Polyend have made a bit of a splash at trade shows with their SEQ step sequencer. It looks fabulous with all those rows of flashing white squares. In the background they’ve also had Poly, a comprehensive MIDI-to-CV converter in a Eurorack module. Poly is ready to ship and it’s time to step into the limelight.
A MIDI-to-CV converter takes a MIDI input and spits out patchable CV and gate signals. This enables to plug a MIDI keyboard into your Eurorack with meaningful connectivity and control. But Poly is a fair bit cleverer than that. It has MIDI input port for sure, but it also has a USB socket for any class compliant MIDI controllers. On the output side, Poly produces 8 voices gate and pitch/CV along with velocity and modulation. These outputs can be used in three different ways.
In “Channel” mode voices 1-8 are received from MIDI channels 1-8. So, whatever you are playing on MIDI channel one comes out of the first output on the module. This is ideal for feeding a MIDI sequence from your DAW. You have different instruments playing on different channels and so accessing different oscillators in your modular. It’s also great for using with a split keyboard. You can switch it to channels 9-16 or notes of C-G via a dip switch on the back of the module.
First and Next
The “First” and “Next” modes allow you to get a bit clever when playing with an external controller. They use an automated gate recognition system. In First mode when you press a key you get an output on the first available (plugged-in) voice and if that note is held the next note comes out of the next available voice. When you release it’s then back to the top again for the next note. In Next mode it looks for the next available voice rather than the first one, so it’s always scrolling to the next one. This is essentially what polyphonic synthesizers do. As you play the melody will scroll through the 8 voices giving you either a lovely polyphonic through a polyphonic synth or each note playing a different oscillator. That’s going to sound pretty interesting.
Polyend also say that the Poly is MPE compatible. I’m not entirely sure how that works in practice, but there’s a demo of sorts in the video below.
The Polyend Poly Eurorack module is 22hp wide and costs £349. More information on the Polyend website.