Polyend Play versus Hapax

Hi all. I have pre-ordered the Hapax (for the September batch). I really like what it seems capable of doing for my studio setup. I was also considering the Polyend Play. Has anyone here used both, or considered both? Just wondering what thoughts you might have about the differences, preferences, and maybe why you might have decided on the Hapax instead of the Polyend Play (assuming you have since you are on this forum). I have watched Loopop’s videos on both, which has been helpful. I just thought a discussion might offer more real world experience (hopefully).

I should add (via edit) that I do realized the Play is more of a “groove box” using loaded samples to create sounds, whereas the Hapax is strictly a sequencer. Although I like the idea of an all-in-one, for my studio, I really am focused on sequencing capabilities and UI design.

although i didn’t really consider the Tracker when I got my Pyramid, the possibility of adding a sampler to the Play did briefly intrigue me. but (at least as currently configured) it’s not really a sampler in the way that i need mine to be. plus even waiting for Hapax, i already have some mild track anxiety about only having 16 total, with 8 total patterns available per track so the Play being limited to 8 total MIDI tracks pretty much ruled it out completely.

Good point about the track limits. I think I would find 8 tracks limiting (definitely run into that on the Octatrack).

what do you plan to use 16 tracks for?

I think often the issue with ‘track limits’ comes from when you are having to use multiple tracks for percussion e.g. due to limitations on track = midi channel. ( * )

however, the hapax has a ‘drum track’ , so one track allows up to 8 percussion hits, even if they on separate midi channels.
similarly, every track is polyphonic, so a harmony/chord can be done on one track.
even MPE only uses one track.

yeah, Id say comparing something like Play/Tracker vs Hapax , is comparing apples n’ oranges.
sure Play/Tracker has a midi sequencer, but compared to the Hapax, it’s very simple.

(frankly, I love Loopop, but his comment that the hapax (& oxi one) some how lacked built-in a sampler, was pretty much nonsense :wink: )

you buy a Hapax because you need a dedicated/sophisticated midi sequencer (to control other fear)

of course, if you only need a simpler sequencer, the indeed many grooveboxes might suit you better, esp. if you need more synths/samplers etc.

all these products are great, and have their purpose and will suit some users more than others… so its more a matter of knowing your own requirements and priorities… then selecting appropriately.

( * ) e.g. if we look at, say Octatrack, it has 8 midi tracks, but they can only use one track, so if your drum machine uses one hit = one midi channel, you are running out of tracks quickly.


I keep thinking about the play. I really like Polyend as a company. They take interesting risks and put out creative products, but I can’t quite figure out who the play is for. Sure it has some very basic sampling, but a lot of steps back from the tracker, and limited sequencing. I’m sure the phrase “not for me” is appropriate here but I can’t imagine who really benefits from this particular set of compromises. I hate being negative about any kit. I love sequencers, waiting for my Hapax, loving my Oxi as my iPad driver, and as I mentioned in another post, used a deluge for many years. Never quite got on with the pyramid but mostly because it became more of a live looper for me rather than a compositional tool.

You’re absolutely right about the track counts. I was worried that the Oxi was too limited but it’s about what you can do with your tracks. On that sequencer you can run two lush poly synths, 8 more mono tracks and 8 more drum tracks. You can also prg change each pattern for 16 patterns to change up any combo of those overlapping.

The Hapax is in that boat too. I just don’t really see that with the play. Maybe it’s the immediacy like the “model” series is for elektron compared to the digis?

Anyhow @thetechnobear love your insights. Glad you’re part of this workflow world.


The people I know who are excited about the Play are into live jamming and love samples, so they see it as a great performance instrument for them, taking those aspects of the Tracker and building on them.

For me, personally, it’s not a fit, as I’m not a fan of working with samples, and I haven’t studied it enough to understand the performance aspects of it and how interesting they might be to me. I swapped my Digitakt for a Syntakt specifically to get away from working with samples.


Makes a lot of sense. I’ve played with the tracker a ton (until I moved on to the m8) and my hang up is it feels like it just doesn’t do sampling very well. Only one shots, no basic looping or transforms. Maybe it’s closer to a model:samples with a grid. But I agree, I’m here on the Hapax forum because I have all of these desktop synths around me and my sampling needs are more: bring some of that in and then mangle my own sounds. So yeah, just not for me.

How do you like the syntakt? I’ve stayed away from the takt boxes, pretty locked with the A-Rytm and A4. Doesn’t feel like there’s too much I’m missing, but it does seem like a fascinating combination of digital and analog engines.

I love it. For someone who has multiple Elektron devices, it’s probably redundant, but it has just enough of the things I like that it effectively replaces the Digitakt and A4 for me. It has a lot of constraints, but also a lot of range, which seems contradictory, but that’s my .02.

