So I was really excited to try this controller at first, since as a guitarist I was always looking for a MIDI controller that would mimic the patterns of the fretboard and allow me to express myself more freely while composing. So the fretboard layout on one of the 4 pads for Joue is the thing that dragged my attention to it at first.
The lack of reviews on-line felt kind of weird to me, considering how promising of a product Joue promised to be. I noticed a lot of the marketing around Joue tried to push it as an "all-in-one" device that you were supposed to use with their dedicated app, which I wasn't really interested in that much. I wanted to use it as an essential part of my studio setup and a creative tool for composing my music, so I was looking for a serious device and the marketing kind of portrayed Joue as almost a toy.
And don't get me wrong - I think the team at Joue has done some amazing work at designing this thing and the general idea for a such MIDI controller is an amazing one and I hope Joue is going to eventually follow with some sort of second generation of their product where they'll refine all the drawbacks... but sadly, there's enough of those for me that I decided to return after a few days.
So, to start off - I got my first Joue as a B-stock from Thomann and one of the 4 silicon pads came in completely deformed and it couldn't stay on the board while playing, which made it completely awkward and frustrating to use.
I am not sure how common this issue is, but I contacted Thomann, scheduled a return and decided to give Joue another chance and this time, buy a new model.
To my disappointment, when it arrived I realized that again one of the pads came deformed (a different one this time, regardless it started to seem as a re-occurring problem). Again, the pad slides out from the row that its supposed to stay in and this renders it quite useless as an actual controller.
So the tendency to deform is one thing, but I have noticed different issues too. The velocity performance seems to be all over the place. While I kept playing a single note repeatedly on the drum module, I noticed that the velocity signal, even though I tried to keep the velocity as stable as possible, went from 40% all the way to 100% of the velocity/strength... This makes it absolutely unusable for programming drums, unless you force the dynamics to be stuck at a 100%, which for some people may be good enough, but in my opinion it is not good enough for a controller at that price. (In comparison, Akai's MPC 218 gets it right at 1/3 the price)
And even if you somehow tolerate the velocity discrepancy, then sometimes the board will record a single note twice, again, making all sorts of glitchy sounds wile drumming.
The xylophone pad would sometimes drop out some of the notes that I played too and generally felt quite unresponsive. And I noticed that weirdly the first board that I ordered was performing better when it comes to consistency...
So my general experience with Joue is that it is very inconsistent. I played two boards and they both failed at slightly different things.
I barely tried the dedicated app because it is very limiting and I was only interested in using this as an extention of my DAW. But also, the dedicated Joue editor that is supposed to allow you to modify the attributes of individual silicon pads, although it does its job, it is very clunky and glitchy. It crashed on me multiple times while just doing regular things. It is also kind of annoying that you can't for example change the scale of the Xylophone pad while you use Joue in your DAW. You will have to shut it down, then open the editor, do some changes, and only then restart the project.
All these inconveniences really added up to a very "meh" experience with Joue. I must admit, the Joue support was very helpful and willing to send me a replacement immediately after I described my issues, but after my second try with the Joue Play, I am now considering different alternatives.
If anyone at Joue reads this - again - I truly believe you guys did an amazing job at designing this and the idea is a fantastic one.
But I wish you had put more energy in the quality assurance of your products, the general sensitivity of the board and its usability as a DAW driver instead of focusing so much on the portable app and marketing it in that portable direction.
I don't know, maybe from a financial standpoint it is a lucrative market, but sadly it turned this potentially game changing device into sort of a gimmick. It is ambitious, but not quite there in any of the things its trying to do.
I'm certainly looking forward for future developments with Joue and if a second generation comes, with these issues addressed, I will be reconsidering again.