MIDI keyboard controllers and drum pads have generally remained the same for years, although there are a few companies looking to bring some innovations to the otherwise stagnant virtual music transmission technology. Roli has been at the forefront of MPE or Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression for some time now. Along with instruments like the Haken Continuum and the LinnStrument from world renowned designer Roger Linn, Roli’s Seaboard controller instruments bring a level of control and human expression to the world of MIDI and virtual instruments unlike anything else out there. While controllers that support this kind of tech tend to be very expensive, Roli is looking to change all that starting today…
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The company already has its line of considerably more affordable Block controllers, but it is now introducing what is easily the most accessible Seaboard ever, and quite possibly the most affordable MPE controller on the block.
Much like the aforementioned instruments, the Seaboard has remained a bit of niche product, even in the home producer/pro musician space. That is likely due in large part to its $700 price tag, which literally just gets you in the door. A 49-key option goes for over $1,000 and a Limited First Edition Seaboard GRAND will run you just shy of $9,000. As amazing as these keywave surfaces may be, that is simply out of reach for most people, especially someone looking to dive into electronic music production for the first time.
It features 24-keywaves (or a two octave playing surface) and is completely wireless and portable. It will also ship with a few instruments for Mac and iOS that will work right out of the box with the MPE transmission including NOISE, Equator Player, MaxMSP and more. It will connect up with your Logic Pro X (and other major DAW) setup via the BLOCK Dashboard app.
To keep things simple here, the keys, or keywaves in this case, transmit note and velocity data like a typical MIDI keyboard. But also subtle, polyphonic pitch bends and all sorts of different parameter changes/adjustments depending on the way you swipe, press, gesture or run your fingers along the playing surface. ROLI calls it 5D touch: strike, glide, slide, press and lift.
Best of all, the new Seaboard Block is only $299.95 and it is available for purchase right now. While that certainly isn’t cheap, it is a fantastic price for this kind of tech and one of the first highly-portable MPE controllers around. As the name suggests, the Seaboard Block is completely compatible with the existing Block controllers along with the recently unveiled Touch Block.
Just looking for a standard MIDI controller? Here is our list of the The best MIDI keyboards for Mac and Logic Pro 2017 Edition.