Tech

Polyend’s Play is an elegantly designed template-based slot box


Polyend’s It’s a fascinating device. It’s not for everyone, but it’s hard to argue with its value and power. This year, the company is taking that same basic format and going in a slightly more familiar direction. Polyend Play is a groove box based on patternbut it removes the annoying tracker workflow (the “t”).

At its core Play is an eight-track sample sequencer, with an additional eight special polyphonic tracks for sending MIDI to an external device. That means it can act as the brains of a full studio or stage setup, while still handling the duties of a drum machine. Like the Tracker, it also features groundbreaking effects for live performances and remixes, as well as a DJ-style master filter.

While the Play tracker sequence was built from the ground up specifically for the device, it retains many of the nifty features like autofill, randomization, and chance that have made Tracker so powerful. Play can hold 128 samples, with each of the 16 songs having 16 variations up to 64 steps long. And tracks can have independent length, BPM, playback mode, and swing count, allowing you to create truly complex interlacing. Plus, it has a song mode to organize all your samples into a complete composition.

Although the layout is completely different, the Play uses the same anodized aluminum construction and seems to use the same interesting keys. The large click wheel is gone and the screen is smaller, but the grid of pads has been expanded from 48 to 160 (if my math is correct).

It comes loaded with 3,000 templates, though you can easily load your own from a microSD card (a 16GB model is included). There are 35 different playback modes available, though Polyend has yet to reveal a full list of those. And there are built-in effects like reverb, delay, and saturation to color your songs. And, like the Tracker, the Play is powered via USB-C so you can plug in a portable battery and play music on the go.

There are still a lot of details we don’t know about Polyend Play, but one of the biggest details is the release date. But whenever it lands (and we expect sooner), it sets you back $799.

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