The future of Mod Duo X (Dec 2022)

Dear Mod community,

I am starting this thread so that we can proactively and constructively discuss the options for further developing/improving the Mod Duo X, whose development was severely affected by the shortage of components back in 2020. When announcing Mod’s insolvency, @gianfranco was forthcoming about hurdles in that matter, even reporting attempts at redeveloping hardware that were sadly unsuccessful. His exact words in the occasion were “we will keep supporting existing users.”

The stance of MOD in this matter is understandable – much as users of Duo X may not like it.

The reason for this thread

In random occasions, it has been stated that Mod Duo X will not see upgrades. Recently on 30 Oct 2022 @falkTX stated that

Therefore, it is safe to assume that, for the time being, MOD is not planning upgrades/updates. However, on another occasion, this was stated:

With the above in mind, I believe it fair to ask MOD here about what are the longer term plans for the Duo X and/or of there’s some way X owners can still benefit from improvements that will be developed for the Dwarf.

Options for Duo X updates

During those days of uncertainty about MOD’s future, there were lengthy discussions about whether or not system upgrades should be paid for, and the kinds of problems arising from such an approach – for instance, having to provide support to multiple firmware versions to those who would choose not to upgrade. More on that can be seen here.

We must here acknowledge that, in the months leading to the filing for insolvency, many of the updates were mostly for Dwarf units. Whereas – using Gianfranco’s words – the company suffered from a lack of focus, it had been dedicating a lot of its manpower to further the Dwarf above all. Whereas that is understandable given their financial constraints and the fact that the only product they had to offer was Dwarf, the Duo X had not been officially a priority. Updates came, but at a much slower pace than those for the Dwarf, and other long standing issues (like the crosstalk) to my knowledge have not been addressed.

Therefore, I would like to hear the opinions of other MOD users and staff as to what could be done to keep the Duo X (and whenever possible the X LE) on par with the Dwarf. The power and design of the X is what brought many of us onboard.

Some observations

I can see that the “user case” for the Dwarf is possibly broader than the Duo X. It doubles as a desktop and floor unit. It ‘resembles’ a multi-effect more than the X, and that broadens the perception of its usability by stringed instrument players.

However, the Mod Duo X is more powerful and has more controls. The advantage of being able to be used on the floor can be overcome by employing a foot midi controller – though that does not cover 100% of the Dwarf’s functionalities, it must be noted.

Furthermore, though a redesign could not be achieved in the final months prior to the insolvency, it can still boost MOD’s reputation. It is a mighty unit unparalleled in the market – the Zoia and Beebo, as nice and powerful as they might be, do not fully rival the X functionality and power.

What are then the possibilities?

The purpose of this thread is to exactly brainstorm on that.

Many suggestions were flown back in September and October, and some strong opinions for and against some of the options were voiced. We don’t want to go into that rabbithole again, so whatever is proposed and discussed here should aim at finding a way to keep the X strong and well featured.

Some may involve further investment on the user’s side, and please respect those who may advocate that.

For instance; if finances are a hindrance to keeping an ongoing build for the X, what exactly in terms of labour costs (coding, testing, etc) are we talking about when it comes to bringing some features to the X? What alternative form of revenue could be designed here?

It might be the case, since many here already invested in the reboot, that the cost could also be absorbed by interested users (even if partially), and this option can be offered in a way that benefits everyone – and not as to create the “those who pay get the goods and those who don’t get them not” scenario. Not everybody here contributed to the reboot but everyone benefits from it. So even if some are willing to shoulder the costs, the solution should be for all users.

Therefore, the thread is open.

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thanks for opening this thread, @QuestionMarc !

yes, it would be a shame to see the Duo X orphaned… as you point out, it is a uniquely powerful unit which expands the interested MOD user base. for now, i do understand the need to concentrate on a device (Dwarf) and market sector which have the most revenue capability, in order to bring the company back to some sort of financial and operational health.

this question is, i think, about long-term goals… things which can be brought into play as stability and resources become better established. with respect to that, i’m concerned that continued development for the Duo X (beyond just bug fixes) may be hard to justify if there is not concurrent work on the hardware side.

i.e. although it’s a large and challenging task, it seems to me that the entire Duo X endeavour needs to be brought back to life at one time – development of next-gen Duo X hardware units, along with software which implements things from the Dwarf as well as things which leverage the X’s unique hardware. …and this is something which, unfortunately, is likely to need to wait.

