DIY Digital synthesis, anyone?

Doug Wellington doug at
Wed Oct 30 03:01:19 CET 1996

>Has anyone on this list attempted a digital synth of their own
>contruction? I'd like to, since it makes the electronic work finite (I
>envisage running the software portion on a fast 486 PC under DOS or
>Linux) while the complexity of the synth is in software. The actual
>sound generation would be by an external A/D convertor, attached to one
>of the IO ports (would a parallel port be fast enough?)

I've been messing around with this kind of stuff for a while.  Building
digital synth stuff is basically like building a soundcard for your PC,
so you may find it easier to get a ready made soundcard that you can
program yourself.  The easiest thing for me was to get a copy of csound
and generate sound files that can be played back via a sound card (I have
an Gravis Ultrasound) or sampler (I also have a Peavey SP).

Another approach is through programming DSP chips.  There are four big
DSP chip makers (that I know of)...  Motorola has a new chip (56007?)
that has some audio algorithms built in.  You can get "prototype"
boards with the DSP and various analog and digital I/O ports from the
different manufacturers.  I think Motorola's is about $300 and I seem
to remember Analog Devices making something available for less than

The other two manufacturers that I know of are AT&T and Texas Instruments.
Lots of people swear that the TI stuff is the best, but Motorola seems
to have a larger part of the market with the 56k series...

My info may be a litte dated, as the last time I scoped out the chip
makers was over a year ago...


Doug Wellington
doug at
System and Network Administrator
US Geological Survey, Tucson, AZ Project Office

According to proposed Federal guidelines, this message is a "non-record".
Hmm, I wonder if _everything_ I say is a "non-record"...?

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