The NES-inspired synth is described as “the ultimate pixel art instrument.”

The dream of generating your own 80s video game-inspired music and visuals could be a reality: boutique company Special Stage Systems has launched a Kickstarter for a synth that does exactly that.

The Ming Micro is a portable 8-bit video synth described as “the ultimate pixel art instrument,” allowing you to generate chiptune sounds and NES-like video from a small circuit board. It’s the younger sibling of Ming Mecca, a voltage-controlled video game console for modular synths.

There are four main elements to the Ming Micro’s graphics engine: sprites, tiles, tile maps and palettes, all reminiscent of characters and environments from video gaming’s golden age. They’re controlled with a MIDI controller, and an SD card slot lets you swap the visuals.


To make the experience as authentic as possible, the Ming Micro outputs the same an NTSC composite video signal used by the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System. Special Stage Systems claims the synth has “a natural softness and a variety of subtle analog artifacts” as a result.

If you don’t need the video it also works as a standalone audio synth, complete with a built-in chip capable of making exactly the kind of digital sounds you’d hear as you fell your death during a round of Mega Man 2.

Unfortunately the Ming Micro’s authenticity comes at a cost: while it connects to your computer over USB and comes with a standard MIDI connector, you’ll need an old CRT television set or composite-equipped LCD monitors or projector to view the video signal.

The Ming Micro has already reached its target of $10,000 on Kickstarter, but it’s still accepting new backers. It’ll set you back $175 for a DIY kit, and $200 for an assembled model.

Read next: The 13 best affordable, pocket-sized, hackable, off-the-wall synthesizers



Share Tweet