Sunday, July 21, 2024

Polyend Presents Play Sample-Based Groovebox and Sequencer

Forever focused on unveiling new possibilities in music for creative musicians, Polyend proudly presents Play as its latest product to definitively do that — thanks to its open sandbox approach to playing, performing, and sequencing quite possibly making for the most fun sample- and MIDI-based groovebox ever, enabling endless possibilities for fingertip-accessible beats by offering over 30 top sound designer-created sample kits to play with straight out of the box, creatively combined with eight audio tracks and eight polyphonic MIDI tracks for flexible sequencing and control over outboard devices to act as a compact centerpiece of any studio or stage setup, far from the restrictive realms of an average sample-based groovebox — as of May 12…

Play (partly) gives its groundbreaking game away by name alone. At first glance it looks superficially similar to Polyend’s previous product release — Tracker ( effectively extracted the best bits of yesteryear’s tricky tracker software classics and rebooted them with forward-looking functionality as the world’s first hardware tracker, deftly designed as an easy-to-use compact standalone workstation with immediacy and simplicity at its creative core — with which it shares the same (282 mm/11”: W x 207 mm/8”: D x 45 mm/1.8”: H) footprint and focus (unveiling new possibilities in music for creative musicians), yet Polyend positions Play as quite possibly being the most fun, flexible, and inspirational sample- and MIDI-based groovebox yet created, complete with over 3,000 samples and eight tracks of audio sequencing so users can create beats straight out of the box and make them their own with a wide variety of playback tools and effects.

Entering Play Mode makes it easy to pick a sample — simply use the Sample knob to browse through samples in the project’s sample pool, then double-tap that knob (for Folder) or use the dedicated screen buttons to toggle between Sample and Sample folder — and place it anywhere on the 16×8 step sequencing grid that dominates Play’s easy-to-follow faceplate to start building tracks. Thanks to Play’s positioning of familiar sample-based controls (such as Sample Start, Sample End, Sample Attack, and Sample Decay) well within reach, it is equally easy to independently adjust step parameters, as well as providing ownership of each track courtesy of that Play Mode (numbering no fewer than 35 custom choices), a Chance and Action combo (to set up some automated actions, with the former being an algorithmic or percentage-based probability of the latter), Randomize (to choose what and how much, whereby one knob can make a lot of changes at once), and Step Repeater (capable of making short stutters, pitch effects, volume fades, and more). If inspiration fails to strike straight away, a smart Fill tool is also at hand to automatically fill any area chosen with an entire beat, a random placement of steps, or even a Euclidean spread. Simple Select, Copy, and Paste controls make moving data — steps, tracks, track pages, variations — around a breeze. But why not keep it musical with scale filtering forcing Play to input and output only notes that fit the selected scale. Seriously impressive as all of that already is, it’s far from game over of course!

Play’s Perform mode makes non-destructive changes to tracks via performance effects including Filter Cutoff, Resonance, Microtune, Overdrive, and much more, while an array of — delay, limiter, reverb, saturator, and sound enhancer — Master FX are managed with a bunch of professionally presented presets to spice up entire mixes. It is perfectly possible to live record automation (using the onscreen Live Rec button) or change individual step values on the fly, as well as record monophonic or polyphonic MIDI data (using the Note knob, the View controller function, or an external controller). Customizable chaining of Patterns permit mapping out entire sequences anywhere on the grid for live performance, while it is possible to Save and Reset patterns — perfect for getting out of a tight spot, musically, if things end up going awry during a live performance.

It is already apparent that Play is far from the restrictive realms of an average sample-based groovebox, but its standout sequencing abilities are surely second to none with eight internal audio tracks and eight individual polyphonic MIDI tracks combining for powerful integration with external instruments. Indeed, there are 30,000 track variations available, thanks to 128 Patterns holding 16 tracks, with up to 16 variations in each individual track! Track Length ranges from one to 64 steps, while each track can also benefit from different BPM-related Tempo, and even Swing values, as well as various types of playback, so letting loose with pain-free polymeters and polyrhythms is also perfectly possible! Polyend’s Play also makes it easy to control external synths and drum machines on individual tracks with the ability to output a separate set of MIDI values per track — not forgetting flexible MIDI CC mapping per track for its individual rotary knobs, so users can connect an external controller for MIDI note input. It is possible to output chords, arpeggios, program and bank changes, pitch bend, clock, and much more.

Polyend’s Play is built around a sturdy anodized aluminum faceplate featuring a split-screen high-resolution display with 15 durable touch-capacitive knobs (that can be tapped once to select and preview a parameter or twice to switch between upper and lower screen values) alongside high-quality mechanical keys and silicone pads (powering that 16×8 sequencing grid and an associated 4×8 control grid with flexible — Mute, Solo, Variation, and Select — functionality). Meanwhile, MIDI Out and MIDI In are available via 3.5 mm mini-jacks — mini-jack to MIDI DIN (Type B) adapter included — on its slimline back panel alongside a 3.5 mm mini-jack stereo Out(put), plus a Micro SD slot — 16GB card with microSD to USB-A adapter included — with (5V/1A) Power provided over a USB-C connection that is easily powered by a portable power bank, computer, or included wall adapter.

Those 3,000 carefully curated samples shipping with Play should seriously satisfy anyone wishing to play, perform, and sequence with it. And although its internal engine works with uncompressed 16-bit mono PCM Wave files with different sample rates, Play can import WAV files in any sample rate — 16-, 24-, or 32-bit, mono or stereo — and automatically convert them to the supported format, which will then be turned into a monophonic mixdown of both the left and right stereo sample channels. It is worth noting here that the overall per-project sample pool memory is six minutes of monophonic 16-bit/44.1 kHz sample files, yet halving the sample rate will double the sample pool capacity since Play can clearly work with different sample rates with the greatest of ease.

Everything plays nicely together, then, to make Play possibly the most fun, flexible, and inspirational sample- and MIDI-based groovebox ever, enabling endless possibilities for fingertip-accessible beats as a compact centerpiece of any studio or stage setup. Far from the restrictive realms of an average sample-based groovebox, its open sandbox approach definitely does Polyend proud, pushing on with winning while focusing on unveiling new possibilities in music for creative musicians as another groundbreaking game changer in the making.

Play is available to preorder through Polyend’s growing global network of authorised dealers ( at an MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of €799.00 EUR/$799.00 USD or directly via its dedicated webpage (which includes more in-depth information) here:

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