LittleBits and Korg team up on Synth Kit modular DIY instrument, we go hands-on

Here's a pro tip: if you want to make this editor smile, hand me something that makes a bunch of noise. There are few things more satisfying than pressing some buttons and turning a few knobs to generate an avalanche of digital sound. And if what makes that noise is something you built yourself, all the better. LittleBits has been encouraging kids (and childish adults) to build their own electronic doodads and projects for some time now. And some of those creations even had the capability to make noise. But, the new Synth Kit released in collaboration with Korg is dedicated to DIY audio cacophony. Inside the gold and black packaging is a pile of snap-together components that will let you build the analog synthesizer of your dreams... so long as your dreams is a simplified MS-20. The box holds a pair of oscillators, envelope and filter units, a keyboard, a four-step sequencer, a random noise generator, a two-channel mixer (and a splitter so you can create two independent audio sources), a delay effect and, of course, a power source and a speaker. It's more or less a deconstructed version of Korg's clasic MS-20. Just like previous Little Bits kits, all the pieces are color coded: blue for power, pink for input, green for output and orange for wires. Each component has magnets on either side that snap together only in one direction, preventing you from assembling a circuit in the wrong way and potentially damaging the components.

While the number of parts is fairly limited, they're all pretty flexible. The keyboard, for instance has two modes (hold and press), as does the noise generator and the sequencer. Even the oscillators can be switched between square and saw waves. That means those 12 bits in the box can actually generate quite a wide variety of sounds, from deep bass rattles and percussive ticks to swooping synth dives and arpeggiated leads. It's quite simple to get started designing your own instruments, and you'll probably even learn a bit about synthesizer design along the way. Of course, you can combine it with other LittleBits kits and add light sensors or displays to your homebrewed synth.

Founder Ayah Bdeir likes to claim that it's the easiest to use modular synthesizer with this sort of power. And she's probably right. While nobody is going to mistake you for the next Daft Punk, you can still create an impressive set of sounds. Some of which might even prove usable in actual music.