Co-founder and CEO Mike Butera said the Instrument 1 and Orba share “the same DNA,” namely his vision to help music-making become more accessible to everyone, regardless of training or experience.
“I want beginners to feel like pros, but also for pros to feel like beginners again,” Butera told me. “For me, this is just the next step in how we do that.”
With Orba, the Artiphon team has created something that’s smaller and more affordable than the Instrument 1 (which the company still plans to support), and that allows its owner to accomplish more without any software. Butera described it as “a radical simplification of what an instrument can be.”
Orba is a circular device that you can hold in one or two hands — Butera said his team was thinking about game controllers, but also “grapefruits and bowls of miso soup.”
The simplicity comes from the fact that the device’s surface is divided into only eight touch pads — but thanks to Orba’s different modes (drum, bass, chord and lead), plus a variety of touch and motion sensors, you can tap, stroke and shake it to make a wide range of different sounds.
You can play Orba on its own by using the on-board synth, or you can connect it to the Orba app, and to other music software like GarageBand.
Artiphon plans to ship the first Orba devices in April of next year. They will eventually cost $99, but they’re currently available through Kickstarter as a $79 early bird special. (Once the early bird runs out, Orba will still be discounted at $89 for Kickstarter backers.) Artiphon is looking to raise $50,000 through this campaign — it’s already halfway there as I write this.
As for why Artiphon still crowdfunding after raising a seed round earlier this year, Butera said the campaign is “not really about finding the right investors, it’s about finding the right customers.”
He added, “I think it’s just responsible for the product designer to go straight to the customer.”