This Arduino-powered vocal effects box pitch shifts and distorts incoming audio signals to produce a wide variety of vocal effects. This project is my first experiment with real-time digital signal processing using Arduino. It samples an incoming microphone signal at a rate of about 40kHz, manipulates the audio digitally, and then outputs 8 bit audio at 40kHz. To minimize the amount of computation required by the Arduino, I used a technique called granular synthesis to manipulate the incoming audio signal. Essentially, as audio comes into the Arduino it gets cut up and stored as small (millisecond or microsecond sized) samples called “grains.” These grains are then individually manipulated and played back; they may be lengthened or shortened, stretched or compressed, played back in reverse, copied several times, or mixed with other grains. You can hear a (somewhat creepy) audio sample from the effects box below:
Granular synthesis creates a unique type of distortion caused by discontinuities between individual grains in the outgoing signal. Sometimes this distortion creates an effect I can only describe as a “ripping” sound, other times it introduces new frequencies into the audio that were not present before. Here is an example by Aphex Twin, the granular synthesis is especially prominent in the bridge at around 3min in. Another example of granular synthesis, this time applied to vocals for pitch shifting and textural effects, is from Paul Lansky. My favorite thing to do with this effects box is to use subtle pitch shifting to achieve an androgynous vocal sound, I got the idea for the project after listening to copious amounts of Fever Ray this past winter, you can hear how she pitch shifts her voice to sound somewhat masculine at times.
Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.