From the prototype of the du-touch ß to its industrial version

In a previous article we introduced you to the du-touch ß, the first semi-industrial dualo instrument, of which, originally designed to be a functional prototype, about forty copies were produced.

On the left the du-touch ß prototype, on the right the industrial version: the du-touch Pro, more commonly known as the du-touch

Thanks to the du-touch ß, a certain number of the choices that the dualo team had made could be faced with the reality of an instrumental practice in a real-life situation. Among these choices, let’s first mention those relating to design, and more particularly to the handling of the instrument, its playability:

  • the size of the keys and the spacing between the keys;
  • the design of the keys: slightly curved without tactile markers;
  • the hardness of the silicone keys;
  • the use of force sensors under the keys;
  • the angle of the keyboards in relation to each other and in relation to the player;
  • wearing the instrument on the stomach.

3D view of the new volume of the du-touch pro, with the tests in design of the keys with markers

Michael Mardinian checks the assembly of a first model of the du-touch Pro case produced in stereolithography

Then there are the electronic design choices, such as the choice of processors and the sound synthesis chip, the sensor matrixing strategy, battery type, type of buttons or control surfaces.

And finally, there are the choices relating to the mechanical design, which is intimately linked to the design of the instrument, such as the choice of case material, the design of the buttons….

The new circuit board of the du-touch Pro is inserted into a model produced by 3D printing

And so after this, since many choices were validated or the dualo team knew how to correct them, came the so-called industrialisation phase which made it possible to move from the prototype to the final product, the one that could be sold to future dualists.

Testing the screen under the smoked glass: we can see the placement of the buttons on the sides.

Passing the tests necessary for commercialising the instrument

Playing with differences

First attempts at painting the housing of the du-touch Pro painted on the left next to the du-touch ß

Here is a non-exhaustive list of improvements made during the design of the du-touch Pro:

  • the wave on the sliders is removed to facilate the playing: flat surface;
  • the design and sensitivity of the central slider are improved;
  • a square RGB OLED screen is installed instead of the 2-line 16-character screen, for displaying all the logos or other desired shapes;
  • the screen is hidden under a slightly smoked glass, the display can only be seen when the dualo is on;
  • the two buttons around the screen are directly integrated under the smoked glass which covers the entire top of the instrument;
  • the case is made by plastic injection. So that the finish is beautiful, it’s painted with a special paint that gives it a “soft-touch” feel, a bit like velvet.

The unpainted housing on the left, and the housing with the “soft-touch”paint on the right

Technical specifications

  • Full chromatic dualo keyboard of 5 octaves, 58 notes per keyboard, 116 three-colour illuminated pads, pressure sensitive
  • 3 tactile linear ptotentiometers and three tactile buttons
  • 1 three-axis accelerometer/gyroscope
  • 1 synthesiser with sample playback
  • 49 note polyphone, 8 multitimbral parts
  • 116 modifiable or replaceable factory sounds, 4 presets per sound, 256 MB
  • 1 multi-effect, 1 envelope modifier, 1 arpeggiator
  • 1 seven-track sequencer, metronome, quantiser
  • keyboard display of scale and score
  • 58 trackes of 24 on-board loops
  • 2 stereo jack audio outputs of 6.35mm and 3.5mm
  • 1 DIN MIDI output
  • 1 USB MIDI input/output compatible MacOS, iOS, Windows, Linux, Android
  • dimensions: 285x285x80mm, weight: 1.2 kg

Kisskissbankbank, manufacturing and delivery

To finance the production of the du-touch Pro, the dualo team launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Kisskissbankbank platform on April 27 2013, when the crowdfunding phenomenon was just emerging. This campaign convinced a hundred contibutors in 3 months which brought in 22,270 euros to support the project. It was also an opportunity  to have significant press and media coverage. Thanks to an article in the Keyboard Recording magazine, a magazine specialising in equipment for creating music, the Dualo team would met up with Eric C., who would become the main investor in the Dualo company and who became one of the major players in the development of the project.

On March 20th 2014, four years after the creation of the Dualo company and two years after the release of the first prototypes of the du-touch ß, the first pieces of the industrial pre-series from the Jabil factory in Brest were received at the Dualo premises at La Pépinière de la Courneuve.

This pre-series corresponded in all respects to the specifications of the dualo team, and these first instruments were then delivered to the people who had supported the project by previously acquiring a du-touch ß.

Arrival of the first pre-series of 20 du-touch Pro for inspection, without the final packaging

On June 30th 2014, the first official series of the du-touch Pro was delivered by Jabil, less than a year after the end of the crowdfunding campaign.

Just under 500 du-touch Pro would be produced between October 2014 and mid-2016.

In August 2015, the Jabil factory closed and the dualo team had to relocate the manufacture of the du-touch to its premises in La Courneuve. It would be the dualo team, and even some family members who came as reinforcements, who would manufacture the last hundred du-touch Pros.

The sale price of the du-touch Pro was 990€, which was relatively close to that of similar devices in the eyes of experienced musicians, but far too high for a beginner public. However, very quickly, what caught the attention was the educational potential of the keyboard, its intuitiveness, and the satisfaction of understanding spontaneously how to have fun with the keyboard, even without a background in music or harmonic theory. At the time, more than 40% of du-touch Pro buyers were beginners in music. Also the number of keys (116) and octaves (5) were also quite intimidating for this section of the public, for whom “all these keys are a bit scary, you say to yourself that you’ll never know how to use it”.

So for these reasons we decided in 2015 to create a more compact and less expensive model, so that all those who said “the concept is great, I’d like to try it, but 1000 euros is a lot for a beginner”, could appreciate the playing experience of the dualo instruments.

In April 2016, the du-touch S, a more compact version of the du-touch Pro (52 keys, 3 octaves) was launched on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. During its development, the power of the main processor and that of the sound syntheses processor would be significantly increased, in order to be able to all add all the features that the team had in their roadmap, in particular with regards to musical education.

Technologically outdated even before the industrial production of the du-touch S, it was then decided not to remanufacture a new series of du-touch Pro, because it seemed strange to sell a product twice as expensive but much less powerful, and whose software would be very difficult to evolve.

PS: You often ask us about the difference between the du-touch Pro and the du-touch L: we’ll discuss this subject in a future article!