“Streamlining Sound Creation for Children: Playtime Engineering’s Innovative Musical Toy Startup”

That’s why Sheets decided to develop the $199 Blipbox, an affordable kid-friendly synthesizer designed for ages three and up. With its chunky control knobs, levers and an easy-to-use randomize feature, MyTracks aims to encourage music exploration and simplify beatmaking for kids. According to the company, all Blipbox devices underwent “rigorous” testing to ensure they are BPA-free and comply with toy safety standards. Blipbox has even been used by music teachers, including helping special-needs kids express their creativity in a non-verbal way. “We got a lot of weird looks from parents,” Kate Sheets says, describing how people reacted to the first Blipbox synthesizer in 2018.

Troy Sheets was just a 15-year-old with a passion for music when he first started creating music in his home studio. Equipped with a keyboard synthesizer, drum machine, and four-track cassette recorder, Sheets had an impressive setup for a high school sophomore.

“It’s rare for young musicians to have access to advanced equipment, and most can’t afford it,” he explained. “Plus, for someone just starting out, synthesizers can be intimidating.”

That’s why Sheets decided to develop a new product – the Blipbox. Priced at just $199, this affordable, kid-friendly synthesizer is designed for ages three and up. Sheets told TechCrunch, “I thought there was an opportunity to create a toy-like device that was simplified so more people could have fun using these tools that had previously been reserved for professional musicians.”

Now, Sheets’ company – Playtime Engineering – is set to release their latest product, MyTracks. Described as a “toy-like instrument,” MyTracks is a groovebox or electronic music production device that includes a drum machine, synthesizer, built-in microphone, and sequencer. With its easy-to-use features and colorful design, MyTracks aims to encourage musical exploration and simplify beatmaking for kids.

Playtime Engineering will launch a Kickstarter campaign for MyTracks on April 9th, with a price range of $249-$299 for backers. The product is expected to be available in November with a retail price of $349.

The company prioritizes safety in all of their products, ensuring that all Blipbox devices are BPA-free and comply with toy safety standards. The plastic knobs are secured to avoid choking hazards, and the batteries are stored in a screw-down compartment.

“Our products are the only synthesizers on the market fully certified to international child safety standards,” said Sheets.

In addition to being kid-friendly, MyTracks is also designed to appeal to adult musicians. “These are real musical instruments,” says co-founder Kate Sheets. “It really engages adults the same way it engages kids.”

The MyTracks machine has a layout similar to a traditional groovebox or MPC, with two effects processors, five tracks, 25 pads, and over 50 instrument sounds. It also has the ability to layer, record, and save songs.

For professional musicians, MyTracks includes a MIDI output and a stereo audio output, making it a versatile addition to any studio setup. The company plans to release future updates with new sound packs, including different music genres like classical, hip-hop, and EDM.

At a price point of over $300, MyTracks may seem like a steep investment for a children’s toy. However, the company believes it can be a valuable learning tool for kids to explore music, manipulate sounds, and experiment. The Blipbox has even been used by music teachers to help special needs children express their creativity in a non-verbal way.

“Our products are adjustable, so they can be catered to different sensitivities,” explains Kate Sheets. “Neurodiverse students have really enjoyed using them.” The company was also recognized with the SBO (School Band and Orchestra) Best Teaching Tool for preschool students.

Despite initial skepticism from both the music and toy industries, Playtime Engineering has sold over 15,000 products and raised over $300,000 in crowdfunding to date. “We got a lot of weird looks from parents,” recalls Kate Sheets. “But now, all these years later, we’re seeing that there really is a market for our type of products.”

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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