What is the Play's Job supposed to be: With each month, I get it less

TL;DR: I had a long look at the Play and had to ask it a question.

The longer I have it, the more I wonder what it is supposed to do (apart from generative features of course). @miropoly mentioned a product design direction, however, I am confused about it.

This is not supposed to be a rant, it is a collection of paradoxes that keep me from figuring it out, especially considering many of the things below have been adressed by wishes that have either been denied or not been prioritized.

Maybe some of you power users can enlighten me (or point me to workarounds)?


  • No LFO or automation across steps and no CC in means no evolving effects: The pattern will always sound the same when I’m not turning a knob (yes, propability options, I know).

  • Only two audio outs: When using external effects to combat this, can only apply them globally.

  • Limited internal storage: Stems with recorded effects won’t solve the above.

  • No Looping, no stereo samples & no multisampling: Can’t repurpose sample page well for something else than drums.

  • Note in can only play one sample chromatically: No finger drumming more than one drum at the same time.

Pick and place

  • No drum kits: Knob scrolling. The different steps of selecting samples and making a beat pattern are suddenly intermixed. workaround
  • Lanes do not correspond to samples (Polyend Play when I look at my kick lane after placing a snare): Have to copy and paste each time switching between drums.
  • Can’t assign colors to samples
  • Friction: copying a step is a long press, one hand is occupied. Slower than switching between drumpages on the digitakt which doesn’t even have a grid.
  • you have to do that each time when switching between samples even when you already commited to your drum kit.
  • Slower than traditional grid sequencing and there doesn’t seem to be any upside. Even on Polyends Youtube channel, “pick and place” looks like a bottleneck that gets used as little as possible and often disturbs the flow of just pressing pads.


  • Only 8 Midi voices simultaneously: Not enough voices left for midi drums when recording chords.
  • Chord function takes up only one voice
  • Friction: Only accessible by painstakingly scrolling a knob for each chord. Workaround: Palette workflow.
  • Chord function not compatible with midi in. Polyend Play concerning my piano skills


  • Experience comparable to DJing with Ableton
  • still no evolving effects (see above)
  • Cant play multiple patterns simultaneously: Have to place parts of different songs into the variations of the same pattern to make transitions possible
  • No mixer function, can’t use external mixer due to only two stereo outs, cant use external midi controller due to no CC in.
  • Can’t keep performance effects on while mangling patterns.

In light of this, can anyone explain what the perfect use case for the play is (apart from generative features), how it is supposed to feel and why “pick and place” exists?


It’s a groovebox. It does a bunch of things, none particularly well. But if you want a single box, I think it’s as good as any (in its price range).

Well i see some workflow problems to. The copying and Patternchaining is so slow and a pain with this long pressing time. Some more sample editing with real LFOs would be great.

The Play + solves some issues and together with audiostreaming to ableton its a fun Box. But i get some good results standalone to.

I have a Akai Force and used Maschine Mk3 a long time…the Play is the most fun of these and i am getting the best results (making Techno) . But i may check the Elektron workflow espacily Syntakt later it may be a good addition.

The Play seems like a Tracker with a different workflow. For me its a very fast pattern generator with fast sampleflipping and there is nothing i know of that can beat it in this area. But some more Sample editing fx stuff would be great i agree.


For someone patiently waiting on (next firmware/ & picking up a p+ … what do you mean that pattern copies and chains are slow?

… I mean coming from a MPC its an operation of opening windows, entering values and confirming action. The P has all patterns underneath your fingertips with no confirm operation windows…

On the other hand on a spectralis its just a matter of holding a shift + step/pattern (blinks =as in selected) and selection destination steps/patterns and hitting enter (very fast). Allot to love about that unit… I dunno but this seams to be similar to how the P works and I was under the impression that this was quite fast,

same with pattern chains (if your background is MPC arranger/ which many boxes have adapted) the pattern chain on P is just another level, visualy and phicically haveing every pattern in front of you and then mechanicaly selecting patterns or multiple patterns for moving /copy/paste around a visual timeline… I mean surly this is one of its best features/ and one of the most attractive one for me personally

Well the problem is the copy and Paste loadingtime takes ages if you have many patterns you cant just but the patterns like samples on the grid sequencer tbh worflow on the sequencer is so fast but on the pattern chainig it takes ages. If the Arrangement would be fast as setting steps in the sequencer that would be epic. Also i think the time you have to push a pad to “copy” (blinking light) for me is half a second to long or so even on the sequencer

I had MPC One in the past, and I own the Digi Trinity from Elektron.

For me MPC One is really boring, too many windows and buttons to make simple things. Elektron devices are the main pieces of my fixed setup, they are so versatile and are the main instruments of my songs but…

Play + is by far the most fun and immediate groove box I ever had. In a few seconds since the switch on of the device… I find myself dancing with simple techno rhythms, and jamming with the different effects.

That’s the magic of Play+. It’s a really PLAYable device.


