University College Dublin Spin-Out Unveils a New Style of MIDI Music Controller and Launches a Kickstarter Campaign

Caption: Pictured is a Joyst JV-1 MIDI Controller. (Credit: Marko Raden, Raden Films).

University College Dublin Spin-Out Unveils a New Style of MIDI Music Controller and Launches a Kickstarter Campaign

Joyst (Joyst Instruments Ltd), a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company established earlier this year, has today unveiled a new style of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller and announced the launch of the company’s Kickstarter campaign.

The Joyst JV-1 MIDI controller provides an array of gamer-style thumb joysticks to give more expressive possibilities for electronic musicians. Notes are played by striking the joysticks, if one is then rotated, this pitchbends that note up or down. Using joysticks in this role is a very new approach for a MIDI controller, which significantly increases a musician’s ability to play with subtle intonation and expressive flourishes.

The JV-1 has emerged from a Master of Engineering thesis project carried out by Philip Snell under the supervision of Dr Paul Cuffe at the UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The ambitious goal of the project was to create a new MIDI controller that would allow a musician to bend each note, finely control velocity, inject vibrato, and articulate precise aftertouch effects.

Maximising ease of playability was also a key project goal, which led to the JV-1 adopting the note layout of a chromatic accordion. In this handy arrangement, every type of chord has a consistent fingering shape, regardless of its root note. Scales are always the same pattern wherever you start. This minimises the need for rote memorisation. 

To find out more about the JV-1 watch this short video 

Philip Snell, CEO and co-founder, Joyst, said, “From day one, the vision for the JV-1 has been simple, electronic music with no creative compromises. Why can’t a MIDI controller let you bend notes like an electric guitar? Even on the earliest prototype, we could see the power of joysticks in this role. They allow the player to inject subtlety and fine intonation into their playing, with a tactile and responsive feel. The buttons and pads you find on  traditional MIDI controllers are just too one-dimensional, sterile and overly digital. Joysticks restores what was lost, a full range of motion, a responsive springiness, organic bends, fresh sounds. Electronic music in full colour.”

Philip Snell, CEO & co-founder, Joyst (Credit: Marko Raden, Raden Films).

Joyst was co-founded by Philip and fellow UCD Master of Engineering graduates, William Langrell and Edward Byrne, along with Dr Cuffe, to commercialise the JV-1 MIDI controller.

Through its Kickstarter campaign launched today, Joyst has set a minimum funding target of €12,500 to be raised by the close of the campaign on 5 November. Backers will be rewarded with various reward tiers if the project is funded. Discounts are on offer for the earliest backers, who can secure a JV-1 for just €199, a significant discount on its RRP of €349.

William Langrell, COO and co-founder, Joyst said, “We’ve been through several good rounds of prototyping now so we are now ready to present JV-1 to the world through our Kickstarter campaign. We are super excited about the JV-1 so we are asking people to back this project today to help us meet, and hopefully even exceed, our Kickstarter target and get the JV-1 into the hands of talented musicians around the world.”

Joyst has been established with the support of NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at UCD and earlier this year Joyst completed the NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition.

This intensive 4-week mentoring programme is run by NovaUCD as a framework to support undergraduate and postgraduate students who want to work together to develop and grow start-up companies. Its aim is to assist the participating students in refining their start-up ideas through a series of structured workshops, including taught content from industry experts, interactive workshops, regular pitching sessions and mentoring.

Joyst will also be taking part in this year’s UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, run by NovaUCD, which commences later this month.

Back Joyst’s Kickstarter campaign at

Philip Snell, CEO, Joyst is available for media interviews.


6 October 2020

For further information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, UCD Research and Innovation, e:, t: + 353 1 716 3712 or Philip Snell, CEO, Joyst, e:

Editors Notes

The Joyst JV-1 feature set is impressive. The 39 joysticks naturally cover two octaves in an easy-to-learn layout, but down-clicking each one gives an additional overblow octave-shift to dynamically expand the range. The note layout is completely isomorphic, so once you have learned the shape of a major chord, it’s the same no matter the root note. Likewise for scales, or other chord types to deliver less learning and more playing.

To produce sounds, the JV-1 can be coupled to any DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), hardware synth, or even your phone using a USB OTG (On-The-Go) cable.  

The JV-1 leverages a recent extension of the MIDI protocol, termed MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression). This backward-compatible standard, ratified in 2018, allows note-specific pitch bend and aftertouch signals to be relayed from a MIDI controller to a synthesizer.

At NovaUCD, the hub for new ventures and entrepreneurs at University College Dublin, we nurture and support new high-tech companies, such as Joyst, as part of UCD's mission. At NovaUCD we provide purpose-built, state-of-the-art incubation facilities alongside a comprehensive business support programme for client companies. NovaUCD has been funded through a unique public-private partnership that includes AIB Bank, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Enterprise Ireland, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, UCD and Xilinx.