General MIDI Synth in a 7x7mm Chip (Audition Sound Samples)

I has seen the 10 year old VS1053b DSP chip mainly on boards that play mps and other steam formats. But the programmable DSP makes it versatile, it also can play MIDI files as well as playing real time MIDI.

Making the smallest possible player, perhaps in a fat MIDI plug keychain you could use as a last resort Casio class backup/test instrument, might be an interesting project.

I just recently ran across this thorough article on using the VS1053b in a real time MIDI player setup, operating in a standalone mode.

The Chip has built in:
128 Melodic Instruments (GM1)
87 Percussion Instruments (GM1+GM2)
And some up-loadable enhancements.
It’s maximum polyphony is 64, a maximum sustained polyphony is 40, depending on the instrument selection and DSP load from other processing options like reverb.

Boards using this chip often often have SD cards, one with a microprocessor might be able to use the OGG recording capability to archive a session using a built in mic. (A record to SD Card tutorial)

A Chinese board delivered in 5 weeks for $7.92 from Aliexpress, hobby shops like Adafruit and Sparkfun sell boards using this chip, for about 3X the Aliexpress price.

Briefly browsing the VLSI Solutions site in Finland, I noticed the VS1103, a simplified? chip that also does MIDI.

Guy playing some music on a generic MP3 board patched for MIDI

A run-through of all 128 presets (Can you guess the instruments)

I suddenly became interested in this chip after picking up a “Adafruit music maker feather shield” (51.0mm x 23.0mm) which includes a 3W amp, for 85% off in a local retail store clearance (packaging was becoming unreadable)


I bought some board with this chip some time ago, after I stumbled on this instructable: MIDI Drum Machine : 10 Steps (with Pictures) - Instructables. Didn’t have time to tinker with it yet, but I think it should be quite fun

see also :- the SAM2695

[HackaDay project demo video](Shield with added FM radio module demo Soundboxen on Vimeo) with added FM trandmitter module, note the folded antenna printed on the box.

Sandy Sims @ FreshNelly used the SAM2695 to replace the VS1053 chip, had to engineer her own SMD adapter for the chip’s odd 0.40 mm pin spacing. The drums do sound a lot better in her demo song. (Her others posts might be interesting for euro rack or Player Piano fans)


Fluxamasynth-32 with built in ESP32 which sends serial MIDI to the on board SAM2695 chip. $39.99

Someone’s demo on youtube . . . . . . and a few seconds of “Take Five” on an older Flux

In the race to the bottom of the fidelity spectrum, for a prank, I packaged a 2mm chip with hearing aid batteries inside of an empty looking 1/4" guitar chord plug.
Which plays this Chiptune that a guy crafted with song specific assembly code.