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Blipblox myTracks Review: A Beatmaking Pad for Kids

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Playtime Engineering launched the $199 Blipblox synthesizer about five years ago. It didn’t come anywhere close to toppling the undeniable king of the budget synth market, Korg’s Volcas. Then again, that wasn’t the point. Blipblox isn’t a tiny, cheap keyboard designed to infect synth dads with a bad case of gear acquisition syndrome. It’s a children’s toy—a bulky piece of shiny plastic with the goal of teaching the basics of synthesis.

Now the company has just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign for its second instrument, the Blipblox myTracks. MyTracks basically tries to answer one question: What if an Ableton Push and a Leapfrog toddler laptop had a baby? It’s a stand-alone sampler and groovebox that lets kids create their own songs from start to finish. It tries to simplify things as much as possible while still delivering a decent amount of fun sound mangling.

Editor’s note: The myTracks is still in preorder and will begin shipping later this year. We were granted early access to a preproduction model as the company finishes up the device for estimated delivery in November.

A New Musical Toy

Let’s start by clearing up what the myTracks is not: It’s not a fully-fledged MPC. You can’t chop up samples on it. The pads are not velocity sensitive (or particularly sensitive at all, really). It’s also not a synthesizer. While it has melodic tracks, they’re just single-shot samples that get pitched up and down by playing them back slower or faster. It has a certain lo-fi vibe that can be charming on the right sound, but this is not going to be the device for your kids to learn sound design or finger drumming on.

Top view of audio mixing device with colorfully illuminated buttons a speaker on the top and a gearshift on either side

Photograph: Terrence O’Brien

Instead, what myTracks is meant to teach is the basics of music production. It has five tracks, one of which is dedicated to drums. Kids (or kids at heart) can simply hit Record, tap out a beat, then move on to the next track to put down a bass line, and so on, until they have a complete 5-track song. It even has a built-in microphone so they can sample their toys or their own voice and use that as part of the composition.

The arguably bigger difference between the BlipBlox synth and the myTracks, though, is the complexity. Where the colorful lines, buttons, and built-in sequences made the company’s kid-friendly synth approachable to even the youngest children, myTracks is geared toward older kids. For one, they’ll need to be able to read some of the labels. The myTracks has an actual workflow for making music, whereas the BlipBlox synth was more about button mashing.

In addition to note mode, there’s a clip mode, like what you’d find inside recording software like Ableton Live. Here, the pads trigger loops that you combine and recombine to create new variations on a theme. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the concept of arranging a song.

Top Closeup of audio device illuminated buttons and joystick. Bottom Closeup of audio mixing device button pad with...

Photograph: Terrence O’Brien



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