Thanks for the replies so far. Based on what I’ve read here and elsewhere, it confirms my decision to pre-order the Hapax and skip the Play. I like samples, in theory, but don’t really get to messing around with them much (on the MPC One, Octatrack and Model:Samples). Part of my issue with samples is keeping it all organized according to the sometimes byzantine file structures demanded by the sample box I am using. They often make sense once you get your head around them, but I am a pretty casual user. I always know how to create sounds that I like and want to use by tweaking knobs on a synth even if its been weeks or even a few months since I fired it up. I often have to spend considerable time remembering how to get at sounds or bring external sounds inside the Octatrack or Model:Samples (and remember what samples I even have there) and then how to tweak them to my liking. For samples, probably the only solution that is straightforward to me is my DAW (Logic). I do like having sample boxes, and will use them with the Hapax, but I plan to use it mostly to sequence and control synths, rather than samplers.

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kind of in this boat too. Wondering if the blackbox is the right pairing with the hapax. Getting a very large standing desk in the near term and rebuilding my studio to be smaller and sleeker and that feels intuitively like a device that would sequence beautifully from the hapax. We’ll see.

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Admittedly, I was trying to use it as a sequencer, which is more a secondary feature, but I found the blackbox to be kind of kludgy and clumsy, so I only had it a short time before selling it.

Completely agree with @michaeljk1963 about samples. When I had a Tracker, most of what I did is loop single-cycle waveforms to create sample-based virtual oscillators. I completely see the value and power in samples, but the effort / reward balance is off for me and what I’m doing with music.

I’ve been really happy with the Hapax. For me, it hits a nice sweet spot of ‘easy to use, but powerful when I want it’ - so things like the MIDI fx are there, but out of the way unless I want to use them. I am looking forward to some of the coming feature enhancements (more fx, instrument definitions), as they will add power and ease of use, but it’s still a great device as it currently exists.


how heavy do you plan on relying on samples? using Blackbox with Pyramid, my experience was that it is great for quickly getting samples into the BB and mapping them across the 16 pads with powerful looping options. but especially with Hapax only having 16 available tracks, the way Blackbox implements MIDI channels on a per pad basis, i’d be concerned if your setup included any other gear also being run out of Hapax.

for example, in Slicer mode, to trigger individual slices of a loop requires you dedicate a full pad and corresponding MIDI channel just for those slices, e.g., Pad 1 on MIDI channel 1 can trigger a series of loop slices starting at C2. but if you want to slice another loop on the same MIDI channel, e…g, Pad 2 on MIDI channel 1, those slices are also going to be mapped on the keyboard starting at C2. so any project that relies on slicing multiple loops is going to eat up pads/MIDI channels pretty quickly. with Hapax, that also means tracks.

if I were sticking with Pyramid and could dedicate a whole bank of 16 MIDI channels just to Blackbox pads, I might have kept Blackbox. but i’m upgrading to MPC One for multiple reasons for just a little more money, but also gaining multiple internal synth engines and more robust sampling options with greater MIDI flexibility. just my brief experience trying to integrate Blackbox into the Squarp workflow

Thanks, that’s super helpful. My workflow is almost wholly synth based, peak prophet blofeld, A4, arytm and blastbeats. Other toys come and go. But, the Arytm and blastbeats are constrained to two tracks as drum racks (too bad since the arytm has four more tracks to give). I can see where I’d get irritated with the BB, but it’s most rout a synth into it and do fun things to the audio. I could also see adding an ipad and drambo or loopy pro to add flexibility, but most of my goal is to be a bit more tactile. That definitely is a bit pigish of the bb to ask for all my channels, unless I dedicate program b to it and route it on its own output, but it seems like too much just to be able to screw with my synths.

This is really what I am looking for in a sequencer. In the realm of synths, I find this sweet spot to be true with the Hydrasynth Desktop and even more with the Waldorf Iridium. I had hoped the Wavestate would give me the kind of sequencing of samples I was looking for, but as powerful as the UI is, it gets in the way of what I think I want to do (super tiny screen + tons of features = menu diving galore). The editor/librarian helped alot, but I hate having to use my computer to gain access to features in my hardware boxes. Same with Overbridge for the A4. Kind of defeats the purpose.


I’m not gluing well with the Wavestate too. I love the sample based sounds and what it can do with them, but really hate how it does it. Too clunky UI.

I’m trying to think to a better alternative, retaining that enormous amount of “playable samples”, especially for the more classic instruments (piano, guitars, strings, brass/winds etc…) and I’d love some suggestion… I was thinking about a MPC One or even an iPad…

Now the IT part.
I didn’t fell in love with Polyend Play too. This is what I wrote below Loopop review when it came out

*Randomization features and performance mode seems supercool, but it’s way to limited for the price point.
It’s like a more packed Model:Samples but with much of its limitations too, and to a more than double the price it goes too far, and pretty close to the Deluge territory.

I mean, no stereo samples, no internal sampling, poor I/O both audio and midi, no effects parameter configuration, cutoff and resonance on the same pot, weird piano keys configuration…

It will be good as a standalone unit to “play” for fun, or a supercompetent and really fun sample based drum machine in more complex system but at that price I guess I’ll trade some features for similar, cheaper stuff, or add some cash and buy more packed boxes like the Deluge.

