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Crowdfunding Corner: Spolum Drum, Groove Engine, mPIANO, Poets One preamp

Laura  Barnes
Crowdfunding Corner: Spolum Drum, Groove Engine, mPIANO, Poets One preamp

MI Pro checks out the latest musical instrument projects looking for backers, or recently funded, on popular crowdsourcing sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo.


Spolum Drum is hand-made tongue drum made out of high quality 2.5 mm thick steel sheet. It needs no electricity to be played and works by vibration you make when hitting the steel tongues which then reproduce and amplify the sound around the spherical shape of the drum inside.

The Zen-like instrument is designed to be a great addition to any meditative collection.
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The Spolum differs from other tongue drums due to its unique LED light system, where every tongue has its own light to indicate which one to hit sequentially to create a melody. All the lights, electronics, and a rechargeable battery are hidden in a special lid. The device can be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth so you can easily control the tempo and choose your melody.

The instrument also comes with specially designed magnets to enable musicians to tune the drum to their own liking. All you have to do is stick the magnets underneath the tongues and moving them up or down to modify the tones.

The Spolum Drum has already obliterated its funding target, but there’s still time to get involved over at Indiegogo.


Groove Engine is a MIDI step sequencer/arranger designed to provide a standalone production platform for live-stream and live venue performers.

Its maker, Miles Thatch, describes the Groove Engine a: “Ideal for breaking from the virtual mindset of computers, sub menus and limitations of on-board sequencers on samplers and synths.

“All parameters right at your finger tips for when you just want to write music without menu diving, using all the gear you've paid your money for.”

While this project is only in the early concept stages, that also means that user feedback and feature suggestions are encouraged. Get involved over at the Groove Engine Indiegogo page here.


Alpha Pianos’ new mPiano is a MIDI controller that hides all control functions for polyphonic expression inside the keyboard of a grand piano.

Users can shape and energise their performances on real piano keys with built-in control options. Beneath the surface of each key is a capacitive sensor that recognises the location and movement of your finger on each key. Finger placement and motion on the key surface can be configured for pitch bend, aftertouch or any other continuous controller (MIDI CC) through the mPIANO iPad app. Even the length of the touch-sensitive area on the keys can be defined and customised in up to four keyboard split zones.

For the first time it is possible to have a constant counterforce for each key, no matter how far it is pressed – a property of real piano action. This is achieved by using shape memory alloy springs below each key that recall their original form when the key is released.

Unique high-resolution optical sensors below each key measure the speed of the vertical movement, delivering ten times higher precision than MIDI. Depending on your note-on threshold settings, you may trigger notes at even the slightest touch. As another example, you may assign key pressure to volume – the further a key is pressed, the louder your strings get. Assigning key pressure to aftertouch or any other CC value opens a world of options for shaping and morphing sounds.

mPIANO has only just launched on Kickstarter. You can get involved here.


The poets One is a multi-channel guitar preamp that emulates classic and modern tube amps with true analog sound circuitry. You can use it anywhere standalone or controlled with your smartphone.

The preamp has four channels, each representing a different gain stage with its own unique voice. It offers you a very bold soundscape with a variety of distinctive amp tones, seamlessly transitioning from blues to classic rock or hard rock to metal. Bubbly sparkling crunch sounds are possible as well as a dark and punchy high-gain pandemonium.

Controlling the preamp can be easily done with just two buttons: A true bypass switch for enabling or disabling the unit and up to six presets that can be selected by pushing a momentary switch. The pedal’s state and the active preset are visualized by six LEDs.

You can use your smartphone to modify existing sound presets or create new ones. The poets One app provides the following functions: channel selection, preset selection, storing and retrieving the presets. Additionally, the sound of a preset can be adjusted by controls for Boost, Gain, Volume, Treble, Bass and Mid.

The Poets One analog guitar preamp is calling on backers to help it reach its €19,900 funding goal on Kickstarter. Check out the project here.

Tags: Crowdfunding Corner , Spolum Drum , Groove Engine , mPIANO , Poets One

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