Kanye West revealed a new music gadget called the Donda Stem Player that will let you “customize any song,” according to the device’s website. It’s available for preorder now for $200 with a vague “summer” release date, though the website says it will ship “with Donda,” West’s upcoming album.
Let’s get some of the gadget-y stuff out of the way first. The device, which West’s Yeezy Tech brand developed with electronics company Kano, looks like a little tan puck, and it’s apparently made of a “soft silicone blended skin.” It’s equipped with a headphone jack and Bluetooth support (and can do simultaneous Bluetooth and audio jack playback), a USB-C port, volume buttons, speakers, a haptic engine, and 8GB of storage. The four light bars are “touch sensitive light sliders,” which presumably let you control the device to customize songs. And it supports a wide range of music formats: .AIFF, .AIF, .FLAC, .M4A, .MP3, .WAV, .WAVE, .AAC, .ALAC, and .MP4.
As for what you can actually do with the Donda Stem Player, the website says you can:
Control vocals, drums, bass, and samples
Split any song into stems
The site also says it offers the following tools:
4-channel lossless audio mixing
Realtime loop and speed control
Save, playback, and share mixes
Content and software updates from your browser
After we published this post, we were tipped to some videos that appear to show the Donda Stem Player in action (thanks, Vincent!). I recommend you watch them to get a better idea of how you might be able to use the four touch strips on the device to manipulate music. I personally have very little experience with music production, but based on these videos, I feel like even I could make something cool with the Donda Stem Player.
It seems like the Donda Stem Player could be a powerful music creation tool packed into a tiny device and it’s one that’s been rumored for a while: an alleged prototype of another West-affiliated stem player surfaced earlier this year and a leaked promotional video posted in March seemingly showed off the device announced on Wednesday.
But without trying it out for ourselves, we just don’t know how easy it will be to customize “any song,” as promised. If you’re on the fence, you might want to wait for reviews until you buy one for yourself.
The announcement of the Donda Stem Player arrives as West has spent weeks promoting Donda, which is currently has an August 29th release date on the iTunes Store. He’s already hosted two stadium listening parties for the album, and he will be hosting a third on Thursday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Fans won’t be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Like the previous two events, the show will be livestreamed on Apple Music, according to Billboard.
On Tuesday, West filed court documents asking to legally change his name to Ye, according to The Associated Press. A judge will have to approve the change.
Update August 25th, 1:36PM ET: Added videos that appear to show the Donda Stem Player in action.