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Kickstarter: Joué Play

Three years ago Joué launched on Kickstarter, and was fairly successful.

The modular MIDI controller seemed fun, but practicality and price detracted from wide adoption among musicians. The developers are back with a new Kickstarter, this time aiming their MIDI controller at non-musicians.

They're pairing the new board with an app that's designed with ease-of-use in mind. I'm honestly not sure how this is supposed to be useful at all to non-musicians, but in the hands of a musician it does seem pretty slick. I enjoyed this demo performance very much!

You can pre-order the Joué Play for $290, and they hope to begin shipping in October 2020. Their last Kickstarter was 6 months late on its delivery goal. Embedded here is their official Kickstarter promo video, which includes the most "fucks" I've ever heard on Kickstarter!

Reader Comments 9

I’m still not keen on buying any hardware that becomes a useless piece of junk if the driver/software stops being developed.
April 29, 2020  | person dysamoria
The fact that they dropped MPE fills me with sadness. With ROLI “transitioning” to the MPE-challenged LUMI, Haken Audio having to jettison products to stay focused, Birdkids adopting a strange approach to MPE, and mainstream incumbents making no move towards polyphonic expression through either MPE or MIDI 2.0, it’s not a very happy time for those of us who care about this type of musicking.
They should first invest in a tripod for their camera. That handheld craziness is driving me insane.

Looks like a cool controller tho, that i can not afford..
April 30, 2020  | person Yak Nepper
If they need a product tester I'd recommend this guy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8pR1rZZHEs

An oldie but goodie. You probably only need to see kid's face and the rest will replay in your mind automagically. Sometimes I got to respect his devil-may-care attitude towards the mere material world, but, then I remember he probably has poor suffering parents. 🤔
April 30, 2020  | person_outline Crowfly
On April 29, 2020 - @Enkerli said:
The fact that they dropped MPE fills me with sadness. With ROLI “transitioning” to the MPE-challenged LUMI, Haken Audio having to jettison products to stay focused, Birdkids adopting a strange approach to MPE, and mainstream incumbents making no move towards polyphonic expression through either MPE or MIDI 2.0, it’s not a very happy time for those of us who care about this type of musicking.
HAVE they “dropped” MPE, or are they just going in for a quick buck on a much much less niche product to make money, especially from beginners who might be more apt to buy “content”...?

Edit: Wait. I’m thinking Roli. Still, might apply here too. Did they actually drop MPE?
On May 02, 2020 - @dysamoria said:
HAVE they “dropped” MPE, or are they just going in for a quick buck on a much much less niche product to make money, especially from beginners who might be more apt to buy “content”...?

Edit: Wait. I’m thinking Roli. Still, might apply here too. Did they actually drop MPE?
So, a bit of an update on the Joué. They disabled MPE on the Play version but it’ll be possible to pay to upgrade the firmware to Pro, which will be MPE. This was rumoured before the campaign and confirmed in comments on the campaign. I acknowledge that I overreacted. I still don’t enjoy their framing of MPE as too complex.
It does sound like the Joué business strategy is about broadening the market, maybe for something similar to ROLI in terms of paid content. Everyone’s doing “soundpacks”, these days.

So, about ROLI… They didn’t abandon MPE. Technically. They’ll likely continue their efforts to make MPE more available, though they have less leverage now that they sold JUCE. They did say in a thread that they transitioned to LUMI, which is a standard keyboard without anything resembling MPE (apart from poly aftertouch but that’s like saying the CS-80 was MPE… very different).

Even though these two companies aren’t technically abandoning MPE, their messaging is, in fact, anti-MPE. At the very least, both companies claim that “MPE is too complex for the overwhelming majority of users”.
Artiphon’s Orba (which is still scheduled to start shipping before the end of the month) is targeting casual users very directly and it’s MPE. The difference in approaches is quite radical. People at Artiphon apparently know a thing or two about learning and their UX clearly points to a device which is remarkably easy to play without requiring any reference to the piano-style keyboard or, indeed, any known acoustic instrument. Sounds like appropriate UX Research, to me, maybe even with Learning Experience Design (my dayjob).

Joué and ROLI make broad claims about learning, apparently based on something close to market research. If you ask people if the QWERTY keyboard is easy to learn, they might say that it is. If you do a quick test of check how fast a random person can enter text using another method, you might hastily conclude that QWERTY is easiest to learn. QWERTY is “ubiquitous” (in a very narrow part of the planet) so people have been forced to learn it. That doesn’t make it easy to learn on its own.
Thanks for this elaborate comment, Enkerli! This is just how I feel.

I own a Seaboard Blocks, and honestly, I really love it, but there are so many things that I would really like to see to be improved, but they concern how the applications behave on iOS and MacOS. Once you get past these problems, MPE is super-easy and super-intuitive to use on the device. So the problem is not with MPE, but with the (imho stupid) software implementation on the receiving side (First ROLI software to get the Seaboard connected, and then the music apps to receive MPE messages from the Seaboard).

So, to use your comparison to the QWERTY (or in my case the QWERTZ) keyboard once again: in order to use it, you first have to start a [Manufacturer of your keyboard] connection app to connect the keyboard to your computer. Afterwards you launch the application you want to work with (e.g. MS Word) and there you have to select the keyboard you want to type with from some menu. And THEN you can start typing.
Sounds crazy, huh? But that’s what I have to do in order to play one of my iPad synths from the Seaboard Blocks. And imho. THIS is the main blocker that keeps “normal” musicians away from exploring MPE. Only music nerds and people with a sado-masochistic tendency will endure that kind of stuff ;-)
May 04, 2020  | person_outline Granthafen
It pisses me off when a company says “this does not sell well because people don’t want it” when the real problem is that their implementation is problematic (and expensive) from the start. Don’t present problematic product and then blame people for not being interested. Fucking arrogance.

They went for an implementation where the hardware entirely depends on software and computers. No computer, no drivers, no MPE controller. NOT interested in inevitably owning a useless brick at any price.

On KVR I read that they changed how the pitch handling worked (from free pitch to forced quantization) without user option to be one way or the other.

I also read that touch sensitivity was inconsistent across the 49-key and even 25-key models.

I also read that the GUI for the control software was poorly considered.

Etc.

I didn’t buy a Seaboard because I read about the actual product and observed everyone else’s experiences. I didn’t want a product that would be bricked by ending software support, and the cost was high for what it was. I WANT MPE, but I don’t want to be manipulated into buying an alpha product that becomes useless garbage when the company selling it moves on and abandons the software.

These are all self-inflicted injuries (once again), and yet the companies complain that the problem is a lack of interest from potential customers. Fuck off.
@dysamoria:
I agree with your comment, but I don’t think a device is necessarily bricked once the company selling it moves on. You can still use the device as long as you have some (sooner or later outdated) tablet/computer that remains at the OS version that was supported before the company dropped support for the device. E.g. I still have a Clavia Micro Modular from the late 1990’s, that can only be used by a special combination of a certain laptop running a certain OS version with a certain MIDI interface (even back then the Micro Modular was quite picky with MIDI interfaces).

Of course this absolutely sucks big time, but I have seen far too many examples of this behaviour (software producers dropping support for certain OS versions, hardware producers dropping support for certain OS versions or just abandoning any support at all) to shout out my dismay about this once again.
With this in mind I bought the Seaboard Blocks, and I’m gonna use it and have fun with it as long as the fun lasts :-)
May 05, 2020  | person_outline Granthafen
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