Open hardware for musicians and music lovers: Headphone, amps, and more

Open hardware for musicians and music lovers: Headphone, amps, and more

From 3D-printed instruments to devices that pull sound out of the air, there are plenty of ways to create music with open hardware projects.

Music in an infinite loop.
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The world is full of great open source music players, but why stop at using open source just to play music? You can also use open source hardware to make music. All of the instruments described in this article are certified by the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA). That means you are free to build upon them, remix them, or do anything else with them.

Open source instruments

Instruments are always a good place to start when you want to make music. If your instrument choices lean towards the more traditional, the F-F-Fiddle may be the one for you.

The F-F-Fiddle is a full-sized electric violin that you can make with a standard desktop 3D printer (fused filament fabrication—get it?). If you need to see it to believe it, here is a video of the F-F-Fiddle in action:

Mastered the fiddle and interested in something a bit more exotic? How about the Open Theremin?

Like all theremins, Open Theremin lets you play music without touching the instrument. It is, of course, especially good at making creepy space sounds for your next sci-fi video or space-themed party.

The Waft operates similarly by allowing you to control sounds remotely. It uses Lidar to measure the distance of your hand from the sensor. Check it out:

Is the Waft a theremin? I'm not sure—theremin pedants should weigh in below in the comments.

If theremins are too well-known for you, SIGNUM may be just what you are looking for. In the words of its developers, SIGNUM "uncovers the encrypted codes of information and the language of man/machine communication" by turning invisible wireless communications into audible signals.

Here is in action:

Inputs

Regardless of what instrument you use, you will need to plug it into something. If you want that something to be a Raspberry Pi, try the AudioSense-Pi, which allows you to connect multiple inputs and outputs to your Pi at once.

Synths

What about synthesizers? SparkFun's SparkPunk Sound Kit is a simple synth that gives you lots of room to play.

Headphones

Making all this music is great, but you also need to think about how you will listen to it. Fortunately, EQ-1 headphones are open source and 3D-printable.

Are you making music with open source hardware? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Michael Weinberg
Michael Weinberg - Board President of Open Source Hardware Association, Executive Director of NYU Law's Engelberg Center for Innovation Law and Policy, maker of poorly made things.