Physical Equalizer Gamifies Audio Mixing

Arduino Music
Physical Equalizer Gamifies Audio Mixing
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How do you turn the task of mixing a dance loop into a participatory activity? With the Physical Equalizer, that’s how. Spawned by ITP students Anne-Marie Lavigne and Sarah Rothberg, the Physical Equalizer is built upon a set of homemade flex sensors. When blocks are stacked on top of them, the volume of different instruments in the loop changes.
This allows multiple users to cooperatively change the mix of the track being played. As seen in the video, students had a lot of fun stacking blocks up, knocking them over, building up the beat, and breaking it down.
The flex sensors consist of copper fabric, conductive thread, and resistive fabric all sandwiched together. As the weight upon them increases, the resistance decreases. These values are sent to six Arduino analog inputs in a very simple circuit, using only 10k pull-down resistors as additional components. The values are sent to MAX/MSP, and then Ableton where the volume is manipulated. The music track used was composed by Yotam Mann.

10 thoughts on “Physical Equalizer Gamifies Audio Mixing


    […] MAKE blogged the physical equalizer. How exciting! Thanks, MAKE! […]

  2. Lacer says:

    I don’t believe that this is an appropriate use of the word gamify. Usually gamification involves some type of goal, achievement feedback, or metering of progress in order to reinforce behavior.[1] This is more of a unique interface based on the breeding of kids toys and bank of faders. Still interesting but not in any way making it a “game” in the formal sense of the gamification movement.

    [1] Gamification – Techniques:

    1. Michael Colombo says:

      I beg to differ. From Wikipedia: “Gamification is the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts in order to engage users and solve problems.” – This is certainly a non-game context and engages users. One of the game mechanics mentioned on the site you linked to is Community Collaboration, which I think this project utilizes to engage users in the music-making process.

  3. Jason Tardy (of AudioBody) says:

    This reminds me of our “RAIN” project where we used juggling balls on top of pistons to push down keyboard keys to mute and unmute tracks of a song. We have a newer version that uses servos and an ardunio too..
    We also use ableton and have been toying with getting into MAX/MSP. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. rugga says:

    I like those 9:16 aspect ratio videos. Just flip your monitor by 90° and enjoy it in full screen.

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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