The year is 1976: A small team of engineers from Texas Instruments set out to develop an educational toy that talks to children. Unfortunately, memory chips are far too expensive to allow the use of audio samples. So, the clever inventors quickly develop a synthesis chip that can generate letters, numbers, words and sentences with a dry robot accent. Two years later the first Speak & Spell comes onto the market. The toy is a huge success. Even E.T. the extraterrestrial tries to call home with it. Numerous revisions and varieties followed with updated versions of the speech chip.
The TMS5220, which is simulated by Emy, is a rather late LPC version. It was used in several classic ATARI arcade games and pinball machines, for example. Vocabulary and editing possibilities were still *um* limited, though. With Emy, things are different. Using a SD card, the module can be fed with LPC text files, which are then “read out loud” with a scratchy voice. Three playback modes are available:
- Speech: The selected word or sentence is read aloud completely as soon as a signal is detected at the Gate input.
- Repeat: Same as Speech, but Emy will stop reading as soon as the gate signal isn’t present anymore.
- VCO: The module’s voice is looped as long as a gate signal is present.
Emy comes equipped with six knobs and CV inputs to control the following parameters:
Sound: Allows you to select letters, numbers, words and sentences. – For complete chaos, please apply a random CV voltage here.
- Rate: Lowers the sample rate to create more scratchy sound.
- Stretch: Do you want Emy to read to you rather fast or slowly?
- Bend: Usable to create glitches reminiscent of Circuit Bending.
- Pitch: Add some growl to Emy’s voice.
- Energy: Do you like harsh distortion?
The Busy output emits a gate signal each time Emy is speaking.
Gate input, audio output
Sound, Rate, Stretch, Bend, Pitch and Energy CV inputs
Busy gate output
3U Eurorack module, 16 HP wide, compatible with Skiff cases
Power consumption: 60 mA at +12 V and 18 mA at -12 V