PERC Lets You Make Beats With Balls


At Superbooth 16, startup company Polyend was making the debut of their new PERC MIDI percussion robotics system.

We talked with founder Piotr Raczynski, who gave us a sneak preview of the new system:

PERC combines a MIDI ‘brain’ and up to three aluminum balls strikers:


The strikers are MIDI and CV controllable, and can be combined with any set of drums to create robotic virtual drummers, to augment a traditional drum kit or to create live acoustic drumming that explores territory that might be impossible for a human drummer.

Here’s a studio video, demonstrating the system augmenting a traditional drum kit:

The Polyend PERC system is priced at 799 Euros for the controller and 1 ball, and 200 Euro for each additional ball. Preorders are expected to start soon at the Polyend site.

22 thoughts on “PERC Lets You Make Beats With Balls

  1. Kind of interesting robot, probably wouldn’t be hard to create something like this yourself. There is a guy on Youtube named bd594 and a guy on vimeo named K V who has stuff similar to this that they’ve done themselves.

      1. Programming some software for a micro-controller to have an electric motor respond to a midi trigger is easier than programming most drum-machines.

      2. That is a good point, but most things you can buy(for example a cheeseburger) you can purchase that someone else made(at McDonald’s for instance). I was just mentioning that because the concept isn’t that new, but it is pretty neat that you can purchase it, although it is kinda expensive, but if one can afford it I’m sure they would put it to good use.

    1. this has been a common project going back a solid 15 years or so (maybe much longer.)

      some well known groups employing this type of technology are the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots and Arc Attack.

      There is a value in having a commercial solution though, and the results can be quite rewarding. I saw a performance that Jim Thirwell (of Foetus) did with instruments provided by the aforementioned L.E.M.U.R. at The Whitney in NYC in 2007 that was one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever seen.

    2. thats 20 lines of code an arduino uno, a motor shield and speaker with a piece of wood attached to it.

      what i cant understand though, is why is it based on one ball per drum? that doesnt make any sense to me. furst you use real drums and then just re-hit on the same spot for a whole song?

      whats the difference of just sampling one hit, done by a human?

  2. Cool,maybe soon they’ll invent an electronic device box sized that can replace a drummer.They could call it drum machine for instance.

  3. With a few of these you could do something similar to re-amping for electric guitars. You record a drummer’s performance on an e-drum kit to MIDI and then later you can replay and record it on different real drum set at a totally different location and time and without the original drummer.

    Also probably very handy for sampling a drum kit to get strikes from each drum at reproducible velocity levels.

  4. with arduino and other competitors i agree this is well overpriced ,but i want one or maybe 2 so i guess i will have to build my own ,so if each device gets its own midi channel it just needs to convert midi to on/off for the actuator,i’m thinking these guys have a huge mark up and can’t really justify the price for such a simple product. bring on the chinese clones a.s.a.p .

  5. Taking this to a commercial level is great idea in my mind. THe studio session with the drummer playing along with the midi pattern just hints at what might be possible. Using this with loopers, getting up and playing another instrument at key moments in the song are all possible.. I like to have heard a more expressive musical example… although we heard velocity variations the next generation would want to be able to shift the strike point on the drum head. I am sure that will come .

  6. This is pretty neat. I would think it would be more useful as a extra tool rather than a replacement for a drummer as shown in this video. It would allow drummers to do different things and be more expressive rather than worry on the technical aspects. Drummers that are handicapped in some way could benefit from this greatly.

  7. I hope you know that perse, means ass in Finnish and perc is sort of like the internet slang for it 😀 Its nice that i can now make beats with my ass using balls 😀

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