bear in mind the intention to also bring forward the promised expression pedal… although it’s a simpler device, requiring fewer company resources, it still is something else for the team to develop and maintain.

perhaps some MOD folks can chime in… i wonder three things:

  1. what degree of long-term interest exists in the company, with respect to the Duo X?
  2. is there willingness (fueled by existing long-term interest) to dedicate some work-hours to planning and development for what will eventually be implemented for the Duo X in both hardware and software? (i.e. we’re ready to prepare for what we intend to implement, but just can’t implement right now)
  3. …or, are resources and realistic aspirations really more in a position of simply hoping that someday it will be possible?

i’m a Duo X LE user. so, unfortunately, a lot of key developments are prevented by my hardware. i would buy a new production unit, if it was available and there was a living “ecology” of product development around it. if there was a user-driven (and user-funded) effort to continue software development in the absence of new hardware units, i’d personally have to carefully consider how that all plays out for those of us still using LE units.

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I can’t add anything useful to this thread, just feeling depressed with my flagship device becoming a second class now. I’ve expected a lag in features for MDX, but not being cut from them. I understand that it is a miracle to celebrate that MOD even survived, and understand why priorities are aligned that way, and bugfixes are for sure much better than nothing, obviously, but that’s still a moral debuff.

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Both @gianfranco and if I’m not mistaken @James mentioned that the Duo X at this point would compete with the Dwarf for hardware parts – resources still scarce and overpriced. Plus they could not replace some parts of the X and make it work, so there’s no clear path for the hardware as of now. Add to that the production of the Dwarf being currently more streamlined.

That being said, if the product is fully redesigned – i.e., Duo X version 2.0 – it might happen that it will differ in hardware to a point that an operating system for that might not work with the current model, much less with the LE like yours.

Therefore, unless it would be possible to alter the X design in a way that doesn’t make it an entirely new device, the outlook for X and X LE is not bright.

However, as you correctly mention, these are technical but also business decisions. I purposefully didn’t mention that in my initial message so as to not “stir up emotions” ahead of MOD’s response, but you’re right: the business decision that finalise the Expression Pedal is certainly odd in the face of current financial limitations. How much of a market and revenue is there for one such product is questionable, whereas the Duo X has no competition – unless some company resumes VST dedicated host production, which is not too far off with current hardware and free OSs available.

Anything we’re saying here without MOD pitching in is mere speculation though – as much as our guesses might be educated. Sadly, MOD’s silence is speaking quite loudly on this matter.

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I can just guess, too, but I feel that this is the right move. Beyond fiscal criteria there is always trust as a very important ingredient to healthy customer relationships. The pedal has been delayed for over half a decade and maybe they are as close as they say and just want to get it over with. Make some people happy. Finally.

Actually, shipping the expression pedal is quite a strong indicator for me how serious mod.audio are to their commitments. And that’s a proxy of whether they will succeed with their vision. It is incredibly cheap to proclaim living by certain standards and morals and quite difficult to actually do so.

Then again… I do not own a DuoX. Makes it easier to say such things.

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I can see your point, @eggsperde. In any occasion, following through with a promise is a good thing. And @gianfranco once mentioned the ‘unpayable amount of bad karma’ stemming from not delivering fundraiser units. It’s something I’d easily empathise with.

The point to me though is to gauge how shallow is the cash cushion of MOD that makes it impossible to keep a current build for the X but allows it to further develop a product that, if finalised, will be sent to users at very little or no revenue – just like the Founders’ Dwarf, even with that €150 extra thrown in.

If indeed this is a “focus” thing – and adding a product that’s not yet finalised has some business reasoning behind it while keeping a mature product active is not, then it points to a sad scenario in which the Duo X seems to have become a non-interest to Mod Audio.

But, again, we’re just guessing.

Most importantly, succeeding in a vision can be the product of having good ideas, stamina, talent, drive and a lot of other attributes that we know MOD has. Long-term financial stability and business ‘success’ (if you will) is however contingent on making good decisions regarding resources and setting up attainable goals that are self-sustainable in a predictable way.

For instance, adding more paid plugins with more capabilities and of superior quality can easily provide revenue in the sort term, so investing in partnerships and/or directly breeding in-house “premium” effetcs/models is highly likely to pay off down the road.

It’s under this perspective that I was attempting to look at the Expression Pedal: can it be that? What market case is there for that? How much does it add to the Mod lineup as opposed to better plugins and other OS improvements?

I’m really hoping we can hear from MOD here – not to justify anything if they don’t want to, but to shed a light on what the future holds for the X. I must admit I’m decreasingly hopeful.

