Groove Engine MIDI-CV Step Sequencer-Arranger Announced

Developer Miles Thatch has launched an IndieGoGo project to fund production of the Groove Engine, a 16-channel MIDI + Control Voltage Step Sequencer / Arranger.

The project is at the ‘Concept Stage’ with a fundraising target of $90,000.

Here’s what Thatch has to say about the Groove Engine:

Bring all of your gear together. The groove engine’s purpose is to provide a standalone production platform for live-stream and live venue performers. Ideal for breaking from the virtual mindset of computers, sub menus and limitations of on-board sequencers on samplers and synths. All parameters right at your finger tips for when you just want to write music without menu diving, using all the gear you’ve paid your money for. User feedback and feature suggestions are encouraged!

28 thoughts on “Groove Engine MIDI-CV Step Sequencer-Arranger Announced

  1. My lord, that professional voice actor is too polished for selling music gear, it doesn’t seem right. The sequencer itself is a nice idea, but can it be done at reasonable price?

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  2. OK this dude’s CV shows his experience is writing music for games. He has no documented training or experience in programming, hardware design, or manufacturing. His linked in shows no such skills even claimed in his skill set. The project by its own admission is in “conceptual stage” and there is no prototype, only some 3D renderings. His skill set does include 3D rendering skills.

    He is asking for funding to buy milling machines and a soldering station, parts, and the complete from scratch development cost.

    With no prototype or past experience in the field he can not have any idea how much it is going to cost to manufacture this device in any particular quantity.

    With no previous hardware or software design, development or manufacturing experience there is no chance he can deliver the project.

    The amount given wouldn’t even cover a few months of costs by a qualified development team.

    But maybe there is something I am missing here. Perhaps his CV has not been updated. If this is the case he should update it showing he has the skills to deliver this product.

    A notable difference between Indiegogo and Kickstarter is Kickstarter requires you have a prototype: “Projects that involve the development of physical products must feature explicit demos of working prototypes.”

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    1. “But maybe there is something I am missing here”

      No, I think you’re on it.

      There’s a reason why this has no backers yet. At least a few kind experienced builders have tried to give him advice on what he needs to have under his belt first, but I think, if this somehow gets funded, he’ll have some pretty hard lessons after. You can’t jump over so many necessary steps just because you’re an “ideas guy” with a “vision”, you need a gd working prototype.

      And shame on Indiegogo for these renders-in-lieu of prototypes.

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      1. Project reminds me a little bit of that Terpstra keyboard that was promoted here multiple times on Synthtopia starting in 2007, a decade ago. In 2013 it got almost $60,000 in funding, also on Indiegogo, and also to a guy in Canada. Not a single instrument was ever delivered and the project just disappeared from mention with no follow up stories. Now that though was for an instrument that had a full working prototype.

        One must understand that with these crowd funded projects, there are both no guarantees, and no accountability.

        I believe all these guys are sincere, honest, and hardworking, but it takes a lot more than that to deliver complex new hardware designs to a worldwide market in small quantities at a discount price. Notably it takes a track record of success at similar endeavors during which one builds up a network of trusted suppliers and manufacturers, and gains skills by releasing a series of designs of increasing complexity over the years, starting with very simple ones, and gradually working their way up.

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  3. 48 jacks ain’t cheap (or easy). First thing I’d consider for cost balancing is making that an optional add-on. And perhaps a couple of versions like 2, 4, 8, and 16 output versions? 16 CV+CV+Gate tracks is a lot for even the deepest of house-refinance euroraddicts.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
  4. Sending all MIDI data from 1 MIDI out and then using Thru/splitter boxes is not good enough in this day and age. This thing needs multiple MIDI outs (and the means to discretely deliver data to them, not using an internal splitter), otherwise timing with multiple devices goes out the window.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 3
  5. From what I understand about Indiegogo, for the campaign starter there is no culpability. (please correct me if I am wrong)
    If this guy rakes in his $90K, he doesn’t have to produce anything, or even refund anyone.

    “All Contributions are made voluntarily”
    “Contributions are eligible for a refund by Indiegogo unless the contribution funds have already been transferred to the Campaign Owner.”
    “Contributors should contact the Campaign Owner directly regarding refunds.”

    source: https://www.indiegogo.com/about/terms

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
    1. And moreover, indiegogo has an option to keep all the money even if you don’t reach your funding goal, but if you don’t reach the goal indiegogo takes a higher cut. I’m not sure if that’s what this guy did.

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
  6. A bit strange that backing for 10 units 7000 costs 1010 more than 10x backing for a single unit (599 x 10).
    Seems like a good idea, but the specs do not point to anything not yet on the market. I’d go for the Squarp Pyramid instead, which offers more (at least from the specs) at a competitive price.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 3
  7. the “no backers” on indiegogo indicates this is not the tool we´ve been waiting for …
    somehow i´m happy with a beatstep!

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  8. It’ll probably end up in the pile with this garbage:
    https://www.gofundme.com/sunkiss-sequencer

    Maybe they’ll do it but this is just a very basic rendering. This is F…..a……r…. from ever being released. The whole thing could be designed and ready for MP and it would still take 6+ months to deliver.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
  9. Everybody who is sceptic and negative, explain me how 40 years ago somebody now iconic created a PC in a garage? OMG they did not have any significant experience. Moreover, they did not have even a good 3D render at that time…
    Btw this is closely the device i need personally…

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 2
    1. I’m guessing you’re talking about Apple? If so, there was plenty of experience there. Steve Wozniak designed and built the first Apple computers himself. He was working at HP on mainframes and designing boards for Atari before doing that. He was no newb when it came to designing and understanding computers. He wouldn’t have been as successful without the marketing and vision of Steve Jobs though. It takes both sides to make it big. This idea has the “vision” side of things covered but seems to be severely lacking in engineering and production knowledge. He really needs a partner or mentor to help guide this project. Not saying this is a bad idea or anything. Unfortunately it feels like someone who wants to make a “cool crowd driven 3D VR video game” but has no idea what it actually takes to create one and then gets burned out after 3 weeks trying to get the compiler working. When you’re out campaigning for money you need to give every confidence possible that you not only have the vision but also the knowledge of how to realize that vision as well (or someone on the team that does). That’s what I feel is missing here.

