ROLI is introducing the new Lumi keyboard today. Best known for its professional Seaboard and Block controllers, the company is looking towards the beginner space this time around. The new Lumi offers up an app-integrated, color-coded learning experience with a focus on a “smarter way to learn and play”. All the details are down below.
ROLI Goes Multi-Color:
ROLI’s previous generation gear makes use of 5D touch controls and have helped to usher in a new wave of multi-touch and multi-expression MIDI instruments for music producers everywhere. Its high-end Seaboard RISE controllers start at $669+. But the company has been releasing more affordable gear under the Blocks moniker to offer up its professional touch controls in a more budget-friendly price range. However, it is now looking to spread some of its magic to a more casual, beginner market with the new Lumi keyboard.
Lumi Keyboard Specs:
Before we dig in to the Lumi keyboard app integration, let’s look at the hardware itself. The first thing you’ll notice is the multi-color, LED back-lit keys. There are 24 of them spread across this portable MIDI controller, each of which with a 10mm key plunge distance that measure out at a DS5.5 (9.67mm wide high, 19.4mm wide low). So you’re not getting full size keys but it sounds like there’s some good action here as that is nearly the same as a proper piano in terms of key plunge distance. They also feature polyphonic aftertouch (the ability to re-trigger multiple keys after they have already been depressed) for all you modulation freaks out there.
The near bezel-less design weighs in at just 1.3-lbs. and carries Bluetooth 5.0, a USB-C power port, octave shift buttons and more. The modular design here makes use of ROLI’s 8-pin DNA connectors that allow you to magnetically snap another Lumi keyboard (or Blocks controller) directly on the side to expand your setup over time. The built-in rechargeable Lithium battery (2,300mAh) provides up to 6 hours “of fully illuminated playing”. And at just 11 x 5.5 x 1-inches, it should slide into your backpack with ease no matter where you want to take it.
Lumi Keyboard App Integration:
Along with some included Roli software (ROLI Studio Player, NOISE app, ROLI Dashboard), the Lumi keyboard integrates directly with the Lumi app for iOS 12 devices and select Android gear (specifics to be confirmed at a later time). The app provides several learning and play-along features that directly correspond with the multi-colored keys. It ranges from almost Guitar Hero looking lessons to color-coded music staffs as you progress. In other words, it starts out basic and casual – almost video game-like – and can slowly move into more serious lessons with scales, timing and more using proper music notation. It looks as though the app is focused on teaching users to play songs first, albeit in a more basic form, and slowly building towards more complex aspects of reading music. It includes lessons on more than 100 popular songs from artists like Beyonce and more.
While already quite an established company with more than 10 years experience in the space, ROLI has decided to take the new Lumi keyboard to Kickstarter. At the time of writing, Lumi keys has already destroyed its initial goal by nearly double with 29 days to go. It will start at $250 when it drops later this fall for everyone, while Kickstarter backers will see shipments begin in October.
ROLI has been a favorite of mine ever since going hands-on with the amazing Seaboard Block controller. While as a professional, it is somewhat underwhelming to see the company spending time on an educational, casual-focused keyboard, Lumi has a lot going for it. By sticking to a color system and lessons that focus on pop songs instead of boring scales, Lumi might actually make a difference for new players looking to get in to the space. Considering it will transition nicely into a standard MIDI controller for big boy apps like Pro Tools, Ableton Live and Logic Pro X, on top of the ability to link it to other controllers via DNA, Lumi is also quite future-proof.
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