Note: Just want to make it clear that I support MOD and want it to be successful, and not only cater to my needs here.

And yet your opinion is valid and very welcome.

Talking the talk is not walking the walk, that’s a sure thing.

I could tell a thousand scary stories about me dealing directly with people who want to make social justice with other people’s money while paying minimum wage to their full-time maids, save the world form their posh offices with AC in highly developed countries while not ever setting foot in the places they (pretend to) want to help, and advocate frugality while travelling First Class and staying at the Waldorf Astoria on government/grant money.

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I very much understand your perspective. Moddevices survived Corona, the supply chain crisis and hopefully the Russian invasion. Let’s hope they keep making the right choices to keep the boat afloat.

Absolutely. But talk is cheap and it is therefore hard for me to grasp why communication is so sparse from MOD side. In a very simplified way, you always have three options as a company (and in life, really):

  1. Move forward with “the thing”
  2. Stop “the thing”
  3. Do nothing and gather more information.

All are valid in my book for the DuoX; why the silence?

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Personally, I am first grateful to the official announcement of the maintenance of bug fixes (update).
I would also like to hear that - ~slowed down and only what makes sense for the DuoX (hardware) - he gets new features (upgrade).
Software is constantly evolving. Without regular upgrade it can happen that the DuoX ~becomes obsolete. What I would find a pity, he continues to work so no question but the constant development I find especially the interesting thing about ModAudio.

Yes and we are in the middle of it. And: Energy costs as well as where the energy is to be obtained is relatively uncertain. This is worldwide, ergo all is relatively uncertain at the moment.

I hope and wish us all something good.

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As far as I have noticed, this information has only come out through multiple inquiries from the users. I feel more like an annoying, unwanted customer who keeps bugging the manufacturer with his questions.

Here I would find an equally clear, direct and official position / communication / discussion as the state of affairs is and how in the (near / long term) future on the part of ModAudio to deal with the DuoX - as with the Dwarf - more than fair.

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It has been clearly stated that, in terms of product development, production and sales efforts all focus is on the Dwarf and finalizing the FootPedal.

DuoX will keep getting software updates, just not any device-specific features or improvements. Not until the company is running properly and there is extra capacity to revive this (arguably more “Premium”) project category.

The DuoX formfactor and device specific HMI can very well keep developing, just not this coming year.

Besides, we are yet to fully see the latest features being used, so there is still plenty to come to the DuoX :slight_smile:

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The only official instance mentioning Mod Duo X support is in the insolvency thread linked at the top post here. All others, like the instances quoted above, came randomly from Mod team folks. The most recent is my own asking FalkTX about it. He stated that due to the “focus” thing, the improvements could be done but they won’t. Which is why I started this thread.

Mod has a chronic communication issue, to put it simply and sympathetically.

I have already suggested, both in public posts but also in private that they either hire or train someone to handle official communications channels. Not hard feeling towards anyone, but when a backer rightfully asks about their very delayed units, you can’t simply slap them in the face with “THIS HAS BEEN EXPLAINED 100 TIMES BEFORE”. This is horrible, disrespectful, utterly immature customer relations.

It’s not their obligation to sift through 462 posts to learn that on posts 232, 287, and 311 an explanation was given to others with the same questions. Regular updates, blog posts, anything would suffice.

And no, you’re not doing anyone a favour by providing a decent answer.

A while ago I publicly asked MOD about what the new financial supporters would get in terms of feedback from Mod. We were told there’d be communications channels open, even a dedicated forum for that purpose. To this date, such feedback has been exactly zero. I can understand there are more pressing tasks, but taking 7 minutes to write your financial supporters that you are doing X, Y, and Z and therefore the forum isn’t in place then apologise for that doesn’t affect your sales and earnings that badly.

With all my admiration for MOD and its fine products, their PR is rated 2 starts with a lot of goodwill.

(Unless, of course, you work for some “we’re making the world a better place” joint, in which case you might feel entitled to a flair for superiority and nonchalance.)

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Dear @dreamer,

Might I ask if you currently have any role (advisory, technical cooperation, etc) along with the MOD team? And, if so, if you have any information you can share?

I ask that because the kind of feedback we’ve been expecting is precisely what you mention on your post:

and

and

Would you please disclose if you are in closer contact with MOD and if you happen to have information that we don’t?