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      1. Wow, just poking around a little and he actually DOES have a crowd driven 3D VR video game that he’s working on named Wayholm, also looking for funding (http://www.eisenstadtstudio.com/vr-contributors-list.html). Started Sep 2015, stalled June 2016, restarted May 2017 (I think). There’s a second game he’s a dev on as well (named RTAG rise). That’s in addition to doing music for indie game devs, his own music and live shows under Pier Mayhem, a retro gaming YouTube channel, and a bill paying part time job. And now a hardware step sequencer! Do they have 40 hour days in Canada??

        I’m impressed with his apparent ambition and drive but it seems like he already has a lot on his plate. Maybe finish off one or two of the games first before jumping into this. Wouldn’t want to get into the habit of leaving projects half finished. I can’t imagine he’d have much time to dedicate to sequencer project with so much going on (and once you take someone’s money they start having expectations).

        Like this comment?: Thumb up 2
        1. mike, thanks for that research. Am I understanding you correctly that you are saying the person floating this step sequencer project already has an established track record of seeking external funding for projects none of which to date have actually been completed or delivered? And that you believe he seems to have multiple current projects, none complete, which he is presumably working on in parallel with this new project?

          Like this comment?: Thumb up 0
          1. You’re correct – he has at least one other incomplete game project going that’s stalled at least once seeking funding. It is running concurrently to this. The link in my other message has more info on that if you’re curious. The RTAG rise game seems to be linked to the retro gaming channel (I think it’s a retro game itself). One of his other YT channels has videos of a helmet test (think Deadmau5) for a live show. And in another video he talks about getting the new job. He’s pretty open about all of it, none of this was too hard to find, just spread out. I don’t think he’s necessarily being malicious – he’s not making much money from any of this. I think it’s more that he’s a bit scattered and lacking focus. Maybe not taking this stuff as seriously as he’s saying, mixed in with a little over simplification, underestimation, and ignorance of what’s needed to see things through. In his last update he seems to get this a little better, or at least he understands that no one is going to take him seriously until he has prototypes, a realistic plan, and numbers to back it all up. Hopefully talking to the business resources in his city will help with that. The update also states he’s going to shut the campaign down in a couple of months.

            He should take notes from Jacob Brashears – the 18 year old kid that introduced the Relic-6. He had the right idea for a launch: show up to NAMM in a small booth with a fully functional prototype. Lit the fire for quite a few people even though the cost was very high. Huge buzz, he could have gotten funding instantly if he chose to. But even that “sure shot” seems to have cooled off. Too bad he seems to have disappeared. At least no one lost money on that one. Maybe it reinforces how hard it is to see a project like this to completion.

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      2. Yep yep. The vision side was also the side that pushed for ‘KISS’. Or “Make sure we can make this thing.” Then, they hired an HP exec almost immediately after the infamous demo (who actually made sure they could make the thing).

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    2. “this is closely the device i need personally”

      Hey, no one is stopping you from being the first backer to preorder. I greatly look forward to your review of the first production model, proving everyone wrong. See you in a year with that, and good luck.

      Like this comment?: Thumb up 1
  10. Was his last venture a “luxury” island music festival?

    For anyone to bite on this, they need a working prototype to demo…

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 3
  11. Was surprised to see a backer today and even more surprised to read Miles’s reply to the feedback he’s gotten:

    “Yesterday was an insightful day. The unit generated a bit of buzz on social media and I was able to collect some information. The main concern voiced by many forums was the lack of a working prototype, discouraging people from investing into the development of the unit. When putting this campaign together I was contacted by a number of engineers in the same field of hardware development. They were able to provide some reality checks and insight on the industry. Albeit with a grain of salt, I had to accept some facts – I need a prototype. It became clear that without a pre-existing portfolio to showcase as proof of my ability to develop hardware of this scale is a huge crutch in the success of the campaign. Should this have been my 2nd or 3rd project, I’m sure the situation would have been much more favorable.

    On the 20th of this month, I’m have a scheduled meeting with Ontario Business Center for their program of startup businesses and entrepreneurs. The program covers an interview and business training and eligible businesses are given up to 5,000 in grant funds. Should the program pan out, this will be my prototype development fund as well as acquisition of some tools.

    Lots of other insight was given. I will leave the campaign running for the 2 months it’s there. If anything, I’ll re-launch it when the prototype is done and a Demo is available.”

    Very professional way to handle quite a bit of criticism. Great idea to take advantage of the programs available to new entrepreneurs. It won’t be music hardware manufacturers but much of how to produce things will apply. Business is business mostly. Hopefully he’ll get a lot out of that and approach this again with a much more realistic game plan. Listen to and respect what your fellow engineers are telling you too, there’s a lot to learn to jump in the hardware game. You also never know when you’ll need to ask one of them for help. Don’t be too proud to pull in outside expertise when needed. Sounds like he’s got the right attitude and maybe in a year or so we’ll be reading about his next Kickstarter.

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 3
  12. This has some way to go if it wants to even compete with the KDJ-One mobile production studio…..

    Like this comment?: Thumb up 1

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