the first synths I ever owned was a Nord Micro Modular. I also want to give credit to the Z-DSP for being the first module that I saw break this kind of ground in Euro.

My problem was that nothing had the processing power that I wanted. Among other examples, I wanted FFTs galore for spectral processing and high sample rates for non-linear filter designs.

The hardware is nearing completion for sale this year, and with the upcoming Trash Audio meet in Portland next weekend I cannot keep it a secret any longer. Please welcome tbDSP (name pending). It is a new module from Analog Bytes in collaboration with Full Scale Audio. Here is the current prototype without panel graphics.


In addition to housing a boatload of processing power, tbDSP was made for flexibility with all audio and control signals. All 8 inputs and 6 outputs are DC coupled with up to a 192k sample rate on every channel. The inputs and outputs are just as comfortable with audio as CV.

The module is always running an engine that processes or generates audio or CV (or both!). Changing the current engine is only a few button presses. There are several engines planned for when the module first goes on sale, and more engines will trickle out over time. Each new engine will be part of the latest code update available on the Analog Bytes website. Updates happen through the front panel USB port using a Windows/Mac application.

For more information and ongoing news, please check out the tbDSP tumblr:

Comments on the blog are closed to keep it simple, but I am eager to hear feedback/comments/slamming in this thread. There is also contact information in the tbDSP tumblr.

Please keep in mind that although the hardware is almost done, tbDSP is still very much in beta right now. The graphics are subject to change, as are the engines. I have big plans for the engines I want to create, but I am trying not to overpromise with specific details right now. The first official engine is POKE: a recreation of old Atari sound generation hardware on steroids.

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Post by thelizard » Sun May 18, 2014 11:48 pm

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! This is right up my alley.

What language are you using for interface and DSP? Will users be able to create their own "engines" after release?

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Post by Adamalthus » Sun May 18, 2014 11:50 pm

Totally freak'n awesome! :hail: one might even say a 'Game changer' for euro land.

Are you going to provide an integrated tool chain for native programming duties or will we need to use the standard tool chains for each of the individual processors? Any higher level - abstracted - programming possibilities?

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Post by smonkey » Sun May 18, 2014 11:53 pm

does it come with lasers?

no...but seriously....coolio....

what's under the hood?

wait...edit...I went to the tumblr and what do I find...
sexy sexy FPGA.....
oh how I love sexy sexy fpgas
with their sexy sexy field programableness.....gating.

looks to be awseome

/snip from the tumblr

tbDSP features three chips that share the processing duties:

Altera FPGA - graphics, SD, and audio processing
Analog Devices SHARC - floating point audio processing, FFTs
Microchip PIC32 - USB, Firmware Update, and housekeeping

The FPGA processes audio at sampling rates as fast as 98MHz, and the SHARC can compute over 24,000 1024-point FFTs per second.
Last edited by smonkey on Sun May 18, 2014 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Matos » Sun May 18, 2014 11:55 pm

Very excited. Can't wait to see how this develops. Looking forward to videos from the meet!

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Post by Adamalthus » Sun May 18, 2014 11:57 pm

smonkey wrote:does it come with lasers?

no...but seriously....coolio....

what's under the hood?
According to the Tumblr info: An Altera FPGA, SHARC and Pic32!! Looks like all bases are covered :yay:

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Post by akrylik » Mon May 19, 2014 12:15 am

Wow :eek: Great work!
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This must guzzle a lot of power, 500mA?

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Post by moog man » Mon May 19, 2014 12:43 am

that looks exquisite

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Post by adolfgottmann » Mon May 19, 2014 1:01 am

Wow, good news indeed
Looking forward to a list of engines
multi op fm synthesis? Vc filterbank? What? What?
Last edited by adolfgottmann on Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by celestial tomes » Mon May 19, 2014 1:45 am


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Post by AUDJAG666 » Mon May 19, 2014 1:47 am

The video of the screen in action looks amazing

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Post by causticlogic » Mon May 19, 2014 1:53 am


And make more than ~25 this time! :hihi:
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Post by READYdot » Mon May 19, 2014 2:27 am

I'm all in! This is brilliant stuff. Pre-Order?

IMHO (maybe completely mistaken):
Someone said this is a gamechanger. Well it sure is somewhat unique in the modular world, but I don't see it as a gamechanger because a lot of modules do have the possibility to be more things at once. This surely changes things though in regards of horsepower.

We do have Ardcore, ZDSP, Braids, Nebulae, etc. that allow people to program their own programs. But what I have observed IMHO is that there are only a few people on these platforms that dig into the code and come up with something awesome. So in the case of this tbDSP it is in my opinion entirely up to Analgue Bytes to keep the platform alive with very few others that code for it... So we have to see what engines come up. The POKE one already being cool, but not THAT spectacular...
Still the potential is mindboggling!!

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Post by ben_hex » Mon May 19, 2014 3:17 am

This looks ace! Eagerly waiting more information! :) well done mate.
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Post by ipassenger » Mon May 19, 2014 3:17 am


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Post by Daisuk » Mon May 19, 2014 3:38 am

Very interesting! :) And a great avatar you have, I might add. Best guy in the game. ;)

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Post by didahdrieghe » Mon May 19, 2014 3:56 am

So... how much do I need to save up for this?

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Post by djthopa » Mon May 19, 2014 4:05 am

looking great!

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Post by drxcm » Mon May 19, 2014 4:44 am

:omg: :yay: :hail:

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Post by KONTAKT1968 » Mon May 19, 2014 4:48 am

Looks very interesting also looks expensive...demos please!

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Post by vurma » Mon May 19, 2014 7:10 am

If i can program my own firmware for it, im in.
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Post by jonne74 » Mon May 19, 2014 8:47 am

Wow, looks sweet!

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Post by Richard Devine » Mon May 19, 2014 9:24 am

Wow, this looks absolutely amazing! I can't wait to see this in person. :hyper:

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Post by Stinktier86 » Mon May 19, 2014 9:50 am

Time for some physical models! Like, a 12-dimensional acoustic body simulator or something. :omg:

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Post by soundwave106 » Mon May 19, 2014 11:27 am

READYdot wrote:We do have Ardcore, ZDSP, Braids, Nebulae, etc. that allow people to program their own programs. But what I have observed IMHO is that there are only a few people on these platforms that dig into the code and come up with something awesome.
There are some limitations with these platforms, to be honest:

(*) Z-DSP is programmable only in Spin assembly which, er, is kind of a rough thing to get your head around.

(*) Re-flashable open source modules like the Mutable Instruments stuff with your own C code is possible. But the interface is designed around the functionality in the built in OS, and reflashing is not a trivial process.

(*) The Ardcore design is the best so far for casually playing with code. Create code (which is fairly straightforward kind-of-C-like stuff), upload via USB, done. Lots of good sample source with good comments. Too bad that the power is extremely limited, not only in speed but in other ways. For instance, a 16x16 int array was enough to eat up the device's variable memory :deadbanana: (I'm too used to modern computers...) Also, the I/O is rather limited (the expander does not solve that problem that much since some of the functions are linked to each other). So the "awesome" potential is a bit limited.

This device looks rather cool. It certainly has very nice I/O and good potential with the interface. As far as user programming goes, that will be, er, interesting. I've heard FPGAs are not the easiest things to program... still, it would be awesome if somehow this module can make it easy to program our own "engine", though, so hopefully we hear some nice details in that regard. :)
Last edited by soundwave106 on Mon May 19, 2014 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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