Today, Roland is announcing a new MIDI 2.0 keyboard. This marks the first product from Roland to adopt the upcoming new standard. The MIDI keyboard controller is known as the A-88MKII and features a high-end design with wooden construction, weighted keys, iOS support, and even more on-board goodies. All the details are down below.
Wood, weighted, and high-end
The new MIDI 2.0 keyboard boasts 88 weighted, ivory-like keys similar to those found on other high-end Roland gear. All housed inside of a chassis with wood touches, Roland is also allowing users to split the keyboard up into user-defined zones. Split the keys three ways to use different sounds or make use of a series of layering options for more advanced triggering and the like.
You’ll also find a collection of customizable pads for launching various sounds and samples as well as Roland’s usual (and sort of odd) pitch/mod control. The top-side controls also feature RGB-lit knobs and what appears to be a quite involved arpeggiator.
Roland’s new MIDI 2.0 keyboard
Beyond that, the MIDI 2.0 keyboard also features what Roland calls lightning-fast response on both the keys and parameter controls. USB-C connectivity apparently removes the need for an external power supply as well. Connection with companion iOS and Windows apps allow users to assign commands to particular controls as well as recall preset settings and the like.
While details are scant at this point, Roland ensures the A-88MKII is ready for MIDI 2.0 as well. The standard has been in the works for over 10-years after the original version had been in place for about 30. The powers that be (the MIDI Association) are ready to finally upgrade everyone’s favorite musical data communication protocol. The new MIDI standard is expected to offer deeper support for MPE gear, tighter timing and will allow for even more simplified connections between devices from various manufacturers. And don’t worry, MIDI 1.0 isn’t going anywhere, so all your existing gear will most likely be able to speak with the new stuff via backward compatibility.
Roland’s new MIDI 2.0 keyboard, the A-88MKII, is scheduled for prime-time in Mach of this year to the tune of $999.99. Considering this is about as close as you’ll get to a real piano with loads of MIDI/controller features on-board, the price lands right around where we would expect it to.
While this particular announcement is more of an early NAMM 2020 unveil (that show kicks off later this month from Anaheim), we have loads of new gear from CES 2020 this week. Huge TVs, GaN MacBook chargers, Thunderbolt 3 docks and even a must-see $14,000 gaming chair are all on the docket.
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