I didn’t read anyone in this thread say that we need upgrades absolutely now – much less that Duo X is a “premium” device which deserves extra attention. The term “flagship” is used in the market to describe the top product in the lineup. I mentioned “Premium Content”, not premium treatment for those who bought more expensive Mod devices. Premium pedalboards and plugins that can be sold and used across the board.

What we have been asking is any kind of reassurance that, should the company thrive, the development and/or device-specific improvements would come. Nothing more than this, and definitely not VIP treatment.

Also, would you be so kind as to point us to an instance of the Reboot fundraising effort prior to the deadline where the continuation of the Expression Pedal development was mentioned?

As you can see in the first post of this thread, I start by mentioning @gianfranco’s being upfront about the Mod X not receiving further developments for the time being. Myself and others have been supportive and understanding of the business reasoning behind this – even if the X has not been getting improvements long before Mod’s bankruptcy.

Not a single person in this thread had not previously been “clear” about the fact that MOD is focusing in the Dwarf. The Expression Pedal, however, caught us all by surprise.

Only one criticism was raised against MOD in this thread: how poor its institutional communication is. And it’s a bad pattern that MOD folks only manifest once some kind of perceived accusation is levied against them, either personally or against the company as a whole.

In the thread regarding the 1.12 release, I publicly thanked MOD for bringing those improvements from 1.11 over to the Duo X – even if that’s not the focus now. I am quite sure all of us here felt contemplated by that.

Our concern in this thread is to have the MOD team officially state that, with the right conditions, improving and further developing the MOD would be an option. It’s possibly something that might seem obvious – “of course, with money in hand we can do it.” – but it involves a component of stewardship and business decisions that, even with a lot of cash in hand, the development of the Duo X might become uninteresting.

Therefore, we’re seeking that from MOD. Reassurance or a frank and truthful statement about the future of the X.

And even when something “has already been explained 100 times before” the people affected by it have the right to ask the question. More so when something has not been “clearly stated” when the company was passing the hat.

Therefore, if you are able to bear the news we have been seeking in some kind of official or non-official capacity, that would be reassuring.

Thank you.

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I’m involved with some of the opensource and technical aspects and have simply closely followed all available communications to make an educated assessment based on that.

“software updates” << bugfixes, toolchain upkeep, plugin versions, etc.
“plenty to come” << plugins that use the latest features of the firmware. to interact with the HMI etc. control chain is still wide open, so footpedal and other products.

My point here is: the platform is not dead, just that specific new features (think pedal board design on the HMI) will not come, no DuoX based revisions etc.

I agree that weekly updates, with a clear format, would help everyone a lot.
Even if the only news is “a, b and c are advancing, but we cannot give any updates on x, y and z”

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Your inputs are very welcome, @dreamer.

You are correct that MOD has been firm in its intent to provide updates/bugfixes. @falkTX has mentioned that in various forms. I am personally inclined to think that even if MOD were to scrap any future plans for the X, it would continue to provide what’s needed to keep it functional – just like they’ve been doing with the Duo for so long.

(Not all forum members are technically inclined, which is why I think that long upgrade v. update discussion took place back during the reboot effort.)

Thank you.

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Well for various reasons I’ve been unable really use my X and would really appreciate it not to die as I start to have time available to explore it. I love the platform concept and execution so far. I imagine it could have a bright future.

I’m assuming this thread is to discuss software, as the hardware is mostly good, with a few bugs.

I have zero understanding of the details of the mod platform architecture or how the dwarf and X diverge but i imagine there is both core and target device software modules to maintain Plus the essential hardware differences might be soaked up by drivers or OS builds.

So could future updates for X be relatively manageable, if the buisiness.decision is made? Either in house or divested such as OS community.

Could X be dwarf plus built in control surface? Could external hardware providing a similar surface be a useful addition to the dwarf thus adding motivation for X support?

Whatever decision is made, I’ve appreciated the hard work of the team.

Steve

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@Steve_Lee,

Hardware production is currently impossible as some components became scarce and/or have prohibitive costs. MOD attempted to replace some of them but without success given their cash crunch early in 2022. So, at least for the time, we won’t see developments on the hardware side.

As far as maintaining existing Xs, we have already been told updates, bugfixes and other necessary improvements so that current plugins work will still be made available.

What we know so far is that some of the improvements that will come to the Dwarf will not be ported over to Duo X, and that is indeed a business decision on their side. The current effort is to bring the company to a stable condition, increase sales, deliver crowdfunding units (as a way to expand the user base), and hopefully improve the cash flow. If (and only if) that happens in a continuous crescendo there would be a possibility of Mod Duo X being picked up again for OS improvements and/or production – this last sentence being just an educated guess.

