Bringing together different music creation modules and putting them into a single unit isn't exactly a new idea, as evidenced by such diverse examples as the du-touch S, Arpeggio and Kadabra. But where many are essentially geared towards the solo performer, the Duo from Dato works best when two pairs of hands take control.
The Duo is the first design from new Dutch startup Dato and is aimed at music-loving children of all ages, regardless of musical ability. "We believe synthesizers are too much fun to be left to grown-ups alone," said Dato co-founder David Menting.
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It's been designed to be easy to play ("we designed the DUO so you can't do anything wrong"), and to be played by two music makers at the same time – one playing the melody while the other creates the sounds and beats. Inside the wedge-shaped metal and wood housing is a two oscillator synthesizer and an 8-step circular sequencer.
The synth, which occupies one side of the wedge, packs a variable width pulse oscillator and a sawtooth oscillator and a digital low pass filter. There's also a basic sound-shaping envelope, sample rate reduction with musical steps and noise-based percussion and crush sounds.
On the opposite side sits the sequencer that loops the last eight notes played. It boasts a two octave (non-velocity sensitive) pentatonic keyboard to tap out melodies and numerous buttons to modify those tunes on the fly. "We chose to limit the keyboard to five notes per octave so that any melody you play will sound in harmony," Menting revealed.
The 4 x 9.5 x 8 in (10 x 24 x 20 cm), 2.65 lb (1.2 kg) Duo is powered via a micro-USB input and can be connected and synchronized with other music gear, such as effects stomps, other synths or mixing boxes. There's a headphone-friendly audio out to help get your creations heard.
To get the Duo into the hands of tunesmiths young and old, Dato has launched on Kickstarter. Pledges start at €269 (about US$300) for the first 100 units, after which backers will need to stump up another €30. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in April 2017. Check out the pitch video below to see the Duo in action.