In my humble opinion the features/price ratio put this cool box in a limbo territory.
Wish Polyend to sell loads of these, and maybe come back with a revised and more capable unit in a couple years*

With cash to spare I’d probably give it a go as a pure performance drummachine, to free up a couple of dedicated track on the Hapax, and using a lot its live mode possibilities to add interest and variations to the classic 4/4 beat I’m mostly using in my music. But with a TR8S and an Octatrack already sitting on the dsek I can’t justify the purchase to myself

i would say look at the Blackbox if what you really want out of a sampler is playing back multisamples, especially acoustic ones. but i need more robust MIDI and pad implementation, and i found Blackbox to be frustrating to sequence Clip mode loops from Pyramid – if your loop isn’t dead solid perfect, the Clip syncing will not track to Pyramid’s BPM clock seamlessly. so I’m moving up to MPC One for many of the same reasons you mention with the Play. but

In some ways, the sub-thread here on the Wavestate makes me think that my reasons for buying the Wavestate are comparable to why I have ordered the Hapax. I want hardware (real knobs and buttons) for creating sequences of a wide variety of sources of sounds. Everything the Wavestate does can be fairly easily done in a VST (either using the Wavestate VST that is now available or for instance using Arturia Pigments sequencer). I am hoping Hapax will give me a relatively easy to use “real” (tactile) access to putting sequences together that have tracks that have different sources, different lengths, different speeds, different ratios per step, just like the Wavestate promised (and in some ways Octatrack), but in a way that doesn’t require me to either use a tiny screen for menu diving (pages and pages on the Wavestate) and lets me tweak easily on the fly. I fear that I am probably asking for too much, but this is the skeletal outline of my search for the holy grail of sequencers and Hapax definitely seems furthest along this road right now.

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That’s interesting you guys aren’t getting on with the wavestate.

I actually recently swapped my Pyramid for a wavestate (partly because the resale value of wavestate was worth more than my old (quite beaten up) Pyramid was, and partly because ‘why not?’ and it was something I’ve never really used before.

I actually really love it, and finding it very inspiring. I’ve not totally got myself into the full wave sequencing yet, but even just as a 4 part vector-rompler I think it’s got a really lovely sound. Nice and glassy, digital, but surprisingly bassy if you want it to .Putting in my own samples, too, is something that is a bit of a gamechanger for me in terms of sound design. Think the reverb is excellent, too (shame it’s not the same one as on the 'logue synths, but you can’t have everything.

I’ve had a Kawai K1m for a number of years, and although that’s much more grungy (which is why I love it) I am tempted to sell it now.

I actually think the menu diving isn’t nearly that bad once you get used to it, everything seems one or two buttons away and I like how you can switch between the ‘same’ point in each menu by flicking between each wave sequence. (plus I have no idea how you would handle what it does without menus, a million knobs maybe?) I actually think Korg have done a bang up job of working out how everything should be shown and accessed. I’ve enjoyed using it an awful lot more than I expected. One thing that has also really helped, whilst I’ve been learning it, I’ve had the computer interface on my PC whilst using the synth itself to program, just using the PC screen to get an overview of what is going on whilst I get my head around it. So even though I’m using the synth to program (otherwise, just get the VST as they are identical) I get the benefit of a big screen. Best of both worlds.

I would say about this:

Wavestate, despite the fact that it can, doesn’t seem really designed for proper sequencing, I feel it’ forté is more if you think about it in terms of evolving sounds. Having said that, the ‘On The Run’ patch is quite something.

You can set it up so a pad plays a note on a shared channel too, so you can use a Drum Track on the Hapax and not burn tracks.

The BB isn’t as good at mangling samples as an Octatrack or Digitakt but IMHO irs great for play back/triggering both long and short samples. It’s also super handy to record into if you aren’t using a computer.

It’s sure quirky though - if you go in with expectations of what it will do then it might not meet those expectations - but it can surprise uou with how useful it is. Very polarising.

I do think the Wavestate sounds great, my concern is that I’m not interested in all the wavesequencing stuff (at least now, as I don’t have the time to put some effort in it) and so I was thinking about a device that can play samples chromatically with ease and quality, and maybe free up some space on the desk for a proper midi keyboard, as the one on the WS doesn’t seems particularly good.

I think I’ll be happy with something like an Integra7, a proper workstation or maybe a rompler, but that’s all stuff I really didn’t never considered before, and so I still don’t know what to look for.

For sequencing duties I’ve already got a Pyramid, and an Hapax to be delivered later in the month, and with an (underused) Octatrack sitting on desk too I guess my sequencing/sample mangling needs are more than fulfilled.

I’d just like a box with thousands sounds already in it, to be rapidly accessible via sequencer/keyboard to integrate the main song structure that’s already in charge of more traditional subtractive synths