Ploytec is a German audio tech company founded in 2004 by Markus Medau and Werner Wirsum, whose work has been previously licensed to some of the biggest names in the industry (Yamaha, Elektron, Apogee, Access, etc.).
The company has recently launched the second iteration of its MIDI clock tap tempo pedal, the ONE.2, and we had a chance to spend some time with it to see how it works.
A Problem Solver
The idea behind ONE.2 is pretty simple. When playing electronic instruments (synthesizers, etc.) on stage or in the studio together with other musicians, it can be a problem to use sequences and arpeggios.
The ONE.2 tap tempo pedal enables you to sync electronic equipment to what’s going on. You can even fine adjust the tempo while it’s running. According to Ploytec, ONE.2 is more than a simple tap tempo gadget. It notices that you’re slightly ahead or behind quarter notes and gets your music back on the beat. It does so by smoothly accelerating or slowing down for a moment in order to get in sync.
How Does It Work?
ONE.2 is literally a two-step affair (hence the name): tapping the pedal on ‘1’ (1st beat of the measure), the device starts the measuring, and tapping on ‘2’ it gets the tempo and starts transmitting a MIDI Clock signal: your equipment is on the beat now. You can “tap on” to stay in sync!
At first, I was quite puzzled. The design of ONE.2 is certainly peculiar – it’s basically a sturdy piece of wood that sits firmly on the floor, without any visual feedback for the user (I was expecting a simple blinking light, like the one we’re used to seeing in most tap tempo-based devices).
I started testing it by playing some music from my library, trying to sync my synth arpeggios and drum machine sequences with the songs in the background. It took me some minutes, but through trial and error, I finally figured out how to ‘tame the beast’!
Here’s a quick video recorded during my test:
And here’s a longer video from Ploytec:
Worth knowing: if the switch on the back of the unit points downward, on the next ‘1’, ONE.2 sends an additional MIDI Start, just in case you want to trigger a sequence or drum loop. To send a MIDI stop message, you’ll have to perform a quick double tap.
ONE.2 does what it says on the tin and it proved to be an affordable (€120), real problem solver for my sync needs. That said, I believe the pedal could be improved with a few extra design touches – some kind of visual feedback, and possibly a separated switch to send start/stop messages (I wouldn’t mind a slightly bigger form factor).
Heads-up: when using ONE.2 make sure you’re consistent with your tapping – the unit is quite sensitive!