In the past there has been a long and at times contentious discussion as to paid upgrades. My own opinion back then was that is should not at all be a paid feature, but instead some parallel features (like Guitar Synth) should be optional. In the initial thread however I even waved the possibility of us X users paying extra so that features already present in the Dwarf come to the X. The fact is, in spite of Mod’s bankruptcy, the Duo X has long lacked some features. Whereas it is understandable – and understandable does not necessarily mean justifiable – that the main sales effort was going into the Dwarf, Mod has relegated its flagship and most powerful device to a lower priority.

The entire purpose of this thread is to hear from them what could be done, even with our participation, to lift the Duo X. Since they pledge to transparency in dealing with the valued community, we would appreciate to get some feedback and hopefully provide some input – material or otherwise – that can turn things around. In the past MOD has asked for our contribution in various forms, including when it comes to the stewardship of their business as a whole.

Whether or not they are steering the business to stability remains to be seen. Some of the business decisions can be questionable but still the purpose here is to find a technical solution that does not harm the business side of things.

Again, without a formal word, we’re left guessing.

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Thank you for the clarification and recap. So let’s hope we get the formal word soon.

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I, and I suspect some other users here, are aware that a reboot is very difficult.
And still in these difficult times.

An official, non-binding, rough, current status and what is realistic for you to implement at the moment would be nice to know.
In the near future a lot can change due to the uncertain times possibly some, then this is the actual state.
I don’t expect anything, I just hope. For all of us.

:four_leaf_clover:

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@khz,

The entire Duo X saga didn’t play out well for Mod. Their initial version (LE) is different that the production version, and it has some limitations that angered users in the past. MOD decided to offer a trade-in option for LE users to upgrade to the production model. See more here.

Unfortunately, timing was not on their side. In 2020 some parts just disappeared from the market or had their prices go up a criminal 1000% (like the NXP chips). So MOD was badly constrained as to how many units they could sell. The X was supposed to be a major source of revenue for that year, as @gianfranco explained in the insolvency message. Part of the cash crunch of Mod Devices began right there in his words.

Months later, they were attempting to replace some components with others more readily available and/or more decently priced. Either due to time or money constraints, that didn’t produce tangible results (again, per their words).

My feeling is that, had they been able to re-develop the Duo X so as to make it ready for production, at some point in the near future, they could restart manufacturing those – give or take the fact that its production is not as streamlined as the Dwarf. Plus, they have a stance whereby the business case for the Dwarf as a multi-effect might be preferable, in spite of many people who are guitar/bass players prefering the X to the Dwarf (I am one of them.)

HOWEVER

This is just speculation at this point.

The supposed higher profit margin of the X may not be as tempting if the production is more complicated and there are more risks associated with it. There is the (sad) possibility that a relaunch without significant changes – such as from LE to production – won’t be possible. It might be complicated to source parts and that might also hamper Dwarf production to some extent. These are all real possibilities that we might have to face.

Again, without a formal word from Mod Audio, we’re just guessing. Sadly, their unwillingness to even touch this topic is beginning to scream in our ears.

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I can sympathize with your position. Though in my case I was (am) a Duo owner who when the MDX was announced felt a little bitter and concerned that the Duo’s roadmap would be impacted negatively. In the grand scheme, I feel like the MDX was a misstep for the company, but that’s a story for another thread.

I think a good gesture by the company would be to make the full build process available so that owners of the device could apply their own updates. This would not need to be publicly available, but it could give device owners the freedom to apply changes or fixes from the community.

Acknowledging that this wouldn’t come free:

  • There could be legal and Intellectual Property (IP) issues since the private parts of the source code would need to be shared. MOD may need legal consultation and time spent reviewing and distributing NDAs. Even then there could a risk of leaks or improper use of IP
  • Someone would need to prepare thorough technical documentation and perform testing to ensure end-users can be successful
  • Owners making custom builds could likely find ways to sidestep the license checks for paid plugins
  • Owners might apply code changes that leave the device in an unstable state, or worse, interface with the hardware in ways that exceed specifications and cause electrical damage.

Given that the community has already stepped up to fund the survival of the company, maybe the costs of additional development time for this effort could also be funded and/or completed by a member of the community. For example, if we raise $X,000, that could cover the cost of hiring a freelancer or flying a community developer to the office for a few days to do the technical work.

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