Load sample packs faster on the Play

What is the problem?

Loading sample packs is very slow.

The “Tech House Pack” is only 27.5 MB for example, and yet takes 65 seconds to load, at a rate of about 0.4 MB/s.

What do you want to achieve?

Allow the community to vote on this issue, and possibly get feedback from Polyend as to where the bottleneck is.

We acknowledge that there might not be a technical solution to this issue, or that implementing a feature like streaming from the SD card would be a very time-consuming undertaking, even if the hardware allowed it.

Are there any workarounds?

Not that we know of.

Is the SD card to blame?

This is an unknown at this point, but seems unlikely. Let’s consider the following:

  • The entire 701.1 MB “Artist Samples” can be read from the SD card in less than 60 seconds from a MacbookPro using the adapter, at a rate of about 12 MB/s.
  • A 706.7 MB file can be written in about 78 seconds from the the same MacbookPro to the SD card in 78 seconds, at a rate of about 9 MB/s.
  • The SD card directory structure can be navigated from the Polyend Play and samples can be read/heard in real-time by pressing the encoder or the button above it.
  • A Google search for “sd card reader speed” will return “SD Cards will read and write at speeds of 12.5 MB/s.” on top of the page (much higher throughput can be achieved depending on the card and reader class).
  • Photographers familiar with importing raw images from SD cards would confirm that a single DNG image could easily reach 20 MB, and yet be imported at much higher rates than 0.4 MB/s (typically one photo per second or more).

What is going on then?

We do not know at this point but clarification from Polyend would be very welcome.

Possible hypotheses:

  • Maybe the Polyend Play needs to convert WAV files on the fly to an internal format so samples can be played and mixed at the proper level of performance. Being able to test samples in real-time by navigating the SD card from the File menu and pressing the encoder button doesn’t invalidate this hypothesis, since playing a single WAV file likely requires much less processing power than playing 8 tracks simultaneously with multiple effects. However, if this hypothesis is true, could a case be made that this conversion needs to happen only once? The device (or the users) could pre-process the WAV files into this internal format and write the new files to the SD card (or larger card), which would then act as a cache. Since this could fill the card quickly, this could be made an option in the settings. The Play would no longer need to perform the time-consuming conversion each time the samples are read, and would then be able to read the pre-processed samples at full speed from the SD card. If we assume a 12 MB/s. rate, this is 30 times faster than the current 0.4 MB/s. rate, and users could benefit greatly from this trade of space on the SD card versus time spent loading – as long as the internal format is not 30 times bigger than the WAV format. Imagine loading the “Tech House Sample Pack” in less than 2 seconds…

Any links to related discussions?


Any references to other products?

  • The Synthstrom Deluge can stream samples straight from its SD card, thus implying the bandwidth is likely enough to read samples faster than the Polyend Play currently does. This does not imply the Play could stream – the more expensive Deluge might be architected differently or have dedicated chips inside. Quoting their FAQ: “The speed of your card isn’t very important – any modern SD card will have fast enough read and write speeds for the Deluge. Even a “class 4” card, which is around the slowest you will find these days, would in fact be fast enough to simultaneously record 30 channels of 24-bit, 44.1kHz audio in real-time”
  • Similar to the Deluge, the Dirtywave M8 seems to be able to stream audio from SD card too, but it needs very fast and very specific ones to work with. Even cards of the same class don’t always meet the requirement

Is disk streaming like Deluge not possible? That’s very fast.


@sebastien.barre Thank you for contributing a wish!

I think we are mixing one problem and two potential solutions. To make this wish more practial it would be good to either focus on the problem (loading sample packs is slow) and brainstorm solutions knowing that ultimately it’s the Polyend team who makes the call if any call is feasible) or in one solution per wish.

Wav compression and disk streaming are very different features. And I wonder, disk streaming, if possible at all, could also mean that the limit of 6 minutes of samples could be increased? Anyway, this looks like a discussion for a separate wish.

And just a detail, could you make you change your sentences in first person to something neutral, please? The idea is that we are collaboratively producing community wishes.

Thanks. I entirely rewrote it, so users can ultimately vote on the wish that “it would be great if sample packs could be read faster”. Another great outcome would be for Polyend to chime in to clarify why the device reads much slower than your typical SD card transfer rate. I entirely removed my idea about compressed WAV files, because I think something else is going on, and the read/write speed of the SD card is not to blame. I don’t think streaming would be possible either, for the same reason. I explained why through a few examples and tests I performed, and my hypothesis as to what might be going on under the hood, and what could be done. Thanks. (English is not my first language, sorry). This is not a rant, I love the Play, I’m mostly curious about the discrepancy between the quality of the hardware and its level of performance, and the slow I/O.


@sebastien.barre Thank you for the update! The previous version had this mention to the Deluge that I think it is useful to keep in the Other Products section (at least from a user perspective, I would not be surprised if both processors/hardware are very different.

The MPCs also come to mind, since you also load samples. It’s through USB and I bet an MPC is basically a PC with pads, but this days the difference between USB sticks and micro-sd cards are… none? And again, regardless of the hardware, user expectations coming from these products will be there when they get their hands onto a Play.

OK. I moved the Deluge reference to the Other Products section.

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This is why I sold the Play. I wanted the speed of loading individual samples from a large pool of multiple sample packs, much like my Tracker and my other grooveboxes.

Maybe the screen size limits this, as well as the way it works with drum sample names, but a great concept that can maybe be reworked on a mk2, or other device based on what the Play offers.

Dirtywave M8 also streams audio from SD card, but it needs very fast and very specific ones to work with. Even cards of the same class don’t always meet the requirements.

For now, it seems like a hardware limitation here, but I hope it isn’t. Play loads samples into its internal memory first which could be a bottleneck (even though it provides faster or more reliable speeds from there, most probably). Also, fact that the internal limit is measured in minutes, not in megabytes, makes me think there’s a conversion of some sort (audio CDs of the days of yore also had 60mins or so, not 700mb).

If the conversion is not the case and it’s not required, it would be great to have an option for streaming with a sub-option to load current samples into its internal memory if the project is too busy, so SD speeds aren’t enough.

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@icaria36 What is missing to move this item out of draft please, so people can vote on it? Unless I misunderstood the workflow. Thanks

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@sebastien.barre The drafts are moved to the #wishlist by Polyend staff after they verify that a request is technically possible and feasible at least in theory. This ensures that people are not wasting time, votes and expectations on proposals that surely can’t or won’t happen. Triaging this takes time, especially right after a launch when a bunch interesting proposals have been made by several people in less than 48 hours. No worries, the queue will move and having several people adding their :heart: here does help already.

(((I’m just a volunteer moderator trying to help getting draft proposals in good shape.))) :sweat_smile:

@sebastien.barre Sorry it took so long to assess this one. But after careful consideration due to technical limitations we cannot improve sample loading further, so I have to decline your wish.

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