:flushed: Wow had no idea this was the case, thanks for clarifying…

I guess this is do to individual sample pools per patter?

Out of curiosity are you running + version (faster cpu) and what are ages in studio term ?/On par with saving times ?

Not to far from saving times if not longer sometimes at least it feels like that. I have the Play +

And i dont think there is a Individual samplepool at least i think there is always just one samplepool on Play

Woo OMG that’s Incredibly slow… Hey team Poly any chance on adressing this via optimizing the code? …

Been there and I feel u. Again dear team Poly, user definable system configs is extremely nice and allows user’s to customize the unit to ones flow…
just a tip of the hat :tophat::sunglasses:

to me plays job is to play with it :slight_smile: yes there are limitations and workflow breakers but if you dont take it to serious at all its a really funny portable device that let the user quickly writing down his musical ideas

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That’s interesting, you find the play faster than the Elektron boxes?
May I ask for your workflow? Do you touch drums only once?

I’ve tried to do that :confused: Maybe it’s a DJ thing, but when I make music, I breathe, move and press buttons in the rhythm. That long press to copy a work step feels more like lifting a turntable to make space for CDJs during a drop. I can still nod along, but does it really have to happen in that excact moment?

The Serato-face has been ridiculed for years because scrolling down lists and reading them is taking you out of the moment, which is why I’d prefer to choose samples before and not in between placing drums when I should feel into the rhythm. Which every other device allows. Why not the Polyend?

But it seems you found a way. What’s your secret?

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i build up patterns and variations and everything and play a bit with to hear if it fits and sound good . thats the phase of creation … every timr when i want to make music i build a bit more into my project . and then after some time when i think its enough i go into play mode where im playin with my created patterns to perform them like in a live set . and so it sounds then . not just like a single track, but a live set .
and what is needed to perform not just one time cuz after im playin thru my set all parameters are changed from all patterns is to backup my patterns 3 times . also in creation mode when i test if things work together and also when tweaking sounds i make enough backups to get all parameters back to the state i wanted them .

and so to me its not that big thing with the issue ob copying steps or so cause in create mode its no problem and in perform i dont need to copy


this is a thoughtful & respectfully crafted list of questions, comments & concerns.

& I LOVE that the very first thing you mentioned was the lack of either LFOs or, perhaps, just a wee bit of parameter locking to get us through a few minutes of run time without feeling like, “well… now what?”


it doesn’t have to be a lot. but just SOME(!).

I have to send one more quick WTF out there about the delays… what is up with the delays?!?


maybe, for some reason that’s above my paygrade, polyend can’t fit an FX parameters page on the play. okay, I’m willing to accept that. but, instead of all the cute names of delays that just send me running in the other direction, how about some straightforward delays with little abbreviated settings for names?

am I crazy for being sorely put-off by the current state of the delays in the OG play?

all that said, there’s a lot to like about the play. it gets me composing music. & that’s in a way that’s different enough from any other workflow of mine that I find I’m getting different & interesting results. &, as many have mentioned here, that tends to happen really quickly. so, I’m glad & I’m grateful for that.

the thing is, though, the polyend play gets me STARTED making loads of stuff. but I’ve never had a problem getting started making new pieces of music. it’s FINISHING things that often poses the biggest challenge for me. & I’m not quite yet sure, as a very new user of the polyend play, that the play itself is actually gonna help me finish the stuff I’ve started with it. we shall see…

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Are you aware that you can select the last delay option “Custom” (or whatever it’s called) and then control the parameters yourself (time, feedback, etc.), like on most other delay effects?

Same goes for reverb, btw.


oooh… busted!! I have not messed with “custom” yet. (I just got the play about ten days ago.) I’m assuming we can only have one custom delay, but… it’s better than nothing. anyway…) thanks much for hitting me back on this.

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Some repeat types can act as delays with different timings if that is what you need.

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I actually have gone that route a little.

I’m wondering–after watching a thavius beck tutorial on the OG play–with the live record function… is that capable of something along the lines of “motion sequencing” in the korg volcas?

you know… record yourself wiggling a knob & those changes are then repeatedly played back?

Absolutely possible and I think is a great example of the integral Charm of the Play! Simple selecting what you want to have affected, and hitting “Live Rec” record during playback. Wiggle what you want to wiggle and it will be captured.

So in the most basic example, you can arm a track or multiple tracks using the rightmost “Select” pads. Playback and hit the “Live Rec”. Now all your movements are being recorded per-step. When you go out of Live Rec, all parameters will stick to their last value they were at when Live Rec was active.

You can get really creative with this with using the Shift function to select target steps in multiple tracks that you want to access either live or create a transition on a Variation. So much fun stuff you can do with this!


okay, yes!! so that kinda squashes my gripes about no LFOs. I mean… they’d still be useful, but… I thinkI like the motion sequencing thing better anyway.

now, I hafta see if I can wrap my head around that shift function stuff you were just sharing there…

thanks much for your kindly reply!!

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