If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about when I mention the PocketCHIP that’s fine. CHIP was kickstarted in June of last year, and units started getting to backers a few months ago. One of the builds of CHIP was the PocketCHIP which you can see above with the nice round silver buttons on it. In the picture, the PocketCHIP is running Phase.
New platforms are important, and what signalled to me that PocketCHIP was going to be potentially noteworthy was that it shipped with an app that we all know and love, SunVox, and it runs very well on this device too. Since then there have been quite a few moves to port existing apps to PocketCHIP. In the main these have been older bits of software like MilkyTracker, PicoLoop etc. People are even trying to get Pd running on the PocketCHIP, which could be fun. But, as far as I’m aware, nothing new (I could be wrong there of course).
That is, nothing new until now. Phase is the first new music app for the PocketCHIP as is from one of my favourite developers Erik Sigth who has brought us amazing apps on iOS like nils, frekvens, shapeSynth and strng. Erik has also moved into Android as well, but as far as I know this is the first thing he’s produced for PocketCHIP, and it’s very much up to his normal high standards.
So what is Phase?
Well you can read about it on Erik’s site, but in a nutshell:
“Phase is a phase distortion synthesizer written for the pocket chip. It has two individually tuned oscillators with controls for ring modulation, adsr, 4 – 32 point phase distortion, 8 point pitch adsr and distortion adsr. Further shape the sound with a stereo delay, phaser and chorus. Play the three playmodes: 4 voice polyphonic, monophonic or arpeggio with the pocket chip keyboard or by plugging in a usb midi device. “
It’s probably easier to see it though:
Whilst a device like PocketCHIP is never going to be as polished as an iOS device it does have one big advantage, and this is that it’s open. Being open means that it will hopefully see a lot more experimental apps arrive for it that we wouldn’t see elsewhere.
I hope that more developers start to experiment with PocketCHIP and that we see more high quality apps like Phase arrive that open up the hardware to a different group of musicians. Who knows, I may even have a go myself!
My personal view is that more hardware platforms give us more choice and a wider range of creative possibilities, and that can only be a good thing. PocketCHIP isn’t the only option of course, but given its highly portable nature it feels like a good fit and a useful way to step out of the mainstream app economy to play with something that’s a bit different.
I hope that PocketCHIP has a musical future. I’ll be watching it closely, and I’ll let you know how it unfolds.