Synths & Software
Both Playtronica's devices Playtron and TouchMe are MIDI controllers that use conductivity as a way to trigger sounds. Yet, they do not work in the exact same way. Let’s take a look at those differences.
If you don’t know what MIDI controllers are, please check this tutorial.
What is conductivity and how does it work?
When using Playtron or TouchMe, you use the physical ability of your body to let electricity flow through it. Don’t worry, it is completely harmless! Playtron and TouchMe require you to close an electric loop, so that information can be sent to your music reproducing device, through the USB cable. But you will notice that Playtron has two “Ground” golden pins, and TouchMe hasn’t any. Why is that?
First, let’s take a look at how Playtron works.
What is Playtron?
Playtron allows you to trigger 16 different sounds, using it’s 16 inputs. To close the electric loop as we mentioned before, you have to use one of the two “ground” pins located on the bottom corners of the device. Picture an electrical circuit, with the positive and the negative: the positive is the object connected to an input of Playtron, and the negative is the “ground”.
Just like the “+” and “-” signals in a battery. When touching both, you close the loop, and the information “i am touching [this object]” can be sent.
What is important to understand about Playtron is that it can only trigger sounds, a bit like a sampler. It only sends the message “on/off” to your music device, so you can’t really play with variable parameters, like pitch, or the frequency of a filter. For those of you more “techy”, there’s no velocity on Playtron. All the 16 inputs send a stable 127 value when triggered.
Learn more about how Playtron works here.
What is TouchMe?
TouchMe is slightly different.
To make it work, it is pretty simple: two people (or just one person) need to hold one pad each, and then just touch each other, hand by hand, thus closing the circuit. Then TouchMe simply measures how much electricity is going through the contact of the hands, and translates it into pitch information. That depends on the area of touch and intensity. If it’s a lot of pressure the tone will go up, and if it’s just a tiny touch, the tone will go down. You also have the option of changing the scale and the root note with the 4 buttons in the middle. For more information on that, check out our tutorial following this link.
Learn more about how TouchMe works here.
While they both use conductivity, Playtron and TouchMe do not work in the same way. One allows you to trigger separate sounds, while the other lets you play with the pitch of an instrument. One thing they do have in common: conductivity.