This instrument's sound engine works like a granular sampler, however instead of manipulating bits and pieces from a sampled sound, it uses mathematically generated "bytebeat". A very interesting thing on its own, a kind of fractal where complex structures emerge from a very simple formula. T-ape allows you to hear it, browse, zoom, cut and mangle its most interesting pieces and arrange them into sequences, arpeggios or just play directly using eight touch-sensitive keys. There are two light sensors too, adding a kind of Theremin-like functionality.
T-APE does not know frequencies, scales or octaves; however it can be mimicked by carefully tuning each grain. There are 8 touch sensitive keys so a typical scale can be constructed. To each key you can assign a selected slice of the bytebeat with all its parameters tuned using rotary encoders to where it sounds the way you want.
Arpeggiator and sequencer work with octaves to some degree in the sense that they can divide and multiply grain lengths which, at least for short grains, gives result similar to pitch shifting; the illusion of octaves breaks down at 3rd multiplication, which produces major fifth. The 4th multiplication is 2nd octave, but the 5th multiplication shifts the perceived note by a major third. Higher up the intervals progressively get out of tune.
There is tempo adjustment option but no external sync signal. Tempo parameter is stored within a patch, because sequences or arpeggio settings are part of the patch as well (so you do not need to adjust tempo when switching between patches). Light sensors can be calibrated to compensate for ambient light levels, this calibration data is stored among the patch parameters too. The only parameter that is not part of the patch is volume level.
T-APE comes with a few pre-programmed demo patches (most of which you can see in the videos below. There is space for total of 64 patches (8 banks selectable by rotary encoder and indicated by orange LED, then press one of the keys to select patch from the bank). In addition, each patch can contain 8 sequences (each up to 64 steps). You can modify and overwrite the demo patches and there is a "factory reset" command, which restores everything to defaults.
The sells for €69 / $82 USD and is shipping now. Read more about Phonicboom MMXX T-APE Synthesizer and how to order at phonicbloom.com