Aurora – OSEC #3



The Aurora is an open source midi mixer with built in audio reactive lights created by Matt Aldrich, Mike Garbus and Maro Sciacchitano. The mixer is designed to integrate with an existing midi based sequencer and to allow the user to interact with audio using a physical controller, bringing a physical element to electronic music performance. The Aurora doesn’t actually mix the audio signals instead its a midi controller packaged in mixer to provide a physical interface for digitally controlling music, creating a more tangible experience for both the performer and audience.

The controller

Fed up with the current trend of controller that try to do everything one of the goals for the designers was to create a controller that was exclusively designed as a mixer. This has translated to a device that is beautifully simple and works well at what it is made for. The controller has a neat form modeled on a typical mixer, there are two vertical faders and a crossfader along with 8 backlit buttons and 24 backlit knobs. Allowing DJ’s to move from analogue to digital while still maintaining the same physical manipulations and minimising the learning curve.

A major advantage of this controller over the typical analogue mixer is that everything is programable. This allows for flexibility of use as the controls can be mapped differently and the user is free to adapt the controller to suit their own needs. The mixer also has audio reactive lighting which pulses and changes along with the music. This was added to allow the mixer to be used as an entertainment system in a box. It does kind of take away from the simplicity of the device, but it definitely makes it look prettier in the dark. Here’s a video of the Aurora in action.

The build

The creators originally intended to sell kits of the Aurora so electronic music enthusiasts could build their own. Unfortunately, this never got off the ground as not enough orders were placed for an initial production run. As a result the project doesn’t have the same support as other open source  communities. There’s a forum on the Aurora site, but the amount of activity on it is minimal so if you do plan to embark to build an Aurora you’ll be largely on your own. The site does provide  information on building the mixer and the files section  covers all the information needed to build one for yourself.

Due to the complexity of the controller and the fact that there isn’t a community around the device this project is probably only for someone who is very confortable in their electronics abilities.  It requires much more from you than just assembling the components and as there are no kits some time will have to be spent sourcing all the parts. All the plans and code are available on the website though so if you’re looking for a challenge this could be the project for you.

To sum up

In the same vein as the original midi keyboard the Aurora has taken an analogue way of working with music and made it digital. The controller is a digital version of a DJ mixer which provides a physical controller for laptop DJs looking to bring more performance to their sets. From a build perspective though the project is very adventurous, much more so than the Arduinome. Due largely to the lack of a community surrounding the project and the fact that the hardware isn’t as readily available. This would be an interesting project to take on for a laptop DJ looking to bring more performance into their set, but it lack of community and having to source the parts will make it unaccessible for most.