Sometimes all you want is a small, uncomplicated synth to knock out a lead or bass line, or to bolster another synth. That’s where the inexpensive and portable MeeBlip Anode comes in. As an open-source digital synth with a resonant analog filter, it offers plenty of MIDI assignable controls, whether you use the preloaded instrument or roll one of your own.
The 4"-square, 7.5oz. Anode has a 3.5mm stereo output that works fine with headphones but requires a Y-cable if you’re going into a mixer (e.g., 3.5mm TRS to a pair of 1/4" TS plugs). The only other connections are the power input (AC adapter included) and a 5-pin MIDI In port (unfortunately, no USB).
The included synth features two 8-bit pulse-wave oscillators with a range of six octaves. You can alter the duty cycle of one or both oscillators, detune the second oscillator as much as eight semitones in either direction, and drop it an octave. The 2-stage envelope generator includes switchable Sustain.
The analog filter has lowpass characteristics and is at its most colorful when the Rez control (the only knob not MIDI mappable) is in the higher settings. Use MIDI to control the synth’s other features, as well as portamento and envelope amount over the filter. Velocity controls filter cutoff by default, though the LFO can be routed to filter cutoff or oscillator pitch.
MeeBlip Anode includes alternative firmware that provides 16 wavetables (two banks of 8 wavetables each). Use the Sweep knob to select a bank, and Width to load a wavetable. A variety of sawtooth, FM, voice, distorted, and granular sounds are included, and all are musically satisfying, especially when you crank up the Rez knob or sweep across the wavetables as a sequence plays. To load the wavetable synth, hold down the MIDI Set button on startup. To change back, restart without pressing the button.
Overall, the Anode sounds really good; both instruments have plenty of attitude and personality on their own, yet they can be tamed enough to blend with other synths. It’s a useful and fun synth that’s hard to resist.