Joué Play Pro Option: What is it?
Stray outside the mainstream of MIDI controller products and you’ll often find innovations from smaller companies. One is the Joué Play. Developed by Arnaud Rousset and Pascal Jouguet (co-creator of the JazzMutant Lemur multitouch controller, best known for use by Björk), this is a modular system with a wooden baseboard, and up to four different control layouts, connecting to macOS, Windows, or iOS.
The package includes the Play Board, pads, and a USB C-to-C cable, with adapters for USB A and Lightning (power users might appreciate the optional USB C-to-MIDI cable). The board is made from French beechwood, and metal, and feels more substantial than the average budget controller with wooden elements reminiscent of Snyderphonics Manta, and Livid Instruments’ Ohm.
Joué Play Pro Option: Performance and verdict
The pads use RFID to communicate with the board, and the available layouts are: piano (25-key piano), drum pad (16 drum pads with x-y area), keys (17-key alternative style keyboard with expression strip), and guitar (representing the first seven frets on a guitar neck). All pads have octave/bank up-down buttons, play/rec buttons, and feature a dome-shaped object called the effect bubble – press this to toggle an audio effect, or apply pressure to vary the amount of effect. The pads are very playable, and the response is certainly good enough for live performance.
The Joué application identifies the board and pad immediately, and shows installed packs and projects, including a selection of how-to examples, like Massive Attack’s Tear Drop or Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy. You can of course create your own projects, and choose a suitable sound pack: a wide range of genres are covered. Up to eight tracks can be used per project, and users can set tempo, loop length, and instrument tuning (the guitar pad offers alternative tunings like drop C). Record quantisation makes recording tracks beginner-friendly. Projects can be shared with other Joué users, or exported as stereo mixes.
Joué Play sends MIDI over USB, but the Pro firmware upgrade (€50) unlocks full MIDI and MPE mapping. This is where Joué came alive for us, particularly when sending MPE to the Wavetable synth, which was a natural fit for the Play Keys pad.
The Joué Play should attract newcomers and seasoned musicians alike. We also think this’ll be a kid-friendly instrument, finding a home in SEN teaching situations where individual students have different needs for how they play. This is a very well-thought-out product and gives users the full progress from a simple app on the iPhone, to the iPad, to the computer, and then on to fully blown DAWs or VJ software.
MusicRadar verdict: A versatile and potentially future-proof controller system. Great with the basic app, but it transforms when the pro version is unlocked.
Joué Play Pro Option: The web says
"The results are often surprising and useful, and Play is a fun way of helping players of all levels generate new musical ideas."
Joué Play Pro Option: Hands-on demos
Joué Music Instruments
Joué Play Pro Option: Specifications
- KEY FEATURES: Base board with interchangeable controller templates. Free app for quick results with how-to projects and sounds of different genres. Can send MIDI/MPE to more pro software. USB-powered and portable. App can host up to 4 Plays at once. Eco-friendly production. Choice of two colour schemes.
- PRICING: Starter Pack (Board plus 2 pads): €295, Full Pack (Board plus 4 pads): €345.
- CONTACT: Joué Music Instruments