Some historical elements

Before continuing our overview of the prototypes and dualo instruments, it’s necessary to recall some historical elements:

  • 2005-2007: birth of the project and invention of the dualo keyboard by Jules Hotrique
  • 2007 and 2008: Jules produces the first two prototypes of the dualo instruments in the kitchen of his Parisian studio
  • 2010: Jules Hotrique and Bruno Verbrugghe join forces and professionalise the project
  • 2011: co-creation of the company Dualo SAS by Jules and Bruno

In January 2011, when the company Dualo SAS was created, Jules was a mathematics teacher in a college in Aubervilliers and Bruno was an engineer in a company that developed music video games.

At the time, Bruno was working on a research project in collaboration with Arturia and IRCAM, a research centre dedicated to music and sound. It was in the context of this project that he was advised to meet Tanguy Le Floc’h-Souet, a young, freshly graduated and very talented engineer. Tanguy, who was bored working in a big telecom company, took up the challenge and joined the Dualo team in February 2011.

So that Jules could come and see Tanguy as soon as his schedule allowed, and attracted by the support and advice of its director at the time, Thomas Guyon, the company Dualo SAS moved into the premises of the business incubator of La Courneuve, en Seine-Saint-Denis.

Photo of the du-team : Frédéric Simon (Nimos Design) designer ; Tanguy LeFoc’h-Souet, electronic engineer ; Jules Hotrique, co-founder ; Bruno Verbrugghe, co-founder ; Julien Debyser, graphic designer

The du-touch ß, the first semi-industrial dualo instrument

Throughout the years 2009 to 2012, the e-dualo was on show continuously, in the evenings, at festivals, in schools, in the metro, to beginners, musicians, teachers, salespeople and managers of music stores…..We estimate that it would have been tried by more than 2000 people. Each time, Jules and Bruno would always ask the same questions: “What is the ideal instrument for you?”, and “If you could invent an instrument of the future, what can you do with it?”

  • an instrument on which you can play many different sounds;
  • a portable and autonomous instrument that can be easily taken anywhere;
  • an instrument that doesn’t require knowledge of musical theory, and which is quickly mastered;
  • an instrument that enables you to play contemporary music, Hip-Hop and electronic music.

It was quickly imagined, therefore, that the du-touch would be worn against the stomach, first for the mobility provided, but also for the scenic aspect: for once the synthesiser player would be able to jump everywhere alongside the guitarist…

Having previously imagined it as a MIDI controller, towards the end of 2011 the team decided to include a sound synthesis engine and a rechargeable battery so that it would become a real instrument in its own right.

Technical characteristics:

  • 2 dualo keyboards: 58 pressure-sensitive keys, two-colour LEDs, 6-axis inertial unit, 3 capacitive sliders, 3 capacitive buttons
  • 2-line 16-character OLED monochrome display, white writing colour
  • 116 sounds on a DreamSam3716 chip for sound synthesis, 256MB maximum memory
  • 6.35mm jack line level audio output, 3.5mm headphones, midi out 5-pin DIN output, USB B port
  • Dimensions 270x290x80 mm, weight 1.2 kg
  • 10 hours of autonomous playing

Thanks to the talent of Tanguy and that of Michael Mardinian, who joined the R&D team in March 2012, the first du-touches ß were delivered in September 2012, less than two years after the creation of the company Dualo. They were manufactured in France in a semi-industrial way: the components were arranged by hand on the PCBs and the plastic boxes were cast in the Alps with silicone moulds which only made it possible to manufacture about twenty copies before becoming unusable. The final assembly was carried out at the Dualo premises, by the team itself:

Originally designed as a functional prototype, 43 copies of the du-touch ß were finally manufactured. The first person to acquire a du-touch ß was Denis Renaud, a mathematics teacher, amateur musician and friend of Jules.

After that, about thirty copies costing between 1290€ and 1490€ were bought  by people who strongly believed in the project and wanted to support it, with the promise that their du-touch ß would be exchanged two years later for a new version of the du-touch, this time produced industrially, and taking advantage of all the feedback and requests for features expressed by these ß-testers.

Let’s finish musically with two videos from our YouTube playlist YouTube dédiée au du-touch ß :