Arduino Music
Physical Equalizer Gamifies Audio Mixing

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.


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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