This is the Dato DUO, an instrument for two. A gritty sounding synthesizer paired with a flashy sequencer. For kids aged 3 – 99 and up!
About this project
The Dato DUO combines a synthesizer and sequencer into one fun electronic instrument that is aimed at children and adults alike. It doesn’t matter whether you already know how to play an instrument; anyone can create their own sounds and melodies on the Dato DUO. And while most instruments are designed to be played alone, we designed the DUO to be playable by two!
We believe synthesizers are too much fun to be left to grown-ups alone. But existing synthesizers are often too complicated or precious to be used by kids. Also, jamming with each other is better than making music alone.
We started developing the Dato DUO in December 2015 and have been user-testing and improving it ever since. Now, we need your help in bringing it to life.
What is the Dato DUO?
The Dato DUO is designed to have fun making music, together! While one player plays a melody on the sequencer side, the other creates its sound and adds percussion on the synthesizer side. By carefully controlling the possible parameters, we designed the DUO so you can’t do anything wrong. The result may be as clean or noisy as you want it to be, but it’ll never be out of tune. If you want to know how it sounds watch our video again – we recorded the soundtrack directly from the output of one Dato DUO.
This is the circular sequencer. It loops the last eight notes that you play. There are further buttons and knobs to change the melody on the fly. You can turn notes on and off, speed up the sequence, play notes at random or change the pitch.
You play notes into the sequencer using the pentatonic keyboard. Using a pentatonic scale is like only using the black keys on a piano. This makes any combination of notes you play sound in harmony with each other, making it a lot easier for non-musicians to compose catchy tunes.
This is the synthesizer. We’ve put the things we like most about other synthesizers into it. Two large sliders control the two digital oscillators and the filter-cutoff frequency, with basic envelope controls to shape the sound. We’ve added two touch pads – one for percussive bursts of noise and the other for an aggressive bit crusher effect.
What else can you do with the DUO?
The DUO has no screens and menus, so it’s impossible to get lost in settings or presets. What you see is what you get. That doesn’t mean you can’t make serious music with it though. The Duo has plenty of power and potential for musicians, and it feels right at home with most other music gear. You can hook it up to external effects like guitar pedals. We’ve also added a sync input and output, so the DUO plays very well with gear like the Korg Volca or Pocket Operators.
- 2 oscillators: 1 pulse (variable width) and 1 sawtooth
- Digital low pass filter with resonance
- Amp envelope (note length and release time)
- Sample rate reductor
- Noise-based percussion synthesizer
- 8-step circular sequencer
- Pentatonic keyboard. Two octaves
Inputs and outputs
- Audio out capable of driving headphones
- Sync input and output, compatible with Korg Volca, Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators
- Micro USB for power and firmware update. 5V, 2A max.
The synthesizer generates sound digitally and has a nice gritty 12-bit sound. We’re using Paul Stoffregen’s awesome Audio Library for Teensy as the basis for our synthesizer.
We will be sending our rewards all over the globe. Please note that you will be responsible for any additional taxes and duties if they apply in your country.
One of our pledge levels is the Dato Acapella. A poster that you can cut out and fold into a 1:1 paper Dato DUO. You will have to provide the sounds yourself, though. Or you can hang it on the wall.
Who are we?
Toon: Ever since graduating with honors from the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, Toon has kept on developing unique and unusual designs for his clients at Studio Toon Welling. This search never stops and the out of the ordinary shape of the Dato DUO is a direct result of this. Recently he was selected by the Dutch Association of Designers (BNO) to participate in their Driving Dutch Design program for young talented Dutch designers.
David: is a designer by trade and inventor at heart. He loves applying technology to make complex things simple. He received his Master’s degree in Industrial Design at the Technical University of Eindhoven before starting his own consultancy bureau for interactive product design, Nut & Bolt, six years ago. He is skilled in electronics design and knows enough about microcontroller programming to get himself into trouble (and out of it again).
We are both parents and share a love for electronic music making machines.
Timeline and budget
The largest part of our funding budget will be spent on getting the DUO production ready. This includes setting up a production line, getting molds made and finalizing the firmware. We have already established a good relationship with our production partners and advisors and have a solid plan for getting it made.
We started prototyping the Dato DUO in December 2015. We’ve gone through many iterations already, and have tested them with adults and children on many occasions. This has taught us a lot about the ease-of-use, functionality and reliability.
The percussion synthesizer and headphone output are still in development. Part of the funding will go towards finalizing these features.
Risks and challenges
While we have years of experience designing things for our clients, taking a project into production is a new endeavour for us. We are well-informed and have great people helping us, including people who have successfully delivered a Kickstarter project before.
The delivery date mentioned with each of the rewards is an indication, not a promise. Every Dato DUO consists of many components. If any of these components becomes unavailable or has stocking issues, we might have to push back the delivery date. We have a list of alternative distributors for most of the components to avoid this issue, but there are still parts for which we rely on one source. We will make sure the Dato DUO is a high-quality product that meets (and hopefully exceeds) your expectations and we will do our best to get it to you on time.
The Dato DUO will be manufactured in batches. This means that if we surpass our funding goal, some DUO’s may not be shipped before the estimated delivery date. We will try to scale production so that you will get your DUO as soon as possible.