informational miscellanea

about hubris

Hubris sound Devices are made for making drone music. They are bare bones and designed to be as simple as possible while remaining intuitively playable. They include no fancy shit like arduinos, or MIDI, or sequencers or clock-synching, or 1V/8va. Just on/off, loud/quiet, high/low, distorted/clean.

Each unit works after its own fashion, but they all produce sound by allowing multiple oscillators to interact in some way. This results in complex, aurally interesting tones full of harmonics and beat frequencies that transcend what the individual voices could have produced on their own.

I started designing these machines because years of trying to make music with computers left me feeling impotent and alienated from music-making and ultimately from myself as a musician. In the end I realized that the only way to make things that don’t sound like a computer is to not use a computer. Everything you will find on this site was designed by hand, with pen and paper, and endless hours of diy tinkering and trial and error. Every unit is built by hand into jewelry boxes and cookie tins found in real-life, offline thrift stores. You will find no taiwanese green silicon pcb boards or assembly-line-identical aluminum boxes. I try to use salvaged parts where it makes sense, and I use new, high quality components where it matters.

All of this means that every Hubris Device is unique. Using salvaged parts alongside new components with wide tolerances introduces an element of unpredictability with the result that no two modules built to the same schematic will ever sound exactly the same in reality. For me, this helps fulfill my need for an abstract philosophical justification for constructing strange contraptions that make weirdshit noises, and for you, you can know that the sounds you make with your Hubris are yours.

The same is true of the cases they come in: I want each Device I make to look as unique as it sounds. Yes, they are sound generators first and foremost, but I want you to want to look at it as much as to make noises with it. All of the technology that runs our lives is hidden away behind slick aluminum cases and glossy screens that are deliberately intended to keep the man behind the curtain hidden from view. For myself, I find that this disconnects me from the music I am making and ultimately leaves me feeling like ProTools or Ableton is making all of the decisions for me. So I try to design the Devices so that the object you take in your hands is as real and solid and tangible as the music you want to make with it.

I am also very into collaborating to make custom instruments, or modify existing models/schematics on the site, so if you have any requests, please have a look at the custom devices page and drop me a line using the contact form at the bottom.


All of the prices on this site are in Canadian dollars, and do not include shipping or taxes.

product numbering

The reason each item has in most cases multiple listings and why each of them is numbered is that Hubris Devices are not mass-produced. Each Device is unique; meaning that each has its own characteristics and quirks – but it also means that I can’t list the platonic Goliath and sell them off-the-rack like a generic synth or guitar pedal.

So, the store is designed such that you can see and hear what you’re getting, and actively choose the model you like best (if more than one is available). The store runs on a sell-one, build-one basis, so the stock is continually changing as units are built and sold. I generally try to keep at least 2 of each Device in stock, but things slip sometimes. If one of the Devices you would like to have isn’t currently available, feel free to contact me and I’ll whip one up for you. You can see the full lineup on the hubris devices page.

point-to-point soldering

For the most part, I don’t build circuits on perf board (icky), strip-board (ickier), or printed pcbs (ickiest). I use salvaged wood, brass nails, paperclips and wire. This is partly to prove the point that interesting sound-making objects sound better and are more stimulating overall when they don’t look like they were shit out of a computer factory.

It’s also partly because I take a lot of inspiration from instrument makers and compositional weirdos like Harry Partch, John Cage, and Eliane Radigue. I could jabber out a litany of other highly rational sounding philosophical justifications, but in truth, it’s mostly because I love how nutty it looks opening up an old jewelry box and finding a mess of wires and exposed components inside.

i can see it’s bits

Yes, you can, and yes, they are perfectly safe. All of the Hubris Devices deliberately run on the same “wall-wart” power adapters you would use for a guitar pedal. This means that all of the Devices run at low voltages (+9v DC or less) and low currents (tens of milliamps at most). Try licking a 9-volt battery if you’d like to know how totally not dangerous that level of current and voltage is.

Designers hide their components away inside pretty boxes to protect them from you, not you from them. While I highly recommend neither licking, nor pouring liquids onto the circuitry, nor dropping large, heavy objects into the belly of your Hubris Device, I see no reason to disconnect you from the circuit that is making your music, other than blind adherence to convention and superstition. As you can tell by the way I build things, I am not particularly fond of either of those things.

wait, because i don’t use prefab circuit boards, i can build and tweak and modify as i like, does that mean i can build you a custom drone machine or other hubris device?

Yes. Have a look at the custom devices page.